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21 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2022

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21 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2022


How do you convince visitors your website is worth their time? There are so many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, and making those elements the “best” they can be often depends on what your landing page goals are.

If you’re looking to up your landing page game, it’s helpful to know what goes into a great one. We’ve compiled a list of landing pages we love so you can see these impressive designs in action and implement their tactics into your own landing pages.

Sign-Up Landing Pages

1. Shopify

Shopify sign up landing page example

Like many of the other landing pages in this post, Shopify’s trial landing page for sellers keeps it simple. It’s not too text-heavy, but still manages to persuade users by noting a few key points about its top-notch product. Visitors come away knowing that Shopify is an all-in-one platform that is easy to use and trusted by many.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Clean Interface: The user-oriented headline is just a few words, for example, and the page relies on simple graphics and short paragraphs to communicate the trial’s details and benefits.
  • Concise CTA: There are only a few fields you need to fill out before you get started. All of this makes it easier for you to quickly get started selling online with their tool.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Emphasize Security: The last column states that the platform is safe, but doesn’t explain why. Instead, it mentions that over a million businesses use it. A few words that speak to site security would improve this section since the number of vendors is already stated at the top of the page. Additionally, it would eliminate friction for visitors with security concerns.

2. Great Jones

Great Jones landing page example

Many of us have been doing a lot more cooking during the pandemic and looking to upgrade our gear. Great Jones offers up a landing page that’s as beautiful as its Dutch Ovens. It’s very aspirational and taps into all of our ideal kitchen dreams.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Use of Color: Great Jones’ site is colorful just like its cookware. The use of bold colors quickly draws visitors in and makes the cookware stand out.
  • Prominent CTA: You can’t miss this giant yellow CTA and bold font $100 Off coupon. Who wouldn’t want $100 off these gorgeous pots?

What Could Be Improved:

  • Rollover Descriptions: With so many pans and utensils pictured at once, it would be great if users had the ability to view the name of the item. That way they could find it easier on the site when they’re ready to buy.

3. Muzzle

Muzzle sign-up landing page with yellow download button

Muzzle, a Mac app that silences on-screen notifications, fully embraces this show don’t tell mentality on their otherwise minimal landing page. Landing pages help users decide whether or not your product or service is actually worth their precious time and energy. What better way to clearly and straightforwardly communicate your value proposition than by confronting visitors with the very problem your app solves?

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Show Rather Than Tell: Visitors to the page are greeted with a rapid-fire onslaught of embarrassing notifications in the upper left of the screen. Not only is the animation hilarious, it also manages to compellingly convey the app’s usefulness without lengthy descriptions.
  • Cohesive Visual Experience: Even the text on the page is a muted gray color, mirroring the function of the product.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Could Be Difficult to Read: While the light gray text on white background is great at mimicking the product’s function, it may be harder to read for some.

4. DoorDash

DoorDash landing page example

Takeout enthusiasts are no doubt familiar with DoorDash, the app that lets you order food from a variety of restaurants from your phone. Well, instead of customers, this landing page is geared towards recruiting Dashers who make the deliveries.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Emphasizes Dasher Autonomy: This landing page really plays up that Dashers are independent and free to work when they want.
  • Highlights Potential Earnings: While there’s no way to prove these earnings are typical, they are certainly enticing for anyone who wants to make extra cash on the side.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Advantage Over Competitors: DoorDash is not the only delivery game in town. They could highlight what sets them apart from a competitor like UberEats.

5. Wise

Wise sign-up landing page with CTAs for sending money, receiving money, and debit card

Wise allows you to send or receive money in different currencies and countries, and its landing page separates customers into two categories of either Business or Personal so you’re not distracted by options that don’t apply to you. There’s even a short video to show visitors how the service works before they try it. Since they’re dealing with money, it’s important to get the customer experience right the first time.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Highlights Safety: The security information is out front and center on this page, helping to ease any hesitancy a potential customer might have and assures them that Wise is a safe service to use to send money and receive .
  • Emphasizes Value: In several places on the page, in both text and video, Wise reiterates that it’s less expensive than transferring money through a traditional bank.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Interface is a Little Busy: While it’s great that customers have access to a wealth of information about the service, there’s a lot going on. There’s video, menus that appear when you scroll and multiple buttons — all within the top half of the page.

6. Airbnb

Airbnb Landing PageTo help convert visitors into hosts, Airbnb offers some enticing personalization: an estimated weekly average earnings projection based on your location and home size. You can enter additional information about your potential accommodations into the fields to get an even more customized estimation.

Airbnb 2nd landing page exampleIf you visit the page already convinced, the clear call-to-action at the top of the page makes it easy to convert on the spot.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Personalization: Airbnb shows you right at the start what you could potentially earn based on your area and the size of your home. This is useful for potential new hosts who may still be figuring out how much they should charge and what they can expect to earn.
  • Leverages Community: Further down on the page, those curious about hosting have the option to contact a seasoned Superhost to answer any questions they may have.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: The page is clear, concise, reassures potential hosts Airbnb is safe to use, and offers a personalized experience.

7. Wag!

Wag landing sign up page example

Wag! is a service that connects dog owners with dog walkers and sitters. This page gets right to the point with a large font encouraging prospects to join, and puts the sign-up form prominently on the right half of the page. The green background color makes the white font and other elements on the page pop. The addition of a QR code on the form is also a nice touch, enabling visitors to scan it, quickly download the app, and sign-up.

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Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Efficient Form: Leaving the form field open on the page means visitors don’t even have to click on a CTA to access it. The QR code further expedites the process.
  • Emphasizes Credibility: Including caretaker photos and that more than 351,000 caretakers currently use the service nationwide makes Wag more trustworthy.

What Could Be Improved:

  • It’s Not Compelling: Unlike DoorDash mentioned earlier, Wag! makes no mention of why people should join. What are the perks? Are the hours flexible?

8. Wistia

Wistia Landing Page Example

Right off the bat, you notice the blue background with the pop of pink in the form of a “Try for free” button. The page gets right into the action with a video showcasing all the cool content you can create. If you’re having doubts, you can always scroll below to read testimonials from some of Wistia’s 375,000 happy customers.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Ease of Use: The form itself allows users to quickly fill it out by linking to their Google account. Doing so enables the autofill feature, which cuts down on friction for the user.
  • Capitalizes on Visuals: As a video host, Wista does a great job of showcasing its capabilities using a variety of mediums. There’s colorful graphics, videos and even a link to marketing focused cartoons.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Include an FAQ: Testimonials are great, but sometimes customers have a few concerns that could be answered quickly with an FAQ section. That way they can decide whether or not to sign up without having to leave the page to search for answers.

9. Webflow

Webflow Landing Page ExampleWebflow, a design tool for web developers, packs a lot of information into just one GIF. As with Muzzle, Webflow also gets right to the point and demonstrates what their tool can do, rather than just talking about it. The animated GIF is visible in the same frame on the website, so users can see how the product works and sign up without scrolling.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Show Rather Than Tell: Being able to view Webflow’s tool in action gives potential customers a clear idea of not only what it does, but how their user experience will be.
  • Removes Risk: In several places on the landing page, visitors are reminded that the service is free. There’s no trial to sign up for. They can build their site for free and decide whether or not to sign up for a plan when they’re ready to launch.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: This landing page is the perfect balance of information, usability, and visuals.

10. Talkspace

Talkspace Landing page example

Talkspace, an online therapy service, really focuses on trustworthiness with this landing page. All of the information on this page emphasizes that customers will have access to licensed therapists, and drives home that the service is secure and confidential. It’s a great way to reassure those who may be hesitant to participate. The use of shapes is also a clever idea. Pages are often filled with squares and boxes, so putting the CTA inside a large circle immediately draws the viewer in. Overall, the layout is clean, inviting, and informative.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Builds Trust: The focus on customer security works in their favor, especially noting that they are HIPPA compliant.
  • Provides Value: In addition to providing details about how Talkspace works, this page also provides several mental health resources and articles.

What Could Be Improved:

Nothing: This page has a great user interface and serves as a great starting point for mental health resources.

Ebook Landing Pages

11. Nauto

nauto-ebook-landing-page

Nauto, a data platform for self-driving cars, helps make autonomous driving safer for companies who manage fleets of self-driving vehicles. Naturally, its customers would need all kinds of information to sell them on this platform. Nauto has it, packaged into a super-simple ebook whose landing page gives you both a brief contact form and some preview statistics to prove why this resource is so important.

At the top of the page, shown above, a warm photo of a car’s exterior r hugs the lead-capture form. The green “Download Now” button might’ve even been on purpose (on the road, green means go, after all).

Scroll down, and you’ll see another “Get the eBook” CTA to remind users what’s waiting for them. You’ll also see three jarring statistics about car accidents to entice users to learn more. Check it out below.

nauto-ebook-landing-page-CTA-1

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Simplicity: There’s no distractions on this landing page, which is perfect given the company’s focus on safe, self-driving vehicles.
  • Great Use of Comparison: Further down the page, Nauto offers up side by side footage of a distracted driver vs. a self-driving vehicle. It’s an excellent way to drive the point home that A.I. is a safer bet.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Graphics: The warm photo at the top is really difficult to see. Slightly more definition would have helped visitors easily recognize the image as cars.

12. Industrial Strength Marketing

industrial-strength-marketing-landing-page-example.png

Right off the bat, this landing page pulls me in with a compelling, punchy header: “Don’t Make Me Zoom.” It directly speaks to a common experience most of us have had when we’re browsing on our phones or tablets — and it’s a little sassy, too.

But that’s not the only thing keeping me interested in this landing page. Notice how the color red is strategically placed: It’s right at the top and bottom of the form, drawing you even closer to the conversion event.

industrial-strength-marketing-mobile-landing-page-1.jpg

industrial-strength-marketing-mobile-landing-page-2.jpg

Plus, this design is meta to boot: It looks and works great on mobile, too (pictured above) Keep in mind that a lot of visitors will be accessing your landing pages on their smartphones or tablets, and if the design of your website doesn’t work well for them, they might give up and leave your page.

The folks at Industrial Strength Marketing made the fonts and form field big enough so that visitors don’t have to pinch-to-zoom to read and interact with the content, for example.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Voice: The language is punchy and relatable, quickly drawing the reader in.
  • Minimalist: The black and white color scheme with just a few pops of red really make the sign up sheet stand out. Additionally the minimalist design works beautifully on mobile and desktop, no pinching required.

What Could Be Improved:

Nothing: Both the mobile and desktop versions illustrate the perfect execution of a

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13. Inbound Emotion

Inbound Emotion Spanish language landing page example

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can still appreciate the conversion capabilities of this HubSpot partner site. My favorite feature of the page? The form stays in a fixed, prominent position as you scroll through the site. I also love the simple layout and warm colors.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Fixed Form: Having access to the form while scrolling provides a better user experience. No need to scroll back up to the top of the page to find it.
  • Simple Interface: The layout is simple, but effective. The use of only two shades of orange give a monochrome feel and keeps the focus on the benefits of the ebook.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Make the Form Brief: There were six items to fill out, not including the check boxes option at the end. Longer forms could be a turnoff for some visitors.

14. IMPACT Branding & Design

Impact Branding landing page example with creative CTA

Full disclosure: IMPACT is a HubSpot partner — but that’s not why they’re included here. IMPACT’s landing pages have long been a source of design inspiration. I love the simple layout of the page, from the large headline copy and detailed featured image, to the outline that surrounds the form, to the colors and fonts that are very pleasing to the eye.

The free guide IMPACT is offering for download here also doesn’t emphasize the download itself in the blue button that allows you to submit your filled-out form. Rather, IMPACT is inviting you to “generate more conversions” — putting the focus on what you stand to gain as a result of reading the guide.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Clever Messaging: You’re not downloading an ebook, you’re learning how to “generate more conversations.” This rephrasing is far more enticing than simply putting a regular download button.
  • Simple Use of Color and Fonts: The blue tones work really well on this landing page, giving it variety while keeping the look cohesive. Since there’s lots of text on the page, a simple font is perfect.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: This page encourages downloads in a clever way using a simple layout and colors.

Landing Pages to Learn More

15. Unbounce

Unbounce Landing Page Example

It’s no surprise Unbounce made this list —they’ve actually written the book on creating high-converting landing pages. Although there are lots of amazing things about this landing page, the two that I absolutely love are: the multiple ways to access the course, and additional industry-specific report offerings. Unbounce is really skilled at providing visitors the information they need, but also what they didn’t know they needed until they landed on the site.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Gives Visitors Options: When it comes to accessing the course, users can either click the main button above the upper half of the page, or if they’ve been scrolling, click on the course from the sidebar on the left. Eliminating the need to scroll back up to the top of the page.
  • Sometimes More is More: In addition to the course, Unbounce provides visitors with industry-specific reports and answers to other landing page-related topics. Providing even more useful information sets Unbounce up as a trusted authority in their field.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Descriptions: The course offers several modules and it would be helpful if some offered a brief description. The sidebar menu offers a course list, but a short sentence summarizing what visitors can expect to learn would be helpful.

16. Bills.com

bills-dot-com-landing-page-example.png

Often, people think landing pages are static pages on your website. But with the right tools, you can make them interactive and personalized.

Take the example above from Bills.com. To see if you’d benefit from their consultation, you answer three questions before you are shown a form.

Then, you answer two more questions, like the one below:

bills-dot-com-landing-page-2.png

And here’s the final landing page form where you fill out your information:

bills-dot-com-landing-page-3.png

I’m not sure how the algorithm works (or if there’s one at all), but while I was filling it out, I had some anxiety about not qualifying. Once I found out I did, I was excited to fill out the form, which I’m sure most people who are in debt and using this tool are. By making this offer seem more exclusive before the form appeared on the landing page, I’d bet that Bills.com increased conversions pretty significantly.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Exclusivity: Everyone likes to feel special, which is why exclusivity works so well. The page gives the impression that the offer isn’t given to just anyone, you have to qualify first.
  • Interactivity: Anytime you can get users to interact with the page, even if it’s something as simple as using a form with a sliding bar question.

What Could Be Improved:

  • More Color: While the site is geared to not so fun topics like bills and debt, it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. The gray leaves much to be desired.

17. Zillow

Zillow Landing Page Example

Zillow did something very similar to Bills.com with their landing page. It starts with a simple form asking for “your home address” ( sounds creepy, but don’t worry. This form field is set on top of a hero image featuring a quaint home at dusk followed by a handy FAQ section.

Of course, the address itself won’t be enough to get a true appraisal value of a home. It just denotes the home’s neighborhood. It’s a bit like playing The Price is Right. You can guess how much homes in the area are worth and then type in an address to see how close you got. If you want to learn more info about a property, Zillow then prompts users to sign-up to continue.

Zestimate landing page exampleOnce you hand over your email, you’ll have access to more data like comparable homes in the area, mortgage tools, and the estimated net profits should you decide to sell.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Games are Fun: Anytime you can make filling out a form feel like a game, it’s a win.
  • Establishes Authority on the Topic: Zillow has access to so much housing and neighborhood data, it’s no wonder they are one of the top home search sites in the nation.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: The Zestimate page is simple, but effective. Those with concerns about what a Zestimate is and how it’s calculated have easy access to the homebuying FAQ on the second half of the page.

18. Landbot

Landbot Landing Page Example

Landbot, a service that creates chatbot-based landing pages, puts their own product front and center on their chat-fueled landing page. Visitors are greeted by a friendly bot —complete with emojis and GIFs —who encourages them to provide information in a conversational format instead of via a traditional form.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • It’s Fun: From the bright colors to the GIFs, this page keeps visitors engaged and entertained.
  • Show, Not Tell: By having the chatbot right on the page, doing its thing, potential customers can see exactly what they’re getting. The whole experience simulates what it’s like to use Landbot’s product.
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What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: Landbot’s use of a live demo, testimonials, highlighted integration features and detailed breakdown of how the product works leaves new customers ready to sign up at first glance.

19. Webprofits

Webprofits landing page example

Like Industrial Strength Marketing mentioned earlier, Webprofits also makes great use of a predominantly black, white and red color scheme. The result is a clean layout that makes great use of the pops of color on the page. It’s a testament to the organization’s expertise in digital marketing and UX design.

The rollover description feature throughout the “What We Do” section, while black and white, uses movement to draw the reader’s attention to the content. Each section changes color and rolls down like a shade to reveal more in depth features.

Webprofits landing page example

They also make it easy for you to figure out what Webprofits actually does. The rest of the page offers detailed information about what you’ll get when you give over your information. Plus, it includes strategic CTAs throughout, like “Get in Touch”

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Informative, But Not Overwhelming: There’s a lot of information and text on this page, but the use of well-placed graphics and videos help break things up.
  • Multiple CTAs: Placing the same CTA throughout the page makes it so visitors don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to “Get in Touch.”

What Could Be Improved:

  • Nothing: Webprofit makes great use of the long landing page format, packing in all the pertinent information visitors would need in one place with a visually appealing experience.

20. Native Poppy

Native Poppy Landing Page example

Sometimes, you’ve just got to stop and admire a landing page for being beautiful. Using high-resolution photography and lots of white space, Native Poppy’s landing page is a pleasure to look at.

Aside from its beauty, the page has some great elements: a clear and delightfully pink CTA, an informative “How It Works” section, plus an FAQ at the bottom. Best of all, it plays with language, ditching the phrase “become a subscriber” for “become a wild flower.” I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be a “wild flower” over a subscriber any day.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Captures Brand Voice: The layout of Wild Poppy mirrors the whimsical vibe of the brand. From the photos, font choice, and “wild flower” subscription, all the messaging works in harmony.
  • Persuasive: By highlighting all the perks and discounts of being part of the subscription program, it entices customers to join.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Form Visibility: While there are multiple CTAs, it would have been nice to have the form fields on the page for faster sign-up, or as a pop up after clicking, instead of having to click the CTA and then be taken to another series of prompts.

21. Conversion Lab

Conversion Lab Landing Page example

While I wouldn’t typically include an example of a homepage with a form on it in a post about landing pages, this website is special. The homepage is the entire website — the navigation links just take you to the information below.

When you click “Get My Free Consult,” the entire page darkens to highlight the form. See what it looks like before you click in the photo above.

And, when you click that CTA, check out how the form appears:

Conversion Lab landing page example CTA

It’s a similar function when clicking on any of the headings on the page. Instead of taking you to a different page, it simply jumps to the corresponding section on the homepage.

I love how you don’t have to leave the page to fill out the form, or view any of the features, creating a seamless user experience.

Why This Landing Page Works:

  • Creative: Having a homepage that also functions as various landing pages makes Conversion Lab unique. Best of all, it still provides a pleasant user experience.
  • Organized Layout: Despite having the homepage and landing pages as one, the page doesn’t feel cluttered or busy at all.

What Could Be Improved:

  • Form Placement: It would be nice if the form maybe opened up on one side so visitors could still read the content on the rest of the page.

Landing Page Ideas

A well-optimized landing page can transform prospects into leads by gathering information that can help you better understand, market to, and delight visitors. Since landing pages are crucial for conversions, it’s important to make sure they’re well planned, designed, and executed.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating landing pages:

  • Appealing aesthetics: Giving your landing page color and a clean UI can only help. Visitors will want to learn more about your products and see evidence of the value you’re offering. Take a look at #18 on our list — Landbot for a great example of a stunning web page.
  • Less is more: Let the offer or images do most of the talking, but be sure to include any and all descriptive headlines and supporting text to make your landing page clear and compelling. This goes for just about all the components on the page: try white space, simple copy, and shorter forms.
  • Keep visitors on the page: By removing the main navigation or any distracting backlinks, it’s less likely there will be any lead generation friction that could cause visitors to abandon your page.
  • Social Sharing: A simple way of getting visitors to engage with your landing page is including social media sharing buttons so that they can spread your content to their social followings. After all, customers are the center of your marketing flywheel.
  • A/B testing: Landing pages are important to get right, and since consumer psychology can sometimes be surprising, it’s always better to experiment with different versions of your pages to see which has the highest conversion rate (CVR). Test the positioning of the offer, kinds of CTAs, or even the color scheme.
  • Call-To-Action: The CTA is where the meat of the landing page is, or the tipping point where prospects become contacts. CTAs could ask visitors to subscribe, download, fill out a form, share on social media, and more — but, overall, CTAs are necessary for getting your audiences more engaged with your offering. To generate leads, CTAs should be bold and eye-catching, but most importantly, they need to effectively communicate value.

Creating Landing Pages That Shine

Landing pages aid in growing your customer base and increasing conversions. Create a page that delights customers with a user interface so great, they continue to come back for more.

This article was originally published April 2, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

What is marketing automation?

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What is marketing automation?


Marketing automation software can improve marketing productivity and increase lead quality. Here’s what you need to know before adopting a marketing automation platform.

Marketing automation is the use of software and web-based services to execute, manage and automate repetitive marketing tasks and processes to more effectively market through multiple channels (i.e., email, mobile, social media, and websites). Marketing automation focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns, allowing the marketing and sales organizations to nurture leads with highly personalized content aimed at attracting and retaining customers.

Today, marketing automation is one of the core activities of a marketing department — whether for a small local business or a large consumer or B2B enterprise. But the platforms that power these activities continue to evolve.

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes



What is marketing automation?

Investments in marketing technology continue to be a priority for businesses across the board, as they strive to meet increased demands for personalization and a need to collect, authenticate and analyze rapidly increasing amounts of consumer data to improve the customer experience (CX). For B2B players, this often means using a marketing automation platform.

Most marketing automation solutions provide tools for email campaign development and execution (including landing pages), as well as lead capture, scoring and nurturing. The platforms also typically provide centralized marketing databases and a basic level of reporting on web traffic, visitor behavior and campaign results.

Combined, the core features offered by most marketing automation platforms profiled in this report include:

  • Email marketing and landing page development;
  • Lead management (i.e., capture, scoring and nurturing);
  • Native CRM integration; and
  • APIs or app marketplaces for faster martech system access.

The more basic functions of marketing automation have become somewhat commoditized, so platform vendors mostly look to differentiate their offerings based on the ability to scale (especially to new marketing channels), usability, ease of implementation and customer experience features. One area growing especially quickly involves the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to suggest audiences or messaging.

Platform vendors are also looking to differentiate themselves by offering more support for increasingly sophisticated customers who have adopted the software and who are looking to justify the investment by proving ROI.

All of this means market is quickly evolving, as marketers demand integrated marketing functionality that rapidly translates into bottom-line return. Vendors continue to add more advanced features to provide marketing end-users with the ability to build, track and manage campaigns across channels and/or devices, and monitor the flow of leads as they move from marketing to sales.

These features include, but are not limited to:

  • Dynamic content generation (email, landing pages and/or website);
  • Email deliverability tools;
  • Account-based marketing (ABM);
  • Mobile marketing;
  • AI-based predictive analytics; and
  • Social/lead profile integration.

Dynamic content generation

Virtually all marketing automation platforms provide the ability to create, send and measure personalized email campaigns. Where they differ is in how email, landing page and website content created and personalized. Some vendors offer wizard-based campaign design or content templates, while others provide a more customized approach.

There are also differences in static vs. dynamically generated content, which adjusts on the fly as prospects interact with a website or form. Progressive profiling is often offered to pre-populate forms with known data and uses a drip approach to capture additional prospect information each time they interact with campaigns.

Message deliverability is also an important factor to consider. Some B2B marketing automation vendors offer dedicated IP addresses to improve deliverability, and/or monitor deliverability by including their own email deliverability services or those from partners. Email previewing is an advanced function but may be critical to marketers that want to reach their audience through mobile devices and see what their message will look like on smaller screens.

The market is quickly evolving, as modern marketers demand integrated marketing functionality that rapidly translates into bottom-line return.


New features are making marketing automation platforms more powerful than ever. Learn about trends and capabilities of marketing automation software in the latest edition of this MarTech Intelligence Report.

Click here to download!


Lead management

Lead management comprises three functions: lead capture, lead scoring and lead nurturing. Leads are captured from a variety of sources that feed the marketing automation database, including (but not limited to) website visitors, social media, paid digital campaigns, email marketing respondents, trade show attendees and purchased third-party lists. Tools will vary based on the ease with which additional lead sources can be captured, such as through an open API, or whether the software offers landing page optimization.

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Lead scoring assigns a value to each lead based on a predetermined set of rules or criteria. Traditional lead scoring models are generally based on two sets of data values: behavior (i.e., site purchases, browsing, social posts) and demographics/firmographics. Many digital marketing automation tools now offer predictive scoring driven by machine learning, which can incorporate hundreds of data points by sourcing websites, social networks and internal systems such as the CRM and marketing database itself to calculate scores.

Lead nurturing is the process of keeping prospects engaged with the brand through periodic, personalized communications or campaigns until they are ready to buy. Marketing automation software may offer a number of pre-built nurturing steps or actions, as well as allow users to customize their content and process. These efforts are meant to build a relationship between the brand and its prospects, and drive interaction with sales if and when the prospect is ready.

Predictive analytics

Virtually all of the marketing automation platforms profiled in this report provide a standard set of analytics that track quantifiable data such as website visitor activity, pages viewed, time spent on site, emails opened, content downloaded and campaign responses. More vendors are offering predictive analytics and models based on machine learning, which uses algorithms to process data and surface trends or insights that enable marketers to customize visitor experiences and marketing campaigns.

Several platforms have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) to go a step beyond machine learning and use technology to “mimic” human intelligence and recommend marketing actions or outcomes. These may include highly personalized website content or product recommendations based on analysis of consumption trends, on-site behavior, firmographics and CRM data. Other vendors rely on plug-and-play integration with predictive analytics tools to offer greater analytics and personalization capabilities.

Mobile marketing automation

Creating an engaging experience for mobile prospects and customers is a must-have capability. As a result, many B2B marketing automation software include responsive templates for email, landing pages and web forms. Several vendors integrate with email testing tools such as Litmus, to allow users to preview email marketing messages across email clients and devices.

More advanced mobile marketing features include SMS/texting, in-app marketing and remote platform management from mobile devices. In-app marketing features can include “push” notifications or ads based on geography (i.e., geo-fencing or beaconing) or during events. Marketing automation vendors have also expanded platform access to mobile users, moving beyond automated alerts and remote data collection to full platform management.

Most marketing automation software profiled in this report provide a standard set of analytics that track quantifiable data such as website visitor activity, pages viewed, time spent on site, emails opened, content downloaded and campaign responses.

Lead nurturing is the process of keeping prospects engaged with the brand through periodic, personalized communications or campaigns until they are ready to buy.

Account-based marketing (ABM)

Aligning marketing initiatives with sales teams has become a leading account-based marketing (ABM) priority for marketers. The goal is to target marketing programs to prospect or customer buying teams, rather than individuals (who may have moved into new positions or firms.) Most of the time, a B2B buyer is not a single person but a buying group. The larger the purchase, the more people and departments are involved. Marketing automation vendors continue to add new ABM features to their platforms to enable marketers to address the buying group as well as individual members, including enhanced account nurturing and predictive scoring capabilities.

Social/lead profile integration

Most of the B2B digital marketing automation vendors profiled in this report provide some level of social media publishing, sharing and tracking within the platform for networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some platforms provide more advanced social media tools to monitor social posts and add social behavior to lead profiles, often using social engagement as a scoring factor. Other platforms enable the use of social media sign-on to capture social profile data and build lead profiles.

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Native CRM integration

With more businesses seeking to align marketing with sales, native or out-of-the-box integration with CRM systems has become a critical feature for marketing automation systems. Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle NetSuite and SugarCRM are some of the most commonly available connectors.

Data is synchronized between the two systems and shared in both directions at frequent intervals. For example, data that is added by a sales rep to an account record in the CRM will be automatically added to the record in the marketing automation tool for marketing end-users to view and act upon, as well.

Third-party software connectivity

B2B marketing automation vendors continue to open their platform architectures through APIs and app marketplaces to offer customers access to an expansive array of third-party software systems. The app marketplaces provide faster “plug-and-play” access between the systems, although there may be additional fees to purchase the marketplace apps.

If a preferred app is not available on a digital marketing automation vendor’s marketplace it doesn’t mean that the two systems won’t connect – it means that some customization will be required. API use does incur additional charges, generally on a per-call basis for each data download

Proactive recommendations based on AI

Martech vendors in many categories, including B2B marketing automation, are working to incorporate functionality that smooths the workflow for marketers using their software. One significant focus is providing users with proactive recommendations or suggestions for best next steps based on aggregated data and historical usage patterns.

Why do you need a marketing automation platform?

Marketers at companies of all sizes can gain these benefits from a marketing automation platform:

  • Increased marketing efficiency. Automating time-consuming, manual tasks around content creation, management and personalization; campaign scheduling and execution; data hygiene (i.e. duplicate or inconsistent data residing in various silos); communication with sales; and lead nurturing saves time and improves productivity.
  • Enhanced ability to generate more and better qualified leads. Marketing automation can combine multiple criteria, including demographic, firmographic and behavioral data (pages visited, downloads, filled out forms) with a lead scoring system to generate and identify sales-qualified leads.
  • A multichannel view of prospect behavior. Today’s digital marketing automation platforms are integrating multiple channels and devices – including social media and mobile — to create more comprehensive prospect profiles and holistic views of prospect behavior.
  • Better alignment of sales and marketing goals. Marketing automation software can help align sales and marketing efforts to ensure that sales reps are working with sales-ready leads. By working cooperatively to set scoring parameters and define qualified leads, sales and marketing become one team. Marketing works on building relationships with early stage leads to enable sales to focus their efforts on the most highly qualified prospects.
  • Improved lead conversion and ROI. Numerous studies have found that using a marketing automation system can increase conversions. Forrester found that B2B marketers implementing marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their sales-pipeline contribution. Marketing automation can result in a 15% increase in sales productivity as well as a 12% decrease in marketing overhead, according to tech research firm Nucleus Research.

Explore marketing automation solutions from vendors like Marketo, HubSpot, Salesforce and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on marketing automation platforms.

Click here to download!


The role of marketing automation platforms

In May of 2019, Forrester’s Laura Cross, VP and principal analyst for demand- and account-based marketing, speculated that MAPs have “not evolved to keep up with the needs of the modern demand marketer.” Indeed, marketing automation platforms are so well-established as to be rarely discussed. For example, it’s difficult to find independent projections on marketing automation spend, with the latest numbers from Forrester projecting global spend to reach $25.1 billion by 2023, up from $11.4 billion in 2017. However, that was published in April of 2018 as its Marketing Automation Technology Forecast, 2017-2023.

As of yet, though, there’s no sign of marketing automation platforms going extinct. However, companies in the MAP category expanding into areas like “multimedia marketing hubs” or “CRM lead management” or “account-based marketing.” Notably, marketing automation platforms had no spot at all on Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing, 2021. Could this be because it has already transitioned to what Gartner calls the “plateau of productivity”?

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Where marketing automation providers seem to be giving up a little bit of territory is from customer data plaforms, which are sometimes taking over the data management and audience segmentation tasks previously handled by MAPs.

At the same time, these CDPs also still feature integrations with marketing automation platforms because they still perform functions that other systems lack.

Will CDP’s replace marketing automation platforms?

The must-have, much-hyped customer data platform (CDP) appears to have its eyes on B2B marketers, promising to handle vast amounts of data to deliver highly-personalized customer experiences. 

Adobe’s Real-time CDP announced new features aimed at B2B brands in November 2020, which include a pre-built connector to its B2B Marketing Automation Platform, Marketo Engage. Dun & Bradstreet, with its D&B Lattice CDP, also understandably has a primarily B2B focus.

Though CDP platforms are still relatively new, adoption has been rapid and these tools could eventually pose a threat to marketing automation platforms as they provide some of the same tools and functionalities.

Who’s who in B2B Marketing Automation: The vendor landscape

The enterprise B2B marketing automation market is concentrated among a few cloud vendors, including Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe. Acquisitions by these players aimed at consolidating their positions at the top of the market have now been largely integrated.

Oracle made its acquisition of Eloqua in December 2012, becoming the first to add this capability to its offerings. Salesforce followed by adding Pardot in 2013 when it acquired ExactTarget, which had purchased Pardot the year before. The foundation of Adobe’s capabilities in the space is its 2018 purchase of rival marketing automation platform Marketo for $4.72 billion. It had previously bought Magento Commerce for $1.68 billion.

2019 saw a great deal of action in the space. The year saw Acoustic formed as a standalone company after IBM spun off its Watson Marketing operation. IBM’s Unica marketing automation platform went to HCL Technologies that year.

Among independent martech providers that year, we saw the acquisition of Mautic by open-source cloud platform Acquia for an undisclosed sum in May of 2019, only to have the parent purchased by Vista Partners in September for $1B. Also in May, SugarCRM picked up Salesfusion and re-branded it Sugar Market, in a deal in which terms were not publicly disclosed.

The pandemic year of 2020 saw acquisitions of smaller players, for the most part. CRM company Pipedrive purchased Mailigen for an undisclosed sum in March of 2020. Facebook picked up Kustomer, largely described as a CRM firm but also boasting messaging automation functionality, in November 2020 for a reported $1 billion.

December 2020 saw marketing automation/attribution player Springbot acquire Matcha, giving it content management capabilities. Meanwhile, Thryv Holdings acquired Melbourne, Australia-based Sensis in March 2020, rebranding it as Thryv in September 2021.

Date Transactions
2021 – Maropost acquires e-commerce platform Neto in March 2021 for $60M plus additional consideration,
subsequently rebranding the platform Maropost Commerce Cloud.

– Constant Contact purchases SharpSpring for $240M, adding to its stable of offerings for SMBs.

– ActiveCampaign raises $240M in Series C funding that values it at more than $3B, following a 2020 round of $100M. The company says it plans to invest in product development, expansion and building its partner ecosystem.

2020 – Springbot buys Matcha. Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

– Facebook acquires Kustomer for a reported $1B.

– Pipedrive buys Mailigen for an undisclosed sum. Thryv Holdings buys Sensis for $200M,
later rebranding it as Thryv.

2019 – Acquia acquires Mautic (terms not disclosed). Vista Equity Partners later (Sept 2019) buys Acquia for $1B

– SugarCRM buys Salesfusion (undisclosed amount); rebrands it to Sugar Market. The acquisition followed the company’s buy of Collabspot and preceded its purchase of Corvana. These units are now called Sugar Connect and Sugar Discover, respectively.

– Mailchimp acquires Sawa (undisclosed sum)

– Infusionsoft rebrands as Keap; launches CRM

– j2Global acquires iContact for $49M

2018 – Salesforce acquires Rebel (undisclosed sum)

– Infusionsoft (now known as Keap) secures $20M in Series E funding led by ORIX USA Corp.

– Adobe acquires Marketo for $4.75B

Salesforce acquires Datorama for $800M

– Adobe acquires Magneto Commerce for $1.68B

– Salesforce acquires Mulesoft $6.5B and CloudCraze (undisclosed sum)

Source: Third Door Media, Crunchbase

There will likely be more acquisitions and positioning shifts to come, as marketing automation capabilities are combined with categories like CRM, lead management and campaign automation.

The consolidation kept coming in 2021, with Maropost acquiring e-commerce platform Neto in March 2021 for $60M plus additional consideration, subsequently rebranding the platform Maropost Commerce Cloud. In September, Constant Contact purchased SharpSpring, adding to its stable of offerings for SMBs.

Get the in-depth scoop on B2B Marketing Automation in our buyer’s guide. Download it now!

 


About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.



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What is a customer data platform (CDP) and why do marketers need one?

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What is a customer data platform (CDP) and why do marketers need one?


A customer data platform, usually called a CDP, is a marketer-managed system designed to collect customer data from all sources, normalize it and build unique, unified profiles of each individual customer. The result is a persistent, unified customer database that shares data with other marketing technology systems.

The idea of a single view of the customer has been on marketers’ wish lists for years. But disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic has raised interest in precisely the types of solutions that CDPs deliver, which includes that single-view of the customer. With pandemic concerns spurring the movement of customer interactions – both B2B and B2C – to digital channels, marketers are increasingly interested in technologies that collect data from those interactions, unify them, deliver insights and enable campaign orchestration.

CDPs enable marketers to create a single view of the customer by gathering data from software deployed
throughout the organization. High expectations, along with the proliferation of possible customer touchpoints, make cross-device IDs and identity resolution — the ability to consolidate and normalize disparate sets of data collected across multiple touchpoints into an individual profile that represents the customer or prospect — critical for helping marketers, sales and service professionals deliver the ideal total customer experience. CDPs offer this consolidation and normalization and also make the data profiles freely available to other systems that deliver campaigns, webpages and other interactions.



What is a customer data platform (CDPs)?

As the marketer appetite for CDPs has grown, existing companies with various backgrounds — from tag management to analytics to data management — have seen the opportunity and refashioned themselves in the CDP mold. Meanwhile, others have started up with the CDP category in mind from the start, and some well-established players have responded to market pressure and developed a CDP capability.

A CDP is not a CRM, DMP or marketing automation platform. A CDP provides a unified, persistent customer database that provides data transparency and granularity at the known, individual level. A CDP can identify customers from many different data sources by stitching together information under a unique, individual identifier. The CDP then stores its own copy of the data.

CDPs also give marketers control over customer data collection, segmentation and orchestration through native (out-of-the-box) integration that minimizes the need for IT or developer involvement. And lastly, CDPs offers data integration of both known and anonymous customer data with any external source or platform, including CRM, point of sale (POS), mobile, transactional, website, email and marketing automation.

We support the CDP Institute’s definition of a “RealCDP,” which requires it be able to do the following five things:

  • Ingest data from any source.
  • Capture full detail of ingested data.
  • Store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints).
  • Create unified profiles of identified individuals.
  • Share data with any system that needs it.

Virtually all of the CDP vendors that meet that criteria provide the following core capabilities:

  • Data management (collect, normalize and unify customer data in a persistent database),
    often after IDs have been matched by other systems.
  • Features designed for use by the marketing organization and other departments, without the
    aid of IT or data science resources. (Though some functions, like building connections to other
    platforms and performing sophisticated data modeling, still require additional resources.)
  • Connections to and from all external systems on a vendor-neutral basis.
  • Structured and unstructured data management.
  • Online and offline data management.
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CDP vendors differentiate by offering more advanced capabilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Native identity resolution to stitch customer data snippets from disparate sources.
  • The number and breadth of robust pre-built connectors to other martech systems. The near-universal availability of APIs means connections are always possible (with more or less developer involvement), but offering pre-built, tested integrations adds value.
  • User interface (UI). The vendors differ in the user-friendliness of their interfaces and the methods people use to do things like create segments, view profiles, etc.
  • Analytics, including those powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, that surface insights, enable journey mapping, audience segmentation and predictive modeling.
  • Orchestration for personalized messaging, dynamic interactions and product/content recommendations.
  • Compliance with vertical industry and international data regulations.

Now, let’s look at the key considerations involved in choosing a CDP.

Customer data management

Data collection and maintenance is a core CDP customer data management platform function. All CDPs provide a central database that collects and integrates personally identifiable customer data across the enterprise.cFrom there, however, CDPs vary in their abilities to manage the following:

  • Data ingestion capabilities: CDPs use various mechanisms to ingest the data that goes into the unified customer profile — mobile SDKs, APIs, Webhooks or built-in connectors to other platforms. Identity resolution: The platform “stitches” together customer data points, such as email addresses, phone numbers, first-party cookies and purchase data, from various channels matching them to create a single customer profile.
  • Identity resolution: The platform “stitches” together customer data points, such as email addresses, phone numbers, first-party cookies and purchase data, from various channels matching them to create a single customer profile. Some players partner with other providers for this capability, while others have their own systems.
  • Online/offline data: The platform leverages identity resolution or an identity graph to stitch together behaviors in order to create a unified profile.
  • Data hygiene: The platform enables users to clean and standardize customer records.
  • Structured/unstructured data: CDPs differ in their capabilities to manage unstructured data (i.e., social media feeds, product photos, barcodes), which may comprise up to 80% of all data by 2025, according to IDG.

The importance of each of these data management capabilities will depend on a particular organization’s business goals, and whether it has a significant mobile presence, direct mail budget or brick-and-mortar stores and/or agents.

Analytics

CDP vendors offer data analytics capabilities that can do some or all of the following: allow marketing end-users to define and create customer segments, track customers across channels and glean insights into customer interest and intent from customer behavior and trends.

The functionality provided can include predictive models, revenue attribution and journey mapping. To one extent or another, many of these capabilities may utilize machine learning or artificial intelligence to surface insights about audiences and proactively offer suggestions about the best next step to move a prospect through their purchase journey.

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Orchestration

A select group of CDPs provide campaign management and customer journey orchestration features that enable personalized messaging, dynamic web and email content recommendations, as well as campaigns that trigger targeted ads across multiple channels.

The customer data platform often automates the distribution of marketer-created customer segments on a user-defined schedule to external martech systems such as marketing automation platforms, email service providers (ESPs), or web content management systems for campaign execution.

For example, the CDP could deliver targeted content to a web visitor during a live interaction. To do this, the CDP must accept input about visitor behavior from the customer-facing system, find the customer profile within its database, select the appropriate content and send the results back to the customer-facing system. A customer data platform may also facilitate digital advertising through an audience API that sends customer lists from the CDP to systems (i.e., DMP, DSP, ad exchange) that will use them as advertising audiences.

Data regulation compliance

CDP vendors vary in the support they provide for compliance with the wide range of vertical market and international regulations that safeguard customer data privacy. Some build compliance features into their platforms, while others rely on outside systems. The European Union’s GDPR was implemented in May 2018 and impacts all U.S. marketers and data firms handling European data or serving customers in the EU. Brands marketing to Canadian consumers through email must also comply with the country’s CASL (Canada Anti-Spam
Legislation). Meanwhile, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect in January of 2020.

Marketers in the highly regulated healthcare market must follow HIPAA and HITECH regulations. In addition, all organizations that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information must maintain a secure environment that meets Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), as well.

Third-party systems integration

CDPs streamline integration of customer data by providing out-of-the-box (or native) connectors for many martech systems, including CRMs, DMPs, marketing automation platforms, DSPs, and campaign analytics and testing tools. Most marketing organizations have assembled a marketing stack that contains many of these types of platforms. But integrating the data that resides in the martech ecosystem is a huge challenge — one that costs U.S. brands millions of dollars annually. The majority of CDPs profiled in this report also provide at least a basic API to enable custom integrations.


Explore platform capabilities from vendors like Blueconic, Tealium, Treasure Data and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on customer data platforms.

Click here to download!


What are the benefits of using a CDP?

Marketing executives today are in charge of dozens of martech applications to manage, analyze and act on a growing volume of first-party customer data. But despite increasing efficiency, the emerging martech ecosystem has created problems with data redundancy, accuracy and integration.

Automating customer data accuracy and integration through a CDP can provide numerous benefits to marketers and to other functions across the enterprise.

These include the following:

Expanded enterprise collaboration. A CDP fosters cooperation among siloed groups because it gathers data from throughout the enterprise and supports customer interactions across many touchpoints. The unification of data allows enterprises to see how strategies for audience, customer experience and execution all fit together – and enables audience portability to ensure a more consistent, informed customer experience.

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Improved data accessibility. A CDP is a centralized hub that collects and houses customer data from every corner of the enterprise. Pieces of data are normalized and stitched together to build unique, unified profiles of each individual customer. The result is a persistent customer database whose main purpose is to gather and share data more easily and efficiently across the organization

Streamlined systems integration. A CDP unifies data systems across the enterprise, from marketing and customer service, to call centers and payment systems. By creating a single “system of record” for first-party customer data, data redundancies and errors can be minimized, and data can flow more quickly into — and out of — marketing automation platforms, email service providers (ESPs), CRMs and other martech systems.

Increased marketing efficiency. A CDP unifies individual data with unique IDs that create more robust customer records. Many manual tasks are also automated by the CDP, allowing marketers to focus on the creative and analytical tasks they are trained for. The result is more accurate modeling, targeting and personalization in marketing campaigns, and more relevant customer experiences with the brand across channels.

Faster marketing velocity. In many cases, CDPs are “owned” by marketing, minimizing the need for IT or developer intervention to collect, analyze and act upon data. With control in marketers’ hands, the time to segment and build audiences, execute campaigns and analyze results significantly decreases. That said, engineers may still be needed to perform deep data analysis and facilitate integrations. This is especially true as CDPs extend beyond marketing and into sales and service functions.

Stronger regulatory compliance. A CDP creates greater internal control over customer data, streamlining data governance to comply with the many regulations now impacting brands worldwide. Marketers in the healthcare industry must comply with both HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Businesses that handle European data or serve customers in the EU must also comply with GDPR and those dealing with Californians must deal with CCPA
(California Consumer Privacy Act). The majority of CDP vendors are both ISO and SOC certified for best practices in handling personally identifiable information (PII).


About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.



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Real Story on MarTech: Beware of vendor bullying

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Real Story on MarTech: Beware of vendor bullying


Let’s say you work in martech for a large, well-known enterprise. It’s a global firm, a recognized brand. Ideally, you’d want to follow a structured, test-based approach for how you bring new technology into the enterprise, and you’d expect participating vendors to follow your lead in the vetting process — out of respect, if nothing else.

Well, reality can prove itself quite different. In Real Story Group’s role as a buyer’s advocate for martech stack leaders, we’ve noticed a recurring trend where larger software companies often disrupt well-reasoned martech selection strategies through aggressive and frequently questionable tactics.

Of course, none of this is new, and perhaps vendor bullying today is more subtle than in years past — but it remains just as persistent.

A typical scenario

Imagine this scenario: You and your team go through a proper technology selection process. You do everything right. Your team comes to an educated consensus decision. Based on empirical testing, you are on the verge of selecting a platform not sold by one of the big vendors.  However, these big vendors are aggressive, publicly-traded companies, not used to getting turned down.

So they approach a board member or senior exec at your firm, trying for an end-around your process. Unfortunately, there’s a long history in software sales of “selling up the chain.”  Back in the day, this meant deals on the golf course; more recently, it’s cajoling over lunch, at executive councils, and boardroom get-togethers.

Now it might seem anachronistic to talk about a supplier bullying a customer. As the buyer, don’t you have power in this situation? But that’s just the point. Large martech vendors employ specific methods to disempower enterprise selection teams.

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How it works

Here’s what I often see:

  1. High-ranking executives from the major software vendor demand a meeting with your boss’s boss or a C-level executive. Given that this vendor may work with other parts of your enterprise and everyone wants to maintain this relationship, they typically get the meeting. Or they have already networked with your leadership at industry events.
  2. The vendor touts traditional, one-size-fits-all analyst rankings to prove they are “a leader.” If you select anyone other than a leader, it means a risk to the customer’s business (and, by implication, valuations and careers).
  3. They belittle the enterprise selection team: “They’re not strategically thinking like you need to do…”
  4. They belittle the selection process: “They got lost in the weeds and focused too much on functionality.” (This is a particularly ugly allegation because the most bully-prone vendors tend to carry the most technical debt, so they often want to avoid test-based selection processes.)

If all else fails, the vendor may dramatically slash their pricing at the last minute as a defensive move or even give something away cheaply or for free. This isn’t exactly bullying, but it warps the process for sure. Just remember, technology is never truly free.

A tale of two enterprises

Recently, I’ve witnessed two dramatically different outcomes to these tactics taken by one of the most notorious of these vendors. (If you’re an RSG subscriber, contact me to hear the gory details.)

The vendor bullied Enterprise #1 into selecting an ill-fitting solution against the wishes of an interdepartmental selection team, persuading a senior executive sponsor that only that vendor’s array of platform offerings would prove robust enough. The implementation was so difficult and expensive that it did not launch after two years. They’re now engaged in a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

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Enterprise #2 said no to the same bully. The alternative system they selected has recently launched, and while no technology is perfect, the reception has been positive so far. The losing vendor’s calls and threats haven’t stopped completely. But when questions come from upper management, because the process was grounded in user-centered design thinking, the activation team can prove that their choice will lead to the best adoption and drive better business value.

Ultimately the fate of your enterprise is often going to depend on the strength of your leadership and, by extension, your ability to connect your decision to strategic business objectives. If you can cast your decision in terms of key metrics you’re trying to move, it becomes less susceptible to outside manipulation.

What you should do

First, recognize that often the biggest martech vendors carry the biggest risks.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid the über-players in these markets, but it does mean you have to prepare for them to try to bulldoze over you should you not tip things their way.

Since the bullying is real – and so are the long-term consequences of making bad technology decisions – you need to give your team and leadership the ammunition to push back. Let me know if I can help. In the meantime, feel free to share your experience with this phenomenon via the hashtag #VendorBullied on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Real Story on MarTech is presented through a partnership between MarTech and Real Story Group, a vendor-agnostic research and advisory organization that helps enterprises make better marketing technology stack and platform selection decisions.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Jarrod Gingras is Managing Director and Analyst at Real Story Group, a customer-focused technology analyst firm. Jarrod specializes in DAM and Content Technologies, as well as helping large enterprises make good decisions around martech of all kinds. Twitter: @jarrodgingras LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jarrodgingras/

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