Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Adobe, Salesforce, SAS and Oracle are leading the cross-channel campaign management pack, according to the latest Forrester research.
The new Forrester Wave: Cross Channel Campaign Management Report for Q2 2016, explores leading martech providers and how each stacks up in terms of providing cross-channel solutions for B2C marketers.
According to the report, Adobe, Salesforce, SAS, and Oracle are leading the way in terms of comprehensive capabilities and feature sets. Underneath them, IBM, Pitney Bowes, SmartFocus, Pegasystems, RedPoint Global, Emarsys, Experian marketing services and Selligent offer competitive options.
The analyst firm said those lagging due to restructuring initiatives are Teradata, Teradata marketing applications and SDL. Rankings were based on a combination of current offering, strategy and market presence.
Critical capabilities identified by Forrester in a cross-channel campaign platform include advanced analytics, real-time interaction management, and digital channel delivery versus traditional marketing automation tools.
Overall, the research revealed schedule-based cross-channel campaign workflows are becoming outdated and less effective, while improved capabilities for real-time interactions and digital marketing will dictate which providers lead the pack. Forrester also said vendors that can underpin interactive capabilities with customer data management, advanced analytics and agile optimisation tools position themselves to successfully meet today’s cross-channel marketing requirements.
Adobe Campaign was highlighted by Forrester for both its platform specific capabilities as well as ability to integrate with Adobe Analytics and Experience Manager along with social media, digital advertising and real-time requirements.
“While its email capabilities are still gaining strength compared to those of larger email service providers, and the depth of its offline integration trails that of traditional CCCM vendors, Adobe provides a well-rounded solution for cross-channel marketers,” the report stated.
Salesforce, meanwhile, was a good option for SaaS-based marketing with an email backbone and incorporated email, mobile and Web marketing in one suite, Forrester said. Criticisms were less about the platform and more about pricing and integration with third-party tools.
“Salesforce’s Audience Builder and Contact Builder provide marketer-friendly data management that is fully integrated with its Content Builder to empower digital marketers of various skill levels,” the Forrester report stated. “Similarly, Salesforce Personalisation Builder puts easy-to-ease optimisation tools directly in the hands of marketers, winning high marks for usability, thought the underlying algorithms are not as robust as those from analytics leaders.”
SAS was positioned by Forrester as the most advanced marketing analytics platform, just lacking in native capabilities for managing digital marketing execution. Oracle’s focus on digital execution and content management capabilities for email, mobile, Web, ecommerce and digital advertising, along with its business support focus, make it a comprehensive suite of capabilities even as integration remains a challenge for the vendor.
Across the board, Forrester said customer references showed integrating online and offline interactions and orchestrating interactions across marketing, sales and service were key challenges in cross-channel campaign management.
However, vendors analysed in the report said their number one challenge was understanding customer behaviour across channels and devices. They also said they struggled with attribution, marketing performance measurement, and understanding optimal customer journeys.
Forrester also noted that while B2C marketers have proven their proficiency in executing email campaigns, and 95 per cent of platform users have adopted email, only about half have taken responsibility for Web personalisation or ecommerce offers in their organisations. Even fewer have incorporated social, mobile and online advertising into their cross-channel campaign environments.
Real-time customs engagement
According to Forrester, transforming traditional cross-channel campaign management environments for real-time customer context is another challenge for B2C marketers, who want solutions that facilitate greater customer understanding across any channel. This is as much a cultural as technological issue, and Forrester advised B2C marketers to change their approaches to customer recognition, contextually relevant offers, cross-channel interactions, measurement and optimisation in order to success.
At the same time, the lines between cross-channel management and real-time interaction management are blurring as B2C marketers transition from executing scheduled campaigns to orchestrating contextually relevant interactions with individual customers, Forrester stated.