Gartner highlights leaders, visionaries in the multichannel marketing tech field

Latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs 2021 assesses vendors with platforms for marketing and communications orchestration

Gartner has released its 2021 annual Magic Quadrant for enterprise marketing cloud offerings, highlighting Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, SAS, Acoustic and SAP as leaders in this marketing technology field.

The analyst firm’s latest report on Multichannel Marketing Hubs (MMH) assesses vendors with platforms for marketing and communications orchestration. Core capabilities required to be considered in this category include demonstrated functionality and support for customer profile management, segmentation, campaign and message creation, campaign workflow and campaign and message execution. Vendors must also prove multichannel marketing functionality, advanced functionality supporting personalisation, content management, event triggering and real-time offer management in inbound and outbound environments, as well as analytics functionality for customer-level data, analysis and experimentation, predictive analytics and customer journey analytics.

The latest report noted 20 players in the MMH space across leader, challenger, visionary and niche player quadrants. In the leaders quadrant are the industry’s six largest players: Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, SAS, Acoustic and SAP.

For Gartner, Salesforce Marketing Cloud ‘s strengths include consistent product execution, a strong track record in integration acquisitions, including Evergage as Interaction Studio, strong credentials in integration between Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Experience Cloud, and superior customer data and profile management through its Customer 360 Audiences offering.

On the flip side, Gartner cautioned around potential complexity due to Salesforce’s expansive product vision, along with an aging user interface, implementation challenges due to the sprawling nature of Salesforce Marketing Cloud tools, plus high cost of adoption.

Adobe was also recognised as a leader in the MMH field for its Adobe Campaign offering, part of the Adobe Experience Cloud. According to Gartner, the vendor’s strengths include its recently launched decisioning service enabling marketers to manage and deliver next-best offers to customers regardless of channel. Other strengths are journey orchestration tools and improved self-service controls for integration between Campaign and other Adobe experience platforms, and native support for GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act compliance.

Cautions around the Adobe platform included the matrix nature of the Experience Platform and availability of features in multiple places, making it difficult to choose appropriate products based on needs. A lack of native support for social listening, publishing and advertising, and overall complexity in mastering the solution set, were also cited.  

Oracle was third in the leaders field, noted by Gartner for its Oracle Responsys Campaign Management solution. This offers a growing suite of AI and machine learning enabled features for audience prioritisation, predictive customer lifetime value, open rate and fatigue analysis. The platform was also praised for the ability to add capabilities from other applications in the CX portfolio as needed plus lightweight and configurable campaign and program analysis.

Cautions included slow development of US enhancements and roadmap items, the need to involve client service or support teams to access key features of the platform, and lack of demand for Oracle’s solutions against its primary competitors.

Pros to the SAS platform include its Customer Intelligence 360 suite, which leverages the vendor’s rich analytics heritage for predictive analytics and insights, plus support for hybrid data requirements and connection into a broader range of SAS solutions extending beyond marketing use cases. Cautions include concerns around lack of local market product expertise, modular and therefore varied pricing metrics, and the vendor’s limited revenue growth in 2020, making SAS an outlier compared to other MMH providers.

SAP Marketing Cloud, which includes modules for dynamic customer profiling, segmentation, campaign and journey management plus marketing analytics as well as the recently launched SAP Customer Data Platform, also saw the vendor reach Gartner’s leaders ranks for MMH. Alongside strong customer profiling tools, SAP was noted for its growing global partner network and complex segmentation use cases for B2B and B2C.

However, the acquisition of Emarsys, SAP’s heritage in selling to IT rather than marketing teams, and functional inconsistencies in email creation and content studios plus workflow usability were noted as cons by Gartner.

Acoustic, spun out of IBM, was recognised for its cohesive user experience across Marketing Cloud modules, from campaign creation to optimisation, competitive pricing, and dedicated customer success director for each account. Against this, Gartner cautioned Acoustic is still a relatively new player in the field, raising the need to clarify its product roadmap, customer references and support services to determine fit. The vendor’s reporting was also noted as below par.

The rest of the pack

Outside the leaders ranks, Gartner highlighted Pegasystems and Emarsys as visionaries within the MMH category for their completeness of vision but lower ability to execute.

Challenger MMH vendors, meanwhile, that show ability to execute but less completeness of vision, included Cheetah Digital, Redpoint Global and Optimove. The bulk of the MMH vendors Gartner assessed fell into the ‘niche’ player category and included Resulticks, Braze, Insider, iterable, Acquia, Sailthru, Selligent Marketing Cloud, BlueVenn (now being acquired by Upland Software) and HCL Software.

Gartner pointed out inquiry volumes around MMHs rose more than 200 per cent year-over-year in 2020, reflecting marketers’ urgency to implement and optimise this core martech system.

“Yet, even if MMHs function as centres of gravity within the martech stack, marketers still have room to mature how and the degree to which they use their MMH,” the report authors stated. “According to Gartner’s 2020 Marketing Technology Survey, marketers are using on average 52 per cent of their MMH’s available functionality. That figure trails the 58 per cent average utilisation rate for their martech stack’s full breadth of capabilities.”

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