The growing demand for the digital marketing cloud

The idea was first put forward by IBM, but Adobe was the first one to implement it. The lead was followed by Salesforce and HP. And now Oracle is nearly there too. This is the world of the digital marketing cloud where five giant enterprises battle out and try to impress CMOs in an attempt to increase their market share.

Five different companies: one goal, one destination, one path. So who is going to get there first? Which of these is going to be the first company ever to offer a complete set of marketing tools, based on an integrated end-to-end solution, perfect for the digital fanatic CMOs?

Each of the five companies mentioned above has their own pros and cons. We’ll talk about this and we’ll talk about so much more in what follows. Understanding the digital marketing cloud

You have already heard about the cloud. Now attempts are being made to turn this cloud into a marketing system, but so far no one has been able to achieve this completely. Instead, cloud marketing services offer disparate software programs, some of which have yet to be integrated.

In the simplest of terms, the digital marketing cloud is a service in which all data relevant to marketing is stored on external servers, which are located off-site. Organizations want to use this data to advertise their products and services through an integrated digital solution, which is specialized for the end users. Using these methods, the aim is to target customers with online applications via social platforms and online portals like Twitter and Facebook.

What are the main components of a digital marketing cloud?
Every digital could marketing should service should offer four main components

Multi-channel marketing automation – for developing and promoting content on several channels including social and mobile platforms so as to attract more customers
Content management tools – for creating and managing content that can be published on different channels
Social media tools – for keeping a track of online conversations and engaging with customers
Analytics Platform – for evaluating marketing campaigns, figuring out which ones are bringing results and which ones are not effectiveIBM, Adobe, Salesforce, HP and Oracle offer all of the above mentioned components to certain a degree.

Using them as a benchmark, we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each and gauge their overall performance.Digital marketing cloud is worth considering for all CMOs in 2015

Cloud marketing is a cost effective option, which is the biggest reason CMOs should go for it. With a set of integrated solutions, marketers can access and approach target customers faster and more effectively. Plus, everything is customizable as per the needs of the end user.

Adobe may not be a cloud marketing leader, but it is still the first company which offered an integrated digital marketing hub, which it accomplished after the acquisition of Omniture. Now known as Adobe Analytics, this serves as the core of Adobe’s marketing solutions.

Adobe Analytics is powerful software which segments web traffic into specific group on the basis of online behavior and demographics. Other programs such as Adobe Social and Experience Manger can be integrated with Analytics for more effective management.

So what makes Adobe a better choice than others out there? Creativity in terms of design and data. And since Adobe understood all of it first, it is a step ahead than other enterprises. But where does fail? Their solutions focus on the marketing side only, and do not give much attention to sales. So while Adobe will let CMOs focus ion content and analytics, it will not be of much help when it comes to CRM.

CRM may be Adobe’s weaknesses, and for Salesforce, it is their strength. Pair it up with Buddy Media and Radian6, and Salesforce will be close to perfect, but it still is not there yet. Radian6 is a tool which allows marketers to listen and monitor conversations on several social platforms. In 2012, it was termed the leader among listening platforms and received special praise for its dashboard which offers a comprehensive set of features.

Buddy Media is used for publishing and managing content on social media platforms. It is also regarded as the leader by many in the social marketing world.

Salesforce may have found integration of the components easy, but the road is till long. Individually, all the products are perfect, but when combined together, they fail to impress because they are not reaching their full potential.

And do not forget, Salesforce offers no platform which allows content to be created. Instead, a third party platform has to be integrated with Salesforce solutions.

Oracle was the last one to step into the battle, and since then has demonstrated commendable performance. Their strengths are databases and CRM solutions. People expect that Salesforce will create a digital marketing cloud that offers a unique experience by including sales and service as a primary component.

With Eloqua and Responsys, Oracle sure has an edge when it comes to multi-channel marketing automations. Both these tools are among the best out there and fours on solutions for both B2B and B2C marketing campaigns. Thus, with Oracle, you can expect future integration to be much better, which will cater to the needs of both the marketing and sales side of the business. And future companies will never need to step beyond Oracle for their business workflows.

Does that make Oracle the number one choice? Not really. For starters, Oracle joined the game late, which puts it behind in a lot of aspects. They may be hosting powerful products, but the acquisitions still have to be finalized and more important than that is the integration. Oracle also does not have any web analytics platform as yet.

The fact that they came up with the idea before anyone else does give them credit. With traditional marketing at the focus, IBM is trying to integrate it with digital technology. What this means is that their solutions take into the entire commerce chain, starting from supply and going all the way up to customer fulfillment. So other than marketing, there is lot more in between.

IBM is considered to be a leader in the technological, e-commerce and data world, but it has yet to integrate all of its solution together. Problem is IBM is focused more on the commerce side than the marketing side, which is making things slightly complex for them. In the few years, they may be number one, but right now, the title cannot be given to them.

With their data centric approach, HP has a host of solutions to offer such as TeamSite, Medianbin and Optimost. They are specialists when it comes to Big Data and are using it for recognizing and developing real time responses to the targeted audience. Thus, HP can offer an experience which will be in accordance to a customer’s behavior during that instance.

But HP is still new in the field and other companies are years ahead of it.

So who is the winner?
It is a bit too early to decide, but since Adobe put all of it together first, it may be ahead right now. In the time to come, other companies may bag away the title. For instance, Salesforce offers tools which are number one in their respective industries, whereas HP is strong when it comes to Big Data.

Akin Naphtal, Group CEO, InstinctWave

IBM also puts conventional marketing into the picture and Oracle is a versatile star. We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out to be in a couple of years from now.