Aprimo Making Smart Moves in Marketing Automation Space, Rides Shift to Digital Marketing in the Cloud


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Way back in 2001 (gee that seems like eons ago) I had the pleasure of keynoting a CRM conference in Singapore, speaking about PRM. Preceding me on stage was this Oracle executive named Lisa Arthur. And if memory serves she got even better speaker evaluation scores than I did. Drat!

Well, a few months ago Arthur popped up again, this time as CMO of Aprimo. Turns out that after our paths crossed on the other side of the globe, she went on to lead Oracle CRM marketing, then all of services marketing. Huge jobs. After serving her time at Oracle, Arthur become CMO at Akamai followed by a stint in consulting.

In August 2009, Arthur joined Aprimo as their fearless marketing leader. Aprimo, founded in 1998, has a good reputation in marketing circles, but their industry profile has been a bit low key. In the announcement Arthur said that “Aprimo is the best kept secret in marketing,”—quite a statement for a company that sells, um, marketing solutions.

Anyway, after a few updates from Arthur and the Aprimo folks over the past few months, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re making a move towards market leadership, competing for big marketing automation deals with CRM vendors like SAP and Oracle/Siebel and with EMM pioneer Unica. While also offering more specialized functions found in smaller/newer vendors in B2B lead management, web analytics, social marketing and more.

Interactive marketing in the cloud

And, oh yes, Aprimo is going on-demand in a big way, which Arthur says is now “table stakes” based on the company’s research. On-demand is also essential to provide easy to configure and use solutions for smaller businesses that won’t tolerate complexity like, say, Bank of America, one of Aprimo’s flagship customers.

One thing I don’t quite understand is why the company uses the term “on-demand” when everyone else is jumping on the “cloud computing” bandwagon.

Last November Aprimo unveiled Aprimo Marketing Studio™ to enable marketers to develop, implement and manage online marketing campaigns. The main point is to provide one integrated platform that handles search, email campaigns and banners, trying to simplify the lives of interactive marketers that are currently stitching together products from multiple vendors.

One of the more innovative new features is the ability to create blog posts while helping bloggers write content that includes words and phrases prospective buyers might use when searching. As I told Arthur, this is a great idea provided that bloggers don’t turn their posts into sales pitches. But let’s face it, most everyone blogs to increase visibility, so if this tool is used wisely it’s marketing goodness and may help justify blogging in some companies.

New unified platform

But that’s not all. In January Aprimo announced Aprimo 8.5, a “huge release” that included 32 products in one codebase according to Haresh Gangwani, VP of Product Marketing. He says the intent is to make Aprimo the “web top” of marketers and to deliver all function through a unified suite, in an easy-to-use solution. That’s a tall order.

One of the more notable improvements in my opinion is a native email deliverability solution, so customers don’t have to rely on 3rd party vendors. Aprimo 8.5 also offers native access to Teradata, enables the publishing of microsites externally and can report on data outside of Aprimo. This strikes me as a nice balance of an integrated suite with a pragmatic approach to connecting to other systems and data sources when it makes sense.

Some companies may save money by replacing multiple vendors with an Aprimo solution, but that’s not the main point according to Suresh Vittal, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Rather, he says that “the whole adds more value than just the sum of the parts by better visibility, analytics, optimization and collaboration.”

Right, but I still think that cutting license fees will be an easier sell in many organizations. Cutting costs = happy CFOs = approved deals.

Growth strategy

So Aprimo can grow by being a marketing automation “consolidator” in certain large enterprises that grow weary of the cost and complexity of point solution integration. Or by offering an integrated online marketing suite for growing mid-sized companies that want cloud-based solutions for speedy implementation and ease of use.

That’s a nice one-two punch for growth in an industry that has good opportunity but also a lot of competitors. Too many.

Put it all together, and my take is that Aprimo is making smart moves in the early jockeying to be one of the “last vendors standing” as the marketing automation space consolidates over the next few years. And Arthur should have some “fun” times ahead competing with her old comrades at Oracle!


  1. Aprimo spends a lot of money trying to maintain it’s image. While their sales pitch is quite nice, the quality of product lacks in comparison to what they promote. The breadth and complexity of the product stretches their internal resources in being able to maintain implementations and customizations associated to each customer. Their inability to appropriately test upgrades across these unique implementations creates bad customer experiences for those using the product line. It will only be a matter of time in which their customers become fed up with the constant birage of issues that they begin to speak out. If your data is important to your business, I suggest you look away from the Aprimo product line and choose another automation platform.


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