Marketo’s Enterprise Edition and Revenue Cycle Management: Looking Under the Hood


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Summary: Marketo continues to follow its own path. Enterprise Edition adds the complex security needed by large organizations but sticks to simple campaign flows. Revenue Cycle Management blazes an important new trail for others to follow.

I finally caught up with Marketo for a briefing on their Enterprise Edition (announced in March) and Revenue Cycle Analytics (announced in May). Since both are somewhat old news, and Marketo describes them in detail on its Web site, I’ll just make a few comments.

Executive Edition shows what Marketo believes is needed to service large marketing organizations. The most extensive enhancements provide finer-grained control over user rights. This is critical in large organizations, where regional and product groups may be responsible for different market segments and where users will have different functional specialties and approval authorities. Enterprise Edition supports these by adding user roles, “lead partitions” to control access to database segments and “workspaces” to make Marketo objects (contents, campaigns, lists, etc.) available to different user groups. User roles (but not lead partitions or workspaces) are now available in Marketo’s Professional Edition as well.

These changes are a big advance over earlier versions of Marketo, which distinguished only between users and administrators and let all users access pretty much everything. Enterprise Edition also adds a “sandbox” environment for training, testing and development – the sort of things that small companies might do on a live system, but large organizations cannot safely allow.

The other major big-company need that Enterprise addresses is more sophisticated integration with other corporate systems. Related features include LDAP integration with enterprise security systems and a Web services API to call Marketo functions and access its data.

Perhaps most interesting is that Marketo did NOT expand the complexity of its actual campaign flows. These remain fundamentally linear: that is, all leads follow the same flow from step 1 to step 2 to step 3, etc. Rules within each step can deliver different treatments to different segments, but everyone still moves to the same next step regardless. Other enterprise-level marketing automation systems can create different branches within their campaigns, so different segments follow entirely separate paths. This makes it easier to design and visualize fundamentally different treatments for different types of leads, something that matters more in a large enterprise with many different lead types. I’ve always considered branching campaign flows to be one of the key requirements for an enterprise-level marketing automation system. It seems that Marketo disagrees.

Other enterprise-level marketing automation systems also let campaign flows explicitly send leads from one campaign into another. This contrasts with Marketo, and other systems for smaller companies, which simply add names to lists that in turn feed other campaigns. It’s a subtle difference but the result is less precise and harder to track than explicit campaign-to-campaign actions. I’m less convinced that this feature is essential but, empirically, it has distinguished the two types of vendors. Again, Marketo decided it wasn’t needed. The market will judge who’s right.

Revenue Cycle Analytics breaks some important new ground. As I commented in an earlier post on purchase funnel measurement, Marketo’s approach is not conceptually unique. The basic idea is to track leads through stages in a purchase funnel, which is similar to pipeline reporting in many sales automation systems. It just starts earlier in the process.

However, Marketo’s implementation brings this reporting to a new level. Most specifically, Marketo has introduced a star-schema reporting database, which I’m pretty sure no other marketing automation system currently offers. (Market2Lead had something similar but is no longer sold.) This is important because the structure of an operational marketing database, which most B2B marketing automation systems also use for reporting, makes it hard or impossible to do the necessary time-based analysis.

Other components are similarly sophisticated. These include graphical models that track movement of leads through the stages, detailed analytics with specialized measures such as conversion rates and speeds, statistical projections based on current inventory and historical flow rates, and executive dashboards. The models capture more than a simple linear pipeline: they support skipping and backwards flows among stages, splits within flows for different lead types, complex stage definitions, and transitional stages where leads are processed and reassigned.

Marketo is also tackling the difficult issue of allocating revenue to multiple individuals and marketing touches. Its methods are not particularly advanced: credit can be spread evenly or based on marketing-assigned weights. But no one else has found a much better solution, particularly at the low volumes of most B2B marketing programs.

My only real complaint is that you can’t actually buy it all today. Marketo is releasing Revenue Cycle Analytics in stages. The database itself was available for the May announcement and the modeling engine was released in July. Initial analytics are set for delivery this month (August), with the really cool projections and dashboards out during the first half of next year. This delay could prove costly, since funnel-based marketing measurement is a hot topic and other vendors could well build or partner to deploy something similar in the interim.

Pricing of Revenue Cycle Analytics starts at $1,500 per month and grows with database size. Incidentally, I don’t think they’ve published that figure anywhere before, so there’s a bit of news in this post after all. Huzzah.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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