Unica Updates Brand, Pushes Interactive Marketing with Unica 8


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The last time I took a close look at Unica was 2007, when CEO Yuchun Lee told me that his goal was to build the company into a billion dollar business. At the time, Unica had reached $100 million per year, no small feat in itself.

For those not familiar with Unica, it is one of the leading vendors of “Enterprise Marketing Management,” an end-to-end suite of software handling the hole nine yards of marketing processes, from planning to modeling to campaign execution to reporting. Kind of like a CRM suite, but focused on marketing.

According to Suresh Vittal, Principal Analyst at Forrester, marketers typically buy tools to solve individual problems, leading to a proliferation of solutions that don’t always integrate. In addition to Unica, other major vendors active in the EMM space are Aprimo, Alterian and Oracle/Siebel.

Unica’s announcement of Unica 8 had three key elements that should help it continue to grow in a world that’s shifting towards more electronic forms of marketing.

A brand for “U”

On August 12th Unica unveiled a new brand with a new logo and the tagline “MARKETING SUCCESS STARTS WITH U.” CMO Paul McNulty notes that Unica is trying to help marketers make “the shift to interactive and online marketing.”

Forrester’s Vittal says Unica is well known in direct marketing circles because it has strong campaign management tools. But it’s not as well known in the online world, where companies like Omniture and many others have flourished over the past few years.

The logo is nice and everyone loves a good tagline, but delivering on the promise behind that brand is what really matters.

Usability improvements

In a hour-long Unica briefing the majority of the time was spent showing me how Unica had updated its platform, look and feel, and integration of a growing portfolio of solutions. Some acquired through acquisition, such as Sane Solutions for web analytics.

In Unica 8, marketers will have a single interface to use, with fewer clicks to get their work done. And IT professionals will find it easier to install and upgrade Unica products in the future, too.

Vittal says that Unica’s solution has been geared towards power users who can work with a complex product. But those in online marketing are looking for solutions that are easier to use.

You can get an idea of the new look in this screen shot of campaign flowchart.

This platform/UI upgrade was a huge investment that will pay dividends over the long term as Unica pushes into new markets. Which leads me to the more important element of this announcement…

Interactive marketing push

To me, this is the real agenda behind Unica’s re-launch and new brand. If you’re selling marketing automation software, the growth is in the online world, pure and simple.

While direct mail is still effective, the broad trend is that money is being shifted out of mass media (print and display ads) towards more “addressable” and online marketing, according to Jay Henderson, Unica’s Director of Product Marketing & Strategy.

Google has been a huge beneficiary of this shift, as marketers push for more measurable ROI. Print publishers have been the big losers, of course.

Unica wants to participate in this online growth while providing a complete EMM suite that works equally well for the traditional direct marketer and the new-age online marketer. Henderson think the economic slowdown is accelerating the shift towards online marketing, and may also encourage companies to integrate online marketing to improve efficiency and increase ROI of cross-channel efforts.

So, the updated UI should help, but is there any new news in terms of function? Yes, in the on-demand arena.

Henderson points out that Unica has offered on-demand solutions by virtue of acquisitions (Sane Solutions and Marketing Central). But in this latest release Unica has introduced a new hybrid offering for email campaigns, where email distribution, bounce management, etc. is handled by a hosted Unica solution. This is the sort of work commonly outsourced to an Email Service Provider (ESP).

The growth agenda

My take is that this announcement reflects Unica’s (Yuchun Lee’s) continued drive to grow into a very large enterprise software company. To do that, the company has to attract more interactive marketers.

Improved usability and the new “e-message” solution will certainly help. But I suspect we’re going to hear a lot more from Unica in the future as they build or acquire online marketing solutions and plug them into their updated platform. Including some that leverage the white-hot world of social media marketing. It will be interesting to see how traditional (e.g. Aprimo) and online (e.g. Omniture) rivals respond.

Further Reading: Unica’s Vision: “Marketing So Relevant, It Feels Like Service”


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