Marketing Cloud Solutions Fall Short of Expectations

October 23, 2018 Greg Hennessy

Marketing departments are challenged with the proliferation of communication channels, media, and technology to engage their customers. Marketing Clouds have bloomed to address this need, but clouds can’t do everything. They also require developer resources and often leave your own in-house customer data behind.

Yes Lifecycle Marketing recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate whether marketing cloud solutions provide sufficient coverage to meet marketers’ needs and engage consumers. Forrester surveyed 150 customer insights and analytics professionals who recently purchased marketing clouds to produce the research, Marketing Cloud Falls Short On Expectations.

The research study reveals how marketing clouds fall short with buyers in these key areas:

  • End-to-end coverage

  • Integration

  • Cost

  • Speed

I have been in software for a long time and have had some of the same concerns about the out-sized expectations of marketing clouds that Forrester reveals in the research. It does not shock me that many marketing cloud buyers may have too high expectations stoked by marketing hype and sales exuberance. The buyer really should not expect that one marketing cloud can do everything in MarTech, come in on budget, fully integrate with everything, and be deployed quickly. Sure, this note sounds obvious now, in hindsight, but at least you are forewarned.

The Forrester Consulting research study concludes that marketing cloud buyers feel their technology stacks are too complicated and do not offer complete coverage. It also states that they need more technical support and services to successfully deploy such solutions and, “struggle to even upload their own data to the cloud…”.

Sure, it’s easy to activate your instance in the cloud, but then your IT team must figure out the data needed and load/synch the data, so that your marketing team can configure it and migrate campaigns to it. This combination of incomplete data, discovery of missing or shallow features, the learning curve, and the lack of guidance or support beyond activation and basic training can slow or even derail a deployment.

These data challenges and gaps are near and dear to my heart. I have seen sophisticated marketing departments with significant in-house customer data and enterprise data warehouses move to marketing clouds. Suddenly with the move there are problems with data quality or data consistency, missing data, or synchronization issues—sometimes even all the above. The marketing cloud implied promise that customer data will all magically move up in the cloud and be clean is far removed from the reality.

The Forrester Consulting research study offers the following recommendations for marketers considering a cloud purchase:

  • Manage expectations

  • Consider the entire package

  • Get help

  • Build the data foundation

This is great, practical advice I believe all marketers should follow. I’ve seen too many organizations implement marketing automation--especially cloud solutions with their promise of simplicity--then set aggressive big-bang timelines, expect enormous first year ROI estimates, and attempt to implement it completely on their own.

Again, I am all about marketing data and how building the data foundation is always a critical factor of marketing success. To build this foundation, take a critical look at your organization and figure out how you will get your own rich data from your data sources up into the cloud.

Sure, marketing clouds offer open APIs and middleware as an answer, but you must buy the middleware and then perform the work on your own. Organizations often struggle with even basic activation issues like what data is needed for marketing, how they will keep the data synched and refreshed, or even whether they have too much data to move into the cloud.

This is why organizations with significant or protected on premise data then fall back to manually pulling lists using technical resources and SQL scripts. Don’t revert back to the 90s and pass SQL generated lists around to upload to the marketing cloud. That’s like having a beautiful Tesla electric car that you then charge with your own hand cranked generator.

Aprimo Campaign can help with the data foundation for the marketing cloud by helping our customers use their existing data foundation, including their own marketing databases, data marts, operational data stores, and/or enterprise data warehouses. With Aprimo Campaign, marketers and analysts can access their data directly, apply their own targeting rules, code each cell, generate lists, and distribute them to either offline or online channels, and, yes, even into marketing clouds.

You won’t have to worry about the common cloud implementation challenges of large data integration projects, missing data, having too much data, or needing frequent data refreshes. Aprimo Campaign will be the bridge between your data and the marketing cloud.

Check out the Aprimo Campaign web page and see how Aprimo Campaign can allow your organization to continue to leverage your existing marketing data foundation with a marketing cloud. 

About the Author

Greg Hennessy

Greg has over 20 years of experience working in the marketing automation software industry in product development, marketing, and consulting roles holding positions at various companies including Aprimo, Acxiom, Alterian, Quaero, IBM, Protagona, and Marketo. He has designed and delivered marketing automation solutions for large enterprises in the financial services, insurance, healthcare, travel and hospitality, high tech, retail, and media and entertainment industries. He is currently Director of Product Strategy for Aprimo Campaign and looks forward to sharing some of his personal insights, best practices and love of marketing automation, especially Aprimo Campaign. Contact Greg at or @gvhennessycrm.

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