The definitive buying guide on what is a marketing cloud, and how to choose the right marketing cloud for you.

March 06, 2015

Scope_of_solutionVentureBeat insight has published what they call “quite likely the most detailed, comprehensive, and data-driven marketing clouds report ever created” and we agree. 1,483 Marketing technologists contributed their insights to it, and it includes market penetration data based on an analysis of marketing tech embedded in tens of millions of websites.

The VentureBeat reports defines, more clearly than we have seen anywhere else, what is the definition of a marketing cloud, what are the different types of marketing clouds, and what are some of the key considerations when choosing a marketing cloud.

What is a marketing cloud?

VentureBeat simply states:

“In short, it enables treating customers like human beings.”


Embedded in that definition is the idea that a true marketing cloud must enable a single view of your customer -- a “unified customer profile.” A marketing cloud should help a brand:

  • know its customers, prospects, and former customers as individuals
  • personalize and contextualize their every experience with the brand, both before and after purchase
  • communicate with those actual and potential customers online and offline, in mobile, via social, and other media
  • optimize all interactions to continually improve results

Which marketing cloud is right for you?

VentureBeat recognizes that not all marketing clouds are created equal. They distinguish between four different types of marketing cloud solutions:

  • “aggregated marketing clouds” (basically the big software suites),
  • “all-grown-up marketing automation platforms” (very similar to purpose-built platforms),
  • “single platform multi-use purpose-built platforms” (such as AgilOne), and;
  • “proto-clouds” (dare I say “wannabes” or “runner-ups”).

Many marketers totally miss the fact that the “aggregated marketing clouds” are just brands, not products. VentureBeat understands this and writes about IBM:

 “For example, in customer analytics, IBM has eight separate Tealeaf-branded product families and 12 separate named products. In digital marketing, it has 12 different IBM-branded products, including six analytics products. In omnichannel, the company has nine different products, plus 11 more in omnichannel advertising. As we write in the report, you’re looking at chaos. Martech spaghetti.”

Even Adobe, which gets high marks for rich functionality, consists of six separate, loosely coupled products. If time-to-value is important to you, these larger, enterprise suites may not be for you.VentureBeat correctly points out that for budget-sensitive [which includes large] or mid-market firms a purpose-built platform offers a solution that is both more cost-effective and [ironically] more complete:

“Sailthru and AgilOne, particularly, are friendly on the wallet of the budget-sensitive enterprise or average midmarket firm, for what are actually very significant solutions covering massive swaths of your martech needs — more in both of these companies’ cases than SAP, HP, SAS, or IBM.”

For full disclosure:

AgilOne fares quite well in the report and scores high - often in the top 4 - for:

  • completeness of functionality (“a stunning array of features”),
  • omni-channel,
  • innovation,
  • integration and ease of use,
  • sophisticated predictive analytics,
  • automated data cleansing,
  • self-learning modeling,
  • pre-built campaigns,
  • a focus on lifetime value

... and more (you will need to buy the report to read it all).

In summary VentureBeat concludes:

“Newcomers like AgilOne, are giving the enterprise players a run for their money”.

We recommend that every marketer considering a marketing cloud buy the VentureBeat Report!