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How Adobe Plans to Win the Marketing-Cloud Battle

It's About Sharing Data, And Putting It Into Action When it Matters

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Earlier this week, Forrester released its first ever report ranking marketing technology companies by product offering. At the very top of the list? Adobe -- a company known better for Photoshop and its creative suite than its tools helping companies interact more intelligently with customers and prospects.

Adobe beat out software powerhouses Oracle, IBM and SAP, which have made marketing software a priority, in some cases counting on marketing tech to drive software sales to other departments including sales (customer relationship management) and customer service (social listening).

Adobe's Brad Rencher
Adobe's Brad Rencher

Brad Rencher, general manager of Adobe's digital marketing business, recently sat down with Ad Age and described the company's plan to stay ahead of these competitors. What it comes down to, he said, is producing a system which helps marketers make sense of data, share it effectively across functions and put it into action when it matters.

"Competitively, what we're looking to build is a platform or a system that can basically help organizations work better together so their search marketer, their social marketer and the mobile marketer can actually be friends and work together," Mr. Rencher said.

There are times, Mr. Rencher said, where he'll walk into a meeting with members from multiple groups within a marketing department and they'll meet each other for the first time there. Adobe is looking to fix this problem via its software offering.

"I think brands need someone or a group -- preferably the entire organization -- that is capable of taking a step back and thinking about that wholistic customer experience," Mr. Rencher said.

Giving an example of Adobe software in action, Mr. Rencher described how outdoor apparel and gear company REI uses its social and web data to sell better in its brick-and-mortar stores. REI, he said, has sales experts called "Green Jackets," who walk around the store with iPads connected to Adobe's software. REI is a co-op, so a member gives their co-op number to a Green Jacket when walking into the store which gives the green jacket the ability to pull up their online behavior and suggest a product.

"Bringing the data to bear in context, we call it the last millisecond, that is the more interesting part, not just the management of it," Mr. Rencher said.

Creating interactions like the one with REI's Green Jackets requires multiple Adobe software products including its social tools, data-management platform, web-content management system and its analytics tool.

The integration between Adobe products was highlighted by Forrester in its report:

"Adobe distanced itself from the pack with a combination of an innovative, detailed vision and in-market functionality designed solely to provide marketers with a clear incentive to use multiple solutions within the Adobe Marketing Cloud," the report said.

Many marketers still prefer selecting best-in-breed products as opposed to going with a full suite from one company, Mr. Rencher readily admits. But, he said, some are coming around. "I wouldn't say the whole market is coming there, but the early adopters saying, 'You know what, I'm done. Give me the marketing cloud, give me all the capabilities.'"

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