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Campaigns being managed via Web

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The campaign management software industry is in rapid flux. While it doesn't have as many vendors as, perhaps, customer relationship management, there are quite a few choices for marketers, with numerous new vendors addressing specific niches.

Recently, the industry has seen growth in Web-based (also known as on-demand, software-as-service or hosted) campaign management products, to complement traditional on-premise software solutions. Notably, this trend has brought campaign management solutions within reach of small-to-midsize companies.

Aprimo Inc., one of the leading providers of campaign management software suites, this winter introduced Aprimo Marketing Professional Edition, an on-demand version of its on-premise product.

"For some six or seven years, we've provided a full enterprise suite as traditional software, but we've found that about half of our customers have asked us to host the technology for them," said Michael Emerson, CMO of Aprimo. "Marketers are frequently frustrated by the lack of IT support, so being able to call up on your Web screen this technology, rather than via a reluctant IT department, is something that many marketers find appealing."

Campaign management applications—sometimes called marketing resource management, or MRM—are a set of automated processes that aim to optimize a company's marketing resources. They can give marketing departments the ability to plan and budget campaigns, track marketing content, archive all projects and collateral, and measure marketing performance.

Whether on-demand or on-premise, campaign management increasingly has its fans in the marketing suite, underscored by a 2006 study conducted by Aprimo called the "Marketing Credibility Gap." According to the survey, 85% of polled marketing executives said they have to report weekly or monthly to top executives, who are increasingly demanding of marketing accountability.

Accountability a concern

The need to demonstrate marketing's value to top executives far outweighs actual marketing performance as the No. 1 concern of marketers, the Aprimo survey found.

"To the marketer, there's a whole variety of different problems, including multiple databases, plus software to track radio ads, TV, direct mail, e-mail, brochures and so forth, " said Ken Kornbluh, CEO of MarketingPilot, a campaign management solution provider targeting small and midsize companies. "Wouldn't it be cool to pull it all together and execute a series of campaigns using all these media, and then realize a good ROI?"

Marketing inefficiency is driving the push toward campaign management solutions, said Aimee Roberts, a research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

"These packages enable you to unify things, so whoever is over in the European office can have a single perspective across the board of your marketing efforts, messages, logos, etc.," she said.

According to a study by research firm Gartner, the on-demand Web-based version of these solutions has a strong future as smaller companies with little IT expertise—or larger companies whose IT departments don't focus on serving the marketing function—seek better marketing efficiencies. The firm estimates that through 2008, more than 65% of the vendors will offer on-demand versions of campaign marketing tools.

According to Gartner analyst Kimberly Collins, the on-demand model also allows companies to test software's value, achieve faster deployment and lower the cost of implementation. But she cautions companies to "ensure that intellectual property is transferable to an on-premise approach if you decide to migrate the application in-house."

One company that plans to do just that is Tibco, a provider of operations software. Tibco went with Aprimo's new on-demand Professional Edition about six months ago to better track its newsletters, white papers, trade shows, webinars and other campaigns.

Bridget Terry, Tibco manager of worldwide operations marketing, cited the on-demand version's low cost of entry, and Tibco's ability to get its feet wet with the program, as being behind the choice. The product is "MRM on training wheels, an easy way to start," she said.

"With multiple offices around the world, we found we had overlap in communications with different audiences," Terry continued. "We had a best-of-breed e-mail tool, a best-of-breed lead-scoring tool and so forth, but all were in different places. We now have one central place where people can start their day and manage everything."

She said that Aprimo's on-premise enterprise product will probably be employed at Tibco down the road.

Server security questioned

Law firms, banks and other companies heavily oriented toward confidentially often eschew on-demand Web-based applications, since all data are kept on the vendor's servers along with the customer's applications. In situations where on-demand versions are attractive for other reasons but security is still an issue, MarketingPilot's Kornbluh recommends asking about a vendor's ability to isolate a company's system on a separate server and provide customized security options.

"Start with your IT department to navigate through your data security policy to choose the right option," he said.

Other major vendors with on- demand campaign management packages include Unica ("focused on usability and more configurable, component-based functionality," according to Gartner), Assetlink ("a broad MRM solution"), BrandWizard ("integrates tightly with the creative process"), Elateral ("strong marketing fulfillment capabilities") and SAP ("integrated value" with other business functions).

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