ExecInsider Q&A: Aprimo CEO Bill Godfrey Talks Marketing Revolution

Published: September 28, 2010

DemandGen Report recently caught up with CEO Bill Godfrey to discuss the revolution, its effect on the market, and the growing importance for marketing mobility.

DemandGen Report: IBM’s acquisition of Unica was big news recently. What does that deal say about the role of marketing automation and the future of the space?

Bill Godfrey: IBM’s move into the marketing automation arena says a couple of things about the role of marketing automation. For one, I think it clearly says that marketing software is the catalyst driving a revolution in marketing towards greater customer intimacy and ROI. That just rings loud and true. The second thing I think it says is that given the rise of digital marketing channels, and the fact that marketing, for most companies, is the largest discretionary spend within their financial statements, is leading business execs are realizing that they need marketing automation solutions to enhance productivity,  accountability and performance. I also think that the acquisition, which isn’t the first in the category, is a prelude to the future of the space, in the sense that companies are now valuing and understanding the significance of integrated marketing software. The days of companies buying different point tools for each marketing channel or for each discrete marketing process are fading quickly. With IBM entering the scene, there’s definitely a growing emphasis by the CIO and their IT organizations on the incremental value that marketing can and frankly must contribute to the business, hence I think we’re going to see a continuing level of investment in marketing technology as we head into the future, and we’re already seeing the trend.

DGR: You referenced the revolution that’s taking place in the BtoB marketing scene…what kind of feedback are you getting from clients in the space on that topic?

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Godfrey: Our view is that the marketing revolution is being driven by the rapidly changing landscape that marketers are confronted with today. That landscape is changing, as it includes budgets and resources, which continue to be constrained. Customers are seeking a more personalized relationship with companies and what’s interesting is that they now control the engagement and buying process, versus the traditional means of the sell-to model. It’s fundamentally different for marketers now with the explosion of digital channels, which are proliferating at an increasing pace. There is also the constant pressure for marketers to produce ROI. The confluence of these pressure points is forcing CMOs and their marketing teams to constantly reinvent their roles and their ability to contribute value or risk becoming irrelevant. That’s why we see a marketing revolution taking shape out there, which led us to develop ten key imperatives that we believe are driving and fueling this marketing revolution. It’s with these imperatives that we are having quite a bit of success engaging CMOs and in a very collaborative way helping them change the way they’ve run marketing in the past. I believe one of the principle roles of the CMO is to be the change navigator for their business.

DGR: One of the aspects you touched on in the revolution was ROI and the core role of it. Are you finding your customers and the marketers you’re talking to are open and embracing this accountability and change, their role in the sales process as well?

Godfrey: Marketers clearly want to be more accountable. The fact is, it’s no longer optional. Nowadays, it’s a requirement. CEOs are demanding that their CMOS show how their investments are providing results back to the organization. Given how pervasive that mantra is, that’s why our first imperative is how marketing must be more accountable in leading this revolutionary change.  The challenge has been that marketers have lacked the supporting business applications to effectively manage how they spend their money, how they invest in their marketing activities. Our view is fairly simple. You can’t manage, produce or calculate ROI without first calculating and managing the investment. Marketers are very quick to rush to that pixy dust of what is my optimized marketing spend and portfolio? Which is great, and we need to strive for that, but we have to crawl, walk, run. I think the breakthrough that Aprimo has brought to marketers is the solution to manage the complete portfolio of marketing investments across all channels, across all customers segments, all products and all geographies, via a simple, single intuitive application. We all know that BtoB marketers live in a world of integrated marketing where it’s very difficult to attribute one marketing activity or action to a result. It’s a series of integrated touch points. The market, and certainly our customers, have come to the realization that the old approach of applying fragmented tools, for instance, a lead management tool, which is different [from other tools] doesn’t work. Never did work. They’re realizing that they have more information silos than they started with.

DGR: When you talk about integration, from a customer standpoint, what are some of the real world benefits that they’re seeing with the ability to tie together what used to be disparate tasks and reporting capabilities?

Godfrey: In a typical BtoB environment, if you look at the portfolio of marketing activities, it will consist of a whole series of outbound demand generation strategies, and increasingly utilizing the online media channels, but it still consists of a lot of offline activities: high touch activities, events and seminars, calls to actions, offers, microsites. It is a confluence of different channels and activities. A good example would be [our customer] Autodesk. Several years back when we first were asked to engage with them, they had over 14 different lead gen tools and email marketing tools that their global marketing organization had deployed. I applaud them for having the vision to take an assessment of how each of their marketing teams were trying to generate demand and leads. They realized that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing and if they did have a best practice, it wasn’t able to be propagated or spread.  They also found that there were conflicting touch points and offers and communications that made them look silly in front of their customers. They have now standardized on Aprimo as their global demand generation platform and they use it to run events, email campaigns, landing pages and microsites. They capture all those leads, nurture and score them and at the appropriate time distribute them into their salesforce automation applications. We see that happening with other companies. Computer Associates, Symantec and Dell are just a couple of examples of BtoB companies that are moving down the same path.

DGR: Aprimo Mobile was recently launched to offer marketers an on-the-go solution for managing critical initiatives. Can you speak to the growing need for a mobility solution in the BtoB world?

Godfrey: The typical way marketers think of mobile is as a channel, which is highly relevant. We think that the new wave of thinking about mobile is as a mobile workforce. We’re all mobile information workers. Marketers typically have a smart phone or an iPad in their pocket or at their side– night, day and weekend. Marketers are not chained to their desk and as we look at how marketers want to operate more productively, more collaboratively, to accelerate their cycle times and improve speed to market (which is a big imperative for marketers), we felt it was critical to equip them with a mobile interface for their standard marketing desktop application. We launched it very recently and went into beta a month or two ago. Since launching it, I’m pleased to announce that within one month, we now have over 25% of our customers who have already adopted that mobile interface. It’s very easy to use. There was quite a bit of pent up demand and the feedback has been nothing short of phenomenal. One of our customers, NetApp, has marketing information workers spread over the world and they need access to marketing information to make decisions in real time. Since marketers are increasingly mobile, they need access to a simple, intuitive mobile interface.

DGR: What’s on the horizon for Aprimo? Are there any trends you see in the category for 2011 and beyond?

Godfrey: Our vision has remained constant since1998 — to automate and digitize the intuitive process of marketing in innovative ways that allow marketers to lead in a sea of change. As you can appreciate, we’re way out in front in terms of providing an integrated suite of functionality and applications, all of which are accessed through a role based interface, to address things like lead management, scoring and nurturing. We’re going beyond that, providing the e-marketing team their console and environment to manage all the demand generation campaigns coming their way — the event managers. One of the things that we uniquely bring to the BtoB marketing automation arena is the workflow that gets wrapped around all these digital channels. We don’t think the market has fully appreciated the necessity and value of wrapping creative digital workflow, compliance workflow and review around all campaigns that go out. With the confluence of data and online privacy and protection, that’s another imperative. It’s no longer optional. And what used to be well understood in the BtoC arena of managing the cross channels of communication is now becoming a mandate in the BtoB world.

DGR: Do you see Aprimo being an acquirer in the market? Time when you’d align with a bigger company?

We see ourselves as a consolidated organization in the space. We’ve done several acquisitions in the past; we are well poised to continue to make acquisitions going forward.

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