Marketo’s Launch Of Separate Spark Brand Heats Up Competition For SMB Market Share

Published: October 11, 2011

“We stepped back and said ‘let’s create a general Marketo application that’s extremely simple to use and deploy with the core functionality that’s needed for small businesses to grow faster,’” said Paul Albright, Chief Revenue Officer, Marketo. “We’ve come up with a list of about 40 reports relevant to small business. If a user wants to customize reports they can do that as well. The idea was to create a comprehensive, packaged product with a UI that’s intuitive to help someone get started immediately.”

Albright told DemandGen Report that more than 60% of SMB buyers are in companies with less than 20-25 employees that don’t have dedicated marketing teams. “The interest and opportunity [around marketing automation] is still the same for these companies,” Albright noted. “They understand the value proposition, so we wanted to tailor our product to smaller companies that want to grow. This product will serve them for quite some time, and as they become more sophisticated, and they hire other folks that are dedicated to marketing, they may want to take advantage of other Marketo products, and they will be able to do that.”

Functionality and features available in Spark include email and inbound marketing, lead nurturing, scoring and insights, search, email, events and social media. Additionally, Spark measures the impact of each campaign and program in real time, including email volumes and leads generated, so users can adapt and make changes accordingly.

Through integration with Adobe Connect, ON24, WebEx and other webinar and online-meeting providers, Spark is designed to automate the creation and management of online events. Spark also offers all customers one-on-one mentoring sessions with a dedicated team of marketing experts.

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Not surprisingly, Marketo’s launch of the separate brand and product offering for the SMB sector drew commentary from other automation vendors who have traditionally focused on this sector.

Adam Blitzer, President of Pardot, suggested the separate brand and pricing structure might be confusing to Marketo’s existing customer base. “It’s great to see other vendors taking the SMB space seriously. It is difficult to be all things to all people though. It will be interesting to see if Marketo can truly distinguish this edition without having it be just another tier of their platform that cannibalizes a lot of their existing revenue when current clients ask to downgrade for a better price,” Blitzer said.

Act-On Software, which touts its focus on the “Fortune 5,000,000,” included a thinly veiled reference to Marketo’s Spark launch in a press release highlighting its Q3 growth. Under the headline “Act-On Q3 Results Ignite a Spark within Marketing Automation,” Act-On founder and CEO Raghu Raghavan said: “We continue to experience unprecedented growth within the marketing automation industry, because we deliver the experience that marketers really need, without any pricing or packaging gimmicks.” 

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