Adobe just bought Marketo for a cool $4.75 Billion dollars.
The industry-leading marketing automation platform represents a major foothold for Adobe in a space already crowded by Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, and SAP.
Marketo pulled in $321 million in revenue in 2017 according to Moody’s Investors Service, which puts the valuation at nearly 15 times prior year revenue.
Not since Uber’s $3.5 billion dollar valuation in 2013 have we seen a company this size get a multiple this big, which means Adobe sees an incredibly bright future in the marketing automation space.
So.. Is the future of automation as promising as it seems? That just happens to be this week’s topic.
Marketing automation has been one of the industry’s perennial buzzwords for at least the last decade.
And yes, the concept is amazing.
Computers were literally invented to do the stuff that we find difficult or unpleasant, like math, learning new things, and helping other people.
But while it’s tempting to shirk all of our marketing responsibilities, we as an industry have gotten a bit lost as we figure out how to leverage the powers of automation.
And we as humanity may end up creating something terrible if we’re not careful.
Take for example automation using voice-recognition technologies and smart speakers.
While a lot of people will tell you that I’m crazy for discounting the future of voice-based search and commerce, it feels like this is a forced application of automation.
Yes, it’s exciting to think that everyone will be shopping with Alexa.
And if you own one. I apologize for just activating her. Alexa Stop.
But the reality is that no one wants to shop this way and they may not want to for a long, long time. And there’s data to back this up.
Econsultancy’s Ben Davis recently spotted a report by The Information that claims only 2% of Amazon Echo owners have used it to make a purchased and that 9 out of 10 of those people didn’t make a second purchase.
We can’t even trust Siri to get text messaging right. And we’re supposed to give her our credit cards?
That’s just one example. Here’s another. Chatbots.
Yes, the idea of conversational marketing is seductive, but companies like Drift will absolutely become the Internet’s version of those phone tree systems we all loved so much in the 90’s.
We’ll just be finding new ways to jam zero on the keypad and yell Operator, operator, main menu. No I will not press one.
Now you can try to label me as old-fashioned, but this is also the guy who walked around rocking Google Glass for the better part of a year. I wanted those things to catch on so badly, but in the end, they just couldn’t overcome the cyborg slash bluetooth d-bag stigma.
Sometimes, new technology and automation just doesn’t do what we hoped it would.
So what can you do if you want to avoid automation gimmicks and truly add value to your marketing?
Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst, Ted Schadler says that only about 15% of companies are leveraging digital tactics to their fullest extent and says it’s time for the rest of us to catch up or be replaced by digital pure-plays.
And in order to capitalize on automation, Schadler says, “As you’re investing in robotic process automation and conversational investments, be hyperaware of the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence.”
"As you’re investing in robotic process automation and conversational investments, be hyperaware of the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence."
When it comes to voice, for example how do you provide enough utility to break us of our visually-based shopping habits?
When it comes to chat, how do you facilitate interactions between real humans instead of replacing them?
When it comes to Google Glass, how do you provide a head’s-up display without weirding people out by putting a computer between their face and yours?
In the end, if the unintended consequences create more problems than good, then maybe it’s something we don’t leave to the machines just yet.
And that’s how you can fix marketing. We’ll see you next time.