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How to build on Marketing Cloud?
Welcome Open Platform!

Mass marketing and advertising aren’t working for you anymore? Not easy to achieve your end of quarter… You are trying to adopt the next marketing technology in the noisy landscape but you’re not successful and fast enough against your competition.

What about integrating all your data and marketing systems together? Sounds to good to be true? This requires knowing about the value and limits of marketing cloud, siloed suite and open platform technology described in this article.

As a reminder, Nextuser is an AI hyper-personalization startup offering the same capabilities than Amazon in Omnichannel Marketing to any business.

The concept of “Open Platform” based on the Metcalfe law recognizes the effects of the multiplicity of partners and marketing tools on the value of the network created.

As reflected in the Marketing Technology Landscape from Scott Brinker, the Martech diversity went from 150 companies in 2011 up to 6,242 unique players in 2018.

This growth results from an improved database speed/cost, widespread use of social media and predominance of the advertising space along with the funding in this sector (multiplied by 2.5 times in 6 years up to $14 billion invested in 2017).

Vendors were forced to make a choice when integrating new technologies: do it all alone, do some alone or do it all in collaboration with other platforms.

Context of Marketing Cloud vs. Siloed Suite vs. Open Platform

The first alternative was adopted by legacy companies like Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, IBM (…) that decided to broaden their ecosystem to incorporate every marketing function of a business: content management optimization, social media campaign, email marketing, and online advertising. These platforms are so called “Marketing Clouds”. They are relatively closed systems that operate alone and tend to acquire smaller players to expand their feature set.

Many vendors embraced the second choice as a compromise between tough competition and product specialization. Siloed Marketing Suite are popular due to attractive, innovative products but work independently from other systems. Initially, they from email marketing and expanded to two or three categories like Sailthru, SmartFocus, Cheetahmail Experian, VE Interactive, Mailchimp/Twilio, etc.

Lastly, the third led to the creation of what is named Open Marketing Platforms. They focus on one or few marketing functions to innovate upon and leave it to other platforms or complementary systems to enlarge their feature set. It’s partially the path companies such as Marketo or Hootsuite chose by integrating third-party software into their main ecosystem. We used “partially” as the majority of their core components are executed by internal systems while some external connectivity is provided to increase their execution capabilities.

Winning strategies in a crowded martech landscape

So far, Marketing Cloud players were the champions of consolidation by continuously acquiring smaller and more specialized vendors to develop new features available into their all-in-one Marketing Cloud. This process is slow and they have been struggling to keep pace as the innovation is developed externally and, then, brought inside.

In the meantime, siloed marketing platforms have sprawled, pushed by strong innovation and investor’s funding. These platforms are focusing on individual consumers to achieve targeting and personalization. To meet different needs, these systems focused on different steps of the marketing funnel and marketing channels.

Open marketing platforms are becoming popular and relevant in a crowded space where each business has generally from 3 to 6 different marketing solution providers. The technology enables the ingestion of data sources (input) to feed other marketing interaction system (output). Hence, by partnering with other companies or by integrating other systems, they can turn into highly specialized multi-purpose marketing systems.

Open platforms benefit from their open connectivity. Their value and power exponentially grow with the number of attached systems in a fashion similar to the Metcalfe Law. Effectively, this logic is also applicable to application ecosystems connected via API.

Combining Customer Management Platforms and Open Platform

Among new and cutting edge marketing systems, there is a new category named “CDP” standing for “Customer Data Platform”. As defined by David Raab since January 2015, they are organized in 3 categories:

  • DATA systems: collect precise datapoints on the individual customer to be leveraged in processing
  • DECISION systems: analyze customer data to best personalize the experience.
  • DELIVERY systems: deliver a message to the individual across as many touchpoints as possible in an orchestrated manner. 

Marketing vendors emerged, combining part of these categories:

  • Various forms of CDPs: Data, Analytics, Personalization
  • Marketing Suite
  • eCommerce platform
  • Orchestration platform
  • Customer clouds

Here is a recent table designed by David Raab to classify marketing software vendors across these 3 different categories.

This understanding is also reflected into the Marketing Technology Landscape from Scott Brinker, for example, NextUser has a dual positioning because our startup is referenced into the “Customer Data Platform” category but also into the “Optimization, Personalization and Testing” one.

NextUser – A fully integrated open platform

NextUser is a Customer Data platform (CDP) with marketing orchestration and data collection specializations.

NextUser is present in the 3 layers of Customer Management Platforms (i.e. Data, Decision and Delivery) by integrating all the process from any incoming data to the individualized message triggered via any channel and marketing solution. Consequently, NextUser is an Open Marketing platform and fits the use case of “CX Cloud (theory)” shown in the table above.

As such, NextUser connects to:

  • any data input (Analytics, internal database, DMP, CRM, PoS, Product or Content datafeed)
  • any marketing system: Marketing Suite (Adobe, Salesforce, SmartFocus), ESP (Mailchimp, Mandrill, Sendgrid), SMS (Twilio)…
  • website (JavaScript) and mobile app (SDK) via our own tracker and real-time personalization solution.

The concept of “Open Platform” based on the Metcalfe law recognizes the effects of the multiplicity of partners and marketing tools on the value of the network created.

Any data input and output can be used to perform marketing actions, the chart below lays out this concept with NextUser as a DECISON system (the orchestrator).

Alternatively, the DECISION part of the system could be delegated to another system. And NextUser could serve as DATA source:

Finally, as an open platform NextUser could serve as DELIVERY system:

This flexibility coupled with high specialization in one or multiple roles is enough to make open platforms the future of digital marketing systems.

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