Lauren Carlson, of Software Advice, is one of the rising stars in the constellation of CRM, marketing automation and, now, Revenue Performance Management industries. She’s got the three “S’s” down pat: She’s smart, speedy and social. While I might not always agree with her perspective, I always respect it — and admire the clarity with which she expresses it. Enter: Revenue Performance Management: The Next Great Enterprise Acronym, a post that she wrote which has everyone in the industry buzzing. It’s with this post in mind that we invited Lauren to be interviewed on our blog. Here’s what she had to say.
You came out of seemingly nowhere to become one of the most listened-to voices in CRM, marketing automation, and now Revenue Performance Management. Tell us about what brought you to this industry?
Wow, what an honor! I’d like to start off by thanking my parents, my manager, and my agent, who worked tirelessly to get me starring roles in so many blogs! (Cue the music...)
In all seriousness, my entrance into this industry was the result of my desire to both stay in Austin and write for a living. I found out about Software Advice through a friend and somehow convinced them to hire me. Outside of my obsession with gadgets and social media, my knowledge of the tech industry was limited. I have to credit most of my success to the amazing network of experts in the CRM and marketing automation space. Software Advice works in multiple segments of enterprise software, but we have never seen such a large group of prolific, commercially generous thought leaders as we have in this industry. Many of them have taken me under their wing, providing education, insight and encouragement, which has been immeasurably helpful. So, if my voice is strong, it is only because of the amazing support behind it. Also, there is something to be said for being a young person in a young industry like marketing automation. I have been able to hit the ground running with this industry and I’m trying to grow as quickly as the market. It’s definitely a fun space to be working in.
You have written extensively about the consolidation in this industry. Looking ahead five years, what do you think this marketing automation industry will look like?
I think we’ll see one of the two marketing automation leaders - Eloqua or Marketo - emerge as a billion dollar company and own 40% market share. The other will find a great home within a current CRM or ERP leader. I don’t know which one, but history tells us that there isn’t room for two leaders with giant share. I think the rest of marketing automation’s enterprise tier will be split by big players like IBM, Terradata, Salesforce, (all through acquisition), as well as some other pure plays.
Importantly, I think there will continue to be a healthy, albeit fragmented, SMB tier where lead nurturing and email marketing players prosper as independent businesses. While we’ll see some fantastic flameouts of VC-backed players that don’t make it, bootstrapped companies like Pardot and Manticore will continue to be stable, because of their pragmatic approach to building a company.
Your recent article on Revenue Performance Management is likely to be one of the most cited posts on the topic. Give us your definition of Revenue Performance Management - in one sentence.
Revenue performance management is a strategy (and emerging application category) that builds on top of traditional marketing automation by providing advanced analytics and data integration for a more holistic view of the revenue cycle.
Ok so you are a proud Longhorn, which means you must have aced your SATs. Let's play with analogy. Revenue Performance Management is to Marketing Automation as:
Facebook is to MySpace. Facebook has succeeded by appealing to a broader audience through a more interactive experience. Despite having more sophisticated functionality, it was also easier to use. That’s critical.
Complete the sentence: C-level executives will buy Revenue Performance Management solutions when:
They trust Marketing to be as accountable for revenue as Sales is currently.
Last question. Austin has been described as the hub of social business. What social media functionality do you think is most needed in Marketing Automation solutions?
I think social media analytics is where marketing automation should invest. It's great for marketing teams to have a Twitter and Facebook account, but if you aren't tracking metrics such as behavior, conversions, discussion topics, etc., then you are wasting your time. I have seen software products, add-ons and plug-ins popping up all over the place that provide this sort of tracking and can be easily integrated with existing marketing automation and CRM software. Customers exist in the social space. Companies have realized that, so they are moving there as well. Now, they just need the right kind of software to help optimize their efforts. With this additional layer of analytics, marketing automation can provide that help.