Over the weekend, an experience with Apple prompted me to think about marketing technology’s role in creating economic moats. According to Warren Buffet:
In days of old, a castle was protected by the moat that circled it. The wider the moat, the more easily a castle could be defended, as a wide moat made it very difficult for enemies to approach. A narrow moat did not offer much protection and allowed enemies easy access to the castle. To Buffett, the castle is the business and the moat is the competitive advantage the company has. He wants his managers to continually increase the size of the moats around their castles.
Apple’s retail presence is both a revenue engine and a cornerstone of its customer experience strategy. Retail pulls in average revenue of $10.8 million per store for Q3, 2011, generating the highest retail sales per square foot of all US retailers. Importantly, the stores guarantee the company a beachhead from which the company can educate consumers and resolve problems directly. For the quarter, 73.7 million people visited Apple stores.
In a recent survey of over 2100 IT professionals who buy or recommend telecom and networking solutions, we found buyers turn to peers and colleagues first, followed by vendor, industry trade, or professional Web sites, to inform their purchase decisions. In fact, 88% said Web sites were important in helping them decide what to buy. However, many tech buyers visit vendor Web sites many times to learn about and compare products, yet few register or leave evidence of their activity.
I was just talking with Suresh Vittal on my team about how to project interactive marketer investments in technology. In some cases in the US Interactive Marketing Forecast, we include technology investments in our projections of marketer spend on a given channel (for example, email marketing spend includes investment in email message delivery). But for the most part, the IM forecast is based on current and projected media spend.
So the conversation Suresh and I had was to think through enough assumptions, to estimate how much marketers invest in technology.
Earlier today, Silverpopannounced their acquisition of marketing demand management start-up Vtrenz. My colleague Shar VanBoskirk and I had the opportunity preview this event with Bill Nussey and Will Schnabel. From a B2B marketing perspective, this combination holds promise because email and lead nurturing make good bedfellows. In B2B, email is a low cost way to continue prospect conversations and it gives marketing a direct channel for incubating buyers during longer B2B purchase cycles.
Because there's not a lot of overlap in technology or customer bases here, the prospects for a richer, more rounded offering are good. However, this combination is not unique: Eloqua also offers email, lead warming, and prospect analytic solutions. So -- other than giving Eloqua some stiffer competition -- will this merger matter in the greater email market? Probably not, but I'll let Shar weigh in on that question.