Emarsys discusses the future of digital marketing after the extinction of the email marketing platform Bronto.
“Bronto has long been absorbed within the Oracle mothership, and I’m sure it’s gone through many, many changes. Ultimately, Bronto wasn’t really about the product. It was about our people there, who were building their careers, and enjoying their work environment. It’s sad, it’s a bit bittersweet, but that’s how these things go.”
Thus spoke Joe Colopy, founder of the (soon-to-be-meteored) dinosaur-themed email marketing platform. In an interview with WRAL Tech Wire, Colopy commented on Bronto’s end-of-life announcement, with Oracle choosing to “integrate [its] marketing automation resources with Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience over the coming year”, which includes the unfortunate sauropod.
Bronto’s official extinction date is now set for May 31 2022, bringing an end to the platform which was once acquired by NetSuite for more than $200 million.
So, what does this news mean for marketers, and what can we learn from Bronto’s demise about the future direction of digital marketing?
Omnichannel is king…
While it has some capabilities beyond email, Bronto has always been an email-first platform. One of our newest customers specified Bronto’s email-centricity as a reason for switching away from the platform, and over to Emarsys.
This is because modern consumers expect an online experience built around their preferences and expectations — and that includes using their preferred channels. Forbes research indicates that 71 per cent of customers want a consistent experience across all channels, but only 29 per cent say they get it.
To meet this demand, brands need to be able to offer a seamless, personalised experience across multiple platforms — not just email. All experiences across all channels need to be consistent, enabling a unique experience for each customer regardless of their preferred touchpoint.
Failing to do so risks the loss of swathes of customer data that can be used to better inform marketing campaigns and provide the genuine one-to-one interactions that customers crave.
… But you shouldn’t underestimate email
It would be easy to read Bronto’s demise as a bad sign for the future of email marketing, but this isn’t the case. According to recent Emarsys research, 98 per cent of US marketers planned to up their email marketing spends in 2021. So, email clearly can’t be cast aside. But nor can it stand alone.
Rather than being discarded, Bronto will be integrated into marketing automation resources at Oracle, jostling for space amongst a whole host of other applications. But with so much uncertainty around how that integration will look, those email capabilities are now set to become part of a “big cloud” environment that will change the relationship between Bronto’s customers and the technology they’ve relied on.
Bronto customers need to consider if that environment serves them best. Alternatives that offer different strengths to the resource-heavy firepower of a large-scale platform.
Marketers need to execute personalised offers and campaigns with speed and agility
A move away from such an environment offers other strengths, chief among which are speed and agility. 2020’s demand for brands to pivot on a dime, whether to save their business by generating eCommerce revenue or to take full advantage of a massive influx of customer data.
Centralisation is key to this. While modular firepower will work for some brands, others will see the value in having all customer data accessible in one place. Automating the analysis of that data with the right AI algorithms enables brands to profile customers far quicker, digging into deeper detail about their behaviour. That lays the groundwork for more sophisticated customer segments.
Once you have that repository, it’s a natural progression to wonder whether or not those centralising solutions could execute Bronto’s outreach capabilities too. Indeed, why stop at email?
Whatever the MarTech solution, you need to prove business value
Every marketer knows the plight of trying to prove marketing’s worth to the board. It’s been a challenge since the age of the dinosaurs (well, not quite, but still). You need to be able to demonstrate that you’ve identified specific opportunities that will help the organisation meet business-level goals — and then action those opportunities in the most effective way possible.
Omnichannel platforms must therefore integrate systems and identify value in terms that the rest of the business will understand. That means aligning marketing activity to your wider goals, whether that’s revenue generation, business growth or customer acquisition.
The key, though, is first to identify the right opportunities, and then be in a position to act quickly to capitalise on those opportunities. Only the right technology, with centralised customer data at its heart, can enable you to do both.