Dear Marketo Customers - Mind the Marketo Talent Gap

January 30, 2019 Tom Grubb

Vista Equity Partners made a very smart investment when they acquired Marketo in May 2016 for $1.8 billion. Now, just over two years later Vista exited Marketo with the Adobe acquisition for $4.75 billion. The Adobe/Marketo acquisition was the fifth largest SaaS deal in 2018, right behind Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft for $6.5 billion. In this article the case is made that Marketo experts are arguably the most valuable asset in the deal because they take their Marketo-centric world-views with them from company to company, evangelizing the platform wherever they go. But the value of Marketo experts is much more than being good net promoters; they must implement, operate, trouble-shoot, and translate marketing strategy into digital execution. In other words, they are the engines of customer success. Without them, the value of the platform is zilch. 

Customer success with Marketo can be elusive.

Achieving customer success with Marketo can be quite difficult – even with the very best Marketo experts on it. Months before the Adobe/Marketo acquisition, Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Marketing Hubs placed Adobe far up and to the right in the leaders quadrant, along with Oracle, Salesforce, and Marketo among others. It’s worth thinking about Gartner’s cautions for Adobe and Marketo. You can get your own free copy of the full Gartner report from Marketo’s web site. If you do, check out the cautions sections for both companies. You can read first-hand what Gartner says about service and support, but suffice it to say according to Gartner there’s room for improvement. But Gartner’s comments must be placed in proper context: Marketo is a very big, and very complex platform capable of flexing to almost any modern digital marketing business or technical requirement. Whether you use in-house experts, a consulting agency or professional services – customer success with Marketo can be elusive.

Marketo experts are a mash-up of skills.

Based on our experience with Digital Pi as a Platinum Marketo Services Partner, Gartner's cautions may come as no surprise to many customers. Marketo experts are more like software developers than traditional marketers. Notice we said more like: they are not entirely programmers or marketers: they are a mash-up of skills including technical, verbal and written communication, logic, creativity, strategy, and planning. That makes them very valuable, hard to find, and hard to retain in a competitive market.

The Marketo talent gap will only grow larger

The number of highly skilled Marketo experts is relatively small compared to the demand for their talent. At Digital Pi we built a successful company in five short years dedicated to helping companies achieve success with the Marketo platform – and no, we’re not the only ones. What impact will the Adobe acquisition of Marketo have on this gap between the supply and demand for Marketo talent? We think the gap will grow larger based on new customers and a continued push into the enterprise where there’s more complexity – and more opportunity to do great things. 

Someday, maybe some bigger fish will acquire Adobe. We don’t think that’s about to happen any time soon, but if and when it does one thing’s for sure: the Marketo world as we’ve known it is going to look a lot different.

About the Author

Tom Grubb

Tom Grubb is Chief Strategy Officer for Digital Pi, a leading Marketo Services Partner helping companies get the most value from their investment in marketing technology. Tom has over 20 years of marketing executive leadership including VP Product Marketing at Marketo. He has held marketing leadership positions at start-ups, mid-size and enterprise companies including Intuit, CA Technologies, ThreatMetrix (acquired by RELX), and co-founder of Bluecurve (acquired by Red Hat).

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