TMW Special Edition | Transforming The Martech Decision-Making Landscape With Alium

Jun 16, 2024

Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I look to where the industry is going and what you should be paying attention to.

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We interrupt regular programming to announce a new partnership with Martech buyer intelligence firm, Alium. As part of our partnership, we’ll be bringing you in-depth accounts of how practitioners are using marketing technology to achieve their goals, successes, and failures.

PLUS you can now get 12 months of TMW PRO-ADVANTAGE for free for eligible brand-side practitioners who complete the short survey and a 1-hour interview! CLICK HERE to get started.

Transforming The Martech Decision-Making Landscape With Alium

Taking down the analyst monoliths and TMW PRO for free with a new friend

There are three ways to guarantee a bad Martech buying decision: 

  • Read G2 reviews
  • Pick an option off a leader quadrant 
  • Let the CMO buy it

These three tech evaluation methods are leading to a big problem in Martech: People are not using the tech they’re buying. Let’s ask some questions as to why: 

Why is Martech spending increasing but utilization is decreasing?

 Why is Martech in the top 3 of categories that are impacted by budget cuts? 

A graph of sales and marketing

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Why is software continuing to decline in its use across every business size? 

You could blame the people in the business for not having the right skills, experience, or perhaps the CMO buying stuff they really shouldn’t be. People frequently look to the skills gap or lack of people resources as to why things don’t go the way they should. 

While all true, a lot of the problem comes down to relying on the wrong authorities to determine the right solution. Simply put, these so-called authorities are not doing a good job of providing real insight into the value of marketing technology. 

Earlier this year, we reviewed the first ever CDP Magic Quadrant by Gartner, a category dear to our heart, and it caused quite the outburst from the TMW community on the reliability and ethics of the largest analyst firms in the world. 

And not only are they the largest; they are the oldest too. Most of the analyst firms that hold influence in the industry started by creating their charts way back in the 90s, but over time – like anything in the business world – they’ve become old, decrepit, and are not really delivering what the industry needs. 

From TMW #164 | Gartner and the authority economy: 

“Over the years, the Magic Quadrant has faced criticism. Either that the company skews the market with its research, or this 2009 complaint from a software vendor that challenged the legitimacy of their place in the Magic Quadrant, which resulted in Gartner filing a motion to dismiss the case by claiming that the report is made of “pure opinion” suggesting that the Magic Quadrant is not based in facts. 

There’s a lesson about authority here. If you consistently create frameworks and report them over a long enough timespan, they become a cultural institution and a shortcut to truth. 

The problem with these kinds of technology analysis products is that the reviews are done by a mostly unknown group of analysts with who-knows-what ties and incentives brought about by vendors. The stories pile up of vendors paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to get on these analyst reports. 

It’s an exercise of pure influencer marketing. And Gartner is one of the biggest influencers out there, along with IDC and Forrester. 

But so too are G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius. Why do so many technology companies wave their ranking badges around claiming their rankings from these platforms? It’s supposed to be a mark of customer satisfaction and advocacy, but in reality, everyone knows that most people are incentivized to give good reviews with Amazon gift cards and other gifts.

So if you want to get good insights into the performance of marketing technologies, where do you go? 

You could pay a consultant $50k to tell you what they know. But surely there’s a better way. 

That’s what this partnership with Alium is all about, creating that better way. 

Soul mates

Right after the Gartner Incident happened, in the midst of my inbox blowing up with similar stories of bias and intrigue, an email from Jonathan Sherry came out of nowhere. 

Jonathan recently wrote an article on the same topic which was a little more abrasive than our analysis, but he perfectly captures the current state of the big research firms and the dissatisfaction of those who use them: 

“The supposed value prop for vendors to pay firms like Gartner and Forrester is market / competitive intel. The reality, however, is that very few of the vendors I speak with gain any real value from the intel provided by these analyst firms. Rather they view paying as a bounty to speak with the analyst, in the hopes that they’ll find themselves favorably included in Magic Quadrant or Wave report[..] 

I’ve spoken to 37 CIOs (21 from the Fortune 500) over the past year, and the overwhelming majority agree. While Gartner and Forrester tout analyst-driven advice that educates enterprise software purchasing decisions, the truth is that these reports are most often used to justify decisions that have already been made.

The ol’ adage “nobody gets fired for buying IBM” can be extended to “nobody gets fired for buying whatever is in the upper right-hand quadrant”

Jon is now the founder and CEO of Alium, a zero-party intelligence company that helps buyers and sellers of Marketing and eCommerce solutions make smarter decisions. Before Alium, Jonathan co-founded CB Insights. Over the course of his 11+ years as their COO, he built and led CB Insights to what it is today: The venture industry’s preeminent source of research and intelligence. 

Using the Alium platform, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The way it works is that Alium conducts in-depth research interviews with actual users and buyers of Martech, and then uses that data to do a bunch of things like: 

  • Aggregate satisfaction scores based on a vendor’s product, people, processes, and price
  • Creates summaries of common likes and dislikes
  • Filters based on how technology is used (SMS marketing vs. transactional SMS), company size, and even revenue
  • And the killer thing: You can literally ask any question to the users of technology and get a detailed response in the AMA (ask-me-anything) tab.

This is a huge advantage for buyers and sellers. Being able to access the ground truth of how marketers are using tech should lead to greater clarity for purchasing decisions. 

Check out what I asked the 94 buyers of Attentive: How long does implementation take?

This is just the start. Alium platform is chock full of deeply informed buyer intel, with all sorts of visual and AI-driven capabilities that quickly surface insights. There’s way too much to cover here, but I’m sure they’d love to talk to you (more on that below!).

But the upshot is that Alium is the kind of thing that both Martech buyers and sellers have been waiting for to cut out the cartel <ahem>, I mean analyst firms, en route to helping everyone make better software purchasing decisions.

What a breath of fresh air. 😮 💨

So what’s changing with this partnership?

As part of our partnership, you’re going to see two big changes with our product and coverage of the Martech industry. 

First, you’re going to get TMW PRO-ADVANTAGE for free: 

You can now get access to 12 months of TMW PRO-ADVANTAGE for free in exchange for taking a short survey and participating in a 1-hour research interview for qualified brand-side practitioners. This is our way to support Alium’s research. In return, Alium sponsors your subscription for you, making TMW PRO more accessible to a much wider group and saving you US$499. 

You’ll get your hands on exclusive Alium research: 

We’ll be featuring Alium research exclusively on TMW, through our Wednesday and Sunday newsletters, our regular Case Studies, and new editorial products such as “What does everyone think about [insert vendor here]?” This is going to be a huge upgrade for us by using primary data based on real practitioners, and we can’t wait to see what we will dig up. 

We’re also working on new products and ideas to transform the Martech decision-making landscape and bring truth back into the picture of the real strengths and weaknesses of Martech. We are strong believers in making Martech work better through connecting people to better-quality data to support the purchasing process, and we hope you will be, too.  

If you want to learn more, you can see TMW PRO and our exclusive Alium offer HERE, and you can learn more about Alium HERE.

To get started to claim your free 12 months of TMW PRO, go HERE

As always, stay curious,

Juan Mendoza, CEO, The Martech Weekly 

Jonathan Sherry, CEO, Allium 

🔓 Continue reading with a free TMW PRO subscription

Get the full versions of upcoming Sunday Deep Dive and all of our newsletters every week with TMW PRO. It's the easiest and fastest way to make sure you're fully informed on how the marketing technology industry is evolving. 

For a limited time, you can earn 12 months of TMW PRO Advantage for free. Qualified brand side practitioners who complete a short survey and 1-hour interview with our knowledge partner Alium will receive 12 months of TMW PRO Advantage (a US$499 value) for free. CLICK HERE to get started. 

Here’s what some of our existing TMW PRO members have to say; 

“TWM is a finger on the pulse of what's happening, with the clarity of insight to see the important patterns underneath the noise” – Scott Brinker (VP, Hubspot).

“I recommend TMW to all leaders who are customer-focused and transforming companies via digital technologies” – Kazuki Ohta (CEO, Treasure Data).

“I've subscribed to many Marketing newsletters, but TMW is at the top of my list with the most valuable content for marketing professionals" – Lilly Lou (Marketing Director, Icertis).

TMW PRO is an invaluable resource that’ll help you to truly transform and future-proof your career in Martech. 

CLICK HERE to get 12 months of TMW PRO Advantage for free

CLICK HERE to purchase TMW PRO

Stay Curious,

Make sense of marketing technology.

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