It's been about 10 months since B2B marketing automation provider Marketo bought Insightera's real time personalization platform for $19.5 million.

Personalization is still all the rage, and some think it will be for quite some time.

Are digital marketers ready to take the personalization plunge? A Marketo official told CMSWire the number of converts to the former Insightera brand is surpassing financial expectations. And all was well in the numbers for Q2 for Marketo in general.

But is a real time personalization platform in general an automatic, no-brainer dive for digital marketers? Not quite, according to Lori Wizdo, marketing automation analyst for Forrester Research.

Lacking 'High-Octane Fuel'

"There is a natural 'governor' of this process in that most of the marketers with whom I speak are still struggling to create sufficient content to sustain a contextual engagement process," Wizdo told CMSWire. "So, to some extent Insightera gives Marketo a high-performance engine, but the majority of customers don't have the high-octane fuel to maximize performance. That said, I am sure there are some great early adopter case studies, and those should serve as inspiration to other B2B and B2C marketers." 

Marketo has done a "good job" of "sharing a vision with their customers about how the technology can be used to create more contextual and personalized engagement," Wizdo added. "Many of the Marketo customers that I speak with are 'thinking about' or 'planning' to pilot the technology." 

Marketo is certainly touting those early adopters.

"The people this resonates most with are those who have achieved some level of maturity and adoption of marketing automation," Jon Miller, executive director of the new-this-week Marketo Institute and a co-founder of the San Mateo, Calif.-based company, told CMSWire. "They want to know, 'How do I get more?' Real time personalization has really become super powerful especially for companies who have an inbound marketing component to their demand gen. The challenge is how to convert those inbounds into leads, and how do I create a relationship with them."

Integration Status

Another question with acquisitions is integration. Asked by CMSWire about Insightera integration, Miller said the real time personalization platform is integrated with Marketo's core marketing automation platform.

"I don't mean built on the exact same platform," Miller added, "but they talk to each other and their UIs are harmonized. And the company is integrated."

Miller boasted that Marketo integrates with "any" content management system, whereas others, he said, rely on marketers having to integrate with those companies' own content management systems.

Wizdo cited Marketo's large partner ecosystem. "And its key partners have fairly seamless integration into the Marketo platform, so I think that's a plus," she said. "With the easy interoperability of today's application architectures, it's not necessary for a vendor to burden their core platform with every 'bell and whistle'. In fact, even SAP has over 3,000 partners."

Who's Using Personalization?

For now, Miller said, Marketo is mostly seeing existing customers (it has about 3,500) purchase the Insightera platform as an add-on. It's rare a newcomer swoops in and only purchases real time personalization.

"But it's not impossible," Miller said.

Essentially, it's for companies with a strong inbound marketing component and those with a heavy emphasis on account-based marketing. For instance, if a client is perusing a company's website, they'd want personalization and customization for that one client.

"Certain companies care about account-based marketing and other companies don't," Miller said. "Those that do obviously want to customize the web experience."

Going Forward...

Marketo is well positioned in the current market, Wizdo said. Does that mean it's still ripe for an acquisition? 

"With a market cap of $1.22 billion (as of last month) Marketo is certainly pricey for any vendor that wants to fill a gap in their marketing automation portfolio, as IBM did with Silverpop. "But, it's the software industry, so you can't rule anything out."

The marketing automation market, Wizdo told CMSWire, is growing outside of the traditional "early adopter" industry segment of technology.

"As companies in other industries, like manufacturing, insurance, and banking, start investing in these technologies, different functional requirements come to the fore," she said, noting the "ability to handle distributed marketing programs" and "distribute leads through channels."

"So a new set of competitors," she said, "might be arising in these industries."