marketo's Cards Against Marketing Madness card deck.
Marketo will be the dominant force in marketing, new CEO claims. PHOTO: Social Fresh

Marketo's new CEO Steve Lucas just put Salesforce Pardot and Oracle Eloqua on notice.

"Marketo will be the clear and dominant force in marketing," Lucas told CMSWire.

If history is any indication, Lucas may have what it takes to deliver. As president of enterprise platform and analytics at SAP, he led SAP HANA's growth from zero to more than $1 billion in annual revenue in less than four years. Additionally, Lucas said, in 2015 his group was responsible for more than half of total license revenue at SAP, which has a market cap $98.4 billion.

What's at Stake at Marketo?

Last month, Lucas replaced Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez who founded the San Mateo, Calif.-based marketing automation provider in 2006. His departure comes just months after Vista Equity Partners closed on its $1.79 billion acquisition of Marketo, triggering a leadership realignment.

Lucas is betting big on Marketo's technology, its customers and employees, as well as his Marketing Nation, Marketo's 60,000-plus member user community. 

Aside from leaving a significant role at the world's third largest software company, he will also be uprooting his family from Denver to the San Mateo, Calif. area once his son finishes the school year. Those are high stakes, both professionally and personally, but Lucas is sure he can deliver — and why wouldn't he be? It is safe to say that he knows how to grow a business.

"We can help our customers deliver deeper and longer lasting relationships than anyone else in the market," Lucas said.

Steve Lucas
"Deeper," in this case, means driven by (big) data insights. 

“If my customer's finger twitches, I can feel it," he said. 

And it's not too far-fetched a concept when you consider how much data is available across so many touchpoints. 

One of Marketo's differentiators, according to Lucas, is its ability to listen to all that noise and to hear the signal. It's the signal that will help Marketo users meet their customers in just the right way, at the right time, in the right place, with the right messages and offers. And they won’t be annoying, said Lucas, instead they will feel like “tender loving care.”

It’s a bold vision, but one he seems certain CMO's share. "Marketo will be to CMO's what Salesforce is to (chief revenue officers) CRO's," Lucas told CMSWire.

Marketo: The Engagement Platform

And while marketing automation and account based marketing (ABM) will help you get there in a profound way — Marketo touts its account-based marketing (ABM) as  the only unified platform that covers account targeting and management, personalized cross-channel engagement and revenue-based account analytics, plus lead management functionality — Lucas told CMSWire his company is making a pivot of sorts. 

"We're an engagement platform," he said.

Lucas was not implying that ABM isn't enough. In fact, he used the oft-quoted ABM analogy of "shooting fish in a barrel."

Rather, his vision for Marketo is to help its customers get better and better at ABM, even as more and more touchpoints emerge via services like Slack, YikYak and whatever comes next.

There will not only be a lot more data to deal with, but more touchpoints to hit. According to Lucas, none of Marketo’s competitors will be able to handle that as well Marketo.

'We Can Do More Than Our Competitors'

"Salesforce (Pardot) certainly can't. It doesn't scale," said Lucas, adding that Pardot users hit a wall and then come to Marketo.

And when it comes to Oracle, "Customers aren't delighted in working with them."

Take LaunchPoint, Marketo's ecosystem of best-of-breed technology partner vendors that integrate with Marketo. He said it is bigger than any of its competitors. LaunchPoint includes companies that do things including business intelligence, data enrichment, content marketing and video advertising.

As for Marketo's customers, they are "violently enthusiastic and passionate," Lucas told CMSWire. 

He has been on a series of road trips meeting Marketo users worldwide and has been impressed by the energy and loyalty of members of the Marketing Nation.

"Everywhere I go, it is Team Purple, Brand Purple," he said.

Marketo's Future

But as excited as Lucas is about all that Marketo has to offer right now, he said Project Orion (the internal code name for a brand new platform that is built with the speed, sophistication, and scale needed for the billions and trillions of touchpoints that will be introduced with a new name in February) and Project Mercury (Lucas described it as a "killer" UI) will be key to its success in the future.

And there seems to be a big future ahead for the market as a whole.

"I'd say we are really in the early second inning, We are still doing a lot of buyer education about what an engagement platform is," said Lucas.

And to anyone who believes Marketo is geared only to small and mid-market companies, "That idea is ill conceived. Microsoft uses Marketo for global marketing. GE is our customer. Just go to our website to see who our customers are."

For now, Lucas won't be paying much attention to his naysayers. "I'm busy drinking from the buyer hose. Listening, listening, listening," he said.

So are we.