Marketo announced a new sub-brand called Spark targeted at the SMB market. It’s a testament to how successfully Marketo has transitioned from SMB to the enterprise space that it has to go back and offer a new brand for what used to be its primary market. The demand for marketing automation at large enterprises is driving rapid growth for all marketing automation companies, and Marketo is no exception. So much so that smaller prospects are starting to perceive the company and its target market as having outgrown them. Not so.
SMB is intrinsic to Marketo’s heritage and the company has no intention of walking away. The Spark offering is more than just a “lite” version of its flagship product. The idea behind Spark is that it is a bundle of software and services to help small companies quickly adopt and become expert in the use of modern marketing automation technology. Marketo is dedicating expert staff to offer training, support, and mentoring for its Spark customers. The importance of this cannot be overstated as marketing automation requires a higher level of sophistication, analytical ability, and business process expertise than most small companies have in their marketing departments.
The challenge for Marketo will be managing Spark as a sustainable business model. Typically the enterprise segment is much more profitable for software companies (SaaS or not). Large companies have more money, bigger projects, and greater potential for expansion into other business units. However, Marketo knows the SMB business well and has a subscription model revenue stream that’s ramping up to the point where it can afford to support the launch of a down market offering until it starts to pay for itself. It is the rare company that can serve both segments well, but Marketo has clearly separated the two teams internally which IDC believes is absolutely critical for success.