Adobe is undoubtedly a heavyweight in the CXM (customer experience management) space, with not one but three of the most popular marketing automation platforms in its portfolio.
They’re all fundamentally marketing automation platforms. This has raised a few questions from our clients, which is fair considering the potential for overlap.
But once you understand the strengths and use cases of each, it’s easier to see how Marketo, Campaign and AJO claim their respective corners of the marketing automation landscape.
Marketo is primarily a B2B marketing automation platform designed for lead management, email marketing and marketing campaign automation.
Adobe Campaign – in this case, the latest v8 release – is a marketing automation and email marketing platform focusing on cross-channel campaign management.
The newest kid on the block, AJO, is a customer journey management and orchestration platform that focuses on personalised, data-driven customer experiences.
All three platforms offer the potential to automate marketing processes, deliver cross-channel campaigns and measure customer engagement. They all sit within the Marketing pillar of Adobe Experience Cloud and provide similar features like segmentation, lead nurturing and campaign analytics.
Then again, you could make similar blanket assessments of almost every marketing automation platform.
Yet, we’d never question whether a free email marketing vendor plays in the same league as Adobe.
Campaign, AJO and Marketo are all tooled to solve specific enterprise marketing challenges. So, as we’re fond of repeating to clients (and anyone who’ll listen), getting the right solution means starting with your business case and customer needs.
With the bold claim of being “the world’s largest marketing automation platform”, Marketo Engage sets a high bar.
Marketo is essentially an end-to-end B2B enabler. It combines CRM data analytics, marketing intelligence and message delivery capabilities to attract, segment and nurture customers.
“Marketo Engage enables practitioners to automate marketing across multiple digital channels, including email, web, SMS, search, and social. Its features cover marketing automation, account-based marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, digital advertising, website personalisation, content AI, and marketing and sales insights.”
Although Marketo can support B2C applications, it’s best known as a B2B platform. Marketo can only demonstrate its complexity and intelligence when provided with high-quality CRM data, which makes it less relevant for B2C brands with millions of records and more appropriate for long-lead-time B2B applications.
We should also mention that Marketo, being an Adobe acquisition and not a native build, requires some custom configuration to perform as expected in an Adobe tech stack. Few enterprise-sized clients would expect a platform this powerful to be plug-and-play, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Adobe Campaign v8 is an enterprise marketing automation platform that’s particularly well-suited to traditional campaign management.
Adobe Campaign enables cross-channel marketing automation as well as hosting web applications, processing customer data, planning multi-channel campaigns and measuring engagement.
Adobe Campaign plugs into existing databases or uses connectors to integrate with other systems such as CRMs, accessing the information it needs using an FDA (federated data access) process. FDA side-steps the need for data migration. In Campaign’s case, there’s the added advantage of synching user profiles with the CRM .
Audience segmentation, campaign management, delivery and measurement all happen within Campaign.
Campaign’s ETL (extract, transform, load) capabilities enable it to serve as a solution for organisations that don’t have a centralised information source like a CDP (customer data platform). It can grab data from organisational silos, segment audiences, clean and massage data into an actionable format, and deliver experiences that resonate.
Quick note: Up until v7, Adobe offered Campaign Classic and Campaign Standard. Adobe discontinued Standard in 2023 in favour of Marketo and AJO. Some of the good bits also rolled into v8.
Although no formal end-of-life date has been announced , we’re helping clients migrate from legacy Campaign instances to v8 or another fit-for-purpose solution.
Campaign is inherently better for traditional campaign management, especially where email, Direct Mail and SMS make up the bulk of marketing communication. Although it’s great at segmenting large and spread-out databases in batches, for example in a multi-wave campaign, there’s little scope for in-the-moment interactions.
With asynchronous data processing and no automatic data sharing back to Adobe’s Real-Time CDP, the potential for real-time personalisation is also limited.
There is a workaround by bolting on the Message Centre module to access real-time data. For example, we helped Walgreens coordinate millions of COVID-19 vaccinations through Message Centre functionality.
Campaign can also stream data from Adobe Analytics in near-real-time (a few minutes lag) to act on online events like purchases and abandoned carts.
Although only a few years old, Adobe Journey Optimizer has made a big splash in CXM. It represents a shift away from traditional campaign marketing toward customer-centric, experience-led growth.
Its core purpose is delivering real-time triggered 1:1 journeys. However, Adobe has invested in building out AJO’s batch messaging capabilities so it can also handle segment-based journey flows and ad-hoc campaigns.
This overlap with Campaign is often the source of confusion for marketers trying to decide between AJO and Adobe Campaign.
The main difference is that AJO is built natively on the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) to deliver in-the-moment 1:1 experiences. Unlike Campaign, AJO draws data from – and sends data back to – AEP in real time.
As such, AJO is inherently customer-centric. It’s designed to optimise experiences based on event triggers (customer signals), where Campaign draws from external databases to make personalisation decisions.
AJO can do things like send a push notification when a customer arrives at your location, and orchestrate a follow-up journey after the customer leaves.
Here’s how we see it:
Journey Optimizer is ideally suited to mobile-first, customer-centric, in-the-moment-anywhere use cases. Rest assured we’ll be watching its evolution closely to see what Adobe does next.
Journey Optimizer isn’t designed to do the heavy data processing but rather deliver exceptionally slick CXM by integrating with Adobe’s other heavy hitters.
AJO is available as a standalone product, giving you a kind of “AEP-lite” solution. In addition, AJO also automatically pulls from and sends to AEP and Adobe’s Real Time CDP.
However, this native integration means AJO doesn’t fully stand alone. It doesn’t have its own data infrastructure like Marketo or Campaign, which means multi-entity or multi-database organisations still need a way to combine and centralise data so AEP (and AJO by extension) can use it.
It’s a good question! Unfortunately, though, not one we can answer in a blog.
First off, it’s worth noting that the use cases above are limited and for illustration only. There are many more things each platform can do with custom configuration. Once we start talking about third-party integrations, the adaptations are almost endless.
It’s also important to look at tech – and marketing automation more broadly – as smaller parts in a much larger operation.
Adobe develops some of the best enterprise marketing automation platforms around. That said, martech should always be chosen and configured to meet your business needs, which originate in your customers’ needs.
Our guide to the features and functions of Journey Optimizer, Marketo Engage and Campaign is only intended to show you how it’s possible to map those moving points.
Our CXM consultants would be happy to pick up the conversation in more concrete terms. Please feel free to reach out if you are stuck, lost or overwhelmed (or all of the above) in the vast marketing automation software landscape.