The difference between Marketo Engage and Adobe Experience Cloud

Learn about the fundamental differences between the two leading marketing automation platforms — Adobe Experience Cloud and Marketo Engage.
Published July 10, 2019
Last updated November 14, 2021

Marketo Engage (Marketo) and Adobe Experience Cloud (AEC) are both marketing automation platforms (MAP). They are even part of the same company – Adobe Inc.

Both platforms help businesses reach the same goal – more revenue. So, why are we talking about their differences?

Well, because there are noteworthy distinctions between the two.

Moreover, if you are looking to implement one of them – and you want to be sure you’re making the right decision – then this article is for you.

One difference to rule them all

Both Marketo Engage and Adobe Experience Cloud can be used as standalone tools and in conjunction with each other.

However, the main difference between the platforms lies in the fact that they used to serve different types of companies.

We will discuss what ”used to” means and how it might affect the future of the platforms later in this article.

For example, Adobe Experience Cloud is popular with large enterprises that serve a broad market section. Also, most of Adobe’s users sell their products directly to customers (B2C).

On the other hand, Marketo Engage is attractive to both large enterprises and smaller companies. Additionally, even though you can apply it in B2B and B2C circumstances, Marketo performs best when used in the B2B environment.

The fundamental difference between a B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) company is in the end customer: B2B sells products or services to businesses, while B2C targets customers directly.

Other notable distinctions between B2B and B2C include:

We’ve explained the difference between B2B and B2C in more depth here.

The bottom-line

As a result of the diverse characteristics of platform users, the solutions bring different functionalities and, subsequently – different pricing.

However, before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s look at the history and evolution of the platforms and how they became one company we know today.


Behind the scenes: The history of Marketo Engage and Adobe Experience Cloud

To understand where the differences come from, we must first address the history of the platforms.

If you’re not into history, skip to How does the Adobe and Marketo connection affect you? section below.

The story of Marketo Engage

Marketo was ”born” in 2006 when it was a software solution that helped CEOs and their teams demonstrate the return on investment of their marketing programs.

Marketo first started growing by adding more capabilities to the solution, such as Marketo Lead Management, Marketo Sales Insight and Marketo Revenue Cycle Analytics.

Later, as part of Marketo’s evolution, we saw it make multiple acquisitions as well.

The company acquired Crowd Factory for social media purposes, LaunchPoint for networking purposes (later called ”marketing nation”) and, lastly, Insightera for website personalisation.

As a stable and capable solution by this point, Marketo was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2016.

Just two years later, in 2018, Marketo Engage was bought by Adobe Inc.

After the new partnership was born, Marketo Engage became part of Adobe Experience Cloud. However, Marketo also remains a prominent standalone tool that you can use in a wide array of marketing strategies.

The story of Adobe Experience Cloud

Adobe’s marketing automation history began in 2009, which is when the most significant acquisitions happened – such as Omniture, Efficient Frontier and Day Software.

Today, the platform is called Adobe Experience Cloud. However, it was formerly known as Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Adobe Marketing Cloud came into existence in 2012, when the platform included Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Adobe Social, Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Media Optimizer, Adobe Campaign, Audience Manager and Primetime.

In 2017, the brand decided to restructure the platforms, after which it came out with three separate clouds that serve different marketing needs but remain part of one unified platform.

Adobe Experience Cloud was a set of three clouds: Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Advertising Cloud and Adobe Analytics Cloud.

In 2021, Adobe Experience Cloud is positioned as a set of products for end-to-end customer experience management (CXM), including marketing, advertising, analytics, and commerce across industries.

Marketo Engage is one of the products that form the essence of Adobe Experience Cloud.

How does the Adobe and Marketo connection affect you?

Short answer – in a good way. Before Adobe acquired Marketo, Adobe Experience Cloud was an impactful solution for the B2C environment. And even though you could leverage AEC for B2B marketing, it wasn’t the best solution for everyone in the B2B arena.

The same goes for Marketo. Before its acquisition by Adobe, it was a stable marketing automation platform, mainly for the B2B market, although it also showed promise for B2C.

However, now that Marketo and Adobe Experience Cloud are integrated, they combine the benefits of both approaches and help you win more business, no matter who you are selling to.

Diving deep into the differences between Marketo Engage and Adobe Experience Cloud

Since the overarching difference between these solutions lies in the user type (B2B or B2C), the features will subsequently reflect the same difference.

We’ve outlined the most important points we will talk about below:

  • Marketo Lead Management
  • Marketo Account-based Marketing
  • Adobe Experience Cloud CX

So let’s look at each item separately.

Marketo Lead Management

B2B marketing focuses on lead management as the primary marketing tactic, while personalised omnichannel experiences remain the most popular marketing tactic for the B2C market.

While lead management isn’t really in the domain of Adobe’s expertise, Marketo knows how to tackle it.

To demonstrate our point, according to the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management report, Marketo Engage was named a Leader.

But what exactly does it take to be a CRM Lead Management report leader?

Firstly, Marketo allows you to build tailored Lead & Account Engagement Scoring models to automate and streamline the lead generation process.

Next, having uncovered the lead’s interest, you can assign it a lead status in your program and then design the next interaction steps.

Additionally, Marketo offers integrations with leading CRM providers, so the marketing-sales alignment is on point.

Whether it’s a sales-ready lead or just a marketing qualified lead, you can follow the lead closely, engage in a contextual and highly personalised manner and route the lead to the appropriate marketing program or sales rep when ready.

And lastly, because Marketo also offers real-time and dynamic content personalisation features, the lead nurturing process becomes a breeze.

Want to know implement, improve or scale your Marketing Automation Platform?

Marketo Account-Based Marketing

Marketo also allows you to perform account-based marketing (ABM) at scale.

This method is especially useful in the B2B sector, and its popularity has grown over the past few years. And it’s for a good reason — 84% of marketers said ABM provided significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing client relationships.

As shown in the image below, ABM looks slightly different from our traditional marketing approach:

So, instead of casting a wide net, as we do in traditional marketing, the ABM approach encourages fishing with a spear.

The aim is to identify high-value accounts, nurture them and eventually grow them further.

This approach makes a lot more sense in the B2B world, as it can easily leverage the data you’ve already collected on your buyers to enable personalised cross- and up-selling activities.

Yet, we can see ABM becoming a tactic in the B2C sector with its longer sales cycle (think of more significant customer purchases, such as real estate).


Adobe Experience Cloud – Customer Experience

In comparison to Marketo’s Lead Management success, Adobe Experience Cloud scores consistently high on customer experience.

In 2020, Adobe was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms.

For this reason, AEC is often a primary choice for global enterprises with a large customer base requiring personalisation at scale.

Because of the features available in AEC, plus when you consider the other products available under the umbrella of Adobe Inc, such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Document Cloud — you can achieve cross-departmental harmony from one central point.

This centralisation will result not only in a unified workforce but also in a better customer experience.

Adobe Experience Cloud brings the following solutions:

  • Adobe Experience Platform
  • Adobe Commerce Cloud
  • Adobe Audience Manager
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Adobe Target
  • Adobe Campaign
  • Adobe Advertising Cloud
  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • Marketo Engage

Furthermore, in December 2020, Adobe shared the news of its acquisition of Workfront — a work management platform for marketers. Its purpose is to help marketing teams align siloed management operations and it connects through APIs to Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Experience Cloud.

As shown, the overall intent behind Adobe Experience Cloud is to help companies personalise, optimise and orchestrate customer journeys at scale.

Because of the variety of features, AEC is often the best choice for large marketing departments with the available talent to play with the platform.

Also, many organisations find AEC convenient for their needs as their teams grow and the client base expands.

As we know, AEC was already an influential player in B2C marketing, but after Marketo joined the family, it has become even more newsworthy.


How does the pricing differ?

Adobe Experience Cloud pricing is not publicly available, and as with any large cloud solution, the cost depends on your particular needs.

As we know, AEC offers multiple solutions within the platform, and the more tools you want, the higher the cost. The good news is – you can choose the features you need and pay only for your selection.

The same goes for Marketo Engage. The pricing will depend on several factors such as the set of features, number of users and database size.

The difference is that Adobe Experience Cloud is more comprehensive, and therefore will be more expensive, which is why it is usually out of reach for small businesses.


The future of Adobe Experience Cloud and Marketo Engage

We remember how Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo caused a commotion in the marketing technology sector.

However, since both solutions have different strengths and now integrate, there is a lot to expect if you decide to use one of them.

To put it into Adobe’s words:

“Better together.

Adobe is leading the charge to reimagine customer experience management (CXM) with Adobe Experience Cloud. With Marketo Engage, Adobe is the market leader for marketing orchestration, engagement, and measurement across both B2B and B2C industries.”

It’s now becoming clear how both platforms will make each other better in the long run.

Whether you’re looking for the Marketo Engage platform or Adobe Experience Cloud, you can rest assured innovations are on the way.

With the new integrations that Adobe is building between Marketo and other Adobe solutions, we can confidently state that the sky’s the limit.

We can only expect great things from both solutions.

If you would like to discuss your marketing automation needs further, please reach out to us for a free discovery call.

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