News analysis - how Liferay plans to build complete customer experiences with Triblio on board

Profile picture for user barb.mosher By Barb Mosher Zinck October 1, 2018
On the surface, Liferay's move to take controlling interest in Triblio is surprising. What does a digital experience vendor want with ABM? But as Barb Mosher Zinck explains via her talk with Liferay's CEO, there is an underlying customer logic at work here.

Everyone is talking about Adobe’s acquisition of marketing automation provider, Marketo. The acquisition certainly has the potential to be a game-changer for Adobe and Marketo.

But there are other mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships going on in this industry that are saying a lot about how the industry is evolving. One of these is digital experience platform provider Liferay’s decision to take a controlling interest in account-based management provider, Triblio.

Catching up with Liferay

Liferay launched its digital experience platform, Liferay DXP, a couple of years ago and the company has been building its platform out with key capabilities that support the needs of its customers. I talked with Liferay CEO, Bryan Cheung, about the newer additions to the platform, as well as the Triblio acquisition and it's apparent the company is on a mission to support the entire customer lifecycle.

Liferay’s origins are in portal, but it made the decision to shift its market focus as customer experience became front and center. The DXP supports a number of use cases including Intranets, customer or partner portals and website experiences. Cheung said in a recent interview that content management, portal, collaboration, and commerce are table stakes for digital experience platforms today and should come with these capabilities out of the box.

Liferay DXP’s primary audience is B2B, and with that market in mind, Liferay has added commerce and analytics to its product line up. Cheung said there are some nuances with B2B commerce including contract management, order workflows, and customer specific catalogs. With analytics, they’ve moved away from the traditional web page/anonymous user approach to also analyzing named users and accounts and looking at asset engagement (blogs, forms, media, and web content).

As Cheung explained, Liferay’s core customer base has complex integration requirements and organizational needs, and are focused on longer-term customer relationships.

On the decision to acquire Triblio

Triblio is an ABM solution that started up in 2013. It was founded by former Eloqua VP of Product Management, Andre Yee (Triblio CEO) and former Eloqua lead architect, Mike Ball (Triblio CTO). In 2014, Triblio raised $3.4 million in seed funding and was named by as a marketing automation software startup to watch in 2015. Yee was part of the executive team that led Eloqua to an IPO and its $957M acquisition by Oracle. I think it’s fair to say there are good bones behind this company.

Like many ABM platforms, Triblio offers a range of solutions including account-based marketing and lead generation, as well as ABM for sales enablement.

Triblio focuses on winning new customers, and Cheung said they are very good at defining target accounts and integrating with ad networks to provide the right messages to those targeted accounts. The company also supports personalization on websites, tying into Salesforce to know when certain accounts are present on the website and what they are doing.

Cheung explained why Liferay decided to take a controlling interest in Triblio and not another ABM solution. He said that they looked at Triblio’s strong close rate, as well as customer success rate. Liferay wanted to know how much of Triblio’s customers’ success was tied back to lead generation and account closes with the solution, in addition to renewal rates.

He said the business fundamentals were also strong, so even if they didn’t do anything and just let the company run as a subsidiary, it would still be very successful.

Tying the customer lifecycle technology together

It seems like Triblio and Liferay don’t fit. But Cheung sees Triblio as complementary to what they are doing with the DXP. This is not an acquisition where the Triblio software will be merged into the DXP and Triblio customers will eventually have to use the DXP or leave. Cheung wants Triblio customers to understand their interests come first and things won’t change that much. Triblio will continue to operate as an independent entity, led by Yee. But the benefits to both companies are clear.

Liferay’s investment in Triblio will help the company continue to evolve its marketing suite and expand market reach - makes sense. For Liferay, the opportunities are many. First, Liferay is focused on the complete customer lifecycle. They want to provide a seamless experience between an anonymous web experience and the un-anonymous portal experience; a way to draw customers who use the customer portal for quick activities to spend more time with a company on their website.

Triblio can also add marketing capabilities to the DXP that all digital experience platforms should have if they want to improve the experiences of their customers. These features support personalizing the web experience for key target accounts through landing pages, customized resources, and CTAs, in additional to personalized web pages.

Another aspect Cheung talked about is how Triblio can help Liferay customers reach out to target accounts in their markets to help them acquire new customers. For example, if a DXP customer wants to reach out to a new market, it would use Triblio to find and reach out to key target accounts in that market and draw them back to the customer website or portal.

My take

My first thought was that Liferay should have looked at marketing automation solutions instead of ABM. Integrating marketing automation would bring a lot of functionality into the DXP that would support web experiences as well as customer portals including email, forms, and landing pages, as well as personalized web experiences. But step back and look at the bigger picture. In a B2B scenario, ABM has the potential to do much more than straight marketing automation.

B2B companies focus on building relationships with customers. But not just any customers;  those customers that will be with them long-term. The B2B sales cycle tends to be very long, and it’s important to have a way to keep top of mind with the right prospects. Triblio can help Liferay build loyalty through targeted content and ads, and highly personalized experiences on the website that support the personalized experience in the portal for existing customers as well as new ones. That’s the complete customer lifecycle perspective.