Marketo CEO Steve Lucas: The Engagement Economy Will Replace the Outdated CRM Model

Steve Lucas is the Chief Executive Officer of San Mateo, Calif.-based Marketo, Inc., a Vista Equity Partners-backed provider of marketing software solutions.

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Prior to joining Marketo in November 2016, Lucas had a long run in the enterprise software space, with a breadth of experience leading multi-billion dollar businesses within SAP and through worldwide growth of cloud, mobile, database and analytics solutions. Most recently, Lucas served as the global president of platforms and applications at SAP, where he says he spent the best seven years of his career – aside from the past ten months. Previously he held the position as senior vice president at Salesforce, where he led marketing and strategy for its application development business,

The industry expert says it has always been a dream of his to run a high impact software company that makes a difference in the world, and he believes he has found that in Marketo. Before taking the job, Lucas says he called over twenty customers in efforts to get their feedback on the product and company. “What was interesting was how passionate customers are about the product. That type of enthusiasm and love for a product is difficult to engineer. Marketo just has that ‘magic,’” explains Lucas.

Just two weeks after replacing Marketo’s former CEO and co-founder Phil Fernandez, who stepped down after a decade at the helm, Lucas received a mandate from investors to hire 50 more developers and 100 additional salespeople. Tasked with “moving fast,” Lucas has helped the company overhaul its marketing automation software from the ground-up, including adding account-based targeting and deeper data management and analytics.

The tech executive’s vision for Marketo involves disrupting its image as primarily an SMB solution for automating email lists. Lucas hopes to expand Marketo to become an engagement platform for enterprise organizations, indicating that after two years of working on the technology, the firm is ready to make a pivot. Over that time, the company has been winning contracts for its marketing software in collaboration with integrators such as Accenture, now listing approximately 5,000 customers including McKesson, Panasonic and Sony.

“Microsoft and Tesla use our engagement platform as their global digital marketing hub,” said Lucas. “Out of 5,000-plus customers, well over 1,000 of them are enterprise customers and we remodeled our entire field sales organization so they can be more focused on the enterprise.”

In the “ridiculously clouded” marketing landscape, Lucas sees Marketo as well positioned against Oracle and Salesforce, companies he says try to sell marketers their tools in order to lock them into using their CRM.

Lucas is opposed to the acronym CRM, indicating that the idea of “managing” customers is fundamentally flawed. He instead believes in an “Engagement Economy,” in which buyers are in charge and are increasingly demanding brand experiences that make them feel valued, align with their values and connect with them on a personal level.

“Deeper, more meaningful engagement is the only way for a marketer to win, and we’ll continue to see an acceleration of adaptive and intuitive applications and technologies that will enable the marketer to deliver consistent and personalized experiences at scale. It’s this powerful combination – the marketer and the machine – that will enable marketers and brands to build life-long customer relationships,” Lucas told Marketing Technology Insights in a recent interview.

The CEO is also upbeat regarding Vista’s ownership of Marketo after the San Francisco-based private equity firm took the company private in a $1.8 billion deal last year. Earlier this month, Marketo decided to ditch its servers and move fully into the cloud, picking Google as its partner.

On Twitter, Lucas’ bio indicates he is the proud Husband of over 23 years to his “best friend” as well of the Dad of an “awesome Daughter and Son.” He also describes himself as a Type I Diabetic “helping kids know they can accomplish anything.”