VocusVocus – which is known for tracking and monitoring PR, social media and marketing activities – recently expanded into marketing automation. Why did Vocus do this? To help make sense of the vendor’s decision, I’ve listed three advantages Vocus will have in the marketing automation platform (MAP) market:

Install base.

Vocus has a customer base of 17,000 small to medium businesses (SMB), many of which do not have marketing automation. By targeting its current install base as its primary market opportunity, Vocus can increase its market share and presence in the MAP market. Conversely, its new MAP capabilities will help create pull for its principle PR offerings.

SMB B2C experience.

While the MAP market is rapidly growing, there is hyper-expansion within the SMB space. In addition, many MAP vendors are increasing their product capabilities and marketing messages for B2C organizations. Vocus’s clients are predominantly small to medium-sized companies ($20 million to $250 million) that focus on B2C, which gives Vocus a potential competitive advantage.

PR expertise.

Vocus’s flagship PR suite centers on managing and monitoring PR activities. This is a key differentiator and advantage for Vocus, because the platform can identify unknown prospects by analyzing posts from all major social outlets while measuring the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of news channels, media channels and blogs. This is not a core capability of other MAPs.

Vocus is positioned to capitalize on the current state of the MAP market (which includes hyper-growth in the SMB and B2C segments). Additionally, the combination of its traditional PR media offering with MAP functionality will be an attractive option for new and existing customers with basic MAP requirements and a clearly defined focus on PR monitoring.

However, Vocus’s recent entry into the MAP market also presents challenges. For example, the vendor will have to invest in the resources required to offer clients sufficient and applicable training, support and best practices. In addition, Vocus will face competition from more mature MAPs (e.g. Marketo, Act-On, Pardot) that already offer many of the same marketing and social capabilities (excluding traditional media monitoring and news distribution).