The Evolution of Ecosystems: from Biology to Technology to Marketing

Modern Marketing


Today Marketo is excited to announce the launch of our new partner ecosystem, Marketo LaunchPoint.

You can check it out at and see the 65+ partners which make this the most complete marketing ecosystem available today.

But before diving into the details we should discuss 3 important questions

What is an ecosystem?

Why are ecosystems important?

Why is a Marketing ecosystem important today?

What is an ecosystem?

The traditional concept of an ecosystem comes from the field of biology and ecology, describing a community of living and nonliving components such as plants, animals, microbes, air, water and soil all interacting with each other. The key characteristic of an ecosystem is interdependence where each component is dependent on each other component.  For example a herbivore needs to eat plants which in turn need air, water and soil to grow.  When animals die and decompose this then releases carbon and nutrients which allow plants to grow.  And so the cycle of life continues.

The term ecosystem then entered the business world in the early 1990s, became intertwined with the concepts of network effect and platforms for technology companies and has reached mainstream awareness with the success of ecosystems such as iOS and Android. At Marketo, we define an ecosystem to be a complementary set of solutions that amplify the power of the underlying marketing platform, extending the value of what you already have.  For example, a solution that creates and captures more leads makes a marketing automation platform more valuable.  The inverse is also true. A solution that captures more leads is of limited value unless you can nurture those leads to a successful outcome with a marketing automation platform.  Our short hand for this is 1+1=3.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Why are ecosystems important?

Ecosystems are important because they give users greater choice, extensibility, trust and discoverability.

  • Ecosystems give users choice

If you have a smartphone (and there are over 1 billion of us) then you’re actually experiencing an ecosystem every day.  The average smartphone user has 41 apps on their phone, but everyone has a different 41 apps. This is because ecosystems give users the ability to choose what is right for them.  Everyone is different and ecosystems recognize that. Businesses are different too and need the right solutions for their own specific requirements.

  • Ecosystems extend what you are already using

When you bought your iPhone, Android or Windows phone it worked for you out of the box.  There were things you could immediately do such as make a call, setup voicemail, organize your contacts and manage your calendar.  But there were things you wanted to do which was only possible with the platform plus an app, such as find a rental car, book a restaurant or track your running mileage.

  • Ecosystems provide you with trusted solutions.

Ecosystems have the ability to aggregate user feedback.  As a user you want to benefit from other people’s experiences.  Many ecosystems provide you with the ability to see what solutions have already delivered value to your peers. You never again have to choose a solution blindly.

  • Ecosystems help you discover new solutions

Ecosystems also help you learn about what’s new and innovative.  No longer do you have to go and search for solutions.  You have one place that cuts through the noise and brings the new and relevant solutions to you.

Why is a Marketing ecosystem important today?

So we’ve discussed why ecosystems in general are important to users – but why specifically is now the right time for a Marketing ecosystem?

  • Buyers are in control

With the mainstream adoption of cloud and social we’ve seen an explosion in how informed buyers are about the solutions they need.  Buyers also now hang out in multiple channels – display, online campaigns, SEM, social, events, offline – and marketers needs solutions to reach them in all these channels and modes of communication.

  • Marketing responsibility has expanded

No longer are marketers just responsible for top of the funnel conversion.  They are responsible for lifecycle marketing which includes acquisition, nurturing, sales conversion, upsell and advocacy.  Marketing executives now have to be responsible for revenue too, not just engagement or leads.  With expanded responsibility comes the need for greater breadth in the solutions needed.

  • The rate of change is accelerating

With the tsunami of cloud, mobile,and social changing how buyers learn and engage with companies, the rate of change for marketers is only accelerating.  This means as a marketer you need to stay on top of what are the new innovative solutions that can drive your business success.

Like other ecosystems, Marketo LaunchPoint is a dynamic ecosystem that will evolve and change over time.  This is just the beginning. We look forward to engaging with all of you in making this ecosystem increasingly more valuable in helping you drive your businesses forward.

The most complete ecosystem of Marketo partners and marketing solutions