Using “Big Data”?

Instead of passing over leads once they reach a certain score or threshold, a big data strategy could help marketers make better decisions when it comes to lead scoring and identify which leads are most likely to purchase a company’s products or services based on a set of inputs to improve upon existing lead scoring tactics.

Bringing “Marketing Automation” Mainstream

Jon Miller, a co-founder of Marketo (and someone who has commented on this blog) has taken another step toward bringing “marketing automation” mainstream with this article in Inc magazine, “3 Ways to Make Relationship Marketing Count”.

What if you have a big miss with a message sent to a CFO? Then it’s not so funny. On the Internet, your prospects and customers are telling you all about themselves, and they’re expecting you to pay attention and use that information to be more interesting, more engaging, more relevant…

The three things are:

1. Pay attention to C-Level traffic. If the executive is a customer, [he or she] may be looking to price alternatives. If not a customer, it could be a good idea to send the executive a whitepaper …

2. Have a conversation. And remember, “some of the best communication is educational or entertaining to the person on the other end of the conversation.”

3. Look for forms of communication other than email. “[S]ometimes the best way to connect to your customer is to give them a call….Listen to what’s being said on social networks and join the conversation… Make sure the resources on your website are informative and entertaining, not just promotional. And then coordinate it all together into a seamless conversation”.

As per my earlier blog post, it seems as if Marketo is continuing to focus on “thought leadership” rather than dive into the data.

But he’s working to bring “marketing automation” mainstream. That’s good news.

I’m @johnbugay

Marketing Automation Providers: If It’s Content vs Data, Who Wins?

Content vs data: who wins?

Content vs data: who wins?

On the same day that we see an announcement about an agreement between Oracle and Salesforce to share data, Marketo provided an announcement about its 1000th blog post, basically a summary of things “then and now”.

This is about as clear a picture as we’re going to get about the current and future consolidation of the industries that have come to be known by various names as “marketing automation” and “content marketing” (and related terms).

There’s “data” on the one side, and “content” on the other.

Of course, both sides will profess expertise in both arenas. However, in terms of “strength vs strength”, Oracle and Salesforce are going to have their strength in the “data” arena, and Marketo and some of their like-minded competitors are staking their claims in the “content” arena.

“Big Data”? No Problem for Oracle/Eloqua

In the “data” arena, Oracle and Salesforce, two traditional rivals, have seemingly “agreed to play nice”, at least in terms of sharing their data more easily. As I’ve used these solutions, it was already a natural fit.

And, in a recent blog post, I put up a video in which Oracle/Eloqua outlines its product roadmap, saying “we’re committed to continuing the Eloqua roadmap, exhilarating it, and then integrating it with a broader portfolio”. That involves using “Eloqua’s marketing cloud in a multi-vendor environment”.

If anything, Salesforce and Oracle are on the same side of the house, in the “data” world. On the other side of the house, Marketo is more about providing “content”, and perhaps in that emphasis, we see a clue about the weaknesses it is trying to cover.

Will “Thought Leadership” Trump “Data”?

If Eloqua has been “all about revenue” (and data), then Marketo has staked its claim in the realm of “thought leadership” in the form of “content”. Jon Miller, who wrote the blog post, gives himself this moniker and tagline:

Jon (@jonmiller) leads all aspects of Marketo’s thought leadership, communications, and content marketing programs.

And in line with the “thought leadership” process, the blog post “revisiting our very first post, “Modern B2B Marketing Defined”, and commenting on what’s changed – and what hasn’t – since August 8, 2006.

What hasn’t changed:

• Customers are more empowered than ever, and less likely than ever to want to be interrupted with someone else’s marketing message.
• “Mass media” is giving way to the need for “mass customization”.
• Marketing must be accountable [a tip-of-the-hat to “revenue”].

What has changed?

• “Content marketing” has become the new and personalized SEO.
• It’s now all about ***Social Media*** and ***Mobile***.
• Integrated SaaS (“software as a service”) providers will be more needed to process the data.

While mentioning the explosion of data, Miller doesn’t give much of a hint as to how data is to be captured, managed, and used. He does note that “at the core” of the “integrated” services, there will be some mechanism to use “behavioral data about prospects and customers.” But there are no specifics about how “advanced” and “predictive” “analytics” will be used. Only in the coming years, “even more dynamic personalization” and “real-time marketing” will be forthcoming.

I’m not familiar with Marketo’s platform. But I do know Oracle/Eloqua and Salesforce, and the ways that they integrate data in ways that are useful to an organization. The difficult part about these solutions is finding appropriate ways to incorporate the “content marketing” portion.

In the coming months and years, the struggle for dominance will be between those who know the data and struggle to provide the content management, and those who manage the content well but struggle to scale to the data needs.

Convergence will minimize the differences; “execution” will be key

I don’t doubt that there will be some convergence: the “content” competitors will acquire data-savvy partners, and these will thrive on the content side. The Oracle/Eloqua/Salesforce side will need to strengthen their ties with “content marketing” thought leaders.

In the end, I doubt that the “content” marketers are going to be too lacking in data, and nor will the data providers find themselves lacking in the “content” arena. But as I said above, handling the data seems to be the more difficult task, and I’d give a slight edge to the Oracle/Eloqua side.

What it’ll come down to is, as Tom Peters has said, “execution”.

I’m @johnbugay

Understanding Buyer Personas: Two sides of the coin

Buyer Personas: two sides of a coinWhat’s the right way to think about “buyer personas”? I’m discussing that topic in a series of guest-blog posts at Acooze.com.

You have to be able to identify your buyer persona in two ways. First, you must know them from their own perspective – get them to say “I am a person who …” (and you need this kind of feedback ideally from a representative sample of them, or from your salespeople’s understanding of them). That’s the human side.

Second, you must be able to access them within your data. That’s the technical side. A lot of content marketing advice exists about the first, but it seems like information on the second is a bit harder to find.

Getting your buyer personas right is like burning both ends of a candle. And if you’re not making a connection in the middle, you’re going to run into some difficulty.

Read more: Buyer Personas, A Collision of Human and Technology

I’m @johnbugay

Oracle’s Commitment to Eloqua’s multi-vendor environment

In this brief video, Oracle President Mark Hurd, EVP of Product Development Thomas Kurian, and [still-titled] Eloqua CEO Joe Payne reaffirm Oracle’s commitment to the Eloqua platform, while emphasizing their plan to enable Eloqua users to continue to rely on the “Eloqua Marketing Cloud”.

Steve Jobs is dead: now who are the real tough guys?

Bronx-Tale-Cover“ … it don’t take much strength to pull a trigger, but try and get up every morning day after day and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. Then we’ll see who’s the real tough guy. The working man is the tough guy …” – Robert De Niro as Lorenzo Anello, a bus driver in “A Bronx Tale”, screenplay by Chazz Palminteri.

You may have noticed that Apple’s stock has plummeted, especially after it announced an 18 percent drop in net income for the March quarter. It’s also expecting revenue could fall in the next quarter for the first time since 2003. That’s not to say that Tim Cook isn’t a good CEO, and that Apple still doesn’t have great products and a great all-around technology solution. But Steve Jobs is dead, and it’s not likely that someone with his combination of vision and authority will come along again anytime soon.

Bronx-Tale-Short-LivedYou may also have noticed that within the last couple of years, “social media” have also fallen somewhat flat as a business marketing tool – Facebook has failed to live up to its promise – it has lost roughly half of its value since its IPO. Twitter has the ability (when hacked) to affect the stock market, but its effects seem to be short-lived and not the kind of thing upon which to build a dynasty.

What’s the answer, not only for Apple, but for marketers everywhere? The answer can be found in the words of Robert De Niro, as spoken above: “Now we’ll see who the real tough guys are”. Those who “get up every morning day after day and work for a living”.

* * *

For marketers, that kind of “getting up each day” is much, much easier with an all-around Marketing Automation solution like Eloqua.

We know that Eloqua works. It delivers as advertised. Eloqua had a very successful IPO at $12.00 per share, to be followed up with an acquisition by Oracle at roughly double that amount. Recently, the #2 player in the “marketing automation” field, Marketo, has also filed for an IPO.

These kinds of successes are possible because “marketing automation” works. It yields a measurable benefit for marketing programs. It enables organizations to integrate their sales and marketing teams more tightly than ever before.

Bronx-Tale-StrengthBut while “marketing automation” can yield tremendous results, making it work is not an easy thing to do. It requires cooperation among a number of internal departments, including marketing, sales, and IT. Plus, a proper implementation often requires the help of outside “partner” firms or consultants who can accomplish specific tasks and provide proper training.

The alternative to all that work is being left behind. The good news is that virtually every company that uses a website to sell or market its products can benefit from a well-implemented marketing automation effort.

Thinking Things Through: Campaigns

Eloqua gives users a wonderful opportunity to create “automated campaigns” – but there’s a point at which you almost have to work backward.

Allow-for-evaluation-time

Topliners has a pretty cool EloquaU Power Hour on “Cool Campaigns” (the recording is here – the beginning portion of the recording was not captured) – most of these types of campaigns will have similar structures, which is nice.

The down side is that you’ve got to think through all the various elements of the campaign – what your segments will be and what your triggers will be – and you’ve got to create your various emails and landing pages and other campaign elements, before you actually get to play with the cool Campaigns canvas.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But the process is one of juggling various steps in a campaign, first building them in your mind, until you can create them and have them holding and ready for the time when you actually “assemble” your campaign.

By the way, the recording for this Power Hour is given by Chad Horenfeldt, who is no longer with Eloqua (he’s gone on to work with a small start-up technology firm), who gives some excellent but not comprehensive “tips” on how to keep things functioning more smoothly – tips such as adding “wait” or “evaluate” steps (to be conscientious about your customer’s email reading habits) or how using decision-rules about “shared-lists” can be used in conjunction with forms (i.e., “clicked on Form A”), then you can evaluate against those people in your campaign.

For example, if you want to see who’s registered for a particular event. Yes, you can create a filter that asks, “did the user fill out Form A?”, but if, as a part of your form processing step, you can create and add people to a “shared contact list” which can be re-used, without having to re-create the filter.

Outline-Re-engagement-CampaignThe down side of a presentation like this one is that these “little hints” are nice if you know them, but they’re of a nature, “For example, you may want to …” – but they’re not something that I’ve seen be collected in any systematic way such that you can say, “here is a list of all our little hints” .

Eloqua is something you simply have to have worked with, so that you know these “little hints”, and when to use them.

The “cool campaigns” part of the video actually begins with Part 3 of the video (around 29:00) and it lasts only about five minutes. But it’s worth it to watch this from beginning to end in order to catch some of the “little hints” that he presents.

Eloqua Campaign Execution Workflow: Getting Everyone Pulling in the Right Direction

When everyone is pulling in the same direction, assuming it’s the right direction, things will get done effectively. That’s the message of Eloqua’s training materials on “Campaign Execution Workflow”.

One of the good things about Eloqua is that it gets everyone on the team – and lots of folks from outside the team – involved. However, one of the bad things about Eloqua is that it gets everyone on the team – and lots of folks from outside the team – involved.

The issue is that, especially if you are a primary Eloqua user or manager, not everyone knows what you know. And that makes “training” (or at least “effective internal communications”) as much an issue with Eloqua as everything else.

To that end Eloqua has put together a brief overview of some of the best practices around how to think about “Campaign Execution Workflow” – the video here is approximately a 24 minute video that discusses the need for this type of training (or “ internal communications”),

This actually comes farther down the “Learning Eloqua” road – in the second tier of “things to do” rather than the first. But it’s something to look at before you begin, because “Learning Eloqua” is going to be a long-term process, for you and your team.

Here are some related resources on this topic:

http://topliners.eloqua.com/community/know_it/blog/2012/10/30/gain–strategic-campaign-planning

There are several elements to this module. The first is “organizational change planning” – keeping people focused on key goals for the long-term.

The “Campaign Planning Template” document may be found here:
http://topliners.eloqua.com/docs/DOC-2040

The “campaign workflow execution template” may be found here:
http://topliners.eloqua.com/docs/DOC-3233

Building Personas: “Soccer Moms”, “Fearful CEOs” and other people who may buy from you

First ThingsOne of the most important things that sets your marketing message apart from the others is “relevance” – if your message is relevant to the recipient, it’ll go a lot more smoothly from the inbox to your prospect’s brain.

If you can understand who the various people are who buy your products or services, you’re much more likely to be able to select (or create) relevant messaging (or “content”) to send to them.

That’s why thinking through “personas” for your customers is the very first project that Eloqua recommends.

This is clearly not the “automation” portion of “marketing automation”, it’s the “marketing” part. You may have heard the tech-related phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is where you need to make certain you are working with good information. This is the foundation for the rest of your efforts.

(In a sense, it’s a shame that marketing “automation” companies need to remind their customers of this).

It’s all about the money, and this is where “marketing” meets “the money”. It’s where you, as a marketer, sit down with your sales and product management teams and understand, who’s buying each product or service that you sell, how they are involved in the purchasing decision, and what their “buying cycle” is.

At a later date, for each of these, you’ll think through their “buying cycle” their particular needs (or “pain points”) at varying points of the buying cycle, and also the type of “content” that you will address to them.

But for now, what’s the point?

Thinking through your customer demographics should be a standard operating procedure for any business, and for some, it is a science. Consumer marketing companies have come up with a number of different personas — some of these, such as “soccer moms”, have become well-known through such marketing processes as political campaigns.

2013-04-02-Consumer-Demographics

If you properly understand who the buyers are, and what they’re buying, you can automate your marketing efforts to them in an effective way. If you don’t get them right, it’s going to be a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

If you click on the “Persona Development” link on http://growth.eloqua.com/, it’ll take you to the page where Eloqua makes its “persona development” materials available.

(If you aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)

Doing more with less, beating “Moore’s Law”, enabling “Big Data”, and creating new kinds of jobs

Anyone who’s been alive in the last 30 years has seen the incredible on-rush of technology. No doubt you’ve got a mobile phone in your pocket or on a desk nearby. Some time not long ago (I remember the early 1990’s) such miniaturization and efficiency of space was unthinkable.

Underlying the press to do more with less is a concept known as “Moore’s Law”, which posits that “that the number of transistors on integrated circuits would double roughly every two years”. This has enabled chip manufacturers to roughly double the power of microprocessors each year. [A similar law, called Kryder’s law describes how storage space works in a similar way.]

The problem is that the laws of physics now have pressed microchip manufacturers to the point to which “traffic” within the circuit board makes it difficult to get things any smaller. And this is causing a “traffic jam” in the amounts of information that can be processed.

Nevertheless, the Harvard Business Review has a helpful blog post by Hector Ruiz, the former CEO of chip maker (and Intel competitor) AMD, which talks about how chip technology is going to become even smaller and more efficient in spite of the increasing traffic:

To understand where the industry is today and where innovation is headed, it’s helpful to think of the microchip as a metropolitan area and its components as buildings.

Decades of innovation have made the components of a microchip smaller and smaller. Yet chips have grown larger as more and more components are packed onto them to meet increased computing needs — making the interconnections between each minuscule part more spread out.

That “sprawl” is like the suburbs around a city. The same problems that apply to a sprawling metropolitan area apply to the microchip: getting from point A to point B requires increasing time and energy just like driving a congested freeway from a suburban home to a job downtown does. Information travels across bigger microchips with less efficiency at slower speeds, while consuming more power.

We can’t increase the surface area of microchips much more without running into those problems, and we’re getting closer every day to the limits of how small we can make components. So what next?

The trend in urban development today is to build up, bringing people back into city centers and transforming suburbs into functioning city units where jobs, shopping, and homes are as closely connected as possible. That idea applies to microchips in the form of three-dimensional interconnect. It’s the off-ramp to Moore’s Law: In 3D interconnect, engineers stack wafers like the floors of a skyscraper in extreme miniature, with vertical connections (think elevators communicating between floors) in addition to traditional horizontal links.

One key area of growth this will impact is the growth of “big data”. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

Much of that is “unstructured” – in the forms of images and videos stored at such venues as Facebook and YouTube. But increasing volumes of it come in the forms of measurable, actionable information. Gartner has predicted that 1.9 million new IT jobs in the US alone will be created to support “big data” over the next two years.

Eloqua and similar marketing automation programs are enabling marketers to do more with the onrush of data – to accomplish more (and more relevant) “marketing functionality” with fewer people, while at the same time changing the face of what needs to be done.

That bodes well for folks who understand the type of change that’s happening, what it is they’re dealing with.