On Diving Right In

Learning by doingThe decision to work with a marketing automation program like Eloqua is no small decision. It’s going to involve a tremendous expansion of the skill-set that you possess. It’s going to tax your abilities, and half-measures (adopting it part-way) is not going to get you where you want to go. If you adopt Eloqua, your marketing department is going to need a re-think from top to bottom.

As the Topliners poll shows nearby, the best way to become comfortable with Eloqua is to simply dive right in. (Click on the chart to see a larger version of it)

While “diving in” may make some sense, you have to be careful about what you’re diving into. The process of learning Eloqua, from beginning to end, involves a great deal of effort (which is worth it). The instructions that Eloqua provided at http://growth.eloqua.com provide a realistic road-map of what that journey entails.

Take a look at the list of just first-level of things you’ll need to do to “lay the groundwork” from that chart. I’ll go through these and provide just a few brief words on each of them.

Laying Your GroundworkPersona Development: This involves fairly intensive discussions with the sales department to understand who the various people are who are buying your products and services, why they are buying them, and what the process is like to get from “interest” to “purchase”.

Data Management/Standardize Data: Do you have data already? If so, there’s a likelihood that it’s not been “normalized”. If you don’t have data, you’ll need to think through and understand what you’ll need, and how to make sure it’s captured properly.

Naming Conventions and Folder Organization: Eloqua’s folder structure is an important part of classifying your emails, and before you send your first email out, you should have some kind of roadmap to make certain your emails are organized correctly as you continue to build out your program.

Email Deliverability and Best Practices: This is a whole separate science. It’s not as if there’s a dearth of material here; rather, the challenge will be to understand what targets you’d like to achieve, and then figure out how to be selective about which “best practices” you need to adopt.

Increase Email Response Rates: In some ways, this is a subset of the previous item; in other ways, this is a function of testing to achieve the kinds of targets you have set for yourself.

Subscription Preferences and Management: It’s an opt-in world; people hate getting spammed, and users will want to be able to opt themselves into and out of certain categories of information they will receive. Thinking through these categories is going to be vital to your efforts.

Inactive Contact Management: Eloqua charges you solely based on the number of contacts you have in your database. That means, if you can reduce the number of contacts you have, you can reduce the amount of money you pay for your annual contract. But at what cost?

Web to Lead Form Integration: Imagine the process that your potential customers will go through while in your “sales funnel”. You’ll want to learn more and more about them as they move forward. But what do you need to know, and when do you need to know it?

Lead Source Capture: How will you capture the names of individuals in the first place? More and more marketers are popping up big “give-us-your-email-address-now” screens in front of the first visit to your website. Is that what you want to be known for?

Don’t think you don’t need to do all of this. If you have a website – if you hope to use your website as a part of your selling process, then you either need to do all this, and more, or risk having your business become irrelevant to your users.

Consider the broad range of disciplines that are involved in just this list alone. This is merely “laying your groundwork”, before you actually accomplish one thing. The amount of work that needs to go simply into laying your groundwork should be a sign to you that an Eloqua implantation is not going to be a one-time “set-it-and-forget-it” software installation. It’s going to be a way of life.

Where do you begin? Start with “the Vision Thing”

If you’re “learning Eloqua” and you’re in a company that has an unlimited budget for implementation and training, you may find yourself participating in one of Eloqua’s free Implementation services, or working alongside a qualified Eloqua partner. We in fact worked with 4Thought Marketing, and I found their help to be invaluable.

But the partners can’t do everything. 4Thought Marketing promotes their services as “built on filling out the critical gaps in your current marketing program”. That leaves you with your own work to be done. And there is a whole lot to be done. Where do you start?

Until recently, it’s been very hard to know what to do first. You may find yourself in the position of Buridan’s Ass, dying of both thirst and starvation, all the while unable to decide between the bale of hay or pail of water in front of you. That strikes me as a very real possibility.

growth.eloqua.comEloqua to the rescue!

If you haven’t seen this yet, run, don’t walk, to http://growth.eloqua.com. This resource only became available recently (1Q2013, I think), but it is probably the single most complete resource for understanding Eloqua’s vision, and how you can adapt it for yourself.

I’ll write more about this resource in future blog posts. But even if you’re a seasoned Eloqua user, even if you’re working with an Eloqua partner, or even using an Eloqua competitor’s product, you should do yourself a favor, catch “the vision thing”, and visit http://growth.eloqua.com.

You’ll be amazed.

Learn it?

Learn It?


I’m not trying to say that Eloqua doesn’t make some available some fantastic resources. Their “Topliners” site is becoming more and more of a resource for newcomers to Eloqua. But it assumes that you kinda-sorta know what you’re doing. You can ask questions, or view product documentation, but if you try to search something as basic as “quick-start”, it’s still hard to know where to begin.

Quick Start?

Quick Start?

That’s one reason why I started this blog. When I started looking at Eloqua, I was given a password and then handed links to about three “get-started” videos, and it was just assumed that I could take it from there. I’m an enterprising guy, but it certainly takes a lot of time to get to know your way around inside Eloqua, especially if you’re not familiar with either the concept or the program.

To be fair, I had to learn on E9, and Eloqua has made some great strides in making E10 a much friendlier user environment. But the underlying structures and processes continue to operate in fundamentally the same way. For example, filters are still filters, and “Program Builder” is still “Program Builder”.

Early Videos

Early Videos

Next time, I’m going to start talking about some of the actual details of the program. But for now, I just wanted to emphasize that “there is a need”, and with this blog, I hope to be able to start meeting that need.