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

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”.

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.

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.

Why Eloqua?

I’m amazed that there are a lot of people who haven’t heard about Eloqua, or about “marketing automation”. Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua was vindication for its “thin-client-and-server” model of computing in the 1990’s, vs Microsoft’s “power on the desktop” model.

Rob Brosnan of Forrester Research, writing for Forbes, says:

The $871 million deal is eye-popping given Eloqua’s $90 million in annual revenue, but at Oracle’s level, the cost hardly matters. Eloqua’s puts more muscle behind Oracle’s vision to become a force in SaaS. As important, it gives the company a do-over, i.e., an opportunity to pivot from past marketing tech offerings …. Marketers actively chose Eloqua for its capabilities as much as for the freedom it offers from IT.a

The Eloqua SaaS (“software as a service”) model means that marketers can just do what they need to do (and what they know intuitively that they need to do) with minimal input from MIS/IT. There’s no need to gain approvals to do day-to-day things. Eloqua makes sure the software is functioning properly in just one place – “the cloud” – and if the marketers run into trouble, they call Eloqua Tech Support instead of MIS/IT. All of the “computing” happens “in the cloud”.

On the other hand, the Microsoft vision of “power on the desktop” means that you’ve got to have “the program” on your own “desktop”, which is empowering for MIS/IT, but ultimately, less streamlined, less efficient.

With Eloqua, marketers have the ability to store their database, perform comprehensive web analytics, segment their customers based on their “digital” activity, create automated “programs” that reach out to the various segments based on interests and activity levels, and provide reporting that ultimately leads to an understanding of marketing ROI.

Marketers who don’t know about Eloqua should be flocking to have this kind of capability.

Eloqua is the color of my parachute (updated)

Hi — this is a new blog, one that is born out of a job search, and it’s a job search that I really want to be identified with Eloqua. That’s a very “What-Color-Is-Your-Parachute-ish” kind of thought. That’s all right. When it comes to marketing, Eloqua is “the way the world is going”. Or, “the way the business world needs to go”.

[Since I’m working with a new WordPress theme, I haven’t quite figured out the front page images yet. But I’m working on it]

Most of my career, I’ve been a writer, sometimes a designer, sometimes a manager. For the most part, those are very subjective kinds of things. Over the last two years, learning to use Eloqua has been an eye-opening experience. It’s been a kind of revelation.

It’s been gratifying for me to be able to learn how to use Eloqua, because “marketing automation”, generally, and Eloqua, specifically, has taken “marketing” out of the realm of “gut feeling”, and has given me, as a marketer, the ability to be a “quant”.

Why is that important? First of all, for the definition of the word “quant” (short for “quantitative”, as opposed to “qualitative”), I’ll point you to this Tom Peters blog post as a source. Of course, here, Peters is playing down the need to be a quant, and is “upselling” the need for softer skills in business.

Engineers and programmers and accountants are “quants”. As a “quant”, either you get it precisely right, or it doesn’t work. And either way, you’ve got “hard data” to prove it.

Marketers, until recently, have had to be “gut-feeling” kinds of folks. Marketing is a “soft” skill, based on feelings, not on numbers. And the way it has seemed, the person with the most experience or the biggest job title or the loudest voice can be said to have had the best “gut feeling”.

I’m a quiet guy. But I’m also a thoughtful guy – a “thinker” as opposed to a “doer”. Above all, I believe in doing things the right way. I don’t have a loud voice or a big job title right now. What I do have is a thoughtful presence and (I hope) some persistence to keep going through all the other noise.

Eloqua gives a guy like me the ability to use numbers. To provide quantitative, numerical justification for what I do. And that’s going to make all the difference in my career as a marketer. In the realm of marketing, at least as I’ve seen it, there’s been almost no such thing as “measuring ROI” (outside of some direct marketing areas); Eloqua can bring a measurable ROI to marketing.

Eloqua is the color of my parachute

Hi — this is a new blog, one that is born out of a job search, and it’s a job search that I really want to be identified with Eloqua. That’s a very “What-Color-Is-Your-Parachute-ish” kind of thought. That’s all right. When it comes to marketing, Eloqua is “the way the world is going”. Or, “the way the business world needs to go”.

Most of my career, I’ve been a writer, sometimes a designer, sometimes a manager. For the most part, those are very subjective kinds of things. Over the last two years, learning to use Eloqua has been an eye-opening experience. It’s been a kind of revelation.

It’s been gratifying for me to be able to learn how to use Eloqua, because “marketing automation”, generally, and Eloqua, specifically, has taken “marketing” out of the realm of “gut feeling”, and has given me, as a marketer, the ability to be a “quant”.

Why is that important? First of all, for the definition of the word “quant” (short for “quantitative”, as opposed to “qualitative”), I’ll point you to this Tom Peters blog post as a source. Of course, here, Peters is playing down the need to be a quant, and is “upselling” the need for softer skills in business.

Engineers and programmers and accountants are “quants”. As a “quant”, either you get it precisely right, or it doesn’t work. And either way, you’ve got “hard data” to prove it.

Marketers, until recently, have had to be “gut-feeling” kinds of folks. Marketing is a “soft” skill, based on feelings, not on numbers. And the way it has seemed, the person with the most experience or the biggest job title or the loudest voice can be said to have had the best “gut feeling”.

I’m a quiet guy. But I’m also a thoughtful guy – a “thinker” as opposed to a “doer”. Above all, I believe in doing things the right way. I don’t have a loud voice or a big job title right now. What I do have is a thoughtful presence and (I hope) some persistence to keep going through all the other noise.

Eloqua gives a guy like me the ability to use numbers. To provide quantitative, numerical justification for what I do. And that’s going to make all the difference in my career as a marketer. In the realm of marketing, at least as I’ve seen it, there’s been almost no such thing as “measuring ROI” (outside of some direct marketing areas); Eloqua can bring a measurable ROI to marketing.