After you have your data clean and your initial nurture programs set up, where do you go with Eloqua? This video talks about sales and marketing alignment and “nurturing” your customers (through onboarding and cross-selling campaigns.
These are the kinds of plans you ought to have in place before acquiring Eloqua – but what you have here is a great framework for thinking through your first tentative year as a Marketing Automation guru!
How does 4Thought Marketing help you get started with an Eloqua SmartStart? Amanda does a great job here of helping would-be Eloqua users to understand the process.
The 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.
Persona 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.
In the beginning, a business starts with an idea. And if you’re a typical entrepreneur, you develop a love for what you do that drives you on.
For example, maybe someone you know can’t unflutenate their wasteng. Everyone knows a flutenated wasteng is bad news. It causes pain for those afflicted by it, and so you work to develop a process that unfluenates wastengs to a stellar degree. Your process genuinely is the “quick and easy” way to unflutenate wastengs.
In the midst of the time and energy that you put into developing this process, you develop a real love for it. And you can’t wait to tell the world what your new process will do for them.
This is where content marketing comes in.
For a time, your first customers are your first love. And they feel the love, to be sure. You can’t wait to be with them, and they can’t wait for you to come around. They subscribe to your materials, and refresh their inboxes constantly while they wait for news of your next offering.
But then, over time, a business starts to take its customers for granted. Maybe the first generation of entrepreneurs, who loved the business, move on, or pass away, and another generation of leadership comes in and changes things; later, yet a third generation comes in and loses all memory of the first love that drove the business on.
This would be bad news indeed.
But it gets worse. The third generation of leadership, who has not only lost all love, but has lost all memory of the love, hires some high-powered sales and marketing executives to figure things out. These individuals may be proficient, but they don’t have the love for the customers that drives them on. They don’t have the love for your process.
Two things are needed for Love
According to Jack Welch, former CEO of GE and now globe-trotting business guru, the most important thing you can have in business is “authenticity”.
The most powerful thing you can do is, well, be real. As in not phony. As in grappling, sweating, laughing, and caring. As in authentic.
That works in real life, but of course, when you talk about search engine optimization (SEO), it seems as if Google is looking for that sort of genuineness in its current search algorithms.
A second concept was articulated by Steve Jobs in this 1993 Wired interview:
To design something really well, you have to “get it” You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.
What does grok mean? According to Wikipedia, the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein originally coined the term grok in his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land as a Martian word that could not be defined in Earthling terms.
Quoting the novel:
Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science…
To return to our example above, you and your customers share the ailments associated with fluenated wastengs, and you work with all your might unflutenate them. You have more than empathy for such sufferers. You love them.
The real joy is when customers love you back: advocacy is considered to be the Holy Grail of social media. Customer advocacy can really help you multiply the return on your efforts. It takes all of the above to a new audience and leads to word-of-mouth praise, online and offline.
One 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.
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 aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)
4Thought Marketing introduced 4Segments at Oracle’s “Modern Marketing Experience” (#MME15) – this a tool that will revolutionize your ability to create, understand, and share the value of your marketing lists and segments. If you’ve built “segments” in any of the major “marketing automation” platforms (Eloqua included), you’ll love the simplicity that 4Segments brings to the task.
4Segments will enable you to take personalization to a whole new level in your marketing content efforts, as you seek to build the relevance you need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Contact me for a demonstration of this cool new tool.