Eloqua CEO Joe Payne anchored his keynote at the company’s 2012 user conference with a blast from the past – his past.
In the early 1990s, as a brand manager for Coca-Cola, Payne described a marketing organization driven by gut instinct rather than hard data. “The difference between then and now is my ability as a marketer to make decisions based on data,” Payne said. “There’s no better time to be a marketer than today.”
The promise of data-driven marketing has always been a key selling point for marketing automation vendors like Eloqua. During yesterday’s Eloqua Experience keynote, however, Payne (along with Paul Teshima, the company’s Senior Vice President of Product Management) unpacked a series of product demos, beta releases and new announcements that kept data management and analysis front and center in the company’s platform strategy.
The keynote detailed five related disciplines, including digital body language, social/mobile, app ecosystems, data-driven analytics and collaboration. Each topic included at least a couple of interesting demos; Teshima, for example, showed off a new Eloqua lead scoring module that featured a user-friendly design and easy-to-repurpose scoring models. Payne also talked up the fact that more than 75% of the company’s customers now use at least one Eloqua AppCloud app, and the average customer uses four such apps.
Based on everything we heard during the keynote, however, some of the most interesting material fell into three particular topics of interest. (Eloqua also made a major announcement involving AdFocus, its new display ad-targeting solution. Check out of Solution Spotlight this week for detailed coverage.)
Doubling down on the Social Suite. At one point, Payne acknowledged that “penetration of Eloqua Social Suite isn’t what it should be yet.” He also pointed out, however, that social capabilities can solve potentially dangerous marketing problems, such as the fact that virtually all prospects admit to filling out web forms with phony data.
As a result, Payne emphasized the social sign-on capabilities built into Eloqua Social Suite – a feature that can eliminate form data-quality issues and that also allows Eloqua users to analyze users’ social data feeds for marketing and sales prospecting activities. He also demoed new Facebook integration features that can identify engaged users, pulling dynamic and personalized content from Eloqua directly onto Facebook pages.
Payne also showed a beta version of support for auto-resizing Eloqua email templates for mobile display, reflecting the company’s findings that 40% of B2B buyers now read their email on smartphones rather than on desktop clients.
New sales alignment tools. Payne also highlighted some existing Eloqua components, including the company’s sales enablement suite. The suite, which includes tools for identifying, profiling and communicating with prospects, also gives marketers a measure of control over when and how sales organizations make contact – a potentially touchy topic.
“It’s important to put quality content into the hands of sales, but also ensuring they can’t ‘go rogue’ by contacting people who have opted out,” he noted.
The core of Eloqua’s sales enablement message, however, now includes Salesforce.com’s Chatter, which was integrated with its marketing automation platform earlier this year. The fact that Eloqua was the first company to license Chatter from Salesforce on an OEM basis, Payne stated, as well as being the first to integrate it fully with its platform, was necessary to keep up with sales organizations that have already embraced Chatter as part of their own Salesforce CRM workflows.
Moving towards “one view of the truth.” Payne and Teshima also spent time previewing beta versions of new analysis and reporting tools designed to give marketing organizations a better grasp of the data flowing through their organizations. That includes analytical tools that deliver what Payne described as “one view of the truth” – reconciling marketing automation and sales/CRM data under a common set of definitions and reporting processes.
New data visualization tools were also previewed, such as a bubble chart allowing marketers to track campaigns by both direct and indirect revenue contributions.
As with several of the previews delivered during the keynote, Payne didn’t offer a final release date, noting that the technology was still being worked on in conjunction with key Eloqua customers. “We’re moving slowly with this,” he said, “because we want to get it right.”
Smart Analytics: Making The Pain Go Away
Will these tools – and especially the heavy emphasis on integrated analytics -- resonate with Eloqua’s customers? Judging from one of the day’s other Eloqua Experience sessions Demand Gen Report observed, the answer appears to be yes.
The session, during which Cate Zovod, Senior Director, Global Marketing of business intelligence vendor Actuate, offered a blueprint for offering “smart ROI analysis” for CEOs and CFOs, was held in a room designed for perhaps 150 people. By the time Zovod started her presentation, however, a standing-room crowd lined the back and sides of the room.
Traditionally, Zovod said, her team’s meetings with Actuate’s executive team had been a “painful experience,” as improvised reporting often failed to deliver what her own CFO and CEO needed to see. It’s obviously that a huge number of B2B marketers face a similar challenge – and that marketing automation vendors have a huge opportunity when they focus on making the pain go away for their customers.