Tag Archives: Eloqua

The CMO: now with added IT power! Four pointers for dealing with IT from a marketing leader’s perspective.

The one hot topic in B2B marketing last week was the acquisition of Eloqua by Oracle. One of the most interesting aspects of the acquisition from my personal perspective was the reaction within my company. Instead of me asking the IT department what the implications could be for us, this time the questions came to me. The questions that I received reinforced the shift in the relationship between most corporate IT departments and the lines of business that they serve that has taken place over the past few years.

Marketing has been no exception. Many analysts believe that marketing will be one of the core areas of growth for IT spending over the next few years. So marketeers are becoming increasingly knowledgable about their requirements and IT departments often cannot learn about the specialist solutions that we need quickly enough or with sufficient depth, so they are relying on us to tell them what they need.This places many marketing leaders in an unfamiliar position: they have to really engage IT for the first time in order to do their jobs effectively and this requires us all to take a new approach and to develop a new set of competencies.

I have been focused in this area over the past twelve months, as we developed both our marketing automation strategy and our marketing performance reporting and I have identified four main pointers for working more effectively with IT:

  1. IT is not the enemy! Your IT department is not the enemy, but they may have a different agenda to you, whether it be a lack of resources or a concern about the potential impact of what you want on their wider architecture. Marketeers have a habit of oversimplification (it’s our job, after all), but take the time to understand what drives your colleagues and never assume that what may be genuine concerns are simply IT acting in a dogmatic fashion. You are more likely to succeed in convincing them to help you if they believe that you are taking their motivations seriously.
  2. Take the time to explain your agenda and what your IT priorities will deliver to the business. Very often there will be a lack of understanding of the solutions that you are proposing and so you may find that there is a tendency to reduce the understanding of the solution you are proposing to a lowest common denominator. For example, a marketing automation solution is reduced to an email distribution tool: and with this reduction comes cynicism from IT about whether you really need a specialist solution with all the extra cost and effort that it involves. So take the time to build a robust business case and explain the subtle but important differences that underpin your need for specialist marketing technology.
  3. Don’t assume that IT knows more about the technology than you do. Your IT department has to cover the full spectrum of your business, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to understand marketing solutions in any great level of depth. Your responsiblity is to have a wider and deeper understanding of the technology that you need, including its capabilities, competition and whether it is likely to fit into your wider IT architecture. This is a broader challenge than most marketeers have ever faced, but it is necessary to ensure that you get the results that you crave.
  4. Define success together. Last, but certainly not least, define what success looks like together and ensure that you are generous in your praise of your colleagues. Changes in marketing technology are a challenge for both of you, so make sure that you are prepared to succeed – and fail – together. That way you will lay the foundations for what is likely to become an enduring relationship over the next few years.

This approach seems to have worked quite well for us so far, even if changes sometimes takes longer than I would like, but I would be interested to know what ideas you have for working effectively with your IT team?

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Marketing automation: no substitute for common sense.

I have been spending a lot of time recently looking at marketing automation. Overall, I have been pretty impressed with what I have seen. These applications have developed extremely rapidly over the past few years in both usability and intelligence. The power that marketing automation solutions such as Marketo, Eloqua and Aprimo now place in the hands of marketeers is fantastic. They allow us to roll out campaigns faster than ever before, nurture leads and effectively directly measure return on investment on marketing programs without masses of manual labour and endless spreadsheets.

The long term vision of many of these solutions is to move business-to-business marketing on to a new plain entirely: revenue performance management or, in layman’s terms ‘managing a marketing pipeline just like a sales pipeline’. For every marketeer who has ever struggled to prove the return on investment for their marketing dollars, this promises to be the Holy Grail.

Once implemented, companies should be able to forecast the marketing activity required to generate sufficient incremental sales. Marketing ceases to be a cost center and finally gets the recognition it deserves as a contributor to top line growth, which is surely what any marketeers worth his or her salt really craves.

Despite this, I can see how marketing automation could become a victim of its own success, if it is implemented without strong marketing leadership, for two reasons:

  1. The reporting that it provides is, by its very nature, retrospective. The temptation to keep repeating campaigns that ‘worked well last time’ becomes very strong, because one of the key features of automation is, of course, repeatability. Campaign reporting is a powerful tool, but it must always be allied to understanding of the market and the major trends during marketing planning.
  2. The elements that marketing automation solutions can measure become the only elements considered when deploying marketing programs. The output of any program is reduced to an email, a landing page and a white paper – because they are the things that we can directly measure quickly. Other potentially more effective traditional channels to communicate our messages are ignored because they don’t provide us with the instant gratification of a click-through.

The danger is that we become obsessed with measurability and focusing all of our efforts on the programs that can be directly deployed through marketing automation, to the detriment of investment in other aspects of the marketing process. Which is great in the short term, but we may find that neglecting other important elements, such as brand investment and sales enabling leaves buyers increasingly unaware of why they would even want to engage with our companies and sellers unable to deal with those customers when they do.

The strongest B2B marketeers will have the backbone to stand up for the programs that add long-term strategic value to their business, not just those things that can be measured directly.  If awareness of what separates your business from the crowd is low, then the most elegantly crafted automated marketing programs are unlikely to help you succeed.

Marketing automation has the potential to massively strengthen the deployment and measurement of marketing strategy: but it shouldn’t BECOME your marketing strategy. It’s vital that we, as professional marketeers, are constantly proving our value to our organizations in terms of top line contribution whenever we can. But we shouldn’t forget that not everything that has value can be measured in numbers. Marketing automation is no substitute for common sense.

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