A convention for the relentlessly curious

Marc gives a review of this year's Eloqua Experience Europe including a glimpse of the future for the technology.

Imagine your organization’s next marketing automation steps.

That’s what I, along with some 400 marketing technologist enthusiasts, was encouraged to do at Eloqua Experience Europe.

If like many B2B firms out there you’re still to even take your first steps into the rather daunting digital territory that is lead nurturing at its most sophisticated level, then starting out on the path to deployment can seem so far from the end game that it’s easy to get turned off, before you’ve fully turned on to the technology.

Seeing real success stories from other practitioners, learning how to manage the more technical requirements, and gaining insights from existing Eloqua partners’ modern marketing successes is why the now widely anticipated Eloqua event is heralded as the must attend convention for the forward thinking, technology hungry, relentlessly curious marketer. A bit like a science fiction gathering it can seem a little strange to the uninitiated. But you can’t help but get excited by the brilliance of what you’re witnessing. And this year was no exception.

For the benefit of all those B2B marketers that couldn’t make it down to London (it was worth it for the breakfast by the way) here’s the edited highlights.

Some key topics quickly became the talk of the conference;
• Marketers must become more agile to cope with the influx of channels and technologies
• The customer experience is the key to brand differentiation
• The true picture of the customer can only be realized by connecting multiple data sets and technologies at each stage of the buyer journey.

Adapt or die
So what was the main message that I took away from this year’s event? Marketers must adapt to change or risk becoming extinct. Alex Shootman, President of Oracle Eloqua, echoed this best with his ‘5 Tenets of Modern Marketing’, derived from Eloqua’s study with BtoB Magazine called ‘Defining the Modern Marketer: From Real to Ideal’. They include:
• 1 Targeting: Modern marketers must have a deep insight into the buyer - within the brand platforms they own and the paid and earned channels where they conduct their research.
• 2 Engagement: Content targeting must now go beyond Web site personalization to ensure that every channel reflects the stage of the purchase journey that the buyer is at.
• 3 Conversion: Marketers today must be tuned into the metrics that drive conversion and revenue performance. Knowing the KPI’s at each step of the funnel and more importantly the content, messaging and creative that drive leads and sales will be crucial for on-going success.
• 4 Analytics: Joined-up analytics will be the key to gaining a deeper insight into the attributes of the buyer. This means that Web, social and buyer journey metrics must be unified to provide marketing with a true picture of the target's DNA.
• 5 Technology: Marketers must employ technology that has the agility to cope with a continually shifting media landscape, where channels and technology are changing on a daily basis.

The Marketing Technologist
@shootman’s well attended session also raised another important point – the role of the marketer is changing and it’s important they become more intuitive so they can anticipate and adapt to change accordingly. ‘The reason why Tom Cruise works quickly in ‘Minority Report’ is because the technology is just an extension of his brain,’ he said. ‘Speed wins in the future and a marketer has to go from concept to action with no delay in time.’ This is more evidence to support the concept of the Marketing Technologist, and the need for marketing departments to nurture new talent that can combine technical logic and analytical thinking with marketing innovation and agility.

The battle of the B2B Marketing Clouds
But this agile marketing technologist cannot predict what the next cool channel or technology will be, as Shootman observed. Whatever that platform is, it must be purpose built to make it easy for new technologies and channels to be integrated into the daily life of the marketer. As I highlighted at a webcast earlier this year (B2B Marketing Webinar), modern marketers must start building their own B2B Marketing Clouds, so they have the ability to easily plug-in different SaaS marketing tools (Web, social, mobile, analytics) as their marketing and campaign programs become more digitally driven and connected. So if the key to marketing nirvana is the ability to understand your customers experience better than your competitors, then the brand with the better connected B2B marketing cloud will be the one that can deliver the insights and joined-up buyer journey analytics to make marketing more targeted, engaging and profitable.

Marketers must own the customer experience
We have our experience of managing a B2B Marketing Cloud which I shared with my colleague Craig Duxbury and Paul Higgins, Head of Marketing at UK telecoms giant TalkTalk Business. We demonstrated how TalkTalk Business put Eloqua at the heart of their business to ensure full marketing and sales integration. Paul gave an honest view of the challenges he and his team faced to get marketing automation bedded into the business as part of a three year journey. He also echoed the importance of owning the customer experience and how the development of personas and buyer journeys helped him close the gap between marketing and sales, enabling both teams to get a complete understanding of the in-depth needs of each customer segment at each stage of the purchasing cycle. The approach has obviously worked as TalkTalk joined DocuSign, Basware and others to collect a Markie award for Most Creative European Marketing Campaign. You can view the full presentation here.

A glimpse of the future
So what’s next for Eloqua? From what I heard from founder Steve Woods, for clients using the platform, the future looks very bright indeed!

The latest set of product features will take the platform to even greater heights as it looks to integrate with paid and earned media channels to provide an even more connected view of the buyer’s digital body language. This includes the ability to target unknown buyers when they leave your Web site with buyer journey stage messaging and tools to connect your social channels with gated content, through the use of social sign-on and gated ‘Likes’.

But it won’t stop there. With the weight of Oracle now behind the brand, you can be sure there will be plenty more exciting features on the way. And from talking with a number of attendees it’s clear that technology is just the enabler and if brands are going to succeed at owning the customer, they need to understand as much about their audiences as possible to help create the ideal customer experience. Only then can you start to build marketing automation around your strategy, designing the perfect outbound campaigns and nurture flows to guide the buyer from awareness to purchase.

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Marc Keating

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Marc Keating

Director of Digital & Innovation (EMEA)

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