Oracle Buys Eloqua: Expanding Marketing Footprint

Eloqua’s Fit in the Oracle Application Portolio
Eloqua is being brought in as the ‘centerpiece of the marketing cloud’ solution within the broader Customer Experience Cloud offering.  The Customer Experience Cloud is Oracle’s comprehensive go-to-market strategy for its CRM offerings that it introduced in mid-2012.  Additionally, Eloqua will be leveraged with integrations to Fusion CRM and ultimately extended into vertical offerings.  There is overlap with the previously acquired Market2Lead product in terms of campaign capabilities but Oracle spokesmen stated that Eloqua would be the primary product and Market2Lead would be integrated to it.
Market Reaction
First and foremost, Oracle is serious about its CRM business.   According to IDC market numbers, Oracle has led the worldwide CRM applications market since its purchase of Siebel, holding 11% of the market in the 2011 shares data.  However, both SAP and Salesforce.com are within two percentage points of that share fueling Oracle’s motivation to maintain and increase the distance.  The current battle ground of competition within the CRM applications market is being fought in the marketing automation segment where, as this IDC Data Map shows, the traditional transactional vendors hold much smaller footprints.  

This acquisition immediately brings to mind the question, ‘what will Salesforce.com do now?’  Not only was and is Eloqua a key partner of Salesforce’s, the company relied on it and similar partners to provide this capability to its customer base.  Salesforce.com’s acquisitions in the marketing arena to date have been focused on social marketing capabilities.  While Oracle was explicit in stating that the product, like the other components of its various applications offerings, is capable of being used in a heterogeneous environment, Salesforce.com won’t be happy long sharing its customer base  Eloqua today, has a significant number of Salesforce.com customers in its base as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Marketo may become far more attractive to Salesforce.com as the new year begins.
Conclusion
Overall, the latest acquisition by Oracle signals a commitment to building a fully comprehensive product offering for its CRM business that covers all the major elements of the CRM applications market.  For Oracle the coming year will be one of bringing integrations and proof points to market.  For the other marketing automation vendors with broad marketing capabilities, specifically Adobe, IBM and SAS, there will be more of a trade-off for customer evaluating products between a CRM suite solution and best-of-breed. 

Keep the Language of Marketing a Secret?

Tech marketing leaders constantly search for better ways to align with sales and IT as well as gain greater influence at the executive table. To improve this capability, Marketo’s newest board member, Sue Bostrom, offers an intriguing suggestion – keep the language of marketing a secret.

Sue Bostrom is one of the Silicon Valley’s most accomplished marketers. A former executive vice president and CMO at Cisco, she serves on the boards of Marketo, Varian Medical Systems, Cadence Design Systems, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and advises several prestigious organizations.  At the recent Marketo User Summit, Sue shared with the enthusiastic fan-base practices that contributed to her success.

One piece of advice – consider the language of marketing a “secret language”, one that we use when only when we talk to other practitioners.  When we talk to others, use ordinary language.

Since I speak the language of marketing every day, it had not occurred to me that what seems like normal conversation to us may seem like gibberish to colleagues.  Then I thought about the terms we throw around so easily. How about brand DNA, fan ratios, A/B testing, creating customer value, psychographics, listening platforms, CPM, leave behinds, personas, net promoter scores, positioning, referral premiums, authenticity, or network analysis? Maybe the language of marketing has become too technical, too insider.

As the audience left the packed ballroom following the keynote, I heard a few attendees complaining. They interpreted Sue’s suggestion as a directive to make marketing a second-class profession in the corporate world. I disagree with this interpretation. All sophisticated professions develop specific terminology. Spoken inside the community, it achieves precision and clarity. But to those outside the profession, it sounds confusing, irritating, and possibly elitist. Think how annoyed people get when attorneys use legal jargon. Here’s an example I pulled from a website appropriately called the Plain English Campaign:

“Any reference to a specific statute include any statutory extension or modification amendment or re-enactment of such statute and any regulations or orders made under such statute and any general reference to “statute” or “statutes” include any regulations or orders made under such statute or statutes”

Huh?

Using plain language when we speak to non-marketers is not “dumbing things down”.  It does not diminish our worth to use ordinary language.  It increases the chances that we will be understood. It shows respect for our colleagues’ experience in other areas.

What are some ways we can communicate more clearly with colleagues in other business functions?

  • Substitute ordinary language and analogies for buzzwords: when eCommerce was just beginning, Sue told her fellow executives that the website would “sell while they slept”
  • Explain with data: for many business concepts, numbers can be more objective and clear than wordy explanations (but avoid mind-numbing, execution-level detail!)
  • Use visuals: the old maxim that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true because pictures allow someone to grasp many aspects of a situation simultaneously –  especially good for communicating complex concepts

Sue Bostrom is a marketer who earned a seat at the highest leadership table. And let’s face it, not many technology marketers have. I think we should heed her advice.

(P.S. Congratulations to Marketo on the launch of their new social marketing release and to CEO Phil Fernandez on the publication of his new book, Revenue Disruption).

Spark by Marketo

Marketo announced a new sub-brand called Spark targeted at the SMB market. It’s a testament to how successfully Marketo has transitioned from SMB to the enterprise space that it has to go back and offer a new brand for what used to be its primary market. The demand for marketing automation at large enterprises is driving rapid growth for all marketing automation companies, and Marketo is no exception. So much so that smaller prospects are starting to perceive the company and its target market as having outgrown them. Not so.
SMB is intrinsic to Marketo’s heritage and the company has no intention of walking away. The Spark offering is more than just a “lite” version of its flagship product. The idea behind Spark is that it is a bundle of software and services to help small companies quickly adopt and become expert in the use of modern marketing automation technology. Marketo is dedicating expert staff to offer training, support, and mentoring for its Spark customers. The importance of this cannot be overstated as marketing automation requires a higher level of sophistication, analytical ability, and business process expertise than most small companies have in their marketing departments.
The challenge for Marketo will be managing Spark as a sustainable business model. Typically the enterprise segment is much more profitable for software companies (SaaS or not). Large companies have more money, bigger projects, and greater potential for expansion into other business units. However, Marketo knows the SMB business well and has a subscription model revenue stream that’s ramping up to the point where it can afford to support the launch of a down market offering until it starts to pay for itself. It is the rare company that can serve both segments well, but Marketo has clearly separated the two teams internally which IDC believes is absolutely critical for success.