Creative Uses for Custom Data Objects

For Eloqua users the idea of Custom Data Objects can be daunting and even outright scary, however they are a powerful tool very worth learning and using.  Custom Data Objects (CDOs) are used to store data that may be related to a Contact or Company’s record.  CDOs allow you to store extra information without using precious (and limited) custom fields on your contact and company records.  There are plenty of great tutorials on Topliners to help you get started with CDOs, a good starting point is this.

Some of the typical uses for CDOs are:
-Purchase History
-Extra segmentation information from CRM
-Events (E9 and E10 have an actual Event CDO)
-Surveys (E9 has a Survey CDO, E10 doesn’t but you could just as easily store survey data on CDOs)
-Warranty expiration information for purchased products

There are a lot of other interesting ways to use CDOs, here are a few I have seen and helped implement:

-Extended Campaign Membership information, storing historical information and other data points.  With customization of the membership object in CRM (SFDC) you can then leverage the CDOs to bring relevant data points over for both segmentation and historical reporting purposes.
-Storage of UTM data, everyone using web analytics should be storing UTM codes and analytics tags from their various campaigns inside Eloqua for more robust reporting.
-Cloud Connector Data, depending on cloud connectors you are using or may want to use you can (and sometimes have to) store the data on CDOs.
-Opportunity Data (beyond just stage and closed won/lost) for nurturing, sometimes having the stage data just isn’t enough to properly nurture your open or stuck opportunities, bringing over relevant information (like who else is up for the same deal, how long the deal has been open, etc.) will help you better nurture and push people along the buyers journey.

How are you using CDOs today?

Redefining Marketing Automation: Marketing in the Revenue Age

This morning while sipping my coffee I read a very interesting article on ClickZ, Marketing Automation Redefined.  In it, Nate Young (Director of Demand Generation at Kenshoo, a company that builds cloud-based digital marketing solutions and predictive media optimization technology) describes what he sees as the way we should define marketing automation.

Young writes, “Marketing automation refers to the process in which artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are used to automatically deliver and manage custom advertisements or communications to the person most likely to take a marketer’s desired action.”

While the idea that automation is more than just a simple tool is accurate, I disagree with Young’s “sci-fi” characterization that it is artificial intelligence. Today’s tools empower, even the most “green”, automation users to be better while providing near limitless options for customization for the more technical among us. Marketing Automation tools can be leveraged to automate a multitude of processes. But, to imply that they so powerful that they can be the “brain” behind the idea, is more fiction than fact. Less R2D2 from Star Wars and more Oz behind the curtain if you pardon the cliché.

The process is a prologue of sorts. Putting the right governance and business rules in place to support your platform in the background is imperative. A well thought out process will help you determine the best path for implementation. It will also help you define goals and KPIs for reporting which will be crucial when you decide to integrate your marketing automation platform with any other tools and systems such as your CRM.

Without governance and process, you might as well invest in a simple batch and blast email tool versus a true Marketing Automation Platform.   Then, there’s the people aspect. A person with business acumen, technology skills and aptitude, can bend MA platforms to their will and produce dazzling results. A  lack of properly trained staff (not just technically trained but those who operate under the same principles and move towards the same ends) will kill your efforts and render you unable to meet your goals.  To say that the technology and process are all that should be considered is really to ignore the power behind those things.

In my opinion, redefining marketing automation is not necessary. Automation is,  and will always be, a tool that leverages the processes you implement and drives toward the results you require as a modern marketing leader.  Whether it is a single piece of software or a cloud-based stack of tools is irrelevant. It’s what you do with it that defines success.  Young hints at something along these lines when he writes,

“How will we show significant gains from the investment in our new marketing stack? Going back to the C-level and saying, “All my data is in one place, I am saving so much time!” isn’t going to cut it. This is the point where marketing automation will move past its current definition and represent much more.”

A new definition of Marketing Automation isn’t necessary. But, updating our view of the role Marketing plays in an organization is absolutely required. The revolution that needs to take place is a move from traditional marketing to Revenue Marketing.  Ultimately I think this is what Young is describing. It isn’t a matter of how we define the technology but the actions surrounding the technology that make the biggest difference. It’s about moving toward a model where marketing is no longer seen as a cost center but a revenue generator. It’s about the marketing team signing up for a revenue goal, measuring revenue generated, predicting future impact on revenue in a scalable and repeatable fashion. Technology is merely the vehicle used to get there.

5 Ways You Should be Using your MAP today

You bought the tools, you have the team staffed up (or you’re working with an outside agency who can help) and you’ve sent a few emails, now what? There are five major ways you can and should be using your tools, here’s a quick hit list for you:

1.    Web-activity driven nurtures: You have a great website with engaging content but what happens after someone who is known to you visits a few of those pages?  Nothing.  How about setting up a nurture to help keep your company top of mind.  An easy example, let’s say someone visits your customer service page, why not drop them into a nurture with answers to top asked questions, point them to some of your best resources or remind them about your live chat features?
2.    Welcome Program: As you gain new contacts in your database send them a series of emails that help them understand what your company is about, how you plan to communicate with them and give them more information on how to change their email preferences or drop into other nurture programs specific to products they show interest in.
3.    Re-engagement Program: You have a big fat database but only a small portion of it engages with you regularly, how about a program meant to re-awaken them.  Maybe it’s time to bust out a sweet offer or fabulous asset for these people.  This will be a boon for you if you can re-awaken them and if you can’t be ready to part with them, they aren’t doing you any good just hanging around collecting dust.
4.    Data Management Programs: Dirty dirty data, we all have it, how do you deal with it?  Inside of your MAP tool you can build out programs that will validate, standardize and cleanse your database.  Talk about a way to amp up the power of your existing data!
5.    Sales Enablement: Why not nurture your sales team?  I know, it sounds crazy so bear with me but here’s your chance to remind your team of the great resources available to them, point them to assets that speak to various points in the buyers journey and help them help your company.

Do you have an innovative program you’re using your MAP for?  Share, we’d love to see how creative you are!

5 Tips for Succeeding with your Marketing Technology Implementation

Now that you have made the decision to implement a marketing automation solution where do you go and how do you ensure success as you move forward?  It may seem simple enough to say flip the switch and scream “It’s Alive” but it’s not.  Just having the technology is not enough to achieve the right results, process, people and an eye towards long term results will ensure you have the correct elements to succeed with your new investment.  Here are five things that are crucial to succeeding with your new tools:

1.    Process: Whether it is understanding how data is governed among your various systems, how a lead is managed from “suspect” to “closed-won” or how sales and marketing are helping each other and handing data back and forth process is the number one thing you have to nail down for an effective implementation of a marketing automation solution.  Process will help you define how you should implement your system, it will help you define goals and KPIs for reporting and will also be crucial when you decide to integrate your marketing automation platform (MAP) with your CRM.
2.    Consensus: Diplomacy and bridge-building will be instrumental in reaching the end goals with your implementation.  Many different parties are involved in a successful implementation, from IT to Marketing to Sales and the C-Suite.  You will need to establish shared goals and a plan to execute that brings all parties to the table to end up with a system everyone respects and values.
3.    Content: Just because you have the technology to send emails and drive web traffic does not mean you have the content.  Don’t forget the adage that Content is King, while it is oft overused it is still true. Without quality content you aren’t magically going to be generating leads so take stock of your content, map it to your personas and the buyers journey and then deploy it appropriately.  Don’t be afraid to weed out old and underperforming content in favor of developing shiny new assets.
4.    Data: If you think of your MAP and CRM as the engines that drive your business goals then data is the fuel.  You wouldn’t fill a fancy new car with crappy fuel, you would put in the premium good stuff, so don’t try to run you campaigns off of badly segmented, poor data.  Make sure your database is quality and that you are segmenting accordingly.
5.    Community: Remember, you are not alone in this.  Whether you are using Eloqua, Marketo or something else entirely there are great communities associated with your tools where users are constantly sharing success stories, challenges and solutions.  Engage in the communities and don’t be afraid to reach out to partners, the eco-systems that support these tools are rich with people who have built out complicated (and simple) solutions to almost any problem you can dream up.

Have I forgotten anything?  What was crucial for your company to succeed with its MAP tools?