Account-Based Marketing: The Future of Marketing?

account based marketing

When most people think of marketing, what they’re really thinking of is conventional marketing: an approach that begins by generating as much attention as possible and narrowing down to potential leads based on that. This approach is the most common today. And it certainly works to a degree. But in more recent years, a different strategy has begun to make itself known: account-based marketing (ABM). Let’s look a little closer at both.

account based marketing

Conventional Marketing Funnel

Conventional marketing starts by casting a wide net and trying to get your products and services in front of as many people as possible. From there, marketers narrow the audience down to potentially interested people. Nurturing begins through automated emails, personalized offers, and similar methods. Finally, sales joins the process downstream to turn these interested targets into conversions. Sales then reports back to marketing on which leads were good and which didn’t work out, and marketing can alter their future plans accordingly.

In practice, conventional marketing means spending a lot of time mass-producing content and showing it to everybody without knowing for sure if they’ll be interested. Sales isn’t involved until the nurture stage or later. And of course, because you’re starting with such a huge group of only potentially interested people, not every lead will be a success.

Account-Based Marketing Funnel

Account-based marketing takes the conventional marketing funnel and flips it on its head. Marketing and sales have a partnership from the beginning in ABM as both work together to identify and focus on their target audience. They grow the list of potential clients through careful research. Once they have a completed list, the nurturing and personalized marketing campaigns begin. Any leads that don’t work out are crossed off the list. Meanwhile, every target that responds with interest or conversion stays on as a future opportunity.

In practice, account-based marketing involves sales from the very beginning so nurture begins early. This also allows marketing to produce targeted materials for a specific audience rather than generic advertisements. The process also produces far fewer leads to track and nurture. Since both sales and marketing can focus their attention on a small group instead of trying to please a massive audience, they are more likely to win leads and gain long-term customer relationships.

ABM’s Advantages Over Conventional Marketing Methods

So why can ABM lead to more successful campaigns than conventional marketing? There are several key reasons. First: as stated above, both sales and marketing can target key accounts through ABM, resulting in more personalized (and thus more effective) marketing. Second: sales is involved from the very beginning, not just marketing, so everyone’s in the loop from the start.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: ABM builds on demand that already exists. Conventional marketing focuses on generating demand. Account-based marketing focuses on locating demand and meeting it.

The Current State of Account-Based Marketing

For now, most companies stick to conventional marketing as the default method. Most businesses start out trying to “read the room”, so casting a wide net seems like the better option. Some may hire a consultant to narrow down the client base. But even with a consultant’s help, it’s very rare for a business to start with account-based marketing right off the bat.

But ABM is gaining some traction. Its proven methods and increased lead production certainly earn attention. As customer and company behavior alike continues to evolve, account-based marketing is expected to become the norm over the next decade.

Conclusion

Which is better: conventional marketing or account-based marketing? That’s arguably the wrong question. Both have their place. Sales and marketing teams should take the time to consider a variety of factors before drastically changing their advertising strategy. But if your company can spare the resources, account-based marketing holds a great deal of promise.

Interested in how you can identify targets and follow up with them easily? Get in touch with our team of marketing experts today to learn more.


Best-in-Class Marketing Automation with Oracle Eloqua

marketing automation oracle eloqua

Oracle Eloqua is a market-leading marketing automation platform that helps companies generate leads that convert. Named a leader in the 2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Marketing Automation Platforms, it enables your team to craft and send personalized emails, integrate seamlessly with other systems, track customer activity, and plan future campaigns—all within a robust but easy-to-understand visual interface. Eloqua integrates with leading customer relationship management systems, including Oracle Sales, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce. Most importantly, Eloqua makes it easy to create and manage email campaigns that generate revenue. 

But Eloqua’s capabilities don’t stop there. Marketing automation experts know that sending too many emails or emails that don’t match customer interests runs the risk of being marked as spam and never seen by the customer. Fortunately, Eloqua users have an easy solution.

Avoid These 3 Common Email Campaign & Marketing Automation Pitfalls

Customers delete corporate marketing emails or mark them as spam for a variety of reasons, but three stand out as the worst offenders: 1) they receive way too many emails, 2) the emails come too often, and 3) the flood of emails don’t contain relevant information. Oracle Eloqua can help you address each of these problems.

The first two problems can be addressed with Eloqua’s email scheduling system. This allows you to space out the emails so the customer won’t feel overwhelmed. Follow-up or reminder emails can also be scheduled with enough time in between to avoid harassing the customer. This way, your contact doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the volume of emails they receive.

So now you know your customers won’t get a dozen identical emails from you every day. From here, you can address the third problem: lack of relevant information. With Eloqua’s activity tracking and segmentation functions, you can send each contact information relevant specifically to them and their interests. You can also avoid sending information they don’t want to receive.

Tips for Creating Effective Email Campaigns with Oracle Eloqua

With Eloqua’s built-in functions, running an email campaign from start to finish has never been easier. Here are some critical components of running effective campaigns to keep in mind:

  1. Customer segmentation: Segment your customers and prospects based on past interactions and user preferences. Form a clear picture of what your customer wants.
  2. Collect customer activity data: Observe how your customers respond to each marketing campaign and use the information to target communication based on interests.
  3. Create personalized, dynamic emails: Eloqua allows you to create dynamic content, so your communication includes timely and relevant data, not just a generic, general-purpose email. Your customers deserve emails tailored to their interests.
  4. Maintain professional standards in your email design: Emails should help customers instantly recognize your brand and appear uncluttered and professional.
  5. Tell a story with lead nurturing: Based on customer interest, tell a story through a series of customized emails that go to the right person at an appropriate time.
  6. Review generated data reports: Review data collected to create detailed, customizable reports highlighting the information you need to make informed decisions.
  7. Long-term lead management and quality assurance: With each campaign you run, Eloqua collects data to help you improve future campaigns. Better customer interactions can increase brand awareness, consumer engagement, and sales figures.

Oracle Eloqua Gives Email Marketers an Advantage

Eloqua’s extensive capabilities make email marketing easier than ever. Whether you’re trying to decrease customer unsubscribes, increase your profits, or both, Eloqua has you covered. You can be sure that your promotional emails will actually make it to your subscribers’ inboxes.

Want to see what else Eloqua can do? Get in touch with our team of marketing automation experts today to find out.


Cybernews Interview with 4Thought Marketing CEO Mark LeVell

4thought marketing cybernews interview

Keeping up with all in-house goals and tasks as well as failures and vulnerabilities has never been an easy task. But with some professional help, they can usually be effortlessly maintained.

Whether it’s maintaining a cohesive marketing strategy or dealing with employee turnover, all of that can be automated. This move eliminates repetitive tasks and allows enterprises to run marketing campaigns more efficiently.

Today’s interviewee, Mark LeVell, CEO of 4Thought Marketing, offers valuable advice on how to ensure companies’ compliance, and choose the best marketing tools and cybersecurity measures, apart from using strong passwords or installing VPNs.

Tell us about your journey throughout the years. How did the idea of 4Thought Marketing originate?

I was a leader and innovator in the CRM space and was doing my best to ride the wave. But I knew I could do more. When I learned about the relatively new (at the time) field of marketing automation, I saw the potential for delivering data-driven, personalized offers, and increasing revenue. It was the industry’s latest big trend.

Then in 2008, several strong contenders established themselves in the marketing automation scene. So, I had a choice. Did I want to start from scratch and try competing with these well-established companies? Or did I want to get on board with whichever turned out to be the long-term market leader?

I eventually decided to take the less risky decision and join up with the one that seemed the most promising: Eloqua. My business partner Tom and I established 4Thought Marketing in 2009 as an Eloqua Partner Company. It’s been a very rewarding experience for us.

Can you tell us a little about what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

We help companies navigate several challenges we’ve observed over the years: using marketing automation software to its full potential, maintaining a cohesive marketing strategy, and dealing with employee turnover within their marketing operations teams.

I’ve always believed that regardless of how good the market leader (in this case Eloqua) is, there are always opportunities for huge improvements. In this case, those improvements come in the form of add-ons that boost strategy and best practices. We saw an opportunity to partner with Eloqua while also making the product substantially better than it already was. Building these enhancements (like cloud apps) largely led us to where we are today.

Another huge part of successful marketing is a coherent plan that is flexible enough to evolve as needed and stable enough that its overall structure stays in place over time. Software gets updated. Companies hire new team members. We help our clients develop long-term marketing strategies that adapt to changes without collapsing.

Finally, employee turnover. The average CMO leaves their job after two years and often takes several fellow marketing employees with them. Their newly hired replacements have entirely different goals for the company, and that can disrupt the marketing strategy. We strive to give organizations an institutional memory, so to speak, to remind them why they made certain choices and how they worked.

We help the newcomers understand the logic behind the original employees’ choices and help them pick what they want to keep or update. Finally, we come alongside the team until they’re able to handle everything on their own, and then we pass the baton back.

What risks can customers be exposed to if a company they trust struggles to ensure compliance?

Any number of things can result from poor privacy compliance. I could tell you stories of people having their identities stolen, losing their jobs over leaked information, getting stalked or harassed, or worse. Even seemingly anonymous data can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, companies tend to overlook customer privacy too often. Customers that are acutely aware of their privacy risks view these companies with suspicion, and rightly so. And in a world where customers are more aware than ever of the sheer amount of data they share, this poor company behavior leads to a loss of customer trust. But companies don’t always pick up on this. Customers tend to provide feedback when they encounter a problem, like an unreasonably priced product or a feature that wasn’t provided. But when customers leave over privacy concerns, they tend to ghost companies. Marketing’s leads just go dark. Why? Because customers have lost trust in the company and prefer to just drop off the map than to go through the hassle of contacting them about privacy concerns.

Trust used to be the default setting. But in recent years, corporations and organizations have had to fight to earn people’s trust. We believe that you must be upfront about your trustworthiness and privacy compliance from the very beginning. You must display it prominently on your website and in your regular communications. Ultimately, if you can’t earn a customer’s trust right off the bat, chances are you never will.

How have recent global events affected your field of work?

As we all know, COVID-19 forced many aspects of the business to go remote. This of course led to a drastic increase in using technology to communicate for work purposes, like emails and Zoom meetings. Marketers needed to be able to communicate and generate effective campaigns more than ever.

When the pandemic started, we at 4Thought Marketing were concerned that it would dramatically impact our revenue and business. But just the opposite happened. With all the events and trade shows canceled and everything moving online, clients suddenly needed our privacy compliance software more than ever.

Data exchange skyrocketed, as did customer awareness of how much data is collected and where it goes. It became critical to display privacy compliance as prominently as possible. We’ve observed this beginning to taper off more recently, but I don’t think business will ever return to the pre-2020 status quo.

What are some of the most common issues new online business owners face nowadays?

Being heard. Our world is noisier than it’s ever been. You can follow 20 different people on Twitter in 20 minutes and just have a fire hose of information in your feed constantly. New businesses without an established brand have to fight to be heard over all the noise.

Trust also plays into this. As I said earlier, one big issue facing corporations today is a lack of customer trust. New businesses feel this in a different way. Most customers will start from the assumption that you’re a scammer or, at best, exaggerating what you have to offer. Breaking through the noise and rising above to establish a trustworthy brand can take you far.

Out of all company processes, which areas do you think would greatly improve by implementing automation?

I’m not sure that that’s the right question. While making automation as universal as possible might have been helpful 20-30 years ago, I think today’s world is very different.

I think a better question to ask is, which area of your business can and should be improved next? Automation can certainly help, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Case in point: improving AirBnB or Uber is very different from improving an online store.

I think every company should examine its processes and see which ones can realistically be automated. Which ones have the biggest impact on customer behavior? Which ones consume the most employee time? It deserves to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Besides keeping up with compliance and other privacy requirements, what other marketing tools do you believe can greatly enhance one’s operations?

While it again depends on the organization, most individuals today communicate through email. Marketing automation systems that leverage email provide a huge advantage. Not only does it allow you to run nurture campaigns and guide customers down the sales funnel, but it also allows you to save time by keeping as much of the process automatic as possible.

Talking about cybersecurity, what would you consider to be the best practices organizations should follow nowadays?

Preemptive measures. Companies should regularly check in with the cybersecurity marketplace and see what the most prominent current threat is: phishing software, a certain type of server being hacked, or what have you.

Next, they should improve security on their systems to block attacks. Finally, the employees need thorough training on all of this and the company should pursue a philosophy of continuous improvement. Keep learning the best practices from the industry experts.

What is next for 4Thought Marketing?

Right now, the issue of trust is huge in the marketplace. We believe complying with privacy laws is just the bare minimum of what needs to happen. Beyond simple legal compliance, companies need to build customer trust. And that goal needs to be built into your processes, legal documents, marketing campaigns, and everything else. You need to prove your trustworthiness on an ongoing basis, and you can’t just talk about a good game. Broken trust is hard to repair.

So, 4Thought Marketing is going to continue helping clients build trust with their customers, and to maintain a standard of looking forward to the future. This goal is reflected in our company name: “forethought”. We believe that by helping companies run marketing campaigns with attention to the future, we can help them build trust and improve their business. That’s where we’re going.

This article originally appeared on Cybernews.com.


Segmentation for Marketing is Still Relevant: Here’s Why

segmentation for marketing

It goes without saying that different people have different interests. But marketers who want to get as much promotional material out as possible, as quickly as possible, might not give this fact the consideration it deserves. Prioritizing audience segmentation for marketing is the foundation of a successful campaign.

Why is Segmentation for Marketing Such a Big Deal?

On the surface, creating a single mass marketing campaign designed to appeal to everyone sounds much easier and faster than segmentation. Just get the word out, right?  However, a broad advertisement can only do so much. Your customers want products and services suited for them specifically —and to provide that, you need to know your audience.

Segmentation for marketing separates your potential audience into groups, or segments, based on shared characteristics. These characteristics can include:

  • Job title
  • Geographic location
  • Purchase history
  • Expressed preferences
  • Engagement with previous promotional material
  • Etc.

Organizing your audience like this allows you to give potential customers what they want or need. With specialized advertisements created for each segment, you can more effectively market your products and services to an interested audience.

Modern Marketing without Segmentation, aka Spamming

Modern marketing technology allows companies to send millions of emails with just a click. But without proper segmentation, those emails go out to literally everybody on your organization’s contact list. And given the volume of advertising companies tend to do, that’s a LOT of emails every week, if not every day. Consumers have an unflattering nickname for this kind of marketing: spam messages.

Even unintentionally spamming your customers will impact how much they trust you. Aside from the fact that your messages will look suspicious (and maybe even be flagged by the recipient’s inbox), it also reflects a lack of care for your customers. You are doing the opposite of what the modern customer wants, which is to be empowered to get the information they want because they’ve told the company through their choices and action what they want to receive. Likewise, the customer wants to not receive other information as a result of poor segmentation.

Privacy Laws: The Result of Broken Customer Trust

The new wave of privacy laws is, in part, a result of broken customer trust. Corporations abused the data they collected, and consumers pushed back. Without a healthy respect for your customers’ privacy, reflected in part through segmentation and heavy personalization, you are destroying the trust people have in your company.

How 4Segments Can Help

Advanced marketing automation software shouldn’t have to work alone. For truly effective marketing, pair your system with a powerful segmentation tool that displays the data in a clear, visually distinct format. 4Segments fits the bill perfectly.

4Segments allows you to visually create customer segments and build campaigns around those segments, ensuring you target only the right audience. Even better, this software is designed to pair not only with your marketing automation system but with our privacy compliance software, 4Comply. Maximize your marketing efforts without putting yourself at risk! Contact us to learn more.


Manipulating Data in Oracle Eloqua Custom Objects

oracle eloqua custom objects

Marketers know that Oracle Eloqua Custom Objects (COs) can do quite a bit when used correctly. As an Oracle Partner company, we get a lot of questions about what you can do with the data stored in COs. And we have good news! Eloqua’s Program Canvas, introduced in 2016, gives you plenty more options than previous out-of-the-box functionality.

In the Eloqua Program Canvas, you can add Custom Object records to a program and choose from a list of decisions or actions to impose on the data. For instance, you can compare the value in a single field to create a decision tree. You could perform a few basic updates. You can even completely delete a record when it’s no longer needed. But why stop there?

Using Oracle Eloqua Custom Objects in the Program Canvas

Eloqua users are very creative. In our own observations of clients that take advantage of Eloqua systems, we’ve seen marketers:

  • Perform calculations on fields within or across records
  • Compare the value of two different fields within or across records
  • Update fields on linked Contact records from data in a CO record
  • Update fields in a CO record from linked Contact records
  • Look up data in a Custom Object and match it to Contact record data to determine which sales rep is best for a particular job
  • Append values from different fields within or across records
  • Perform a wide variety of data filters and manipulations, including but not limited to:
    • Find all records with a renewal before a certain date
    • Find all records created in the past (insert number here) weeks
    • Add a specific amount of time to a date field

And that’s not even a complete list! Our clients have managed to pull off some amazing feats with Oracle Eloqua Custom Objects.

Expand Oracle Eloqua’s Capabilities with Cloud Apps

As impressive as that list is, there’s likely plenty of other functions that you want that you didn’t see. That’s where Cloud Actions, Cloud Decisions, Cloud Apps, and Cloud Connectors enter the picture. Using Oracle Eloqua’s development platforms and API capabilities, sharp developers can create apps to expand the Program Canvas’s functionality even further and allow for even more creative choices.

Here at 4Thought Marketing, we have several favorite Oracle Eloqua cloud apps. And we’re proud to say we’ve made quite a few ourselves! (Check out our list of in-house created cloud apps here.) If you feel that you have tried everything Oracle Eloqua has to offer in its current state, but still can’t meet your business goals, get in touch with us. We haven’t yet found a CO problem that we can’t solve.

Contact us today to see which of our cloud apps is best suited to help you take full advantage of Oracle Eloqua Custom Objects.


Go Beyond Email Marketing with Oracle Eloqua

Oracle Eloqua email marketing

Email marketing: all marketers use it. Eloqua’s functionality is built around it. But if you’re only leveraging Eloqua’s email system, you’re missing out. You can get even more from your Oracle Eloqua instance when you include all your marketing channels – and when you take the time to properly integrate, automate, and measure them. Let’s look at three marketing channels you can start using right now.

3 Powerful Non-Email Marketing Channels to Integrate, Automate & Measure with Oracle Eloqua

marketing channels

1. Social Media & Paid Ads

You know how important your presence on the web is. Apart from getting eyes on your content, what’s most important is to track those interactions in Oracle Eloqua.

Integrate

Capture the content your audience is reading. It is easier said than done, but the effort is worth it. These Oracle Eloqua tools may help you capture specific interactions:

Once you are able to associate social media and paid ads engagement to contacts and track their interactions in Oracle Eloqua, you can better understand and influence your customers’ journey.

Automate

Configure your Eloqua setup to take advantage of the data flowing in from social media and paid ads. Use this input to adjust Lead Scoring and nurture campaigns. Additionally, consider how to get these contacts commenting, sharing, and liking more of your content. Once you have that working without manual intervention, all you need to do is measure the effectiveness.

Keep in mind that your social media outreach should include more than your new leads. Existing customers are a great source of shared content, comments, and likes. Balance your campaigns to provide both current and potential customers with plenty of high-quality content to interact with.

Measure

Not enough companies give measurement the attention it deserves. Social media and paid ads kick-start a customer’s journey. If you aren’t measuring the results, how can you know what works and what doesn’t? This is too important to be left to guesswork.

If a contact interacts with a social media post, and then completes a contact form a week later, do you attribute that social media campaign with the lead? Or at least consider the social media post’s influence? You’re in luck – it is indeed possible to track this user’s journey to see how they found you! Watch this short video for details.

marketing channels

2. Video Marketing

In a Google-dominated world, using video to get your brand, product, or services out to the world is key. Here’s how to approach working with videos in Oracle Eloqua:

Integrate

Tools like Vidyard allow you to see how viewers interact with your video content. You can then store the collected data (such as the video title, watch time, and where the viewer is located) in a Custom Object for later segmentation. This feedback will also tell you if customers tended to click away from your videos and they need an upgrade.

We also recommend including interactions throughout the video. Use opportune moments to encourage viewers to click through for a demo, more details, or other important information. You can configure the responses to these prompts to go straight to Eloqua. These points of interaction will not only help harvest new leads, but they can also prompt you to score and target those leads with the right follow-up message.

Automate

Making a good video takes time and effort. As tempting as it is to pat yourself on the back after your video gets lots of attention, don’t wait! The sooner you follow up, the better.

Use the information flowing in from your video interactions to automate your next actions. For example, if a person watches past a point where the video discusses an important product or service-related feature, configure Eloqua to send them follow-up communication. If they watched to the end or watched multiple times, assign them to a segment to follow up with other relevant content. If they watched the video and are located in an area where you are having an event in the near future, let them know right away. You can then follow this personalized announcement with a general bulletin in the next scheduled email.

Remember to score leads accordingly. Video viewing data is just as important as email clicks and landing page visits, if not more.

Measure

Once you’ve integrated and automated, find out what impact video marketing had on your ROI. Depending on the product or service, it can take many interactions with an individual to convert them into a lead or an opportunity. Has your video created enough leads to justify the cost of creating it? If so, fantastic! Stick with what works. If not, consider how to improve next time.

Once again, measurement is critical here. Relying on guesswork can torpedo your marketing campaign and, in the long term, your general ROI.

marketing channels

3. SMS Communication

With texting as prevalent as it is today, why not try promoting your business with SMS messages? Here’s how to get started with SMS promotions in Eloqua.

Automate

For text message marketing, we recommend starting with automation instead of integration. The best SMS tool in the world won’t help without a properly formatted, working phone number. Start by implementing progressive profiling on your forms so you don’t immediately ask for their mobile number. When you eventually do ask, make sure to also request consent to receive texts from you. Automatically send a text to re-affirm their consent (and include unsubscribe information if they change their minds later).

Remember: text message marketing requires consent as much as email marketing does. Take the time to develop a sustainable plan for capturing consent and keeping your messages legal.

To make sure the telephone numbers you collect are formatted correctly, we recommend setting up a data normalization program in Eloqua. You’ll need to use the phone number and country fields to obtain the country code and phone number format to ensure your text messages go through. A phone formatting app may help simplify this process.

Be careful when segmenting here. Only target contacts with SMS for specific types of communication, such as:

  • Form submission follow-ups – if you know they used a mobile device, send an SMS to thank them or send them additional information.
  • Form abandonment follow-ups – a text message may get a faster response and motivate the user to finish the form.
  • Registration confirmation/event reminders – make sure your events get added to your contact’s calendar.

Integrate

Integration for SMS marketing is relatively straightforward. Find an SMS tool that integrates smoothly with Oracle Eloqua. You’ll want to capture important data like the title of the message you sent, the date it was sent, and any responses you received.

But don’t just monitor customer activity. Keep track of how many SMS communications you send and when they go out. This information can tell you if you are under- or over-communicating with your clients.

Measure

With the integrated and automated data above, you can start tracking the success of your SMS campaigns. Tracking these results will look somewhat different from tracking video interactions or social media likes, but it is still very possible with the right tools.

Go Beyond Email Marketing

Oracle Eloqua has far more potential than just email marketing. Maybe you have the same problem we’ve observed in other companies – marketing channels like SMS or video marketing are ignored or tracked separately, while Eloqua functions only as an email marketing platform. Don’t make this mistake! Tying your marketing channels together allows you to create a unified look at your ROI and to use Oracle Eloqua to its fullest potential. Good news: it’s never too late to get started! Contact us today and let us help you take your marketing channels to the next level.


6 Common Sales & Marketing Alignment Mistakes in 2022

Sales and marketing need to work together. Unfortunately, this is far easier said than done. Below, we’ll look at six common sales and marketing alignment mistakes and several potential solutions.

1) The Marketing Expertise Trap

You are a marketing professional, dedicated to the art and science of marketing. A copy of Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising sits in a prominent place on your office bookshelf. You use Eloqua and other sophisticated marketing automation tools. You’ve run events with hundreds or thousands of attendees. You’ve delivered hundreds of amazing drip and nurture campaigns. And you did all of that while earning multiple marketing certifications. You’re proud of your accomplishments, and rightly so. But don’t fall into the expertise trap.

When you meet with your sales reps, you’re probably out of your domain. Your marketing expertise may come across as you trying to “educate” sales, dazzle them with the technical sophistication and automation employed in your marketing campaigns — all to produce your growing list of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Occasionally, you will work with sales leaders or teams who are already familiar with your expertise, or are curious enough to study it on their own. However, unless you communicate using terms and priorities that demonstrate your knowledge of sales, everyone else will likely dismiss you as an out of touch marketing leader who doesn’t understand and won’t work with sales.

Solution:

Start by learning the terms, metrics, and data points used by your sales teams and focus on those. Engage with your colleagues in sales and work to understand their perspective. Know how these different approaches can inform and improve your work. Finally, avoid using marketing jargon when interacting with sales and other business units.

2) Fighting Over KPIs: Marketing vs. Sales Qualified Leads

Historically, sales and marketing tend to argue over KPIs. Marketing will point out the number of “MQLs” generated last month. On the other hand, the VP of sales points out that marketing leads take weeks longer to close compared to leads sourced through referrals. At the same time, the company’s growth goals suffer while marketing and sales fight it out.

Sales leaders look at metrics like talk time, activity metrics (such as number of calls), and other interactions with prospects. From that perspective, marketing metrics like page views, unique visitors, and time on the website, have less relevance. Emphasizing these will make marketing appear disconnected from what truly matters.

Disagreement over metrics may relate to the technology both departments use. Consider how sales and marketing end users interact with leads in your CRM and marketing platforms. When does a prospect become a lead, ready for sales to start a conversation or make a purchase? Marketing may favor a data-driven approach. For instance, marketers may consider a lead qualified for sales after they engage in three activities (for instance, downloading a promoted piece of content, opening an email newsletter, or interacting on social media).

However, the sales team may push back on this approach because they’ve found that prospects with a high activity level tend not to be BANT qualified. In other words, they lack a budget, authority, need, and/or correct timing. Marketing doesn’t always know how to account for this.

Solution:

Collaborate with sales and map your KPIs to the entire customer journey. Don’t just focus on the top-of-funnel KPIs like webinar registrations. Instead, ask your sales staff about their experience referencing webinar material and blog posts in outreach. Discuss the most commonly asked questions from customers. With that feedback in hand, you can adjust your marketing program and demonstrate greater alignment with sales at the same time.

3) No Clear Lead Definition

Marketers focus on metrics such as website traffic, event attendance, and asset downloads, and will often equate those metrics with leads. Meanwhile, a salesperson lives in a very different world where the only numbers that count are quota and accelerators.

If the marketing team hosts a great webinar and a lot of people attend, are those attendees/registrants leads? From a marketing perspective, yes, but not from a sales perspective. If the sales team believes they already have too many low-quality leads, they will naturally try to prioritize the contacts with the best possible outcomes. However, this can potentially leave a lot of business on the table.

Solution:

Have sales and marketing design a clear lead definition together. Use marketing automation tools like Oracle Eloqua to prioritize via lead scoring and nurturing. If a prospect doesn’t meet the MQL threshold, nurture them until they do. Have sales focus on the most qualified MQLs and trust marketing to continue engaging until they qualify. This shift requires recalibration as “lead” volume will often decrease in the short term. However, with time, lead conversion (and hopefully pipeline value) will go up.

4) Not Seeking Feedback from Sales

Without significant sales feedback – formal and informal – marketing is going to struggle to maintain alignment. At the start of the fiscal year, marketing and sales start well. They have compatible goals: winning key accounts, building the brand, and growing market share. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do.

A few months later, each department has gone its own way. Resentment and frustration quietly build on each team. Suspicions start to emerge on who is to blame for missing key sales targets. If left alone for too long, this resentment can hurt long-term performance.

Solution:

Don’t wait until the end of the quarter or the year to seek feedback from sales. Schedule regular meetings with your peers in sales. Come prepared with questions so you can make the most of the meeting. Discuss the current sales quarters, patterns in customer questions, which marketing materials have been most useful, and what is still needed.

5) Sales and Marketing Technology Frustrates Cooperation

Marketers traditionally own technology platforms like customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing tools like Oracle Eloqua, and databases. That’s starting to change with the rise of sales automation tools like Yesware and Outreach, sales automation solutions that help individual sales representatives improve their prospecting work. These two genres of software seem to be in competition. Should sales take the lead with customer relations, or should marketing?

Solution:

Instead of viewing sales and marketing softwares as being in conflict, consider how they can work in tandem. View them as opportunities. By better understanding the tools used by each department, you may find new opportunities for integration and better alignment with sales.

For example, compare notes on email deliverability and engagement with sales. You might learn new methods to avoid having your messages filtered into the “Promotions” tab in Gmail.

6) Sales and Marketing Incentives Are Not Aligned

Bonus pay and other incentives have a significant influence on sales and marketing alignment. It’s tempting to have both departments focus on closed-won deals or a revenue metric. However, those measures may not work for each department. Unless you are exclusively using direct response marketing with strong analytical support, it is difficult to attribute all sales to specific marketing campaigns.

Solution:

Take a balanced approach to incentives. Marketing can’t be held responsible for closing new accounts since the sales team owns that process. However, you can design incentives for the marketing department that combine bottom-line variables (e.g., sales) and traditional marketing metrics. For example, if you are marketing an enterprise software product, analyze the number of scheduled software demos, closed sales, and free trial requests.

Conclusion: Take Ownership of the Alignment Problem

Since marketing owns the top of the customer funnel, it is up to you to develop and maintain your relationship with sales. We recommend two techniques to maintain alignment throughout the year:

  • Start with formal alignment techniques such as ironing out complimentary goals and streamlining sales and marketing software.
  • Connect with your sales team frequently. Find out how they win and lose and work together on solutions.

By proactively engaging sales, you will realize two benefits. First, you will avoid complaints about the marketing department appearing out of touch with customer relations. Second, you will be better informed to adjust your marketing tactics and methods to suit the needs of sales.

If your sales and marketing teams are struggling to work together, then we invite you to contact us. Let us share our experience working with many sales and marketing teams to work better together and improve sales and marketing outcomes.


Leading Financial Services Company Taps 4Thought Marketing for Platform Migration

marketing automation platform migration

When a leading financial services company needed help getting their marketing automation platform migration project back on track, they turned to the team at 4Thought Marketing.

In early 2021, their VP of Marketing initiated a thorough review of their current MarTech stack. The decision was made to modernize all of their marketing systems, including their marketing automation platform. Company leadership signed the new contract in the first quarter of 2021, and shortly thereafter, the migration project began.

The purchase included both the software subscription and migration help from a platform partner. However, by the third quarter of 2021, the team was unhappy with the progress made so far. Several experts on staff believed the migration could move faster and more efficiently than it currently was. With this in mind, they began looking for additional outside help.

Fortunately for them, they reached out to 4Thought Marketing, with whom they already had an excellent track record of working together. Company leadership arranged for 4Thought to assist with their marketing automation platform migration, and asked 4Thought to take on additional responsibilities to make the process smoother.

A migration project of this scale typically requires at least 3 months to plan and execute. This client had only half that time left. But their leadership team trusted 4Thought to make it happen. “A smooth transition was critical,” explains their MarTech and Architectural Manager. “The only way we accomplished that was with 4Thought Marketing providing invaluable training and support to our team.”

4Thought Marketing stepped in and took on a leadership role for the entire migration process. Our team created a transition schedule, managed internal announcements to employees, hosted regular training sessions, answered staff questions, responded to technical issues, planned for future integrations after the initial migration phase, and managed communications between our own internal team and the client’s team. Our Senior Marketing Operations Consultant took on the role of project manager. In the end, the client completed the marketing automation platform migration by its deadline: December 31, 2021.

For now, the client’s employees are continuing to learn their new platform with training materials created by 4Thought Marketing. Established employees and newcomers alike can now take full advantage of their marketing automation platform to improve their output. In the following phases, the client expects to see improved adoption, utilization, and growth as a result of the switch.

4Thought Marketing is proud to have had the opportunity to assume a leadership role in this significant marketing automation platform migration. Contact us today to learn more if you’re considering your own migration project.


Back to Basics: Customer Nurturing

customer nurturing

Businesses prioritize finding new leads and new business. The marketing department works overtime to attract interest, sales pushes to close the leads, and both celebrate their success at capturing new business. They then quickly move on to hunting for the next sale. This can certainly help the company’s profits. But what’s wrong with this picture? Both sales and marketing have forgotten a key part of long-term success: customer nurturing.

Outside of regular communications like subscription renewal offers, how often does your organization reach out to your customers? If this only happens rarely, you could be turning customers off with your inattentiveness. Dissatisfied customers tend to look elsewhere for what they want. Not only does this make it far less likely that you’ll keep them as a lifelong customer, but it could also mean that they’ll permanently switch to a competitor with effective customer nurturing in place.

Customer Retention is Cheaper – and More Profitable

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Approximately 53% of marketing dollars are spent on customer acquisition, an impressively high number for a rather unimpressive return, according to Bain & Company.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer can cost 5-25 times more than sustaining an existing one.
  • Research by Gartner shows that 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
  • Bain & Company highlights that increasing customer retention rates by 5% will increase profits by up to 95%.

In spite of the significantly better payoff of customer retention efforts, approximately 53% of marketing dollars are spent focusing solely on acquiring new customers, according to Bain & Company. While this is a lower number than before, it still misses the point. Neglecting current customers for new ones will not help your long-term profits.

But what form can effective customer nurturing campaigns take? Let’s look at a few examples.

4 Types of Customer Nurturing

customer nurturing

1.  On-boarding

On-boarding campaigns introduce the customer to your products, services, or company after they make their first purchase.

You may want to do this, for example, with someone who purchased a new software package. Here’s what this might look like:

  • A “welcome to the family” message
  • An overview of the purchased software
  • A list of the software’s more advanced features
  • An invitation to join the online support community

Your goal with an on-boarding campaign is to make the customer feel like they’re part of your company, product, and community. This engages, retains, and makes them happy.

customer nurturing

2.  Renewal Campaign

This type of campaign suits companies that sell products that last through a particular amount of time and must be renewed. These products could include:

  • Cloud software
  • Insurance policies
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Product warranties

The list goes on – if your company sells anything that requires renewal, this type of nurturing campaign fits in with your goals.

Effective renewal campaigns should generally begin three to six months before the actual renewal date. Encourage early renewals with reduced prices or other incentives. This allows you to show a vested interest in keeping the customer around, instead of appearing to care only about getting money from them.

customer nurturing

3. Product Education & Engagement

This type of campaign is similar to on-boarding. However, while on-boarding is geared toward familiarizing customers with the company and product/service, an education and engagement campaign is more targeted.

This is a series of emails that specifically educate on a certain subject. Examples can include:

  • A five-part email series on maintaining a newly purchased appliance
  • Tips and tricks to get the most out of your new software
  • Cosmetic/decorative tips to improve home renovations
  • Rarely used but helpful features of a recently purchased computer

Customers often appreciate tips, tricks, and updates on current events.

customer nurturing

4. Customer Survey

Any survey is better than no survey. Even if most of the recipients simply delete the survey email, they will usually enjoy the thought that your company cares enough to send them a survey and that you value their opinion and state of mind regarding your products and services. In this case, “it’s the thought that counts”.

A Net Promoter Score survey can measure customer loyalty and identify potential areas of improvement for your business.

Net Promotor Score Survey

The Critical Role of Customer Nurturing

The numbers speak for themselves: customer retention and nurturing not only cost less, but also bring in more profits. Constantly prioritizing new leads and new sales costs more money and doesn’t have as high of a return rate.

By carefully nurturing your customers and keeping your brand integrated with their lives, you can turn them into loyal, life-long purchasers. After all, if they bought from you once, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Someone who just learned your company exists isn’t nearly as likely to spend money with you yet.

If you aren’t yet using nurture campaigns, now is a good time to start them. If you already use them as part of your marketing strategy, remember that they need to evolve with your market and now is probably a great time for a message and content review.

Ready to take your customer nurturing strategy to the next level? Get in touch with our team of experts and start improving your profit margin today.


Take Control of Your Data Uploads with the Eloqua Upload Wizard

eloqua upload wizard

Uploading data into marketing automation systems like Oracle Eloqua can quickly become complicated. As marketers know, there’s far more to the process than just clicking a button. Some data might be in the wrong format and need to be converted. Other data might overwrite important information when uploaded and requires creating additional columns for processing. Any and all uploaded data must meet your pre-established standards.

Manually reviewing the data can catch most of these errors. Unfortunately, this is not always a practical solution. Manual review is a time-consuming and error-prone process and requires the attention of a pre-trained professional. Only they can correctly manage pre-validations and pre-processing requirements. If you’re required to import several different files, from different vendors, in different formats and the problem grows exponentially.

You need a solution that automates all of the manual pre-processing and allows people minimal training to successfully upload the data. Fortunately, we have a solution: the Eloqua Upload Wizard.

The Upload Wizard from 4Thought Marketing is my new best friend. It reduced the time required to process new leads from days to minutes and to get them into the hands of sales much faster.

Brinette Holdren, Sr. Marketing Specialist – Operations & Campaign Management, Catalent

What is the Eloqua Upload Wizard? 

The Eloqua Upload Wizard is a custom application that allows any trained user to upload files to Eloqua.  Based on your unique requirements, it can be configured to enforce policies and validations before the data goes to the marketing automation system. We have also seen our customers successfully use the Eloqua Upload Wizard in several different ways, including:  

  • Reposting validated records to an internal system for tracking before uploading
  • Creating templates for future uploads 
  • Enforcing custom upload notifications and error reporting 
  • Automating uploads through the validation rules and processing via SFTP  
  • Allowing internal users to upload data to the marketing automation system without the need for a license for each resource
  • Allowing subcontractors or partners to upload data to the marketing automation system without providing access to the system and the data

Eloqua Upload Wizard Dashboard: Tracking your Uploads for Quantity & Quality 

You’ll want to ensure that all the data you upload to your marketing automation system meets your internal quality standards. The Upload Wizard dashboard allows managers to track this and more, including:

  • The number of records processed in a given time period
  • How many uploads each user has performed
  • The number of records rejected, bounced, or updated
  • The number of newly added records
eloqua upload wizard
eloqua upload wizard

Enforcing Privacy Laws in Uploads 

Privacy-conscious companies can also configure the Eloqua Upload Wizard to enforce requirements based on the country and region of the records to be uploaded. For example, for records from the EU, the Upload Wizard can trigger additional validation to ensure the corresponding consent and permission information is included in the upload. Any records that don’t meet these basic GDPR standards would be rejected. This helps to protect your company from accidentally violating a relevant privacy law and potentially incurring a fine.

Save Yourself Some Time

With the Eloqua Upload Wizard, you and your team can enjoy a streamlined upload process and spend far less time performing manual quality control. Interested in hearing more? Contact us today for more information on our suite of custom-built cloud apps.