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.


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.


Simplify Eloqua Nurture Campaign Management

eloqua nurture campaign

Every marketer knows the value of reaching the right people with the right message – at the right time. As a modern marketer, you also know the downside of sending too much information – or the wrong message at the wrong time, especially when your target audience has moved on to the next stage of their buying cycle.

Eloqua nurture campaigns gently nudge buyers by responding to interests and telling a compelling story about a product or service.  These campaigns are staples of marketing automation platforms,  offering robust solutions for building and managing nurture campaigns.  However, creating robust nurtures comes with complexity, especially when the buyer indicates they’re ready for the next step and they become a marketing qualified lead (MQL). When they reach this stage, you should remove them from the current nurture.  No one wants to continue receiving emails from marketing when they’re already chatting with sales.

Think about your current nurture campaigns: You’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy to make sure you have the right audience for each campaign. You might have a campaign for new contacts – people who are just finding out about your company. You may have several different campaigns, each targeting potential buyers based on the interest they have expressed in one product over another. Being savvy, you also provide a different message for people who are farther down the buying process, maybe they reached out to you via form submits or downloaded specific whitepapers.

Each of these nurture campaigns usually consists of 3 or 4, or maybe 5 different emails – all designed to keep the potential buyer engaged and help guide them on their buying process. There’s a lot at stake to do this well, so how do you make sure your nurture campaign members are kept up to date?

Option 1: Going Old School

Decision Steps for Each Stage in Your Campaign

At each stage of a campaign, you’ll need to check to see if the person still meets the criteria for that campaign. Have they expressed interest in a different product? Have they reached MQL qualification, and are ready for a more direct message? Maybe they made a purchase, so now need customer information instead of prospect messages?

When building your campaigns in Oracle Eloqua, you could insert decision steps before each email to make sure that the right message is getting to the right person at the right time. This means that every single one of these decision boxes needs to be updated whenever you have new exclusion criteria.

eloqua nurture campaign

If you have 1 or 2 simple nurture campaigns, each consisting of just a few emails, then this approach may be your ideal route.  However, if you have a growing number of nurtures, each with many steps, this method isn’t sustainable.  There is a better solution that uses a cloud app.

Option 2: Remove Contacts Automatically

Use the the Campaign Contact Remover Cloud App

If your nurture program involves multiple campaigns, each consisting of several emails, then maintaining a multitude of decision steps is time-consuming and rife with a chance for error or omissions.

There’s a simpler way to manage and maintain all of the various criteria for one or more campaigns: our easy-to-use Campaign Contact Remover.

eloqua nurture campaign

With the Campaign Contact Remover app, you can manage all decisions in one program simply by creating a filter with the exclusion criteria. The app then determines which contacts should be removed from one or more of your campaigns.

It’s even easier to do it than to explain it– Get a 10-Day Free Trial and check it out for yourself.

So, there you have it! If your business is just getting into lead nurturing or if you don’t have various campaigns to maintain, then doing manual iterations to update your send lists may work great for you. On the other hand, if you’re moving toward nurturing program scalability and resource efficiency, then this is the right time to save yourself some time with the Campaign Contact Remover App.

Interested in seeing the Campaign Contact Remover app in action? Contact us for a demo.


7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

marketing automation mistakes

Marketing automation is neither a magical solution to every company’s marketing challenges nor a failed system that produces no results. A professional marketing automation system is only as good as its designers and users.

If your company uses marketing automation for promotional campaigns, chances are you’ve run into problems before. Certainly, no system is perfect. However, we’ve observed several common marketing automation mistakes that companies tend to make, especially at first. Let’s look at what these problems are and how you can avoid them.

1) Failing to Guide Marketing Automation with Segmentation

Segmentation is not a new concept. Segmenting customers based on behavior, geographic location, and more have occurred since the dawn of direct mail. But despite its long history, many marketers to this day continue to misunderstand what the concept actually means, and how to implement it themselves.

Let’s consider a straightforward segmentation: customer vs. prospect. One has purchased from your company. The other is an interested window shopper. Segmenting these two people is perhaps the easiest segmentation you’ll ever create. You can even use the same content or assets to contact both segments in some cases! So why is this such a problem?

The problem comes from Oracle Eloqua users who try to segment by increasingly specific behaviors. For instance, segmenting contacts based on who bought the blue T-shirt instead of the red one, rather than simply segmenting them as active customers. This may be necessary long-term. However, this is not something to tackle while your marketing automation system is still in its infancy. Keep it simple for now, and save the detailed segmentation for the future.

To begin your segmentation system, we recommend asking your accounting department for a list of customer companies. Upload the list to Eloqua and flag each contact as a customer. That’s it! The first step of marketing segmentation is now complete.

2) Poor Segmentation Strategy

When the time comes to begin segmenting customers in more detail, it’s easy to fall into one of two opposite strategies: either trying to do everything yourself for personalized marketing or leaving everything to an automated system to save time. Both are significant marketing automation mistakes.

As your company grows, you will collect so many contacts and create so many segments that you will no longer be able to track everything manually. An automated system can streamline this process, but removing the human element entirely runs the risk of marketing to the wrong segment or producing robotic-sounding marketing content. What’s the solution?

Tools like 4Segments allow you to balance manual and automatic segmentation by displaying your segments visually. At a glance, you can tell how many people fall into each segment and how they overlap. Best of all, you can get as specific as you want as you segment customers and save each new segment for later review. This combination of automated work and human creativity can go a long way toward improving your segmentation strategy.

3) Weak Personalization Testing

Have you ever received an email that began, “Dear FNAME?”

Personalized emails are known to have higher conversion rates than obviously automated ones. By adding custom fields, email marketers can personalize a message down to the fine details. But unfortunately, each custom field has the potential to disrupt the rest of the message. Placeholder text or code makes it painfully obvious that the email was not sent by an individual person, and no matter how perfect the rest of the email is, your contact’s first impression is already poor. This marketing automation mistake is potentially very costly.

The best way to tackle this problem is with aggressive quality control. Create a campaign checklist that staff must review before sending off an email. Send test messages to yourself or colleagues to see if the custom fields are filled out correctly. Double- and triple-check your personalization programs that generate these emails. Don’t let a program’s mistake get in the way of your prospects.

4) No Inbound Marketing Strategy

You may have used marketing automation to generate the best email nurture in the world, but without contacts to receive the nurture, what’s the point? An inbound marketing strategy works alongside your marketing automation systems to capture and nurture leads. Unfortunately, new marketers just learning about marketing automation can get so caught up in experimenting that they forget to actually find leads.

Depending on your industry, the most effective inbound marketing strategy could consist of:

  • Determining which communication channel your contacts prefer (i.e., text message vs. email) and reaching out to them through their preferred medium
  • Creating engaging online content like blog posts to stand out in the crowd
  • Inviting possible leads to webinars and other live events that you host or participate in
  • Creating personalized offers and calls to action to generate conversions
  • Turning satisfied customers into advocates for your company

5) Missing or Incomplete Compliance Monitoring

Ever since the passing of the GDPR in 2018, governments around the world have developed and passed large-scale privacy laws of their own. Others have worked to expand existing privacy laws. And while the US has yet to pass a federal privacy law, several individual states have their own regulations or are in the process of creating them. Why is this important for you?

Because every one of those privacy laws carries significant fines for each violation, even if unintentional. And when the violation inevitably makes headlines, the court of public opinion won’t be kind.

Since Eloqua users handle an impressive amount of customer data every day, it’s important to know where the data comes from and what regulations protect it. It’s also important to know how to fully comply with those regulations. If your company currently has a very bare-bones privacy policy, now is the time to improve. Consider using an automated privacy compliance software like 4Comply to track your collected data and ensure you use it in a legal manner.

6) Too Many Marketing Automation Tools

Speaking of automated software, remember that you can have too much of it. Smaller companies don’t need the long list of platforms that Fortune 500 brands use. More importantly, you more than likely don’t have the expert manpower to effectively use all of those platforms. Some may end up falling by the wayside as your marketing automation team does its best to keep up.

In addition, think about how many of these tools you would actually use. Software still requires processing power even if you never use it—and that processing power can slow your website and harm your technical SEO score. And that’s not even considering the wasted money from unused software subscriptions.

To counter this problem, schedule regular audits of your software list. Which ones do you regularly use? Which ones show a measurable benefit for your company? Which ones do you have the expertise for? These questions can help you narrow down what to keep and what to discard.

7) Relying on Outdated Marketing Automation Approaches

The world is not static—especially not the internet. What worked five years ago may not work today. And if you’re still making the same marketing automation mistakes you were five years ago, it’s long past time for an update.

There are a few steps you can take to counter this:

  • Take note of any and all changes in consumer behavior
  • Regularly audit and update your marketing automation strategy
  • Attend marketing technology conferences to see how the industry is growing
  • Consider running a training program for your marketing team (hiring an external team is an excellent choice here)
  • Experiment with add-ons to your marketing automation platform that build on and expand its functionality

In Conclusion

To summarize, while marketing automation can and does provide an invaluable boost to many companies, it’s not a magic wand. You are still responsible for properly using your tools and respecting your customers’ preferences and data privacy. Most importantly, you are also responsible to keep up with changes in consumer behavior, data privacy laws, and technology to stop marketing automation mistakes before they start.

Sound overwhelming? You don’t have to handle this alone. Contact us today for expert help improving your marketing automation setup.


Process Leads Faster with the Contact Feeder Cloud App for Oracle Eloqua

contact feeder

The Contact Feeder Cloud App helps you get leads into the hands of sales or your campaigns faster.  Unlike Eloqua listeners, which run once every 24 hours, you can configure the app to check for matching contacts as often as every minute. If you get a new lead, you can process it quickly, reducing the risk of leads going cold or not getting them to sales as soon as possible.

Watch the video below for a quick overview of using the Contact Feeder Cloud App in Eloqua.

The Contact Feeder Cloud App makes it easy to add contacts from a segment or shared filter into your Eloqua program canvas at any time. To sign up for a free 10-day trial or request a demo, contact us today.


Mass CO Deleter Eloqua Cloud App: The Basics

If you need to clean up your Eloqua Custom Data Objects and remove data for specific contacts, the Mass CO Deleter Cloud App from 4Thought Marketing is the perfect solution.

Watch the 1-minute video below and learn how the Mass CO Deleter Cloud App helps you keep your Eloqua system clean.

Learn more about the Mass CO Deleter Cloud App and request a 10-Day Free Trial here.


4Thought’s Update All Contact CO Cloud App for Eloqua

Need to keep your Eloqua Custom Object records up to date when a field or fields change on the mapped contact record or want to add or update static values to all mapped contact records?  You can with the new Update All COs Eloqua Cloud App from 4Thought Marketing.

Watch the video below for instructions on installing and configuring the app. If you’re interested in a demo or free trial, contact 4Thought Marketing today.