Marketing automation systems like Oracle Eloqua are designed to make your job easier and your campaigns more effective by leveraging data and content to deliver personalized messages at the perfect time. However, you can’t expect it to do all your work for you. Neither should you be overly cautious and miss out on what it can truly do. Let’s look a little closer at one of the most potentially problematic areas: failed segmentation.
Eloqua Segmentation & Marketing Automation
Though the term is recent, marketing segmentation has existed for over a century. Historical marketers who relied on physical mail alone still had to sort their contacts into different groups to determine who displayed continued interest and who might need nurturing. Unfortunately, modern marketers often struggle with segmentation even with the help of technology.
The Most Basic Segment: Customer vs. Prospect
The simplest possible segmentation is customer vs. prospect. Any business owner knows the difference between a customer who has made purchases before and someone who just window shops. Keeping these two groups separate creates the first step of your marketing strategy. Previous customers can be offered new products or promotions related to their purchases, while window shoppers receive more generic marketing materials. You can also reuse several of the same marketing materials for both segments when appropriate. This initial marketing segmentation process is quite simple, yet can make a significant difference in your strategy.
Marketing segments get more and more narrow as you hone in on specific customer groups for nurturing. While this step is crucial, some marketers view it as too complex or expensive to attempt. Some even assume that they have to segment down to the most minute details like individual products purchases. As you construct your marketing segmentation strategy, remember:
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
If classifying your customers in Eloqua feels too difficult, stop and take a broader approach. You may have been thinking too deeply, forming unnecessarily tiny segments that make your job difficult, or nurturing customers who won’t be a source of revenue. You should avoid:
- Aggressively marketing to customers who have been inactive for years
- Pouring huge amounts of money and time into customers who rarely buy from you
- Marketing products to customers who only want services or support
Additionally, remember that even beneficial activities can end up requiring too much time and effort that could be better used elsewhere. For instance, don’t pour all your time into:
- Defining what a customer is for your business
- Having your sales reps’ flag which accounts should be considered customers
- Scrubbing your database of expired or unprofitable data
- Creating a complex ERP integration
All of these are good ideas, and arguably essential for a successful business. But they’re also not the ultimate goal. Don’t focus on a single step while neglecting everything that comes after. And definitely don’t take on all these tasks at once—you’ll overwhelm yourself in no time.
Eloqua Segmentation: A Simpler Approach
Implementing your new segmentation strategy takes time, and it doesn’t have to be perfect at first. Let your marketing team be content with most of the value of customer segmentation with a much simpler marketing segmentation plan.
Every quarter, have your accounting department assemble a list of customer companies. Even an incomplete list is a good start. You can then upload this list into Eloqua and flag them as customers. Congratulations—you’ve just segmented by customer! The data will be usable within hours, allowing you to make meaningful progress on your marketing campaigns.
Building an Effective Marketing Campaign
Customer segmentation does more than just make your data spreadsheets look neat. Knowing which customers need nurturing is the first step in a truly successful marketing campaign. And with a reliable, easy-to-use software like Eloqua, segmentation is a walk in the park. Check out our white paper “Segmentation Before Integration” for more information.
Ready to improve your marketing segmentation plans? Get in touch and let us get you started.