Oracle And Eloqua: Making Sense Of The Marriage
By now, you’ve seen the news that Oracle shelled out $871 million to buy Eloqua. We have already shared a few thoughts about what the deal means for the marketing automation and CRM industries, but here’s some additional color commentary.
Oracle Got A Great Deal
First, this is a big deal, but why isn’t it even bigger? As Brian Hansford pointed out in an insightful Twitter post, it’s a screwed-up world when a “cheesy photo app” with a quicksand business model (and a legal staff that needs to quit drinking on the job) sells for $1 billion.
Yet a highly successful marketing automation vendor with a proven business and vast growth potential goes for considerably less than $1 billion. Go figure.
The acquisition also evokes memories of Oracle’s 2010 purchase of Market2Lead, which promptly joined Spinal Tap in the “where are they now?” file. That was a peculiar deal to begin with; Oracle purchased the company’s intellectual property but basically dumped its customer base into the nearest ditch. (Eloqua CEO Joe Payne actually published a blog post at the time inviting Market2Lead customers to jump to his company’s platform. Check it out while you still can.)
Obviously, that’s not happening this time around. Like it or not, Eloqua’s client list is being invited to this party.
Four Questions To Ponder
Keeping that in mind, here are some issues worth considering as Oracle closes this deal:
- Oracle typically assimilates its acquisitions by swallowing them whole. Will Eloqua keep a separate brand identity for the time being? Does it make sense to do so, given some of the issues discussed below?
- We don’t know how many Eloqua customers are also Salesforce customers, but “a lot” seems like a safe answer. As a result, Eloqua is bound to have some interesting conversations with clients who depend on close integration of their Eloqua and Salesforce CRM systems.
- That sound you hear is Marc Benioff shredding Eloqua’s invitation to next year’s Dreamforce event. The Dreamforce Cloud Expo has always been fertile ground for marketing automation vendors, and Eloqua will – at the very least – find it a considerably less welcoming environment in the future.
- Salesforce doesn’t just integrate with Eloqua; it’s also a client. Sorting this out will have the entertainment potential of a Hatfield-McCoy wedding party.
Thanks for reading, Happy Mayan Apocalypse, and have a great holiday!
IDC: Marketing Automation Continues Double-Digit Growth
The latest market research from IDC continues to show a strong market for both marketing automation and sales automation solutions.
IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Software Tracker for the first half of 2012 showed overall software market growth of 4.7% year over year. This marks the beginning of what IDC says will be a period of slower single-digit growth for the market.
Drilling into the numbers, however IDC found that CRM software in general experienced above-average growth of 8.1%. Within the CRM category, three out of four sub-categories – marketing, sales and customer service – showed a combined growth rate of more than 12%. (The fourth sub-category, call center software, showed much lower growth.)
This is all good news for the marketing automation industry, and it matches predictions from other research firms that predicted double-digit growth for marketing automation through at least 2014.
Stupid CRM Tricks And What Marketers Can Learn From Them
What’s better than learning from your mistakes? Learning from some other poor slob’s mistakes. In that spirit, I highly recommend a recent CIO.com article: Top 10 CRM Tricks Guaranteed To Lose Customers.
As the article points out, when it comes to rolling out technology that impacts customer service and support, the devil is in the details. Cutting corners, limiting options or making half-baked assumptions about how to “serve” your customers guarantee a quick trip to CRM hell for everyone involved.
There are lots of lessons here for marketing and sales organizations. One of my favorites: Why locking bread-and-butter content behind a mind-numbing registration process – what the article refers to as “hiding the can opener inside the can” – is a horrible idea.
Another favorite: failing to perform usability testing with outsiders. This applies to any customer-facing technology, not just CRM. It’s not enough to sample your own cat food; you need to round up a few complete strangers and ask them to have a taste, too.
Gleanster Announces New Insight Exchanges For Marketing Automation, CRM
Gleanster today announced the rollout of two Insight Exchanges on Marketing Automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), with resources such as vendor landscapes, white papers, benchmark research, videos, presentations and analyst commentary.
Launched on December 28, 2011, the Insight Exchange Open Resource Library is a “great way for solution providers to demonstrate thought leadership, raise brand visibility and gain broad exposure for the valuable content assets they’ve already created,” according to Jeff Zabin, CEO and Research Director at Gleanster, in a company press release.
“At a glance, you can view all the relevant solutions and their showcases, which are chock full of actionable insights, best practices and strategic guidance,” Zabin said. “For their part, solution providers have a powerful new vehicle at their disposal for raising brand visibility, demonstrating thought leadership and generating new revenue opportunities.”
Next week, Gleanster will publish a benchmark report on CRM that features showcases for more than 40 technology solution providers, including Infor, Infusionsoft, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sage Software, SalesFUSION and Salesforce.com.
The Marketing Automation benchmark report is set to publish in October 2012, and will showcase more than 40 solution providers, including Act-On Software, Aprimo, eTrigue, ExactTarget, HubSpot, Unica and Pardot.
Are Marketing Automation Vendors Making Promises They Can’t Keep?
Last month, The Annuitas Group ran a pair of blog posts about 9 Things Marketers Need from Marketing Automation Vendors and Consultants. There’s some great stuff here, and they’re saying some things that really need to be said about a fast-growing, and still maturing, industry.
But one point on their list is especially important: Automation vendors need to think about whether terms like “quick,” “easy” and “30 days” really belong in their marketing vocabularies.
This Has All Happened Before
I have seen other groups of technology vendors make similar promises, and it rarely ended well.
In the 1990s, vendors pushed their content management and document management products as drop-dead easy, turnkey solutions. They weren’t.
A decade ago, the same thing happened in the CRM market. Failure rates on CRM projects climbed as high as 70%, and many companies canceled or scaled back their CRM projects.
In both cases, customers had a bad habit of letting the technology drive their purchasing decisions, rather than thinking first about their business processes and change management issues. The vendors did nothing to stop them. A backlash was inevitable.
Is the marketing automation market headed down the same path? It’s too early to tell, although an often-cited statistic from SiriusDecisions – that 85% of marketing automation users don’t think they’re taking full advantage of their systems — is cause for concern.
Addressing The Frustration Factor
Customers need guidance to push down that frustration factor, and vendors need to provide that guidance.
Before a company can take full advantage of a marketing automation solution, it has to make sure its sales and marketing teams are speaking the same language. It needs a lead scoring methodology, closed-loop reporting processes, user training and enablement, and all of the other things that contribute to a successful solution.
Vendors can help with all of these things. The best vendors, in fact, excel at helping customers with change management and business-process issues. Yet it’s impossible to reconcile change management best practices – all of which take time and care to implement – with the fast-faster-fastest marketing mantra being used to sell the technology.
This will all work itself out in the end. It always does. The big question is whether all of the vendors making promises today will be around to keep them tomorrow.