Eloqua’s senior director of customer and strategy, Stuart Wheldon, explains how publishing and sharing free content – powered by a revenue performance strategy – can harness new revenue.
Eloqua is one marketing automation company hellbent on standing out from the crowd. Rather than the traditional route of measuring campaigns for future investments, the 12-year old company’s revenue performance management (RPM) strategy goes one step further by providing visibility into how marketing and sales activities generate revenue.
Revenue performance management
There’s some disagreement about who exactly originated the concept, but Stuart Wheldon, Eloqua’s senior director of Customer and Strategy claims the Virginia-based company got there first: “We came up with the concept around RPM, which isn't a technology in itself, but looking at it as a business strategy – how you measure your effectiveness and use that insight to drive action, to get better. Reports or metrics are only good if they tell you something and you can then do something with it.
“Marketo thought it was a good idea and decided to also go down to that concept. We're ok with that, we'd rather have 10 or 20 people talking about RPM than just us because it's a very broad concept that all businesses can take advantage of. It’s something that seems to have caught on; the industry and our competitors are talking about it,” he says.
So what exactly is RPM? Rather than analysing statistics to determine the success of marketing campaigns, RPM examines how marketing drives revenue at the campaign level through the sales funnel. Geared toward the figure-hungry CEO, the strategy is more focused on the different sales stages of a single campaign than it is about multiple campaigns.
The RPM market is growing, as is Eloqua, “exponentially” Wheldon says, but due to the company’s impending IPO is unable to say just how much. The company now boasts over 400 clients in EMEA including big name firms such as Adobe, Dow Jones, Fidelity and Polycom but the growth of the market is extending Eloqua's customer-base to include companies of various skills sets and expanding out of its traditional heritage of technology clients into other sectors such as financial services, publishing and education.
Wheldon explains that this is due to RPM transforming marketing, the one part of the business he argues hasn’t undergone any significant change: “If you look at historical evolution of business - in the 80s you had your EDS systems and then SAP and then into the late 80s/90s was ERP, which revolutionised that whole piece of the business. Then you had sales force automation followed by Tom Siebel and then Salesforce.com came along and replaced that market.
“Now for the first time you have a system that is able to bring it all under one roof and provide that same level of sophistication that other parts of the business have enjoyed for a number of years.”
Central to Eloqua’s marketing ethos is the notion of free and relevant content. By adding journalist Jessie Noyes to the marketing team, an appointment Wheldon recommends every business make, Eloqua aims to create freely available content that isn’t necessarily Eloqua-specific but discusses relevant topics that eventually draw in potential customers.
“Free or more consumable content is not a sales pitch about Eloqua, it's something that is associated. It causes you to say ‘This is interesting', causes you to click through and maybe find more about Eloqua. It opens the doors to non-traditional buyers rather than standard outbound marketing automation. So from that perspective it allows you to get hooks into these new areas and get people talking about it,” explains Wheldon.
Eloqua’s free, consumable content streams from its blog, or the “content engine” as Wheldon calls it. Launched in April 2010 as a single blog to incorporate the multitude of existing company blogs, it racks up 20,000 visits per month and broke into the Adage Power150 list in its first year.
Measured on a combination of ‘likes’, retweets and comments, the most popular post during its first year, and what continues to be an ongoing success, is The Blog Tree project – a series of infographics collating the top content marketers in the blogosphere to encourage interest in Eloqua at an early stage. Most recently Eloqua launched the UK edition of The Blog Tree, showcasing the 67 most influential blogs across marketing, PR, social media, design, search engine optimisation, start-ups and technology.
But content is useless unless it’s shared. “When you talk about social it's not just about having a Facebook page, it's about letting the social world (hopefully) pick up on your freely available content and it going viral,” says Wheldon. “However, the challenge in social is you don't own those properties. Before social really took off you had your website, maybe a blog or a forum which you can track but with Facebook and Twitter or you can't track those pages anymore.”
To ensure Eloqua’s customers, dubbed “Eloquans”, can continue tracking revenue via third party platforms, the firm offers a social suite – a series of tools that integrates social aspects into customer content and create those contacts/prospects/leads via their social information. Additionally, the suite provides social sign-in which allows customers to track interest – examine how is that generating opportunities/leads and convert to revenue.
Keen to help their customers track the ever-growing social channels, earlier this year Eloqua added a Pinterest component to its AppCloud, the Cloud solution that integrates the various channels. “In this way you can integrate with third party social and still bring that rich buyer behaviour into your Eloqua solution to properly segment and target and get a more relevant experience, which we know drives a better response.”
So with its “exponential” growth, what lies ahead for Eloqua’s future? With the impending IPO (no date announced yet), Wheldon can say nothing other than “the future looks bright.”
“We're reaching a point where it's mainstream, where people are talking about it in a more general sense. It’s a conversation that happens much more frequently. When you go to events there's people who recognise what the concepts are and are trying to do these things and even though all that's happening, we're just getting started,” he concludes.