Part I of our interview with Jill Rowley
Jill is currently a fund advisor at Stage 2 Capital. Notably she was Chief Growth Officer at Marketo prior to the Adobe acquisition. She first captured the attention of thousands via social media during her tenure as a top salesperson at Eloqua. She continues to practice what she preaches and remains a leading resource in her field via social media, with 250k followers on LinkedIn.
Kathy Dunlay: Jill, you’ve probably noticed that for a multi-topic B2B marketing blog, it seems that we’re spending a lot of time talking about “marketing automation” . Companies of all sizes have now been indoctrinated to some extent. However, you were playing in this sandbox several years ago, when you took up with Eloqua. Can you describe for us what Eloqua’s service offering looked like much earlier in its history, and how it positioned itself then?
Jill Rowley: When I first started, it was about increasing conversion from marketing spend. We didn’t call it revenue performance management then, as we do now. But it was about converting each marketing dollar into a dollar of revenue for the business.
“Turn of the Century” Marketing Automation
Jill Rowley: If you recall, around the year 2000 corporate websites revolved around “brochureware”. The print brochure was put on the website, and all of the marketing collateral shifted people to the web so they could self-serve and get information on their own time. Eloqua saw that companies were pushing prospects to a website that was essentially a dead end. Our first product was online chat. That iteration meant monitoring site visitors in real time, and having an inside sales person send an invite to the visitor while they were on the web. It wasn’t designed to be customer service and support, like chat is now.
There was a button available to the site visitor if there was an agent waiting. Or, the agent would pro-actively chime in with a greeting, and see if they could help. The reality was that nobody was pushing the button, and the pro-active chat was too creepy. The market wasn’t open to that kind of interaction.
Another hindrance to marketing automation was that our prospects didn’t have enough people on their website with which to interact – in any format. That’s when we suggested email as a way to drive prospects to websites, and email became a big piece of the Eloqua offering.
The Missing Link: Conversion Marketing
Jill Rowley: Eloqua was tuned into driving traffic to the website, but what about a next step? Many prospects were still driving visitors to dead ends. “Conversion marketing” remained the missing link. And that’s what it’s all about, converting everyone to that next step, from prospect to customer, and from customer to loyal fan. It’s an ongoing engagement cycle that should never really end – like any good relationship.
At that point, the answer seemed to be “forms” and “lead bait” – white papers, webinars, and case studies were the engagement triggers of the day.
Other issues cropped up, like what if we don’t have email addresses, and what about the folks who show up via search? What about landing pages, customized for all possible variables? This ongoing series of “what ifs” has driven the evolution of our platform.
It has always been about conversion and tracking marketing impact, but we just didn’t know which tools and tactics were going to make it all happen. And for how long, before the engagement model changed in the face of new media.
Kathy Dunlay: How has Eloqua evolved since then – and what kind of market maturity is it responding to at this time?
Jill Rowley: It’s all still evolving. Social media has changed the game again. Our platform has to continue to evolve to keep up with new online innovation, traffic drivers, and usage scenarios.
Even a decade ago, Eloqua’s brand of marketing automation wasn’t actually single-tracked around “marketing”. It was always meant to enable and verify “marketing’s impact on sales”. I think you’ll continue to see, in 2011 and beyond, how Eloqua can open up its platform to talk more seamlessly to other pieces of data, like Jigsaw, like Demandbase and more.
Jill Rowley and Steve Woods, co-founder of Eloqua
Eloqua will continue to fit “in the middle”. It plays to the “known” universe of prospects. The front end is the search. Eloqua needs to respond to whatever that looks like.
We are taking a huge risk. We finally have this mass awareness and momentum. Marketing automation is an accepted space. We want to take the focus off of the technology and elevate the conversation to the objective and the discipline, which is better revenue performance management.
Bringing Science to “Hot, Not Hot” Prospecting
Jill Rowley: Sales reps are expensive, hard to ramp, challenging to manage – and they make quota less than 50% of the time. With so many human variables, sales management is not a very scientific process, even at the most sales-oriented organizations with layers of process in place. However, if a VP of Marketing needs more money to do more campaigns – right there in the middle is where the investment and the optimization can occur. Robust marketing automation is a more predictable, scientific method.
The 7 fundamentals of more meaningful communication that our automation platform enables include:
- Targeting, and
- Segmenting, in order to make your messaging more
- Relevant, and
- And beyond that, it allows you to score your interactions to get to that point of sales-readiness.
Be sure to read part II of our interview with Jill Rowley, “Can Marketing Automation be the Great Humanizer?”
Kathy Tito Dunlay
President and Founder, New England Sales & Marketing