DocuSign Revs up Revenue Engine with Collaboration, Content and Technology

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About 10 years ago at one of the early Dreamforce events, I met Mark Organ, then CEO and co-founder of a young marketing automation company called Eloqua. Not surprisingly, their solution was on-demand, making it a natural partner of Salesforce.com.

Fast forward to today, and Eloqua sits atop a hot industry with dozens of cloud-based marketing automation solutions. B2B buyers have shifted their research activities online—a Corporate Executive Board study found that an average of 57% of purchasing steps were completed before sales person was contacted. This trend has fueled interest by marketers to engage earlier, track progress through buying stages, and ultimately hand over higher quality leads to sales professionals.

Yet despite 10+ years of growth, my sense is that marketing automation is still in the early stages. Much like the go-go days of CRM/SFA, there are lots of vendors selling technology, but companies have a lot to learn to take full advantage of the systems.

Marketing and sales collaborating to engage Buyer 2.0

One of the crucial and ongoing issues, which I wrote about in my B2B Marketing 2.0 article some three years ago, is the alignment of marketing and sales. But these days I prefer “collaboration” because it implies working together as a team. I believe that today’s empowered buyer requires a well-orchestrated team of players from marketing, inside sales, field sales, IT and other organizations, working together to engage with buyers effectively and ultimately close deals.

Collaboration with sales was a key factor in the DocuSign success story, according to Meagen Eisenberg, VP of Demand Generation. Speaking at Eloqua’s recent Road to Revenue event in San Francisco, Meagen said she had worked with Eloqua at three previous companies, and at DocuSign gained experience with Eloqua’s latest (E10) release.

To make a long story short, in just 3 months Meagan’s team was able to implement Eloqua, set up lead scoring, define 24 nurturing programs and develop 493 unique emails to be used in marketing communications. That’s right, 493. Pretty impressive considering it was done with Meagan and just two people on her staff.

What’s more impressive is that in such a short time they were able to significantly increase their pipeline and reduce churn. Using a nurturing program DocuSign can provide help to inactive users, or nudge trial users towards signing up. Meagen says their CMO is happy with the early results and now she has earned the right to ask for more budget. (No word on whether an internal nurturing campaign will be required.)

This is a great story, but I worry there are not enough people like Meagen to go around. Before arriving at DocuSign, Meagen says they had failed implementation with four other vendors. While there may have been a mismatch of tools to requirements, Meagen told me that a ready-fire-aim approach also contributed to poor results. Personally, I think they also needed someone like Meagen with her experience and interpersonal skills.

Under Meagen’s leadership, the fourth time was the charm. Eloqua was selected in a (there’s that C word again) collaborative process with sales and other stakeholders. But it was much more than that. Meagen says her goal was to create a true partnership with DocuSign’s sales leaders. They worked together to decide how to score leads, determine when a lead was sales-ready and develop nurturing programs to deliver the right content to move prospects along their buying journey.

Content as fuel for the Revenue Engine

That brings me to another critical “C” — Content. You won’t get far with a marketing automation project without a strong content strategy. That means understanding what your buyers need at each stage of their journey, and creating the right content to meet those needs.

Eloqua puts out some of the best content in the industry, as part of its own marketing efforts. After listening to Joe Chernov, the firm’s VP of Content Marketing, I can see why. At the Eloqua event, Joe shared some great tips on how to create a content strategy to move buyers from suspect to prospect to lead to opportunity.

For example, at the early “suspect” stage, content should not be gated. In other words, don’t put up a registration form! Instead, focus on providing educational content that is easily found and shared. And don’t forget to appeal to influencers. Eloqua’s blog tree is one clever example of doing a list in an innovative format. (You’ll find CustomerThink on the News branch.)

Later on, the emphasis shifts to content more specific to the solution being considered, in white papers, reports, e-books, webinars, etc. Towards the end of the buying process, buyers will be more interested in ROI calculators, RFP guides, product comparisons and demos.

Along the way, marketing and sales should be in agreement about what kind of content gets delivered and how to measure progress. Hits and downloads may be ok for early-stage content, but conversion rates will be more helpful when you’re trying to create qualified leads. Every stage needs its own relevant metrics.

Practicing what he preaches, Joe’s excellent presentation is available on Slideshare, with no registration required. Kudos.

Technology to orchestrate end-to-end process

There’s a lot of great marketing technology coming into the market from Eloqua and many other firms. Without automation, there’s no practical way to efficiently manage all the content, campaigns, leads, etc.

For example, as Meagen told me, you really need a robust platform to score leads on demographic factors (job title, company size and industry) along with the “digital body language” of the buyer consuming online content. Time spent reading a white paper or attending a webinar could indicate a higher level of interest, and push that lead to the top of the rep’s contact list.

Marketing automation systems also excel at managing personalized communications for different products, campaigns, and stages. Eloqua current “E10” release also includes some nifty social modules, which DocuSign is using. Social signon is a growing trend, because it reduces friction in the registration process.

Summing up, to succeed with today’s empowered buyers, you need effective marketing and sales collaboration, a strong content strategy and the right technology to orchestrate a complex process. That’s a lot to learn. Fortunately, Eloqua offers a variety of services to help, including professional services, online training, a “customer success manager” and the Topliners community. No word yet on whether cloning Meagen will be a future Eloqua service.

Thanks to EloQueen Jill Rowley for inviting me to attend the Eloqua event.

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