The Future of Marketing Automation: Steven Woods, Eloqua CTO and Co-Founder, Weighs In


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Marketers are growing ever more sophisticated, thanks in part to the explosion of publicly available customer and prospect data. The days of sending blanket marketing messages are numbered, as companies will hyper-target and segment to bring each consumer content that is relevant and exciting to them. Few people in the world are better equipped to provide a brief marketing automation education than Steven Woods, CTO and Co-Founder of Eloqua. We sat down with Steven to get his take on the future of the industry. For even more knowledge, you can read his insights plus those of nine other marketing automation experts in our new white paper 52 Secrets to Marketing Automation Success.

Steven shared that over the past twelve months, we’ve seen two major developments in marketing automation. First, there has been an evolution in the way we understand our buyers. A decade ago, a marketer had very limited information that they truly knew about a potential buyer: title, role, industry, and other demographics.

Marketing automation advanced when we were able to layer on the concept of ‘digital body language’ (what prospects were doing on a web site), and determining their interests based on their online activities.

Now we are gaining an understanding of whom a consumer trusts, from where he or she is collecting information, and how that information is received; or, the social piece of the picture, if you will.

The other important development is the technological advancements we’ve seen. Marketing automation was built and relies on the idea of software as a service (SaaS). The industry became what it is today because of what’s possible with SaaS. As SaaS has become the accepted industry standard that all of these systems are built upon, we are seeing not just innovation at a company level, but innovation of an ecosystem.

The future of marketing automation is not just about what the platform can do on its own, but what can be added to it. We’re seeing that other powerful applications can snap in to marketing automations systems and further enhance your understanding of the buyer.

The best marketers today are no longer looking at prospective buyer activity as a series of one-off events (i.e. what did the prospects do on our website? Did the prospect attend our recent webinar?), but are rather tying this information all together to create a cohesive view of the buyer across a wide variety of touch points. When this integration is done well, a marketer can snap different applications to the marketing automation platform to create a 360 degree-view of the customer.

As for where marketing automation is heading, Steven believes we have exciting times ahead. Modern marketers will begin to break down the silos inside their organizations to analyze how their efforts coalesced to impact the business. In fact, expect to see marketers stop thinking that just having a Facebook presence, LinkedIn Group, recurring webinars and in-person events as sufficient. Marketers will transfer the data collected out of the various silos to approach the question: did this effort drive revenue for my business?

Marketers will showcase their ability to say: “Yes, I run events, host webinars, have SlideShare, Facebook and LinkedIn, and as I tie the data together, I understand how buyers tend to progress towards revenue.” These marketers use this data to uncover the buyer’s pathway – where a potential buyer starts learning about a company and how that ultimately leads to a purchase. To optimize this pathway, sophisticated modern marketers will say, ‘To be the best in the world, our company needs to invest a little more here and a bit less there to drive a lot more revenue.’

We’d like to thank Steven for his fascinating insights on the future of marketing automation. For even more on what to expect in 2013, download our free white paper 52 Secrets to Marketing Automation Success.

Does your company currently use a marketing automation system to convert leads into customers? Tell us more on Twitter.

Mike Lewis
Mike is an entrepreneur and marketing executive with a 14-year track record of success as a senior manager at early-stage technology companies. He is currently the vice president of marketing and sales for Awareness Inc., an enterprise social media management platform


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