Eloqua Gets Its Platform On

Eloqua is shaking things up postsolstice with its release of the Summer 2006 Conversion Suite, which will be available to customers on July 31. The supplier of automated software for B2B marketers announced today that the new suite will include activity driven content, automated event and survey management, first-party cookies, and most notably, Eloqua SMARTpacks--best practices modules that can be traded across separate Eloqua installations and organizations. This move marks a turn away from the company's presence as a marketing tool provider toward becoming a marketing automation provider with a strong platform base. Eloqua holds that throughout the six years that it has been in existence, its strategy has always been to "focus on the notion of marketing as a measurable and repeatable process," says Thor Johnson, senior vice president of marketing for Eloqua. He sees this release as a natural step toward the company fulfilling this vision. On the other hand, Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principle of Beagle Research, argues that this is a significant departure in company direction. "This release moves them down a path that moves their sweet spot from pure technology to being a true platform." Eloqua's development of SMARTpacks moves the company even farther toward becoming a platform vendor by building extensions off of a core capability, according to Pombriant. SMARTpacks are event-triggered programs that can be built by companies or partners and reused in other instances of Eloqua. With these models, companies can create a program out of a best practice so that it may easily be repeated. Johnson cites the additional possibility of these programs being traded between companies. Specifically, if a partner develops a SMARTpack, it can then sell it on top of the Eloqua Conversion Suite to make its own offering more appealing to potential customers. The Summer 2006 release also includes Eloqua's development of activity driven content, which the company promises will increase companies' lead conversion and marketing campaign response rates. The feature allows marketers to fold in up to the minute content when interacting with customers and ensures that customers will be directed to customized landing pages. Pombriant notes that this can help retain customers by allowing them to skip over unwanted content. He explains that customers will be turned off if they visit a Web site for the third time and "get the same entry level content again." "Having the ability to provide targeted content can really help your company climb the ladder," he says. Automated survey management will also be added to the Eloqua platform for companies to better execute events, such as Webinars. In addition, Eloqua will offer the ability to employ first-party cookies to prevent user rejection. Along with these new capabilities, Eloqua is announcing that its CRM integration is expanding from a lone agreement with Salesforce.com to incorporation with Sage CRM SalesLogix, Oracle's Siebel On Demand, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. Pombriant says that Eloqua's large increase of capabilities saddles a trend in the marketing automation industry. "There are lots of products out there focused on doing just one thing. But today you really need a larger spectrum of technology and methodology. This is what Eloqua's centered on doing." Related articles: Learning to Share: Marketing and Sales
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