With Oracle Fusion Marketing into the Future of CRM?
According to Rob Tarkoff, EVP and GM Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience, Oracle Fusion Marketing is a layer that automatically executes account based marketing and sales campaigns.
The product aims at enabling an end-to-end process from creating a marketing campaign to closing the sale, bridging the divide between marketing and sales.
It does so by combining services that are delivered by three products:
- Unity, Oracle‘s Customer Data Platform
- Fusion Advertising, Oracle‘s digital advertisement platform
- Fusion Products & References, Oracle‘s recommendation platform
under one easy-to-use user interface that is modeled as a guided procedure.
Oracle Fusion Marketing simplifies and accelerates the creation and execution of marketing by
- Building a target audience of known contacts: Marketers can select a product or service that is the focus of the campaign, and then select a list of known contacts from any CRM system
- Expanding your audience: From that audience, Fusion Marketing will automatically generate a highly targeted audience profile for use in online advertising to target people who are potentially relevant to your campaign — byt unknown to your contact database
- Identifying the best customer references: based on the focus of the campaign and specific industry of each customer, Fusion Marketing recommends the best reference stories to promote in the campaign
- Simplifying campaign configuration: Fusion Marketing provides a single user interface to assign all of the campaign assets required to run your campaign across email, website landing pages, and advertising channels
- Launching the campaign: the marketer can easily set up advertising budget, star and end dates and launch their campaign
- Monitoring results: a prebuilt dashboard that provides marketers with real time visibility into campaign performance.
After campaigns are launched, Fusion Marketing automates the generation and qualification of leads:
- Personalized campaign microsites: emails and ads take people to an automatically generated „microsite“ landing page for each campaign, which includes customer references personalized to match the industry and interest of the customer
- AI-powered lead qualification: Fusion Marketing monitors engagement across all campaign channels including emails, online ads, and microsite visits. Because interest at the company level is what matters, Fusion Marketing will qualify account level interest by aggregating engagement frompeople at the same company. This AI algorithm automatically generates qualified opportunities for salespeople when it detects sufficient engagement.
- Deliver qualified opportunities to any CRM system: Wen identified, qualified opportunities are delivered to any CRM system.
According to Oracle, Fusion Marketing helps marketers and sellers focus on what they do best: building relationships and closing deals.
The Bigger Picture
As I have often written and said, sales representatives do not love their system. One of the main reasons for this is that salesforce automation systems and CRM systems are often targeted rather at the management than the actual workforce. They are good at collecting data and reporting, but not so good at helping sales representatives — and marketers, for that purpose — getting their job done easily. The result is widespread dissatisfaction and poor adoption. Phil Winters spoke about an adoption level of 25 per cent in a recent CRMKonvo.
In the words of Larry Ellison: „The sales automation system has value. It keeps track of your opportunities, it allows you to communicate with management, and say „I expect these deals to close in the quarter“. It is really a management tool for individual salesprople and their bosses to make estimates; how many deals will close in the quarter and figure out what revenue will look like in the quarter.
Now, that has value! But the sales system does not increase sales. It doesn‘t automate selling. It autmates sales, forecasting and improves communication. But what we want to do is actually build systems that help you sell more“. He continues „We realized that we couldn‘t just do a second generation sales automation system. To help sell more, we had to also include […] marketing to generate, and most importantly, qualify leads. The question is being able to figure out which of those leads are high quality.
Which of those leads do you want to turn over to salespeople, and then get them engaged? So, we thought, we had a two step process. We had to autmate lead generation and qualification — a new second generation marketing system. And then, as soon as we got that don, build a second generation sales automation system that would maek the salespeople more productive and help them sell more“.
What needs to change is that the systems are available where the users are, in a physical and digital way, that they work like the users work and give them relevant information as and when needed and finally, that the systems are enabled to interact with the users in natural ways, which includes language, text and voice.
Two specific problems facing marketers and sales representatives are that it is often hard to set up multi channel campaigns, especially when they include advertisements in the public web and walled gardens like Facebook or in the Apple ecosystem and then to hand over well qualified leads that are generated by the marketing department to the sales department. Who hasn‘t heard of the eternal fight between marketing and sales, one side claiming that it doesn‘t get any leads and the other side complaining that leads are just not taken up.
Oracle Fusion Marketing sets out to solve both challenges.
My PoV and Analysis
Let me start with that the event’s naming raised quite some expectations that led me to state during the CRM Playaz Watch Party to the event that I haven’t seen much that I haven’t heard from other vendors, too. I stand to this statement, especially when it comes to integrating or aligning marketing and sales departments. Every suite vendor that is worth a grain of salt can either move a qualified lead out of the marketing subsystem into the sales force automation system and/or directly create an opportunity there (which is something that the sales reps often like to do themselves). An agreement about what constitutes a qualified obviously needs to be achieved before. Most of the vendors can also fairly easily create campaign templates basing on existing objectives, target groups and marketing assets.
However, there are three main differentiators that I can see.
- As shown in the demo of a campaign creation process as used at Oracle itself, the user interface to create this campaign is extremely sleek, also thanks to the new Redwood UI.
- The ability to combine traditional campaigns with web advertising out of one single technology stack, which Oracle can do using its Advertising line of products.
- The tight link into the, again own, enterprise content management system.
As I do see it, there are only two companies that could deliver close to this value proposition using an own stack, and these are, Microsoft and Salesforce, maybe Adobe as a third one. Still, Oracle has clearly an edge.
The other suite vendors are either not there at all, or do rely on partners for parts of this process.
Still, building a campaign in a few steps while automatically identifying relevant content for targeted accounts to serve on landing pages and in personalized emails is quite a feat. So far, I have only seen this based upon rules. Oracle seems to have done a great job at this and I would love to have a peek behind the scenes.
I believe in technology and am less sceptic about the power of AI to qualify leads etc. based on existing interactions than esteemed colleague Jon Reed expressed in his article; therefore I am quite convinced that Oracle Fusion Marketing is able to find and deliver the relevant high quality leads to be created as opportunities in a sales force automation system of whatever couleur. This ability is of great help to salespeople. As I like the emphasis on openness, I would have loved to see both, what it takes to create an opportunity in an Oracle as well as a non-Oracle system.
Will there be false positives or negatives when creating these opportunities based on an AI?
Is there a very good chance that the system is better than the average salesperson?
This ability, however, is nothing that sets Oracle apart from the tier one competition in my eyes. This competition in the case of marketing consists of Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP. All of these have the ability to create either qualified leads or opportunities in sales force automation systems. And these are only the tier ones. The difference will be in the degree of effort that is necessary to do so.
The business objectives that are covered by Fusion Marketing are currently quite limited. There are only few business objectives and the need to supply a target group to the system. This is due to it being a very young product and is ok for now! There is no reason to assume that these objectives will not be expanded fast, by either Oracle itself or by partners. I think that it would be a good idea to have the system also identify target groups based upon business objectives, similar to or better than what e.g. Emarsys is already capable of in the B2C arena. Building on that, it would be great to see a system that is able to build or suggest campaigns based upon identified customer needs. This would tie neatly into customer journey analytics and orchestration and build a story of outside-in capabilities.
The process that Oracle demonstrated to create a campaign towards an objective is amazingly simple. It can be used by any person, including non marketing personnel. This means that there can be quite some upside in offering it to salespersons or sales teams. Marketing as a service. The objectives are there, the collateral is there, why not enable salespeople to create campaigns targeted to their objectives, based on predefined templates?
Having said all this, there are a few things that I would like to see as neither the announcement nor the demo covered them.
Assuming that a good number of Fusion Marketing customers also owns an e-commerce site that is based on Oracle technology it would be great to see how Fusion Marketing integrates to e-commerce, especially Oracle technology.
The demo is based upon existing target groups and existing e-mail templates; it did not cover the actual segmentation process, be it based upon personas or on static target groups, nor the creation of the email- and microsite-templates. I‘d love to see how this is done and what products it needs.
Because this is where the the effort is hidden that helps Marketing Fusion be so simple.
In summary, I applaud Oracle to what it announced here. I am a sceptic and would love to see the answer to some of the questions and doubts that I have.
I also see that, marketing buzz or not, the competion now needs an answer to the challenge that Fusion Marketing is.