Eloqua Removes Start Up Barriers In Race To Capture Customers

Yesterday, Eloqua announced a free implementation service. Clicking on the link to their services, however, may create a bit of confusion. The page describes four offerings: QuickStart, SmartStart, Advanced Implementations, and Global Solutions, but it doesn’t mention this “free” service.  So I called up Eloqua and asked “what gives?”  After chatting with Paul Teshima, Eloqua’s Senior Vice President of Customer Strategy and Success, the clouds parted.  Here are two details that may help clear things up for you as well:

1) Instead of “Eloqua Launches a Free Implementation Service,” the press release should have said, “Eloqua announces that our QuickStart services package is now free to new customers.”  My wording is not as newsworthy or eye-catching, but it gets the point across.

2) The services Web page should mention that QuickStart is now free.  The page should also say whether it is “free” for a limited time or forever. But something on the page should have changed to indicate QuickStart comes along with the subscription.

The main difference between QuickStart and SmartStart is that service partners perform QuickStart remotely and quickly, while they conduct SmartStart onsite and deliver more assessment, strategy, and planning for the money. If you need any of the following capabilities, you should pay for the SmartStart implementation instead of going with just the free offering:

  1. Email marketing customization. QuickStart provides a basic template and configuration, but if you want custom branding, formatting, and help setting up email assets, folder management, and segmentation, upgrade to SmartStart.
  2. Integration of an existing online Web form with Eloqua.
  3. Anything beyond basic integration of up to 30 fields with a supported SFA/CRM system.
  4. Any sort of in-depth training, strategy setting, or implementation of Lead Scoring or Lead Nurturing. This is key, by the way, for maximizing value from the investment.
  5. An assessment of your marketing practices with an eye toward how the lead management automation will help you to streamline and optimize campaign execution and closing the loop with sales.

Eloqua is making it easier and less costly to set up their product. This will help them overcome objections from buyers who look at competitors like Marketo and say, “they offered me a free set up service if I buy from them.”

But here’s the bigger picture: the press release looks defensive amid the land-grab happening in the Lead Management Automation space. With new competitors showing up daily – Genius Enterprise being one of the latest offerings to enter the ring – incumbents like Eloqua look for ways to lure new marketers into trying their service and balance on the thin like between demonstrating value and giving it away for free.

With a vast number of companies offering high-consideration products through a direct sales force, one would think the opportunity to sell automation to marketers in those firms would be limitless. Yet vendors fight it out on a daily basis, rather than work to expand the boundaries of the opportunity.

I’m going to look further into the dynamics of this market in research to be published this summer. If you have thoughts on the following questions, feel free to comment on this post:

  • Why is the lead management automation market so slow to take off?  Or why is the competition so fierce when the opportunity seems large?
  • What holds marketers back from investing in lead management automation? What’s soft about the value proposition here?

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