Tag Archives: marketing automation

Evolving Analytics: Descriptive, Predictive, Prescriptive

Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle: Elena Drozd 

Welcome back to the Makers of Modern Marketing at Oracle! A blog series dedicated to the architects and risk-takers behind marketing at Oracle to give readers a peek into how we are building the future of digital marketing from the inside-out.

This month we had the pleasure of sitting down with Elena Drozd, senior director of data science and advanced analytics, to discuss recent leaps in analytics and where those leaps will lead. Spoiler alert: Predictive analytics is the present — and future — of digital marketing. 

Drozd spends her time at the epicenter of data science and analytics She manages a team of eighteen data scientists and regularly acts as a bridge between their techie, analytical minds and the business side of Oracle. 

Analytics for All

Oracle’s “Analytics for All” philosophy rings particularly true for Drozd, “We should be building tools so that non-analytical professionals can have accessible data to fuel data-driven results.” While Drozd herself may hold a PhD in mathematics, she believes that enabling all employees to have access to clear, comprehensive data will best serve Oracle in this data-driven future. 


“Part of our job is to make you feel comfortable with the data, help non-analytical people use and trust data more.”


As marketers, we know that there is a plethora of data available to us, and most of us are keen to tap into every avenue possible, but how can we handle that data better? Improved visualization has played a major role in enabling data scientists to equip the less tech-minded with key information from the abundance of metrics. 

What used to require detailed, custom-built solutions can now be achieved through adept use of always-on capabilities. “Part of our job is to make you feel comfortable with the data, help non-analytical people use and trust data more,” says Drozd. “And, we’re working to create tools, which will facilitate that.”

Want to be able to walk into the office, and ask for your revenue stats first thing? Or maybe get an update on how that recent campaign is doing? Your voice command assistants Alexa or Siri can do more than read out movie times and the weather. Soon, they will be able to interpret your data for you. 

“I see Oracle Voice Assistant extending its presence into the majority of our applications.” This will be a real leap for Oracle customers, in terms of further enabling their digital transformation and empowering business leaders directly with key data insights. 

Descriptive. Predictive. Prescriptive.

Three words Drozd applies to the past, present, and future of data analytics: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive. Descriptive analytics refers to knowing where your business stands in the industry (Who is your buyer? What are their needs?) and applying that knowledge to your future business models to drive improved results. 

Predictive is what is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. What is your customer going to do next? And how do we anticipate that? Predictive analytics has allowed marketers to create unique segments and personalize communications down to the individual. As companies continue to move from more traditional tactics with their digital transformations, predictive will continue to play a huge role in how marketers and data analysts build business models. 

But what’s next? Drozd believes we stand on the precipice of what she refers to as prescriptive analytics, “the missing piece between data scientists and business leaders: the concept of what action you should take right now when predictive intelligence tells you the most likely outcome in the future.” In fact, recent implementation on machine learning is already turning this phase of analytics into a reality. 

An Argument for Transparency

Despite these developments, computers aren’t forcing data scientists onto the endangered species list. Machine learning can make predictions and helps make sense of the data, but it needs clean data to achieve the most relevant results. Data scientists build the algorithms that identify what is important for a particular use case. However, one size does not fit all when it comes to analytics, so the data scientists and the business side need to work together to construct productive business models.  

Drozd believes that “We need to have a very deep understanding of data and relationships within the data, but also how that relates to the business on a larger scale.” The ability to run analytics using machine learning and predictive models is exhilarating, but without the right knowledge for each use case, it may not be terribly useful at all. Ultimately, applying each of these attributes to your future data analytics program will allow data scientists and marketers to gain the most in-depth view of customers and the market as a whole. 

To gain even further insights, some organizations are employing analytics centers of excellence, which are designed for a specific department and are equipped with experts in that domain. These centers gain very deep solution knowledge by pairing data scientists with domain experts who “know deeper details about what types of problems could occur and can be nimble when designing and implementing that domain”, according to Drozd. Oracle has a well-established team for this exact purpose. 

Mixing Tradition with Innovation

With nearly 13 years at Oracle under her belt, Drozd can offer some insights to future marketers and data analysts who want to see what the field has to offer. Drozd, like many others at Oracle, is a lifelong learner. Her field is constantly shifting, so she suggests that every analytics professional “keep their skills current.”

“We don’t need to approach every problem like a hammer to a nail.”

However, don’t forget the traditional roots of data science either. “We don’t need to approach every problem like a hammer to a nail. Sometimes you can achieve much more with less effort and simpler tools.” Drozd mixes this combination of new and traditional methods into her skillset to provide a well-rounded strategy that appeals across lines of business. 

“I’m one of those people they call a ‘lifer’ at Oracle,” says Drozd of her relationship with the company on a whole. “It’s the deep respect and professionalism; collaborative spirit; cross-team sharing of expertise and knowledge that I love about my team and my time at Oracle.” Plus, the unparalleled technology stack is enough to make any reasonable data scientist drool.  


Adobe Acquires Marketo: Good Things Are Seldom Cheap

Adobe Acquires Marketo: Good Things Are Seldom Cheap

Last week, Adobe Systems Inc. announced it had reached an agreement to acquire leading marketing automation firm Marketo from Vista Equity Partners for $4.75 billion. This marks the second time this year that Adobe has made a major play at expanding its dominant grip around the digital marketing space.

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Marketing in the Age of the Connected Customer Experience – 3 Questions Marketers Must Answer

1. Every vendor claims to provide a data-driven marketing solution. What’s changed in the marketing landscape, and how can you stay competitive? 

Within the last decade, marketing has evolved to become one of the most data-driven professions anywhere. Savvy marketers are championing rich data as the foundation to executing personalization at scale. Personalizing the customer experience is the key to delivering higher ROI from your marketing investments, and building lasting relationships with your customers. So, with the need for scalable personalization, and with a dynamic marketplace, what would be the best strategy for building the most useful and competitive marketing automation solution?  

The key starting point to building great, data-driven marketing campaigns is having access to the right data to understand and target your customers. A Data Management Platform (DMP) is one of the first pieces to consider adding to your toolkit. DMPs provide the means to conduct audience targeting and data unification, while simultaneously delivering audience insights and analytics. 91% of marketers have or plan to adopt a DMP to enable a unified view of the customer

However, marketers shouldn’t stop there. They also need data strategies that transcend data silos and connect online, offline, 1st, 2ndand 3rdparty data to accurately select their audiences. Bringing all this data together is a big challenge. Oracle is leading the way to solving these issues through its acquisitions and integrations of DataLogix, BlueKai, and Moat. The Oracle Data Cloud makes it possible for marketers to leverage Oracle’s comprehensive data strategy in order to deliver personalization at scale to their customers. While many other companies offer DMP capabilities, it’s important to know how complete their views of the customer really are. A limited view of customer data only enables limited personalization. Several DMP solutions in the market focus on only online data and lack data ownership capabilities, providing a partial and often inconsistent view of the customer. 

Marketing leaders will benefit greatly by investing in a comprehensive data strategy.  Building marketing campaigns that include segmentation, targeting and customer analytics effectively enable a rich, singular view of the customer through data, helping to deliver the highly personalized customer experiences demanded by today’s consumers.

2. Customer journeys have changed. They are now infinitely unpredictable. Since marketing solutions need to manage the entire customer journey, what is mission critical, and how can I get this right? 

Customers switch channels effortlessly as they skip around sites and devices, double back and pause – each person taking their own unique path to purchase. Accenture revealed that 78% of customers receive a fragmented experience as they move from channel-to-channel. Among the biggest culprits are marketing technologies that specialize on providing a great experience on one channel, but fail to deliver that same high-quality experience across other channels of engagement. To address this challenge head-on, marketers need to leverage cross-channel orchestration tools that manage customer interactions across multiple channels such as email, SMS, MMS, push notification, in-app messages, display ads, web and mobile web campaigns. Only with the right tools can a marketer deliver the richest, most personalized experience across the widest variety of engagement channels. 

Picking the right vendor to enable high-quality and consistent cross-channel engagement requires examining several factors:

  • Is cross-channel orchestration a key strength of the vendor? 
  • Can the vendor continue to support your growth as you scale your campaigns? 
  • Does their product roadmap continue to invest in cross-channel orchestration as a key capability? 
  • Does the vendor have a reputation for supporting customers and working with them closely to strategize and solve problems?


Oracle Responsys has long been recognized as a leader in the market for cross-channel orchestration tools. It has a history of innovation and a roadmap looking towards the future to stay ahead of the need to reach customers with highly personalized interactions at scale across the important channels of engagement. Aside from a history of producing great technologies, Responsys also has the service and support to ensure you are successful in building winning customer engagements that serve your customer with the right answer on any device, any time and every time. 

3. Is your organization prepared for the expanding role of the CMO? 

Traditionally, CMOs have primarily been tasked with brand-building as their key metric of success. But today, that picture has changed as more than 70% of CEOs now hold CMOs accountable for top line revenue growth.

For CMOs to keep their job, they must think more broadly about customer acquisition, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and increase the lifetime value of each and every customer. Putting the customer at the center of the marketing focus and building superior end-to-end customer experiences is now a table stakes requirement for being a successful CMO.

The good news, according to Gartner, is that the CMO is well positioned and uniquely qualified to own and drive strategy around the customer experience. The marketer has the holistic purview of the brand-to-consumer, and brand-to-prospect relationship, more so than anyone else in the organization. Building high-quality customer experiences is the new marketing currency to win and retain customers.

In this never-ending challenge to own and improve the customer experience, marketing, and other business units must adapt their processes, practices, and technology to connect marketing, sales, services and loyalty programs. 

Oracle’s Customer Experience platform is a trusted partner in helping organizations deliver a seamless, high-quality, experience for every customer as they move on their journey from a prospect to a customer to a vocal supporter. In business transformation, customer experience is the new battlefront. Does your company have the right weapons?

Deliver a seamless customer experience across a multichannel landscape with our helpful guides.


Why do Marketers Switch Marketing Automation Solutions?

(It’s Because Their Needs Outgrow System Capabilities)

When speaking with leading enterprise marketers who chose to re-platform, many expressed the need to change their marketing automation system due to issues with vendor support, price, performance, scalability and sometimes their own ability (or inability) to work with IT. Looking at the underlying issues we found, you can see several factors with the following anonymized quotes which led to the decision to switch:

  • “The business grew ten-fold in the last few years and the volume of customer interactions grew even more. A new marketing system was needed that could scale with the business.”
  • “Once the volume of customer interactions increased, the prior system started to have slow performance. For example, when analyzing huge data sets, queries could take a long time. Marketers don’t want to sacrifice system performance for scale.”
  • “The system reached its limits to deliver more complex or higher scale campaigns. Many vendors have solutions which are perfectly suited for small to medium-sized organizations. But when marketing demands grow to be enterprise-class, their systems failed to keep up with our needs.”

Switching to a new marketing automation solution can be a sizable commitment of money and effort. Many marketers feel reluctant to invest in an enterprise-class solution for fear of paying for features they don’t believe they currently need. However, with today’s cloud solutions and consumption-based pricing, marketers need only pay for the features they use, making it easier for marketers to justify an upgrade in technology and purchase solutions which can scale with their needs.

Bait-and-switch Features

Marketers who moved to Oracle Marketing Cloud solutions from other systems, often complain that their previous vendor did not deliver the features and functionality that was initially shown in the sales demo or disclosed in the RFP. Some marketing vendors offer alternate versions (on-premise and cloud) of their marketing automation software with varying capabilities.  

Frequently a sales team will present the best features and capabilities that exist across both versions. After the purchase, the marketers are left with partial solutions which they felt could do one thing but lack many of the features of what they really need to be successful. Be careful of these bait and switch tactics and only buy from a trusted vendor who can deliver on their promises set in the sales cycle. 

Hidden Fees

Hidden fees are usually the talk of the town in the cell-phone industry.  So, we were really surprised to hear of customers encountering hidden fees after purchasing a marketing automation solution. 

Some marketers found that after purchasing a new solution, key features they require to be successful actually cost extra. These fees can add up and in many cases can justify the expenditure of switching to a new vendor just to avoid the long-term costs. 

At Oracle Marketing Cloud, with our one price model, we have made the purchasing decision for marketing clients even easier, by providing simpler, flexible and transparent prices. To learn more, click here

Personalization at Scale for B2C Companies

It’s become common knowledge among marketers that personalized marketing provides higher ROI and directly benefits consumers in the form of better engagement and more personal brand relationships. Therefore, smart marketers are constantly investing and pushing to make their marketing more personalized. Yet, these same seemingly smart marketers are making a dumb mistake – forgetting to focus on the underlying fundamentals which are the key enablers of good marketing personalization.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Mark Ariker et al. described the importance of integrating three key factors to developing a learning ecosystem for high quality, scalable personalization. They called this the 3Ds – data discoverydecision making, and content distribution. These three must be integrated to deliver on the promise of personalization.  This practical approach is how the Oracle Marketing Cloud helps to bring these capabilities together. 

The 3D Approach to Personalization at Scale 

  1. Data Discovery covers the process of “sourcing and combining traditional and behavioral data to uncover meaningful insights about customers.” Data discovery is often underutilized due to how challenging it can be to coax meaningful insights from a wide range of disparate data. Oracle’s Data Management Cloud uses the Oracle ID Graph to unify data across multiple online and offline channels to easily develop a singular and holistic view of the customer. 

  1. Decision Making can be automated with AI as long as there is a source of high-quality data and the advanced analytic capabilities to recognize and utilize patterns, behaviors, and preferences. Oracle built its reputation on providing easy access to the highest quality data. Oracle’s Data Management Cloud, in conjunction with the analytical models from the Oracle Responsys platform, provides marketers with the data and analytics needed to scale up and deliver high-quality personalization. 

  1. Content Distribution is the next concern for a marketer once you’ve sourced the scalable data and powerful analytics required for personalization.  Today, content distribution seems to be only about getting the right piece of content to the right person. Yet this is insufficient to live up to the expectations of today’s consumer. In addition to the right content to the right person, distribution capabilities must also include delivery on the right channel and at the right time. With Responsys’s advanced content distribution capabilities, marketers can create hyper-targeted, consumer-centric, digital orchestrations for any consumer across any device in real-time. 

Marketers are facing real challenges today in scaling up their personalization, delivering better, richer experiences for their customers while creating higher ROI for themselves. The 3D framework provided by the HBRcan provide a useful approach to understanding how to tackle the key areas which may be limiting your ability to scale personalization today. Oracle’s solutions can help in each of these critical path areas, providing better data inputs, more advanced and automated decision making, and seamless engagement across channels. 

To find out how Oracle Responsys can deliver the right experience for you, click here.

How to Create Emails Your Customers Look Forward to Opening

How to Create Emails Your Customers Look Forward to Opening

In 1978, a marketer at Digital Equipment Corp. sent a mass email to nearly 400 recipients on ARPANET, a precursor to the internet. The email promoted a new computer model, and like that, email marketing was born. But it was far from perfect: Complaints came in almost immediately and

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4 Things To Look For In A Marketing Automation Platform

I've spent a lot of time lately with CEOs, CMOs, and other marketing professionals. During those conversations, it became clear that a marketer’s role in the company has shifted in the last few years. For the first time, marketers are being held accountable for revenue targets as their top most priority. And that is different. Two years ago, if you asked CMOs, they would have said brand building was the number one target, and revenue was somewhere in the middle.

This is a pretty big shift. Today, you’re responsible for acquiring customers, engaging those customers, increasing lifetime value, and decreasing churn. This shift is due to a couple of changes. First, all of our customers are facing increased competition from companies where marketing is at the core of the company. These companies often have “growth hackers” whose job is to help with acquisition, activation, retention. To compete with these new age companies requires a different mindset, different tools, people, and investment. Secondly, the customers are changing, and they are expecting you to know them better and provide more relevant and contextual interactions.

To meet those expectations, we have to change, too. In 2008, there was a sea change for ad:tech. For the first time, ad spending was measured on performance – the increase in top and bottom line – not some vague estimated brand exposure. I think 2018 is going to be that year for martech. Those of us in marketing are going to be held more and more responsible for measurable goals.

To adapt to this change, there are four key components you should ensure your marketing automation platform provides:

A Laser Focus on Data

According to a recent CMO Council study, just 51 percent of marketers said a single customer view was both realistic and attainable for their organization – but not without new tools and talent. Are you in the 51 percent who are looking to up their game?

In 2018, we have to live and breathe data. Why? Because it is the fabric of modern marketing. By employing the right data sources (e.g. demographics, web behavior, purchase or billing data, interests, etc.), you can better understand your customers and build more precise targeting capabilities. You’ll be able to apply the insights for 1:1 marketing – creating and deploying highly personalized conversations with your customers in real time.

This sounds hard doesn’t it? It’s not. You don’t have to learn science. You don't need to do math. You don't have to learn statistical methodologies. Today’s intuitive tools allow you to merge your propriety customer data with second- and third-party data for orchestrated campaigns in real time – without a PhD in rocket science.

Here’s an example of what you can do: Imagine that I'm a marketer at an insurance company. I’m looking for the best target audience for a new insurance product we're about to offer. In the past, I might have written some crazy sequel queries. But I don't have to do that anymore. Today’s tools provide a beautiful graphical interface that anyone can use to create those segments on the fly.

Access to Rich Customer Insights

Having the data isn’t enough. To succeed in this new continuum, you need a marketing automation platform that helps you distill information about your customers to understand their buying journey.

Most marketers still can’t see and act on incremental steps in the customer journey (i.e. from interaction with display ads to clicking through an email offer to web page engagement) in real time. In fact, according to CMO Council research, only 7 percent of marketers can deliver real-time, data-driven customer experiences all of the time.

data-driven marketing

Source: Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy Report. CMO Council 2017

But you can.

Look for a solution that tracks 100 percent of your customers and prospects across 100 percent of events in real time. This will help you understand your customer and prospect’s intent based on their activities across channels.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: Imagine that the same insurance company I talked about before is creating a highly targeted, personalized email to speak to the needs of new restaurant owners. Jill, one of the new restaurant owners in our targeted list, receives that offer. She clicks on the call-to-action link, and it directs her to a personalized landing page. The link is tagged with Jill's profile ID, so that we can track her activity.

As is sometimes the case, Jill isn’t interested right away in making a purchase or speaking to an agent. She needs more research to understand the best insurance for her business. Up until now, marketing automation solutions only had visibility into what happens between the initial email click and that final form submission.

This is where the new capabilities come into play. With integrated next-generation solutions, you can capture and act on behavior as its happening. You can do more than look at aggregate behavior (i.e. as in how many visitors came to the page). Now, you can analyze the behaviors of each and every customer or prospect, including all activities pre-sale (i.e. correct size, wrong color) to send browse recovery messaging when the item is back in stock or promote complementary items. You can see and act on all post-sale activity, all cart activities (i.e. add, remove, view and purchase), and all rich media activity (i.e. play, pause, fast-forward). In. Real. Time.

Artificial Intelligence to Fuel Real Omnichannel Experiences

For a long time, we’ve had channels in a silo. SMS, push notifications, email, social media, display ads – they were all managed by point solutions. It’s a pain point we can all agree on. But that can’t continue in the omnichannel world your customers and prospects operate in. You have to be able to orchestrate an omnichannel experience that motivates the consumer in the channel that is most comfortable for them.

Advanced marketing automation solutions, powered by artificial intelligence, will even identify the most relevant channel for you.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: A marketing campaign is set up for cold-brew coffee line by one of our famous customers running a national coffee chain. They want to be able to reach customers via any channel that optimizes the chance for the customer to see, open, and interact with the content. That campaign is set up to allow Responsys to determine whether the user should be reached via email or push notification to customers that have installed the App on their mobile phones. Responsys determines that it should sent out emails to 102 Million customers on their contact list, and use interactive push notification through the App for 44 Million users. Also the customer let Responsys’ Send Time Optimizer algorithm determine what time to send the emails and push notifications for each customer. The results are stunning, driving 37% higher ROI.

Integration, Extensions & Partnerships = Extensibility

The fourth element you should look for in a marketing automation platform is integration. Are all products in the portfolio tightly integrated? Or is it a hodgepodge of acquisitions and add-on features?

Why? The reason is simple: There is no one-size-fits-all platform. No matter how many resources the vendor has, they can’t build a quality solution that fits every need, is fully supported, and grows quickly to meet future needs.

Look for a solution provider that boasts a deep partner bench and has an open and flexible API to allow for integrations with their products. This will allow you to extend the capabilities of the platform without having to wait on us to add new capabilities.

The Sum of All the Parts

You have marketing goals. To meet those goals, you need a modern marketing automation platform from a provider that is solution focused not product focused. You need an integrated, extensible solution that helps break down your own silos and provide a seamless, personalized experience for your customers and prospects. You can do more with less – and get more bang for your buck!

Want to move your organization toward modern marketing? Need help with setting and delivering on those goals? Reach out to us - we can help.