On December 20, 2012, Oracle announced their intent to acquire marketing automation platform (MAP) provider Eloqua for $871 million, which is a 31% premium over the Eloqua share price on the day of the announcement. The deal should be set in stone in the first half of 2013.
Like a lot of early stage companies, Eloqua has a history of losses. In 2011, Eloqua’s revenue increased 40% to $71 million, though the company posted a net loss of $6.2 million, compared with a net loss of $1.5 million in 2010. We’ll see what that number ends up at for 2012.
Quick tangent, it’s a bit crazy to me that this company that brings in millions of dollars of revenue and has a ton of sophisticated technology to enable their clients to make millions of dollars still sells for less than Instagram, a simple app that applies funky filters to photos. Instagram had only nine employees compared to Eloqua’s 250-plus! I know, I know, there are a ton of reasons, but isn’t it a bit weird on the surface?
I digress, but if you haven’t seen this video parody of Instagram by College Humor, check it out. They sum up Instagram pretty well.
What does the Eloqua acquisition mean for marketing?
It means that marketing automation is legit. No one can argue anymore that simply throwing your message out into the world is going to get you the best results. It’s all about delivering the most relevant marketing to your audience, and that goes way beyond just good targeting.
Marketing automation platforms like Eloqua allow you to deliver content in a way that corresponds to peoples’ actions. For example, someone who goes on your website and downloads a product white paper, spends a bunch of time reading about your pricing and then leaves your site should be treated much differently then someone who has come to your site only to check out the careers page.
It’s called implicit criteria. In other words, their actions imply what kind of prospect they are and you can use that information to serve up the most relevant content you have, automatically. Automating the process makes it scalable and increases conversion rates. The big sale of Eloqua is proof that this kind of marketing is only going to get more powerful and more sophisticated.
What does it mean for small business marketing?
For the small business marketers out there, I expect for this technology to start to trickle down to the more affordable level. Right now, a system like Eloqua will cost you thousands per month and you need some serious computer geeks to get it working even close to its potential.
Look out though; it won’t be long until a disruptive company decides to start offering this marketing power in a package that is easier to use with a cheap or free pricetag.
Honestly, I’m surprised Google hasn’t already done it. Their free Google Analytics platform already has the ability to collect all the data you’d need to trigger marketing events based on peoples’ actions on your website. The only piece missing from them is the ability to send a message (via whatever channel) to that person based on their actions.
It’s coming. Believe me. And remember, marketing is all about relevancy no matter if you have it automated or are doing it old school.
What are thoughts on marketing automation and where it’s heading?