Oracle Outlines Vision for Marketing Cloud

It’s no secret that Oracle has been on an acquisition binge. In a space of less than 18 months, it spent billions on content marketing company Compendium, marketing automation company Eloqua, email service provider Responsys, and most recently, data management company BlueKai.

Earlier this week in New York, Oracle president Mark Hurd sketched out how the integration of these new companies will help create Oracle’s new Marketing Cloud product line, although actual specifics were scarce.

Like its competitor Salesforce, Oracle has grasped the shift in IT buying power toward chief marketing officers, and has realized the changes wrought by social media. Consequently, it is reshaping its product lines to accommodate that.

“The lines between IT and marketing are collapsing,” said Hurd to marketers, analysts, and press gathered at The Museum of Arts and Design. “Modern marketers are metrics-driven and use data to make decisions and drive performance. Thus marketing [done well] is going to attract more dollars.”

Kevin Akeroyd, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Marketing Cloud, filled in some of the details on the new product line (while apologizing for the unoriginal product name).

It will focus on:

  • Cross-channel marketing, in which marketers create consistent yet personalized experiences, messages, and promotions across Web, social, mobile, e-mail, or any digital channel.

“Some 78 percent of customers don’t receive a consistent experience across channels. Marketers are not doing a good job of following customers into all channels. We are transactional and campaign oriented,” noted Akeroyd, who included Oracle marketers as among the guilty.

  • Content marketing, allowing companies to plan, produce, and deliver marketing content to customers at each stage of the customer lifecycle to improve customer acquisition and retention.
  • Social marketing, in which companies listen, analyze, and engage with customers on social networks. They can also give loyal customers a platform to promote the brand, as well as listen to customer complaints.

With social media, “the brand has no option to dismiss the customer,” said Akeroyd.

  • Data management, to allow companies to gather and analyze data on customers in order to offer them personalized programs. A single source of customer data will enable the company to predict future customer behavior, according to Oracle.

Discount airline JetBlue as well as cable giant Comcast have both benefited from the piece of the product line provided by email marketing company Responsys, which Oracle bought in December 2013.

Maryssa Miller, director of digital commerce at JetBlue, said the airline realized it wasn’t optimally timing its email offers for customers to upgrade to extra legroom seats. “Now we have automated this to three days before they fly, so we can reach them at the right time,” said Miller.

Comcast is also focusing on sending out fewer but better targeted emails, according to Luci Rainey, vice president of acquisition marketing at Comcast. Previously, the company was “sending out a lot of information that people were not interested in.” With the switch to more targeted offers she said that email open rates had increased by 40 percent.

With the four companies it has acquired, Oracle expects to help companies “unify the right subset of data, activate it, and get it into the cloud,” according to Akeroyd.

Oracle is not the only company to try to quickly acquire expertise in the hot area of cloud marketing. Salesforce has acquired market software company ExactTarget, as well as social media companies Buddy Media and Radian6. But, as one audience member pointed out on Wednesday, any company with fat pockets can acquire technology. Whether these acquisitions are successfully integrated into a unified whole is another question. Will Oracle be able to triumph in its endeavors? Only time will tell.

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