Oracle Eloqua is a robust tool for orchestrating your digital marketing activities. The power of the platform is amplified when you have it integrated with CRM data. Sales data is able to influence marketing decisions, and marketing data helps the sales team do their jobs better.
This might seem like a no-brainer, right? Of course you want your CRM and marketing automation platforms integrated! Normally, yes, but it’s not always that simple. Maybe you have some business reasons why you don’t want to integrate. Maybe you don’t have a standard integration so it’s not a simple click to make the two talk. Maybe you can’t get approval. Maybe you are brand new to Oracle Eloqua and you don’t know what integration looks like. Companies have many good reasons for not integrating their CRM and marketing automation platforms. As you think about integrating Oracle Eloqua with a CRM, consider these five things:
1. Bi-directional vs. Uni-directional
How do you want your data to flow? Typically, we recommend a full bi-directional integration. This allows both platforms to have the data that’s helpful for each platform’s users to see and use. For example, marketers may want to see opportunity data in Oracle Eloqua to be able to send a welcome campaign to contacts associated with deals that have closed recently, or to exclude contacts related to lost opportunities. Or, more simply, a contact’s first name gets updated in CRM and Oracle Eloqua should be aware of that updated data. Or, on the flip side, CRM users (sales) want to have visibility of the new leads and engagement activity that marketing is generating from all of that great nurturing.
But, sometimes a bi-directional integration isn’t possible. You might have corporate policies that prohibit Oracle Eloqua from writing to your CRM. You might have spent a lot of time cleaning up your marketing data, and since you know your CRM data is very messy, you don’t want to pollute the work you’ve done by allowing your CRM to write to Oracle Eloqua. Whatever the reason, Oracle Eloqua is flexible to enough to accommodate a uni-directional integration. What we see most often for uni-directional integrations is CRM writing data to Oracle Eloqua, but not the converse. We do have some clients who push from Oracle Eloqua to CRM only, though. Either way, Oracle Eloqua is designed to give you the flexibility you need for your integration needs. If those business needs change down the road, it’s not terribly complicated to switch things up.
2. Standard Integration
Oracle Eloqua has prebuilt connections into Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics (on premise or cloud versions), Oracle Sales Cloud, and Oracle CRM On Demand. These connection points are built into the Oracle Eloqua platform. They are the easiest CRM integrations to do. There are nuances between the various platforms, but they are all generally the same.
You create Auto Synchs and External Calls between Oracle Eloqua and your CRM to update Lead, Contact, Account and Custom Object records. Since the connection is apart of the Oracle Eloqua platform, the ability to efficiently link the two systems is pretty straightforward. You might need a little help from someone who has done it before. Customers typically work with partners like us to ensure their integration is done accurately and tested thoroughly.
The nice thing about a standard integration with Oracle Eloqua is flexibility. You choose the objects and fields that should and shouldn’t talk to each other, what data trumps what, and at what frequency the talking should occur. Not all marketing automation platforms give you this level of control around what data you’re pushing between systems. For more on that topic, see this document.
3. Non-standard Integration
This is where things can be tricky. What if you don’t have one of the CRMs from the standard list above? What if you want to put data from a homegrown database into Oracle Eloqua? What if you want to combine data from multiple data sources within Oracle Eloqua? Are you up a creek?
Fortunately, you’re not! Oracle Eloqua is flexible enough to handle any of these scenarios. You’ve got options.
Option #1 – Flat File Transfer
The simplest way to do an integration with a non-standard system is to set up a scheduled data export in the form of a .csv file that is pushed out to an SFTP server. Within Oracle Eloqua, you configure an External Call to grab the file and bring the data into the system. And on the flip side, Oracle Eloqua data can be pushed out to an SFTP in the same manner to be ingested by your CRM.
There are limitations with this method. You may not be able to automate a file export from your non-standard system. Or, you may be limited to exporting the data to once per day. But, having data that’s a day old is better than no data at all. For some, this might be all you need to get some sort of integration going when you have non-standard systems.
Option #2 – Use an ETL Tool to Create the Linkage
When you need to go beyond the simple flat file transfer, using an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool to link up systems is a great option. By going this route, you open up the possibility of linking multiple data sources into Oracle Eloqua, create bi-directional syncs, do data transformation before the data gets loaded and create dramatically improved sync times. This method will require a technical resource to help get everything set up, but you’ll get maximum flexibility. If you determine that you need to add additional data sources down the road, you can always expand the integration without having to start over from scratch.
Where do you want your marketing data to go? Which sales representative should get which lead? What engagement activities should be shared with sales and how will they use it? These are just some of the many questions to address when you start thinking about how to route data between the systems.
Oracle Eloqua gives you the flexibility to devise any amount of complexity with how data is routed, scored, triggered, and housed within CRM and Oracle Eloqua. It just needs to be talked through.
5. There’s Always List Uploads
At the end of the day, if you can’t find a way to do any sort of integration with CRM, there’s always straight up list uploads. It’s not automated and not complex at all, but it gets the job done. If this is where you’re at, don’t worry. Start there with a goal of moving to more complexity. Give yourself a goal (ex: move to a flat file import by the end of the year) and make a plan for how you will move the organization to this point. Own it and champion the cause. The deeper the integration with CRM you can pull off, the better your marketing efforts will become.
As an Oracle Eloqua customer for numerous years and now overseeing Relationship One’s consulting services on the platform, I’ve seen the gamut of integration projects. Each one has to be treated uniquely, as ultimately they should be set up based on the business’ need. If you have questions about a specific CRM or database you’re currently integrated with or thinking about integrating with, give me a shout via the comments option below or contact us at Relationship One.