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7 Posts authored by: Sterling Bailey-Oracle

This is a blog post that I started months ago but recent events have made me want to finish it and post it in the hopes of spreading awareness and hopefully starting some fun dialog.

There have been dozens of threads on Topliners touching the issue of hiring marketing automation gurus.  But today we’re talking about unicorns.


Here’s the scenario I see on a regular basis. An employer shares a job posting with me and I look it over to find that the list of requirements is a mile long and among them are things like this:



  • More than 7 years managing Eloqua platform
  • Eloqua Masters Certification required
  • Eloqua Luminary Certification required
  • Must be physically located in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Fluent in HTML, JavaScript, CSS & XML
  • Minimum 5 years of experience developing  for API protocols including REST & SOAP
  • Expert at data architecture, data cleansing and integration
  • Minimum 5 years administering SFDC or Oracle CRM
  • Expert at modern marketing best practices and intimate with the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall and related principals


When I see these posts I tend to shake my head and think, oh great. Another unicorn hunt.


The first problem we might notice in postings like this is the fact that it bridges two if not three completely separate and very different job roles. To explain, let me ask you. How lucky do you think you’d need to be to find someone who can code REST API integrations in their sleep while quoting SiriusDecisions best practices, while being able to design and implement an effective data architecture plan for sales and marketing? Then, let’s add the fact that this person must live in Pittsburgh. Tell you what, if you find someone like this and are able to hire them, you might want to go out and buy a lottery ticket.


The truth is, there are only a few people on the entire planet who could satisfy all of these requirements. Only one I can think of at the top of my head actually and his name is Ryan Schwartz. Unfortunately for perspective employers, I’m sorry to say that you probably can’t afford him and Megan Eisenberg will never let him go.  ;-)


Now, even if you remove few of the requirements you’re still sitting on a profile that very, very few people will be able to meet. I like to call the people who fit this profile unicorns. That’s not to say that they don’t exist, but that your chances of snagging one are so slim, they might as well be a myth.


What tends to make matters worse with some of these postings is that these employers are asking for the world, and in return, they’re offering a very meager compensation package. I’ve seen a few of these that were only offering $45k a year. In those instances, it takes a great deal of self-control not to laugh aloud at the people posting the position.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not beating up on (or making fun of) the employers here. I get it. I’ve been there. They have a mile-long list of deliverables and a set budget that they’ve got to meet and they believe that if they hire the right person, they’ll get there.


The problem is that most of these employers don’t realize how incredibly rare these unicorns are and they don’t realize how fierce the competition is in finding these people. So, let’s break this down really quickly.


If we were to drop a few of the job requirements (such as API development, Luminary certification and SiriusD expertise) and just look at trying to find an expert rock star in marketing automation. We’ve still got a massive challenge on our hands. I would estimate that there’s no more than 200 people on the entire planet who will fit this rock-star role.


The main problem we’ll run across is the fact that almost none of these people are looking for a job. And if they are open for opportunities, few of them will ever actually go on the market. All they need to do is let slip to the right people that they’re looking, and bam! They have a job offer inside a month. Applications, resumes and interviews are after-thoughts.


Employers must realize also that it’s not just other companies who are building out their MA teams that they have to compete with for this small talent pool. Marketing automation is in a massive growth spurt. It’s unprecedented. More and more companies are moving to MA than ever before and the majority don’t have the staff or expertise to launch their projects. Therefore, they rely on services & implementation vendors to do it for them. These vendors are certified Eloqua implementation gurus such as Relationship One or Deloitte, Accenture (just to name a few). There are dozens and dozens of them out there and in order to keep up with the explosive demand from their customers, they have to nab these MA experts like expert snipers.


So what’s a company to do?


If they’re determined to go out and snipe one of these unicorns, there are a few options. First, they’ll need to be flexible on a few things. Most notably, they’ll need to be flexible on location. Unless the employer is located in the bay area, or other high-tech major metropolitan local, the chances of them finding a unicorn who already lives within commuting distance of their office is going to be pretty slim. My first suggestion would be to allow this person to work remotely or at a remote office (if the employer is a large corporation with offices all over the place) location. This will dramatically improve the chances to snag one of these unicorns.


If the employer is obstinate about the unicorn working in their home office in Pittsburgh (for example), they need to be prepared to pay for a full relocation package. And I would add that if the office is in a slightly less desirable location (we’re comparing Pittsburgh to San Francisco here), the employer should also look at some sort of signing bonus.


Which leads into part B of this first step and that’s compensation. Keeping in mind that this is most certainly a seller’s market and that these people can seriously pick wherever they want to work, employers had better be prepared to pay a very competitive salary. Employers must also come to terms with reality in that if they only have a headcount budget of say, $60k, they likely can’t afford a unicorn. Again, these unicorns are so rare, so valuable (in that they can improve your marketing efforts to the tune of millions of dollars in revenue) and such a hot commodity, if employers aren’t offering an extremely competitive salary, they should start looking at my second option below.


Option 2: Grow a unicorn!


How do you think the existing unicorns came into existence? As much as we’d like to believe it, they aren’t created when a fairy taps her magic want on the head of a random marketer while walking down the street. When you look at the resumes of the existing unicorns out there, there’s one thing they all seem to have in common. At one point or another, they spent time as a developer (or other highly technical role) of some sort.


Growing one is actually pretty simple. Here's what you do: Hire a web developer with a good head on their shoulders and who is passionate about learning new things. Why a web developer? Not only because they’ll find email, form and landing page creation to be an absolute breeze, they’ll pick up concepts such as lead scoring, CRM integration & data cleansing in short order. There are several reasons that developers are such fast learners when it comes to marketing automation. They are experts at analytical thinking, problem solving and creativity because they’ve had to spend countless hours debugging code and web application architecture. They also, having built many applications similar to the MA platform itself, can easily understand how the platform should work and why.


So, go find (or recruit internally if possible) a good web developer who’s ready for something now and eager to learn. If you need some bargaining material to get them to come over to the dark side, you can let them know that marketing is a lot more fun than IT. The budgets are bigger, you get to travel to cool places and let’s face it, marketers are a lot more fun to be around.


Once you’ve found someone and brought them over, enroll them in all the trainings. From an Eloqua perspective, get them their Masters certification ASAP. Get them connected on Topliners. Sign them up to attend local user group meetings and most certainly Modern Marketing Experience where they can meet other unicorns who are generally presenters.


Do all of this and in less than a year, you can have a unicorn on your hands. Understanding that they'll be contributing from day one because with minimal training they can be creating your emails and landing pages. The overall plan is not necessarily easy or quick, but it does work. The largest objection I tend to hear about this approach is that the employers need someone yesterday. In response to this, I tell them that if they absolutely can't go with option 2, they'll need to go with option 1, which means that they're going to need to be prepared to pay, since this option is generally the more expensive one. I also like to remind them that while they're growing their unicorn, they can lean on these implementation partners to do some of the heavy lifting.


The last thing I’ll mention here is that once you have grown (or if you were lucky enough to recruit) your unicorn. You had better treat them right. Make sure their compensation is appropriate but most importantly, make sure they’re loving their job. I’ve seen many unicorns stay right where they are even though they’re being offered more money elsewhere, just because they love their job. But the moment they feel unappreciated or they're just not enjoying their job, they'll raise their hand and someone will scoop them up.


Now, let’s have some dialog. Has anyone used the grow approach? Has anyone found success sniping existing unicorns? Did you have difficulty with locations?



Update: In response to this article, a few have made a great point in saying that the unicorn you're growing doesn't have to be a web developer and they're right. You can grow a unicorn out of people from many other areas within marketing or IT. You'll just need to make sure they have a keen, analytical, problem-solving mindset and ensure they're a fast learner who hungers to learn more. Since we're talking about email, mobile and web technologies here, this person will need to be a tech wiz. Even if they're currently in a non-technical role, if they're undaunted by new technologies and quick to figure things out, i.e., the person who usually steps in to show co-workers how to do things on their phones/tablets/pcs, they're likely a good candidate for growing into a unicorn.

Hey guys,


This is probaly old-hat for most of you but in case you're new to Eloqua or Eloqua Insight, I put this video together for our global demand center team members and thought some of the Topliners community might benefit. Anyway, the video covers how to set up automated campaign reporting out of insight to go out to your team members immediately after activating your campaign. Lemme know if it's helpful.


Hey guys, I put together a little tutorial video that explains a hack that I use to select (for the purposes of copy/paste) text in Eloqua that is generally unselectable. You may have found that some places/elements in Eloqua, the text cant be selected. This becomes a bit annoying when you really need to copy that text to your clipboard in order to paste it into an email or within a search box in Eloqua or anywhere else for that matter.


The example in my video (campaign name on an active campaign) isn't the best example because you can get to it another way (through settings) but a better example might be when you need to email someone the exact name (copied, not typed) of an Eloqua template. Like many elements throughout Eloqua, you can't select the text and therefore can't copy it.


This is where the Firefox add-on called firebug comes very handy. Anyway, check out the video and let me know if it's helpful.



By the way, this vid was done with Snagit  :-)

Had an absolutely amazing time at #OOW13 and got the opportunity to hang with some of my favorite people at the Modern Marketing Mixer. stevewoods heatherfoeh and pteshima agreed to pose for a quick photo and I thought I'd share it with you all.  


This event gave yet another chance for me to see what incredible people these guys are. It's absolutely no wonder Eloqua was such a Success with leaders like these guys. The super encouraging thing is that behind these leaders, there are a host of amazing Feloquans in Toronto, Austin, San Fran and all over the world who are pushing the envelope everyday for Oracle Cloud.


See y'all at #EE13!


Just a quick post to talk about something we recently did in our Eloqua instance around page tagging. It's kind of one of those palm-to-forehead moments for us Eloqua geeks here at baby-doh.jpgMcAfee since such a simple thing solved such a time consuming problem.


Here's the scenario: we use page tags in Eloqua to identify high-value-assets/pages on our web site so that we can then use those tags in a filter in our lead scoring program. The problem is that every time a new high-value asset or page emerged on our site, we had to manually go in and add that page or asset to our high-value asset page tag.


If you've ever had to do this, You know that it's a huge pain because for some reason, (probably a great reason) Eloqua catalogs every permutation (misspellings & typos) of nearly every folder on our site and thus it can take a good while to finally find the page or file you need to add.


I got to thinking This is marketing automation! There's got to be an automated way to do this! And of course, Eloqua being as awesome as they are, there is. It's called Auto-Tagging Rules. Here's the Topliners article on how it works: The specified item was not found.


Also, ashok.kumar has a good breakdown in this thread on how they work: Creating Page Tag with Auto Tagging Rule


I initially couldn't quite figure it out because I was trying to automatically add pages to a tag that we had already created, years ago. Then I realized, that the Auto-Tagging Rule would simply create a new page tag and all I had to do after creating and running the rule, was to add the new page tag to our high-value asst/page filter from our lead scoring program and voila! It works.


Now all visits to this folder (in this instance the white-papers folder) will be counted as a visit to a high-value asset and the visitor will get the corresponding points in lead scoring. The best part (and really the whole reason for this work) of course is that now when we get new white papers dropped into that folder by the web team, Eloqua will automatically add that paper to the new white-papers page tag and I don't have to lift a finger.


Guess that's why it's called marketing automation. Love it!



I'm still chuckling about this email I received. I guess it falls along the philosophy: "If you don't have anything nice to say about yourself, say something bad about your competition." It's pretty funny and actually pretty sad. Not much of this email's content touts the benefits of their solution or how their solution will make my life so much easier. They seem to focus entirely on negatives about the competition. Check it out:

6-6-2013 10-50-35 AM.jpg


This tact could be successful. Of course, targeting one of your competition's top/current advocates might not be the best approach. I don't know. What do you think?



You may be familiar with the old Eloqua redirect URL prefix:


There has been a bit of confusion around this item in my company so I thought I'd share this with the community. Please let me know if I have anything wrong in here so I can update it and be better educated on the subject.


Understanding this URL prefix and it's purpose will help to explain when you should and should not use it.


The purpose of this URL prefix is to add the ability to track a users visit (via Eloqua) to an item on a 3rd party web site (meaning not on Eloqua's servers) that does not contain Eloqua tracking code. To  further explain this, here's a brief look at how Eloqua tracking works. When a visitor views a page on, there is Eloqua tracking code on that page that communicates back with our Eloqua instance to tell it that the person visited the page. We can make this happen since we own and have the ability to add the Eloqua tracking code to each of the pages. This provides us with a clear view of where the visitor goes and what pages they view. (this really helps with prospect profiler and lead scoring)


But wait, what if the visitor goes to a PDF? There's no way to add the Eloqua tracking code to a PDF. Or what if they click one of our links that goes to a 3rd party web site that  does not contain our Eloqua tracking code? What then? How will we track where the user goes?


Well, if the link they are clicking is within one of our Eloqua emails, no worries. You would just check the Insert as Redirect Link checkbox in the Insert/Edit Hyperlink dialog box for your email link:


9-19-2012 4-16-44 PM.png


Well, that's all fine and good for emails. But what about Landing pages? Well, that's where the Eloqua redirect prefix comes in.


Now before you go crazy adding the Eloqua redirect to all of your links, please try not to use it where it's not needed. Remember, if your link points to a page on, you don't need this redirect because there's already tracking code on those pages. Also, if the link points to ANY file that is hosted by Eloqua - landing page, PDF or whatever, you do not need this redirect. Eloqua is well aware and can provide tracking for a visitor hitting any assets within it's own domain.


Also, remember that you don't need (and should not use) the redirect in your Eloqua emails. There's already a facility for that which we've discussed above. Using the redirect link in your emails will render the visual click through map on your emails useless.


Okay, off my soap box. 


So, landing pages. If you have a link in your landing page that points to a non-html file on or any file on a site we do not control and you want to have our Eloqua instance track the visit to that page or asset, this is where you will pre-pend your link with the Eloqua redirect URL. Here's the format of the link:


Now, can you spot what looks like an error in this URL? Hint: ?


If you guessed that we have two question marks in this URL and "That's just wrong", kudos to you. Because in almost all cases you would be correct. Just not this one.


You will still maintain the rule (the first parameter indicated by a ? and all others using the &) for query string parameters in your URL, but it does not apply to the Eloqua redirect prefix. The reason being that Eloqua knows that with this redirect, it's only looking for one parameter (your URL) that comes after the first question mark.


So, just remember to use the normal rules for your URL because once Eloqua sends the visitor on to your URL after tracking the visit, you'll need to have a properly formatted URL for the visitor to go to.


Whew! That's a lot of stuff so let's sum up with some Dos and Don'ts:


  • Don't use the Eloqua redirect prefix URL for:
    • Links in Emails
    • Links on landing pages that go to pages on
    • Links on landing pages that go to anything hosted on Eloqua's severs

  • Do use the Eloqua redirect prefix URL for:
    • Links on landing pages that go to non-html files on (such as PDFs or EXEs)
    • Links on landing pages that go to any page or asset on a 3rd party website that does not contain our Eloqua code (such as Gartner)


That sums it all up. Please comment below with questions, comments or concerns.


- Sterling

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