Eloqua yesterday announced plans to integrate popular enterprise social network Chatter into its on-demand marketing automation platform. Though the offering won’t be publicly available until next quarter, I was granted a sneak peek earlier this week.

Two Eloqua executives walked me through a demo of the new offering, dubbed “Chatter inside Eloqua.” This gave me a chance to see how the offering would work in a real marketing scenario.

In short, the new tool forges a stronger collaboration channel between Marketing and Sales. It also extends socialized enterprise value further in an organization. But on a technical level, the upgrade allows Eloqua and Salesforce users to share a single Chatter newsfeed for the first time (if a customer has both systems).

Playing in the Same Sandbox

"Sales and marketing have lacked a common set of tools for managing human collaboration. They've more or less been tossing leads over the wall and hoping they are responded to,” Eloqua Product Marketer Rob Bois told me.

“Chatter breaks down those barriers by immediately providing context to every conversation and eliminating the need for constant emails, chat and calls.”

The expert search function was one of the more useful features I noticed, beyond sharing a conversation stream. In the demonstration, the mock marketer needed a subject matter expert to review a health-related email before sending it to a customer segment, so he typed "?Health" in the search field. Chatter responded with the profiles of individuals who previously worked with health-related campaigns, including the qualifications and success they had (such as “completed 36 email campaigns with that keyword” or “has the highest email open success rate for that term”).

No More Emails

He then contacted the selected expert, Jill Roberts, by simply typing "@JillRoberts" and his message into the Chatter feed. This alerted her with a red “1” on her Chatter badge in the Eloqua dashboard. Imagine the alert icon in Facebook -- the one with the globe, but this one’s a blue and red “C” for Chatter.

Once notified, Jill could then scan the discussion thread for immediate context into the campaign. All without sending one email. She caught a critical issue: "Docs would say patient, not customer,” she replied.

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Access to the right people through Chatter Inside Eloqua

In the alternative life without Chatter, the marketer might have emailed or called a dozen people before finding the source he needed -- or not contacted anyone at all. If he had sent the email to "all customers," it might have resulted in a lower response rate.

The Chatter-Eloqua syncing also automates sharing benchmarks and milestone achievements in the news feed. In the demo scenario, Eloqua posted, "Good News! The Health Care Campaign has achieved a 15% better than average open rate." In response, the marketer commented, just as you might on a link in Facebook, “Thanks @JillRoberts -- I couldn't have done it without you!"

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Keeping track of workflows in Chatter Inside Eloqua

Egan Cheung, Eloqua’s Revenue Performance Analytics Product Manager, said these postings foster employee engagement and recognition. Several large social enterprise app users I interviewed last week cited these values as one of the strongest benefits from Chatter-like platforms in general. In the four years since Deloitte AU implemented their social network, for example, their turnover rate for active users has fallen to two percent annually -- about 10 times less than for employees who don’t use it.

"It's personally really rewarding, especially in a big company, when your boss says ‘great work’ in front of the entire company," Cheung said. In the mock scenario, he demonstrated this point when the CEO posted a snapshot in Chatter that showed how many opportunities were opened as a result of the campaign.

Chatter for Eloqua isn't quite complete. MA users can't form groups like Salesforce Chatter users. But Eloqua is working on it, Cheung told me. The vendor is also developing the ability for users to type @Eloqua in their newsfeed to contact the Eloqua support team.