by Tara Swords
Founded in 1856, Western Union is a brand recognized around the world. For much of the nineteenth century, that recognition came from the company’s preeminence as a provider of telegraph service. In the twentieth century, the world knew Western Union for its consumer-to-consumer money transfer service—a space in which the company remains a leader, processing 31 transactions every second in 2015. And when the twenty-first century rolled around, Western Union’s leaders lost no time in preparing for their next evolution.
Headquarters: Englewood, Colorado
Industry: Financial services
Revenue: US$5.5 billion in 2015
Oracle products: Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Eloqua solutions, Oracle BlueKai solutions, Oracle Content Marketing Cloud Service, Oracle Financials, Oracle Business Intelligence solutions
Chief Marketing Officer
Length of tenure: 10 years
Education: MBA, Loyola University Chicago
In 2009, those leaders broadened the company’s focus to include the B2B market when they acquired Custom House, an international foreign exchange (FX) company. Two years later, Western Union acquired Travelex, another global player. The resulting business unit rebranded as Western Union Business Solutions (WUBS).
Nick Cerise, Chief Marketing Officer, Western Union Business Solutions
In Western Union Business Solutions, Western Union has developed an FX services and payments company “that has global scale that is unmatched in the market,” says WUBS CMO Nick Cerise.
Western Union Business Solutions
Customers shouldn’t have to exert effort to find information, says WUBS CMO Nick Cerise.
“By acquiring and integrating both of those businesses, we developed an FX services and payments company that has global scale that is unmatched in the market,” says Nick Cerise, chief marketing officer of WUBS.
In a few short years, WUBS became one of the leading providers of global payments for midsize enterprises. Today, WUBS processes payments in more than 170 countries across 130 currencies for 100,000 clients.
This type of expansion came naturally for Western Union. The company already had the global footprint, brand awareness, and expertise to help businesses manage their cash and process cross-border payments—and the company’s leaders had the vision to turn WUBS into a major revenue driver for Western Union. But they needed to grow their marketing technology infrastructure as the business expanded.Designing the Customer Journey
Western Union’s marketing department was using Oracle Eloqua Release 9, but it used the solution largely as a simple email blast tool. Oracle Eloqua solutions were connected to two customer relationship management (CRM) systems but not much else.
“We did have some personalization based on things like location, company size, and currency built into the emails, but the campaign process was not automated,” says Cerise. “Every time we ran a campaign, we would have to go to the CRM team, get the email list, and upload it. It was very manual.”
Oracle Marketing Cloud is transformational for us. It’s an entirely new way for us to drive growth within marketing.”–Nick Cerise, CMO, Western Union Business Solutions
That meant marketers couldn’t target customers based on how they interacted with content such as emails, white papers, articles, and customer videos. Everybody got basically the same campaigns as everyone else.
Marketers were also unable to collaborate on content marketing. Regions created their own content—case studies, ebooks, white papers, and emails—but didn’t share it with each other, so marketers risked wasting time building content that already existed elsewhere in the company.
Finally, lead acquisition relied on outbound marketing, such as emails and cold calls from the sales team, which wasn’t bringing in enough high-quality leads.
“We were relying on our customers to find content instead of presenting it to them based on what we understood about them,” Cerise says. “If your customer has to exert effort to find information, your competitor is probably going to find ways to provide it to them much more easily.”
To build a marketing automation infrastructure that could help WUBS achieve its goals, Cerise turned to Oracle Marketing Cloud. It was an easy decision, in part because the marketing department already used Oracle Eloqua solutions. So the WUBS team engaged with the account team and Oracle and started designing a customer journey that would bring more leads through the door and convert them into customers.Integration Pays Off
WUBS offers multiple services to its midsize customers. Some come to WUBS for sporadic cross-border payments. Others use the company’s cash management service to minimize the risk of currency fluctuation in paying many vendors in multiple currencies—up to millions of payments each month. These companies’ cash flow and profit margins are susceptible to market volatility, so they need to manage foreign exchange risk, sometimes using hedging tools to lock in exchange rates in advance.
“Our cash management platform gives customers visibility into the actual full exposure of foreign invoices,” Cerise says. “It provides certainty into how and where they’ll make payments, and it helps them to create efficiencies in their financial supply chain.”
Because many of WUBS’s customers are recurring customers, the marketing team was already in a good position to begin automating its marketing efforts. It had collected huge amounts of data from those recurring customer transactions; the challenge was how to use that wealth of data.
“Collecting data and providing customers with trade analytics is critical to our business,” Cerise says. “Because we have recurring customers, we have to be able to proactively understand their needs and how they change over time.” Cerise notes that WUBS has accomplished this by integrating its marketing technology stack into its customer platform—which has allowed WUBS to offer its customers dynamic notifications about market events that could affect FX rates and, therefore, their customers’ bottom line.
“We don’t want to just execute a transaction; we want to help our customers grow their business internationally while protecting and expanding profitability,” he adds. “The platform we are offering our existing customers is a true innovation in our space, and our number one priority is to let prospective customers who participate in international business know how to join our network and leverage this platform.”
The first step would require a shift away from outbound marketing and toward inbound marketing—bringing prospects to the website through online advertising, for example, and then targeting them with follow-up email campaigns. Previously, almost no leads came from inbound marketing; instead, leads came from the sales team, which procured lists and then called leads to qualify them. Cerise’s goal is that marketing automation will soon bring in 20 to 30 percent of leads without sales team intervention.
Together with the Oracle account team, Cerise’s team designed a software stack that ushers customers along a journey from awareness to acquisition. A central marketing team creates campaign frameworks, and about 50 marketers globally use Oracle Marketing Cloud to populate campaigns with regional content. Oracle BlueKai solutions manage customer data and retarget leads with personalized online, offline, and mobile content. Oracle Content Marketing Cloud Service helps the team plan, produce, and deliver the right content to the right person at the right time in the buying cycle. Marketers use Oracle Eloqua solutions at multiple points in the process, first to score leads and then to create, manage, and deliver campaigns scaled for email, display advertising, search advertising, video, and mobile.Going “Glocal”
Each year, WUBS transacts with millions of people in hundreds of countries, each with its own culture and sometimes its own language. Without a fully integrated, scalable marketing automation solution, it would be impossible to carry out a cohesive marketing strategy with all of these groups simultaneously. WUBS needed to set the global strategy centrally and build a single framework that could scale across regions, enabling local marketers to make some decisions because they know their customer base best.
“Oracle Marketing Cloud is helping us to deliver our strategy globally because of the collaboration,” Cerise says. “In the past, someone might have to email an in-house editor and say, ‘Hey, what kind of content have you created? Could we use that?’ But now, they can go into the tool and search for themselves, and then customize the content to fit the regional need.”
Oracle Marketing Cloud has also improved the quality of the data that marketers are working with, partly because of the seamless integration between Oracle’s marketing applications but also because of the automatic integration with third-party apps such as the CRM system.Western Union Facts
|Number of countries where Western Union Business Solutions has customers|
|Number of currencies in which Western Union Business Solutions transacts|
|Number of Western Union Business Solutions’ midsize business clients|
The other reason for success? People are actually using the system.
“Adoption has increased and people are finding it very easy to use,” Cerise says. “That has a direct impact on how many campaigns we run and how effective our campaigns are—which will all lead to increased sales.”Unlocking Value
Given the choice, almost all marketers would choose a fully integrated, off-the-shelf solution to solve their problems. But there are always challenges that require a bit of customization. In the case of WUBS, the biggest challenge was how to handle a single customer who uses the same email address for multiple business accounts.
Imagine that a single customer owns three different import-export businesses: One imports smartphones from China, one imports coconuts from Sri Lanka, and one exports tires to India. The customer uses a single email address to transact with WUBS, which means Oracle Eloqua solutions—which tie accounts to an email address—would recognize every transaction for each of the customer’s businesses as being part of a single business. Transactions for the coconut business would be mingled with transactions for the smartphone and tire businesses, which is a problem because they all use different currencies and have different needs. It would prevent WUBS from accurately targeting the customer based on its different businesses.
So Cerise and his team found even more value in Oracle Marketing Cloud, using custom data objects.
“With custom data objects, we were able to map a single email address to many accounts,” he explains. “This is huge for us. It gives us accurate filter criteria to send the right message at the right time, and now we don’t have that problem anymore.”
Marketers also use custom data objects to identify which of the thousands of data points are appropriate for targeting customers, and an Oracle Eloqua tool to share data with the sales team.
“Now salespeople can see what their customers are doing within Oracle Eloqua, whether it’s visiting our website, opening an email, or downloading a white paper,” Cerise says. “The salespeople are automatically alerted, and they’re telling us that this data has helped them to target existing customers and close deals.”Aiming for a Big Payoff
As marketers become more proficient in Oracle Marketing Cloud, says Cerise, the goal is to drive higher-quality leads into the sales cycle, to close them more efficiently, and to directly attribute revenue to marketing campaigns—using the power of data to always improve the quality of the marketing team’s work.
“Everybody is working hard, but now they can use data to know whether they’re working smart,” Cerise says.
That’s why this initiative is such a game changer for WUBS: It empowers marketers to use data they already have and turn it into a revenue engine for the company.
“Oracle Marketing Cloud is transformational for us,” Cerise says. “It’s an entirely new way for us to drive growth within marketing.”
Photography by Shutterstock