Cloud Computing

Signature Effort

DocuSign’s marketing cloud strategy helps double annual sales.

by Monica Mehta

August 2014

The explosion of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) has caused more business leaders to take technology decisions into their own hands. Swapping the burden of capital IT investment for flexible, pay-as-you-go solutions has helped line-of-business managers increase the speed, scalability, and user-friendliness of the applications they use.



    Headquarters: San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington

    Industry: Software as a service

    Employees: More than 850

    Oracle products: Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service

Dustin Grosse

Chief Marketing Officer

Length of tenure: 3.5 years

Education: MBA, Yale School of Management; BS in economics, University of California at Riverside

Personal quote/mantra: “Be the change you want to see in your company.”


But SaaS applications are changing the relationship between the business and IT; business managers are no longer beholden to IT to set up and manage on-premises environments and therefore have become less dependent on IT departments. Indeed, a 2011 Forrester Research survey found that 65 percent of business leaders have budgets to buy IT without involving the IT function. Moreover, the survey revealed that marketing was the department most likely to sidestep IT.


Launch the Slideshow

The marketing team based in DocuSign’s San Francisco, California, headquarters knows this story well. With little intervention from IT, business managers turned to the cloud for a marketing automation solution that has helped the company consistently exceed sales targets, double sales rates, and reduce customer attrition rates by 65 percent.

Personalizing the Message

Founded in 2003, DocuSign provides technology for digital business by eliminating the printing, faxing, scanning, and overnighting of documents required to complete transactions. DocuSign enables individuals and businesses to electronically send, sign, track, store, and manage transactions in the cloud. The e-signature sector, now known more broadly as digital transaction management (DTM), is facing a period of rapid growth; Aragon Research reports that DTM is currently a US$500 to US$700 million market, but will grow to US$30 billion by the end of 2020. DocuSign has already seen the results of that growth, adding 27 million customers since 2011.

But continuing to harness that industry growth means tapping into an increasingly diverse customer base and expanding into new industries, says Dustin Grosse, chief marketing officer at DocuSign. “As soon as you turn 18, you have documents to sign related to school or employment and then in business. So you can imagine the many different types of people we are trying to reach,” he says, underscoring the efforts his team will make to reach an ambitious goal. “Our target market is more than a billion people.”

In 2011, DocuSign’s marketing leaders started looking for a solution to help handle the large volume of new sales leads coming in. At the time, they were sending out marketing communications in manual batches and had a very rudimentary lead-scoring model. In addition, as their marketing data records grew into the millions, they were having trouble syncing all that data with their sales automation system. “To get more sophisticated about our marketing, we needed better segmentation—better data management and technology. We needed to better target and personalize our message,” says Meagen Eisenberg, vice president of demand generation at DocuSign. “We also needed to measure the success of our current programs and campaigns, and we needed to be able to nurture and score sales leads to make sales more efficient.”

Grosse and Eisenberg wanted to launch campaigns against 30 different personas, and they wanted those campaigns to be tailored to meet the needs of front-line sales representatives—a tall order for a company of fewer than 1,000 employees. So they turned to Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service to build the marketing programs that would be key to the company’s continued hypergrowth.

SaaS and Sensibility

DocuSign’s search for a marketing automation technology was funded and almost entirely conducted within the marketing department. IT played an advisory role, mainly ensuring that the new solution met security and compliance standards. But it was the marketing team that built and ran the requirements document detailing the types, volume, size, and speed of campaigns it wanted to run.

Getting leads addressed and giving them the right messaging definitely correlated to more people in our sales pipeline. Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service can have a significant impact on a business’ success.”–Dustin Grosse, Chief Marketing Officer, DocuSign

“Five to 10 years ago, we’d have gone to IT with the need for some new capabilities, and they’d typically have to build and manage it themselves or outsource it to a development shop,” says Grosse. “With a SaaS solution, IT doesn’t play the same kind of vendor selection and management role.”

Grosse knew that he wanted a SaaS marketing automation solution right off the bat. The easy implementation of a SaaS solution would deliver the speed the business needed as the awareness and demand for its products grew daily. SaaS would also deliver a fast return on investment, and automatic updates to the latest version of software.

Ryan Schwartz, director of marketing systems and operations at DocuSign, says a SaaS marketing solution would also make it easier to manage the product and integrate it with other technologies through the cloud. “With an on-premises solution, you’re installing packages and creating downtimes and hoping that there are no issues. With a SaaS product, you can release the changes automatically, and you know that the API [application-programming interface] will be simpler as well.”

A Marketing Traffic Control System

Grosse deployed Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service in December 2011 with the software live within a month. Today, approximately 150 employees use it through the sales and marketing departments in San Francisco; Seattle, Washington; and other locations throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Brazil. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, the marketing team already had a dozen nurture programs up and running. The following quarter, they saw their sales pipeline double. After six months, they had built 24 nurture programs, and their corporate business tripled.

“Getting leads addressed and giving them the right messaging definitely correlated to more people in our sales pipeline,” says Grosse. “Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service can have a significant impact on a business’ success.”

DocuSign Stats
Percentage of business leaders who have budgets to buy IT without involving the IT function
US$30 billion
Projected size of digital transaction management market by the end of 2020
Percentage DocuSign has cut its customer attrition rate since implementing Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service
Percentage increase in number of customers for DocuSign since implementing Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service
1 billion
DocuSign’s target market
Percentage of its sales target DocuSign achieved in 2013

Since then, the marketing team has created more than 20 different personas and built more than 90 nurture programs through Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, each sending out as many as 10 automated e-mails every quarter. The campaigns are targeted and personalized, enabling marketers to segment the market and speak to potential customers more effectively. Potential customers or leads are automatically entered into the nurturing system based on their online activity, and then scored and promoted through the tiers depending on their interests and actions. Sales leaders have also been impressed. Since implementing Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, DocuSign’s leaders have successfully nurtured 4,000 opportunities to the point of sale.

“Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, and automating that process, is huge for us,” says Eisenberg. “It’s like having an air traffic control system to route messages to 94 different nurture programs. That’s a big deal—you won’t see that capability with any other solution.”

The marketing automation software has had the additional benefit of improving customer experience. Since implementing Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, DocuSign has seen a 65 percent reduction in customer churn. Now, for instance, when a customer’s on-file credit cards expire, they receive an automated e-mail asking them to renew their information. For customers who haven’t used the product for a while and are in danger of churning out, the Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service system sends e-mails with support services such as a video tutorial on sending a signed document, or a suggestion to talk to customer service.

“As a customer, you can imagine that if we’re showing you how to use the product, making sure you’re happy, and checking in with you, then you are more likely to stay on as a customer than if we sell you a product and never reach out to you,” says Grosse. “On our end, this is all automated, so it delivers a great customer experience without a major investment.”

On the admin side, as a web developer and someone who is very hands-on with DocuSign’s Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service system, Schwartz says its real value is in its configurability. “You can build a campaign in Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service to do whatever it is you want it to do, because you have a lot of different components to work with,” says Schwartz. “You’re not locked into one way of doing things the way you are with other marketing automation systems. In this way, the business has a lot of flexibility. Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service is a true platform that can be configured to work the way you want it to work.”

Another major advantage is its easy integration with DocuSign’s other cloud-based systems. Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service automatically syncs with DocuSign’s third-party customer relationship management (CRM) system so salespeople and marketers have access to the same information at all times. Schwartz has also created integrations to Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service with GoToWebinar, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Lattice Engines, Twitter, and other marketing software, automatically pulling leads from the different channels into Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service. For instance, when prospects view a webinar through GoToWebinar, they are automatically entered into a nurture program.

The Bottom Line

Since implementing Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, DocuSign executives have seen tremendous growth in the business. In 2013, sales hit 170 percent of target. The number of leads in the DocuSign database has increased from 1.5 million to nearly 13 million. Eisenberg reports that sales-ready leads have increased by 100,000 per quarter during her tenure. All the while, marketing campaign budgets are increasing by only 20 to 30 percent every year. So the numbers show that the marketing department is becoming even more efficient. “Each year, we’re just killing our targets,” she says. “The only way you can reach these numbers is if you use technology and automation to introduce efficiencies and measure results.”

Grosse says Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service is a major component of the success of marketing at DocuSign. “Our marketing team feels great about the selection we made and how it scaled over the last couple years,” he says. “The choice to standardize our automation system on Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service was the best possible choice we could make. We haven’t found anybody else that can match the kind of service and capabilities that we found through our Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service implementation.”

Action Items
  • How Automation Software Changed Marketing
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  • Photography by Shutterstock