eloqua.jpgTo help effectively track down and make sales to new customers, Eloqua offers to nurture relationships and keep track of a customer’s interest over time.

Already in possession of a strong business in the United States and on track to generate $30 million in revenue in 2008, the company has taken $23 million to expand its operations into Europe.

Eloqua competes against other companies using the Salesforce Force platform, like InsideView, although CEO Joe Payne tells us that there are no competitors of significant size. Another variation on the same theme, Genius, takes a slightly different approach, directly supplying companies with leads (our coverage).

Here’s how it works: When a new person logs onto the site of one of Eloqua’s customers, it automatically records details like geographic location and any company website the visitor may be from. Tracking continues over repeat visits, and over time, the owner of the website may record the visitor’s email or phone number if they sign up to access documents like white papers.

Unlike business-to-consumer tracking, which could be used by a shopping site to offer a particular item as soon as any interest is displayed by a visitor, Eloqua attempts to build up a picture of a potential customer’s interests over a longer period of time, thus helping to determine whether a salesperson should contact the new lead.

Tracking customers over time and determining their interest is more effective than simply blasting potential customers at random with untargeted email or phone campaigns, as many traditional marketers do.

Because Eloqua operates on a subscription model, with companies paying monthly fees for Eloqua’s customer analytics, CEO Joe Payne says that it takes about four years to build up enough customers to make a return on the investment, when moving into new markets like the European countries.

The company hopes to use the funding to quickly build up a strong foreign presence and help stave off competition from larger companies. Omniture and Unica, for example, focus on marketing to consumers but will likely want a piece of Eloqua’s market.

Founded in 2001, Eloqua has taken about $40 million in funding to date. Bessemer Ventures led the current round, while previous investors JMI Equity and Bay Partners also participated.

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