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As an email marketing agency, we are constantly faced with the challenge of beating our clients’ goals. For one such client, whose goal was based on the number of new leads created, we were steadily increasing the number of leads generated each month. After working with this client for over a year, we started to see the number of new leads generated plateau. We had previously focused our attention on improving the effectiveness of batch emails sent to prospects, as well as establishing new acquisition sources. We decided we needed to find a new way to reach prospects when they were ready to buy.


The client’s database had thousands of prospects that did not convert during the first 30 days. After such time, we found their likelihood to convert declined significantly. The key to re-engaging these prospects was finding the right time to target them with the right message.  If we knew when these prospects were browsing the website and which pages they were visiting, we could target them with the appropriate email messaging and convert them.


In addition, the client’s database contained email addresses that were not subscribed to promotional emails. We had permission to email these prospects, but had not been doing so on a regular basis. We did not want to start including them on batch email for fear that they could affect our engagement and deliverability stats.


The proposed solution was a highly targeted, automated email program triggered by the last webpage visited. This solution solved both problems we faced; it was a way to target prospects when they were most likely to convert, and it gave us a method of engaging with those prospects not currently subscribed to our promotional emails.


This particular client is still on E9, and we had no way to target prospects based on the last page in their website visit. To get around this limitation, we created a hierarchy of pages visited in order to route leads to the correct program. The first step in the setup process was to tag all of the appropriate pages. Page tags were created for each URL, including subsequent pages in the path. Next, we created a series of programs specific to each page visited and a feeder program to route leads to the correct path.


The feeder program allowed us to prioritize the pages a prospect visits in order to route them to the best converting offer if they visited more than one page category. Prospects could enter the program several times, and were routed to the next subsequent offer each time they visited the page.


The program was enabled in November 2014, and since that time over 500,000 prospects have gone through. Several of the emails in the program were previously sent to the prospect base as one-off batch sends. We used these results as our baseline for success. To date, the website visit trigger program has outperformed the baseline by 182% for click to open rate and 53% on lead conversion to open rate.


This client is a service provider that works on a yearly contract. The next step for this program is to estimate prospects’ current contract end date with their service provider and message them accordingly. We will use the date the prospect was created as our best estimate for contract end date, since people most likely started shopping the first time their contract was about to expire. We will target messaging based on that date, getting more aggressive as they near the end of their current contract.


As an agency, we learned that it is important to not merely test and improve status quo, but continuously think outside the box. Finding prospects where and when they are ready to buy can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but when you hit even just a little pocket of success, it can make all the difference.


On a side note, we have been working with this client to migrate to E10, and will hopefully be completing a migration sometime this summer. Once a migration takes place, we will look back at this campaign and re-evaluate our approach in order to optimize it for E10. With the new efficiencies and capabilities of the E10 platform, we are hopeful we will be able to gain more incremental growth in the program.


Classes that helped: E10 Web Profiling, Program Builder Overview

We started with Eloqua in 2013 and struggled for the first few months. Lack of knowledge, missing vision, limited dedication of resources were all factors making it a bumpy but interesting road to travel. In order to be a success you need more than a state-of-the-art Marketing Automation Tool and a great team of Modern Marketers.


In order to to facilitate our growth (40%) per year we encountered the following challenges:

  • Transition from Traditional to Modern Marketing
  • Facilitating campaign rollout across a growing number of countries, channels, and languages
  • Measuring performance by Sales Qualified Leads and Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Managing massive lead throughput, benchmark marketing data, and budget forecasting


Attending Eloqua Experience 2013 and SiriusDecisions' Summit 2013 brought us the concept of Playbooks which would definitely help us in overcoming our challenges.

Exact considers Marketing Playbooks to be the next step in Demand Generation. Playbooks are a way of practicing marketing that covers the latest trends and insights like content marketing, performance based marketing and marketing automation. It is an utmost efficient way of rolling out marketing campaigns in a consistent way across multiple countries. The way we measure impact and performance is the same for every country so we can easily benchmark results between the countries. 

The Playbooks are developed for specific target audiences and contain a complete ready-to-use Demand Generation campaign for all countries in order to generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).


So what did we do to get the playbooks up and running?

  • Learn and Share
    We made sure that knew everything about playbooks. We visited the outskirts of the internet and talked to people with experience or with similar ideas. We made sure we would be comfortable talking about the subject so we had multiple people involved - all from different angles - so we could combine all our ideas into one concept.

    After we made sure that all gathered data was filtered and adjusted to meet the needs in our organization we involved all other marketers and important stakeholders. We explained the workings of the Marketing Automation Platform and what a playbook could do for us. Almost instantly you noticed that the mindsets were changing from a traditional to a modern marketing approach.

  • Get involved, work together, get help
    We work in a Hybrid structure with Central and Local teams. It is VERY important to get the major stakeholders on board. We made sure that the central marketing teams and field marketing managers were all part of the playbook creation process.

    Each Field Marketing Manager was responsible for at least one of the Playbooks and had to make sure that all stakeholders provided input into the initial playbook setup. From there on the Content Team and the Marketing Automation stepped in and made sure that the content and assets were correctly aligned to the different stages in the Buyer’s Journey. 

    Marketing Best Practices Course - Best Practices: Global Demand Center (WBT)

    • Document and Inform
      Accountancy-Playbook-30-4-2.gifAll playbooks are documented. Each playbook is presented in a slide deck where you can find campaign objectives, the strategy, target audience and personas as well as the information on how we are going to answer the needs with our value proposition and products. Since the messaging has to be carefully selected per target group, the Playbooks also cover communication strategy.

      You can also find there all marketing assets needed in the various phases of the buying journey and nurturing flows, such as: online banner sets, blog items, e-mail templates, print adverts and landing pages.

      A lot of time and  effort has gone into creating a playbook so we needed to share success with the rest of Exact. We organised special sessions for the sales and customer success teams to bring them up to speed and informed the rest of the company via our internal news portal.

    • Execute in the right tool
      Using a Marketing Automation Platform like Eloqua enabled us to roll out the playbooks to other countries without too much additional effort.  We paid additional attention to the areas below:
      • The getting the basics right - we made sure that all templates used for Landing Pages, Emails and Forms where tested and flexible in adaptation for the different countries and languages.
      • We produced the Master Assets centrally so we know the first set is checked on quality, branding and naming conventions reducing errors when localizing the playbook.
      • For reporting purposes make sure that all Campaign Settings are filled in - using additional custom fields can help out in reporting on campaigns within your playbook.

    Make sure you followed all the email, landing page and forms courses as they help you consider your options when evaluating WYSIWYG or HTML based assets.


    • Analyze and Discuss
      You need to know if the playbook is performing. Don’t go on impulses or the bottom line reports. Most of the time there is more to it than meets the eye. Spend some extra time digging into the causes for a certain result. You could use the default Insight reports from Eloqua but it might be wise to invest in an Analyzer license to get custom reports out that better fit your organization.

      It is quite easy to accept that something works or doesn't work but it is very important to discuss the playbooks on a regular basis. Share experiences between countries, product lines, tactics - there is always room for improvement.

      Tip: Eloqua Product Course - Eloqua 10: Insight for Analyzer


    The combination of Eloqua, a great organizational structure and the roll out of playbooks have helped us to:

    • Increase Sales Qualified Leads by 35%.
    • Grow subscription and conversion rates by 10–15%.
    • Improve collaboration between central and local teams in both sales and marketing.
    • Win the Best International Campaign (2014) Markie.

    More details can be found in our success story.

    What's next

    The roll-out schedule into other countries has caused us to make some quick decisions and to proceed while additional thinking time might have highly desirable. Sometimes it is better to spend a little more time on getting the basics right. Be that as it may - the experience probably has taught us even more and provide us valuable insights when we will take the next steps:

    • Further improve our deployment of Eloqua e.g. adjustments to data model and update of naming conventions for easy search and better insight from reporting perspective.
    • Redevelop the asset templates with functionality offered in the latest Eloqua releases.
    • Tweak our campaigns to better align to the Buyer's Journey.
      Tip: Talk to the Customer Success Team for valuable input!
    • Develop an advanced Preference Center which will help us better segment our incoming prospects making sure they get put into the right playbook.
      Tip: Eloqua Product Course - Eloqua 10: Custom Subscription Management
    • Roll out of Revenue Performance Management so we can get better insight into the key revenue drivers.
      Tip: Marketing Best Practices Course - Applied Best Practices: Leadership Metrics (WBT)

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