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Introduction


It had been 3 years or more since we performed any database cleaning activities.  And, many of our contacts were of questionable quality largely due to aggressively adding contacts from a list company as part of a concerted effort to increase visibility.  Our contact count had more than doubled in the past 2 years from about 195,000 contacts to 430,000 contacts. 


Marketing Challenge: Clean Up the Database

The main factor that made cleaning the database finally percolate to the top of my priority list was budget.  It was contract renewal time and I urgently needed to cut from about 430,000 contacts down to 200,000.  Doable, I thought, as I had more than 80,000 hard bounceback contacts and 30,000 unsubscribers. With 110,000 contacts quickly identified for deletion, I was about half way there but still needed to cut another 120,000.

I also wanted to clean the database to protect and possibly improve email deliverability.  Though ReturnPath reported that my database was clean of spam traps, I wanted to confirm that.  I also wanted to get rid of contacts who didn’t want my email. Doing so is a win-win-win; prospects aren’t annoyed, my brand image is protected, and my open rate improves.  And open rate is increasingly monitored by email providers as a signal that your email is either legitimate or spam.


Solution: Segmentation and Re-engagement Campaign

In order to find the additional 120,000 contacts to delete, I created a segment to identify my least active 120,000 contacts.  The segment contains a filter to sniff for any signs of life in a certain time period. Specifically, my filter pulls contacts in who have a “Date Created” value prior to 3 months ago and have been sent an email but NOT opened or clicked any emails, submitted any forms, or visited any landing pages, tagged pages, websites, or microsites within the last X months.  I played with the number of months and landed on 9 months to hit my target of 120,000 contacts. 

Most of what I had read on email database cleaning advocated eliminating contacts who are inactive 3 months, with some experts suggesting up to 6 months was ok.  However, our specific b2b model suggests keeping inactive contacts much longer and so I opted for 9 months.

Now that I had identified the inactive contacts to remove from the database, I created and fed them into a re-engagement campaign to see if I could activate and save them.  The campaign consists of 3 emails.  The first advocates resources we have at our website to help the contact succeed.  The Campaign Email Statistics operational report show that it was opened by 3,207 unique contacts.  Part of the first email is reproduced below as viewed from the visual Click-through Report:


luminary blog 1.jpg


The second email features a call to action to update the contact’s preferences at our subscription center; it was opened by 4,346 unique contacts.  The third and final email features a call to action to remain subscribed. If the contact clicks the link to remain subscribed, a blind form is submitted that subscribes the contact. Email 3 was opened by 1,788 unique contacts. 

The campaign was configured such that if the contact did NOT open any of the 3 emails, they were added to a shared list called “Inactives to Remove from Eloqua”.  See a portion of the campaign below:


luminary blog 2.jpg

 

Of 118,641 contacts that entered the campaign, 9,341 unique contacts (8%) opened one of the three emails and were saved from deletion.  109,300 contacts did not open any of the 3 emails and thus were added to the deletion list. Next, I deleted the contacts in the inactives shared list from the database.  In this way, the number of contacts in the database was reduced from about 430,000 to 210,700, which was close enough for my purposes.


Results

To analyze the results, I needed an apples-to-apples comparison.  I settled on my web seminar email that has a subject line that didn’t change between the comparison periods and that I send each month to announce the web seminars for the coming month.  I utilized the Email Analysis Overview report to come up with a set of metric averages before and after the cleanup.  See the results below:


Luminary Blog 3 v 5.PNG


For the most part, the results look terrific.  My total open rate increased 109.4% and my unique open rate increased 70.5%. Success!  Right?  Not entirely. Can you tell which metric bothers me the most?


Pitfalls of Cleaning Too Aggressively

The decline in the number of unique opens by 6.6% bothers me.  If I hadn’t cut inactive contacts so aggressively, the results suggest I’d have had another 362 unique opens (5,507 – 5,145).  That’s significant to me.  Did I cut too aggressively?  Perhaps. But I have to weigh the decline in unique opens against the gains in other metrics like open rates which protect and possibly improve deliverability. 


Recommendations

If you have the budget, I recommend keeping your inactive contacts, except those that have never opened an email as those might be spam traps.  Your contacts probably cost you a lot to acquire and it seems economical to add contacts to your contract limit, especially when adding contacts within your current plan level (i.e., Basic, Standard, Enterprise). 

If you can keep your inactive contacts, I’d recommend a hybrid email approach.  Create an inactive filter and apply that to most of your email campaigns so that you don’t email inactive contacts on a regular basis.  Just email them once in a while to see if their needs have changed such that your marketing messages now hit their radar.  By taking this approach, you improve your overall open rate and other activity metrics while keeping inactives in the loop from time to time. 


Helpful Eloqua Courses

The tactics I employed were learned in the following Eloqua courses:

  • Best Practices: Email Deliverability and Privacy
  • Insight for Reporters
  • Fundamentals of Segmentation
  • Advanced Segmentation
  • Blind Form Submits
  • Fundamentals of the Campaign Canvas
  • Fundamentals of Emails

  

The Project

My post is focusing on the Program Builder feature of Eloqua. This combined with advanced form settings, query strings and a campaign canvas. The goal is to set up an industry specific welcome program used by a global technology leader that creates enterprise software, hardware and services.

 

This IT company – it’s software solution especially – has two main focus industries: healthcare and finance. We have a generic welcome program already that will feed to this industry specific program. To deliver more relevant content, an industry-specific welcome campaign was needed.

 

Our company attends several trade-shows per year. The current process is that a new contact receives a "Thank you for visiting our booth" email.  This is the perfect opportunity to engage potential customers and tailor a program to the specific interests. For example: we could offer 3 solutions in this customized welcome program to find out which solution would most interested them. An other nice side effect will be that the activity in this campaign will also feed into our quarterly industry specific newsletters.

 

 

Assets created in Eloqua

 

  • Program in program builder
  • Campaign canvas
    • 4 emails
    • Form with a hidden custom field
    • encoded URLs with query strings
  • 3 shared lists

 

 

Campaign logic

 

The welcome program consists of 4 emails for our 3 solutions. In Email 1 there are 3 links. Based on which link is clicked, Email 2, Email 3 or Email 4 will be sent. If none of the links are clicked, all emails will be sent in a one week cadence. If more than one link is clicked, more than one email will be sent.

 

Email 1

  • Solution 1 clicked > Send Email 2
  • Solution 2 clicked > Send Email 3
  • Solution 3 clicked > Send Email 4
  • no click: send Email 2 -> send Email 3 -> send Email 4

 

I’ve used a blind form to differentiate which link was clicked, and send them to the appropriate asset.

Capture5.JPG

Capture6.JPG

The Form Condition

 

As I always do at multi-step email campaigns, I used a custom field in the blind form to set a condition and send the submitters to a web page, which is the hosted PDF asset in this case.

Each link is appended with these custom query strings to facilitate the conditional processing on the form.

 

http://s[siteID].t.eloqua.com/e/f2.aspx?elqFormName=[FormName]&elqSiteID=[siteID]&emailAddress=<span%20class=eloquaemail>EmailAddress</span>&ast=XXX

Capture4.JPG

Capture3.JPG

 

The Challenge

 

I ran into the problem that in the Program builder, it is not possible to ask the Decision Rule to check the values populated in custom fields. I can only check if the form was submitted.

 

To solve this issue, I added three extra processing steps to the form, based on the hidden custom field used for the asset. I set the Form to add them to Shared lists depending on the same condition that I use for the asset differentiation.

 

This way, in the Program builder I could use the ‘Contact is in a Contact Group’ decision rule, to decide which solution they clicked in Email 1 to drive which other email they will receive.

 

Capture7.JPG

 

Conclusion

 

The program has not yet launched, but based on initial testing, I am confident that program is going to add value and help new contacts moving forward in the sales cycle.

 

 

Classes I found useful and inspiring for this post:

 

  • Eloqua 10: Blind Form Submits

  • Eloqua 10: Advanced Editing and Form Processing

  • Eloqua 10: Program Builder Overview (WBT)

  • Best Practices: Lead Nurturing Campaigns (WBT)

  • Best Practices: Advanced Lead Nurturing (WBT)

INTRODUCTION

Our company has been moving slowly towards content marketing, so we are trying to leverage a piece of content in each email message within our marketing automation campaigns. We have been able to curate different types of content, but marketers had been gravitating mostly towards infographics. We have found that this is a good piece of introductory content that marketers are easily able to create on their own, with the help of online programs.

 

IDENTIFYING THE ISSUE

When implementing the infographic in an email, we decided to gate the content with a form to gain access to customer data and as a means to gauge traffic to the site where the infographic is hosted.  While the teaser image in the email gained high click-through rates, we found there was a high abandonment rate once presented with the form.  Our initial thought that contacts would complete a short form to engage with the content was wrong.  We needed a way to keep contacts interested and engaged and be able to track traffic but without the use of the form.


INVESTIGATING SOLUTIONS

After researching on Topliners and consulting on past successes, we decided to do two things: test using a blind form submit on click-through from the teaser image in the email and investigate different content types that we could use for campaigns where we could track traffic and eliminate the initial form in the marketing automation campaign. We also learned of a tool for video hosting, called Brightcove that might allow us to gain better insights on customer behaviors.

 

REVISING OUR PROCESS

Right away, we found that by adding the blind form submit step to the email, we were able to track the contacts who engaged with the piece of content. Since our organization already has significant data on our contacts, we found that we were able to give away this piece of content without the form and greatly increase the number of people who made it to the infographic and had a chance to engage with it.  We realized that providing content earlier in the campaign without stipulation garnered greater success in communicating with contacts further down the funnel.

 

FURTHER ENHANCEMENTS

With this success on the infographic, we thought that we could apply the same blind form submit process to test videos. Because we leverage video content in many marketing campaigns, using the minimal data from blind forms was not sufficient. Through online research and visiting Topliners, we discovered a video hosting company called Brightcove which plugs into Eloqua. Brightcove’s integration with Eloqua gives us visibility not only to that a contact viewed the video, but  also allows us to drill down and find out the percentage of a video the contact has watched, when the video was abandoned, and how the video was accessed. This feature is far more valuable than a blind form submit, which could only tell us if the contact had visited the landing page with the video and not any data on their interaction with the video. Through our Brightcove integration with Eloqua we can customize follow-up emails based on their interaction, helping us qualify them as sales leads.

 

By removing the initial form on the campaign, we were able to increase our engagement rate and send more prospects further down the funnel. Since we typically built campaigns that filtered out contacts that did not complete a form, we were able to dramatically increase the number of contacts who progressed in the campaign. At the end of every campaign, we end with a “contact your representative” email. These leads typically flow into our CRM for sales follow-up. We have found that we can provide a secondary list of leads to marketers from people that engaged with the content in the campaign, but may not have filled out the contact your representative form. While these leads are not as hot as the contacts who self-selected to fill out the form, sales has been able to make traction with these leads.

 

We are beginning to see improvement in engagement with this new method. As we apply this strategy to future campaigns, we will be able to further test and are likely to see increased engagement across campaigns.

 

Type of Asset

Contacts in Campaign

Stats

Percentage

Gated Infographic

3,088

25 abandoned, 37 submitted form

  1. 0.8% abandon, 1.2% submitted form

Ungated Infographic

11,497

174 submitted blind form

  1. 1.5% submitted the blind form

 

Gated Video

8,131

144 visited the landing page, but no stats available on video views

  1. 1.8% visited the landing page

Ungated Video

11,497

108 watched the video, 86 watched over 50%

  1. 0.9% watched the video, 0.7% watched over 50%

 

CONCLUSION

We are quite pleased with the increase in engagement with our campaigns and believe that the stats will only improve as we roll out this method across all campaigns. By increasing the opportunities to engage without barriers, we are able to increase our funnel for sales. However, we will be implementing some A/B testing, to make sure that we are correct in removing the form from the pieces of content.

 

We are also looking into ways to build a library of content that can help us leverage the tools we have. We find that it is costly to create these assets and we do not have the in-house expertise to create content in a timely manner. Therefore, we are investigating some third-party vendors to help us develop more content (especially infographics and videos), to allow us to continue this practice of content marketing.

 

 

Following is a list of some of the courses that helped me in creating this new approach to leveraging content

B2B Conversion: Advanced Editing and Form Processing

B2B Conversion: Blind Form Submits

B2B Analysis: Insight for Reporters

B2B Technology: System Integrations

And of course, Topliners

Our company has been moving slowly towards content marketing, so we are trying to leverage a piece of content in each email message within our marketing automation campaigns. We have been able to curate different types of content, but marketers had been gravitating mostly towards infographics. We have found that this is a good piece of introductory content that marketers are easily able to create on their own, with the help of online programs.

 

When implementing the infographic in an email, we decided to gate the content with a form to gain access to customer data and as a means to gauge traffic to the site where the infographic is hosted.  While the teaser image in the email gained high click-through rates, we found there was a high abandonment rate once presented with the form.  Our initial thought that contacts would complete a short form to engage with the content was wrong.  We needed a way to keep contacts interested and engaged and be able to track traffic but without the use of the form.


After researching on Topliners and consulting on past successes, we decided to do two things: test using a blind form submit on click-through from the teaser image in the email and investigate different content types that we could use for campaigns where we could track traffic and eliminate the initial form in the marketing automation campaign.

 

Right away, we found that by adding the blind form submit step to the email, we were able to track the contacts who engaged with the piece of content. Since our organization already has significant data on our contacts, we found that we were able to give away this piece of content without the form and greatly increase the number of people who made it to the infographic and had a chance to engage with it.  We realized that providing content earlier in the campaign without stipulation garnered greater success in communicating with contacts further down the funnel.

 

With this success on the infographic, we thought that we could apply the same blind form submit process to test videos. Because we leverage video content in many marketing campaigns, using the minimal data from blind forms was not sufficient. Through online research and visiting Topliners, we discovered a video hosting company called Brightcove which plugs into Eloqua. Brightcove’s integration with Eloqua gives us visibility not only to that a contact viewed the video, but  also allows us to drill down and find out the percentage of a video the contact has watched, when the video was abandoned, and how the video was accessed. This feature is far more valuable than a blind form submit, which could only tell us if the contact had visited the landing page with the video and not any data on their interaction with the video. Through our Brightcove integration with Eloqua we can customize follow-up emails based on their interaction, helping us qualify them as sales leads.

 

By removing the initial form on the campaign, we were able to increase our engagement rate and send more prospects further down the funnel. Since we typically built campaigns that filtered out contacts that did not complete a form, we were able to dramatically increase the number of contacts who progressed in the campaign. At the end of every campaign, we end with a “contact your representative” email. These leads typically flow into our CRM for sales follow-up. We have found that we can provide a secondary list of leads to marketers from people that engaged with the content in the campaign, but may not have filled out the contact your representative form. While these leads are not as hot as the contacts who self-selected to fill out the form, sales has been able to make traction with these leads.

 

 

We are beginning to see improvement in engagement with this new method. As we apply this strategy to future campaigns, we will be able to further test and are likely to see increased engagement across campaigns.

 

Type of Asset

Contacts in Campaign

Stats

Percentage

Gated Infographic

3,088

25 abandoned, 37 submitted form

  1. 0.8% abandon, 1.2% submitted form

Ungated Infographic

11,497

174 submitted blind form

  1. 1.5% submitted the blind form

 

Gated Video

8,131

144 visited the landing page, but no stats available on video views

  1. 1.8% visited the landing page

Ungated Video

11,497

108 watched the video, 86 watched over 50%

  1. 0.9% watched the video, 0.7% watched over 50%

 

 

Following is a list of some of the courses that helped me in creating this new approach to leveraging content

B2B Conversion: Advanced Editing and Form Processing

B2B Conversion: Blind Form Submits

B2B Analysis: Insight for Reporters

B2B Technology: System Integrations

And of course, Topliners

The modern marketing event of the year is just around the corner and we're finalizing our lessons for Education Day on Tuesday, April 26! Education Day is your opportunity to sharpen your skills in the best automation platforms around -- or maybe get your first taste for how Academy training can help maximize your marketing automation investment.

 

So, what will you learn on Education Day at MME 2016 in Las Vegas?

 

That, my friends, is all up to you!

 

Watch an overview of what's planned for Education Day in our new highlight video on the Academy YouTube playlist.

 

 

With over 30 sessions planned for our pre-conference training day, you're sure to find valuable topics that will help expand your knowledge and expertise in the Oracle Marketing Cloud product lineup. Sessions will cover all Oracle Marketing Cloud products (Oracle Eloqua, Oracle Responsys, Oracle DMP, Oracle Content Marketing and Oracle Maxymiser) as well as best practice/strategic session offerings - all taught by our outstanding Academy instructors and Oracle Marketing Cloud product experts.

 

Still need to register for Modern Marketing Experience 2016? Visit the event website today to register yourself and/or your team and come learn with us first on Education Day, April 26!

 

Once registered, be sure to check out the full conference schedule in the MME 2016 Session Guide. Then, download the Oracle Events app from the App Store to plan your experience! Search for Event ID 'MME16' to begin creating your personal schedule for the conference.

 

The Academy Team can't wait to meet you at Modern Marketing Experience 2016!

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