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Reaching Your Inbox

The success of your email marketing communications is directly impacted by email deliverability. As spammers continue to bypass spam filters, ISPs are putting in place increased security measures to curtail abuses such as phishing attempts and junk mail. Consequently, inbox placement and reaching the inbox of your intended audience while avoiding spam filters has become more challenging. More than ever, email senders must be aware of email sending best practices and the key factors that influence deliverability. These include but are not limited to:

  • Quality of contact list
  • IP sender reputation
  • Volume of emails sent
  • Complaints/blacklist

 

The Challenge

Our client sends emails on behalf of their customers and just completed their IP warming process about 3 months ago. While monitoring their email campaign performance, they recently discovered that their bounceback rates are as high as 5% and their open rates are around 6%. They suspect that their emails are going straight to the spam folder and not hitting the intended recipient’s inbox. This is a critical issue for the client as their leads are potentially not receiving their emails.
Here’s the breakdown per the Email Analysis Overview report demonstrating the low open rates and high bounceback rates:
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 8.03.18 PM.png

 

Benchmarking

Sender reputation is a score assigned to an IP address that helps ISPs determine its overall email sending behaviour over time. Sender scores range from 0 to 100 and lower scores indicate a lower likelihood of email delivery to an inbox. As such, the first step is to baseline the current sender score of the client’s IP. By navigating to https://www.senderscore.org, we noted that the current sender score for the client’s dedicated IP is surprisingly high at 95. Finally, in accordance to best practices, the client is targeting the following improvements in their spam folder delivery:

  • Keep hard bounceback rates under 3%
  • Keep spam complaints under 0.1%
  • Keep unsubscription rates under 2%

 

Investigation

Email Authentication

  • Confirmed the From address being used in their email has the same domain as the bounceback address.
  • Verified the SPF record is present on the From address and the bounceback address

         i. https://mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 10.36.45 AM.png

ii. The SPF statement reads v=spf1 include:_netblocks.eloqua.com –all

  • Verified DKIM is set up for the FROM domain

i. http://dkimcore.org/tools/keycheck.html

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 11.01.18 AM.png

ii. It passes the check and DKIM is properly set up.

 

Reviewing content of the email

  • Certain combination of words such as “Free”, “Limited Time”, “Now” should be avoided as it can result in spam folder placement. Therefore, it is worth perusing the subject line of the emails in question to make sure they don’t appear “spammy”. It is also worth reviewing the text to image ratio of the email for its overall feel.

 

Reviewed the SPAM unsubscribe report for complaints

  • Navigated to Eloqua homepage >  Analytics > Classic Insight > Reports & Dashboards > Emails > Email Metrics > Spam Unsubscribe
  • Based on this, it can be seen that individual recipients aren’t hitting the “Report as SPAM” button for the emails in question

 

Bounceback History With report messaging

  • Navigated to Eloqua homepage >  Analytics > Classic Insight > Reports & Dashboards > Emails > Email Metrics > Bounceback History with Messaging
  • After reviewing the STMP code and error message, the two main rejection reasons are as follows:

        i. Spam URL content      

       ii. Blacklisted

 

Reviewing the bounces we can see that our client has sent mail to spam traps. Since spam traps are sometimes created by various ISPs or a blacklist group, sending to these addresses will result in a listing and possibly have your emails being treated as junk in the mailbox. Therefore, the next step is to submit a request to remove the blacklist for our client’s IP and see if we can get the blocks removed. We are also making the recommendation to have the client sign up for Return Path, as it provides conclusive evidence that an email has reached the inbox.

 

Conclusion

As this project is still ongoing, we do not have a storybook ending yet. This is a high priority problem for the client, as the overall performance of their email campaigns has become very difficult to judge. Since the client regularly has events/show trades, the lack of accurate engagement metrics is severely impacting their reporting. Therefore, determining inbox placement and mitigating spam folder delivery, will directly result in the client obtaining more accurate engagements metrics (i.e tracking opens and clicks) in the future. Moreover, the success of this project will enable the client to better link revenue to each of their campaigns. Lastly, it will also greatly improve the client’s customer experience with Eloqua and their ability to manage their own dedicated IP.

 

Due to my involvement in this project, I will be overseeing the implementation of Return Path seed lists into Eloqua. As such, our company will make sure that the client’s dedicated IP is Return Path certified. At the conclusion of this project, our company will gain expertise in using Return Path inbox monitoring software and dashboards. We will also be running ad-hoc bi-weekly and monthly deliverability/health analysis reports on the client's behalf.

 

Helpful Courses

  • Modern Marketing (MM): Email Deliverability

Introduction

Working within the marketing department of a large multinational mass media organization brings about many complexities where data is concerned. Like many organizations, at the heart of what we manage and interrogate are tools such as Sales force, Tableau, and Unica, all of which are linked to the data enterprise warehouse (EDW) where most of our data is held and central to all our other tools.

 

The arrival of Eloqua to our organization in 2016 allowed Marketing to execute campaigns using a tool which allowed our users with a higher degree of flexibility and functionality. With this in mind, the department was driven to get users trained on Eloqua and to migrate many of our everyday tasks from one automation tool to another.

 

Goals

The arrival of Eloqua to our department brought the opportunity to carry out our day to day tasks quicker and efficiently but more importantly we were feeding data from our EDW into Eloqua which many saw as more stable and reliable platform to our existing one.  Problems surrounding data outages and other technical issues were the catalyst to bringing forward the migration of our scheduled programs.  Achieving this would see the department having to create fewer numbers of assets through dynamic content.  This also meant that we could migrate complicated exclusions and segmentation to a more stable platform.  Eloqua would also allow the flexibility to make any kind of exclusions and additions without much disruption.

 

Challenge

Moving away from our existing automation tool which extracted data from the EDW would always be a challenge. The information that the EDW collates such as dates, product version etc were values that Eloqua would not be able to support just yet, so much of the data crunching that created the output that meets the criteria for the target audience needed to be completed outside of both Eloqua and Unica.

 

Another challenge was to ensure that our Email assets were built so that they could be viewed across many platforms and browsers including phones and tablets.  Getting our emails to render across these platforms and browsers prove to be quite difficult and unfortunately, took many attempts by a third party agency that was responsible to test it rigorously.

 

Approach

It was originally planned that whilst Eloqua would deliver the communication (due to the expiration of our e-license with Unica), the tool would still run the data extraction and dump the file to out in the SFTP site for the CDO in Eloqua to pickup.  It was at this point where a more efficient and easier approach was brought to the table, one which would sidestep Unica altogether.

A colleague suggested that he could create the output file instead. After much discussion around criteria and specification of the required file, he became responsible for creating the output file that mirrored the output that was originally created by Unica. He was able to do this by using ‘Informatica Cloud’ to generate the file and a re-usable custom python script to load the CDO via the Eloqua REST bulk api 2.0.

 

As mentioned earlier, much of the information/values collated were not currently supported by Eloqua which means a Custom Object (CDO) had to be created. Before this was done, I created a folder in the SFTP site which is where the file sat (.csv) that feeds CDO’s.

 

To create the CDO I first had to view the output from our current systems and what information was vital and required to support the success of the dynamic content of the email asset.  Once this was collated, I had to ensure that each different piece of information had its own CDO. 

Approch.jpg

 

 

Please note that whilst many of the fields above are hosted values (in Eloqua) such as first name, last name & email address, it is vital that field labeling of the CDO’s is not identical to the original field names that exist in Eloqua.  Once all the CDO fields were created, it was vital that the values/fields from the external file fed into the correct fields.  It was a good idea to keep note of which fields from the external file were feeding into which CDO.  This was also useful for when the dynamic content was being out in the email asset.

 

The following is the process I undertook to sync the file to my CDO.

Clicking on the settings tab (top right) will present you with 4 large boxes where you will find integration as one of the options.  Click on this and choose Auto sync.  This is where you can automatically sync the file from the SFTP site to feed data into the relevant fields of the CDO I created.  In many cases, the external file may not have fields that match that to those in the CDO but this would be OK as you can manually select the external field.

 

autosync.jpg

 

 

With the External file consisting on contacts that already met the criteria for our target audience, there was no requirement to apply any further specialized exclusion other than the standard hard bounce-back, master exclude etc which we left in our segment just to be on the safe side.  The segment I created allowed me access to the content held in the CDO which I subsequently used to dynamically build out my email asset. 

 

In the past, marketing built out numerous emails in Unica, but this was no longer the case in Eloqua. I was able to split out 3 Regional streams within the same canvas from the initial segment and then further segment the audience into different languages to meet the needs of our non-English speaking audiences.  By also adding programs to continually feed the segment of new contacts that meet the campaign criteria, the canvas was fully automated.

 

Conclusion

The transition of taking a scheduled program which ran weekly from Unica to Eloqua was tough and required weekly communication amongst all stakeholders where topics such as responsibility, criteria, dynamic content, email rendering and many others took place. All of which needed to happen without disrupting the weekly communication service that our audience would receive. There were also changes to the plans such as having Unica continuing to be responsible for running the flowcharts to deciding that a colleague would recreate the file without the Unica.  Much of the process amongst the stakeholders including myself was a new learning curve, and one without doubt, would help with future migration of campaigns. Courses such as ‘Analysis’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Conversion’ on the Luminary and the Segmentation & Campaign Canvas on the Masters course enabled us to apply the correct process for migration, segmentation and other smaller areas.

 

It’s only been a few weeks since the migration of our first campaign was completed but we have already seen an improvement in some of our key stats not to mention, the decreased amount of time we have to now spend on this campaign. The ability to add some clever imagery to Eloqua hosted emails and landing page assets was also a constraint which no longer existed.  In the last few weeks, we have found that Open rates have increased 15% and whilst this could be due to many factors, I believe the decreased time taken to communicate to these people after registering for our primary product has contributed greatly.  Conversion rates don’t apply where this campaign is concerned but we have found a higher percentage (9%) of new registrants clicking through to more information and generally becoming more engaged.  I know that this will drop off slightly after a few months but this is still early days but signs are encouraging. 

 

One of the few benefits I have found working with Eloqua in comparison to Unica is the flexibility in adding criteria to an existing campaign without the high risk of impacting something else further down the flowchart. The user experience overall is much better and the ability to report on the campaigns at many levels is great.  I have also found that I’m spending much less time in fixing errors and building out the flows not to mention the added bonus that the data sits in one organized flat hierarchy.  One of the great benefits is that you can build out multiple touches (communication) within one canvas whilst it was required to build our many flowcharts in Unica, again, very time consuming.  So overall, the transition was a good move and one which will enhance this organization's ability to utilize the many functionalities of Eloqua to further enhance Customer Experience.

Summary

The Luminary courses and student guide have been immensely helpful for my overall understanding of Eloqua.  There were classes I thought were unnecessary like Technology because I am not an Eloqua Administrator, but these classes helped me learn the backend processes of data integration and synchronization. This understanding allowed me to work effectively with Eloqua administrators to enable the LinkedIn Campaign Manager Cloud App and successfully automate lead creation from Eloqua to Salesforce.

 

But before I begin, a few thoughts about the LinkedIn Campaign Manager Cloud App

This is a brand new offering from LinkedIn; as such there are a few “kinks” and oversights from LinkedIn that need to be addressed:

  • Cannot customize fields in Lead Gen forms.
  • No field on the form for CASL or Double Opt-In countries to explicitly consent to receive future communications based on the action of submitting a form.
  • Cannot test in a testing environment!  We have been testing on live campaigns but in small amounts like $50 for a week-long campaign.

 

Marketing Challenge

Leads from LinkedIn form submissions are not being properly managed due to lack of automation between Eloqua and LinkedIn resulting in missed leads from paid social ad campaigns. We can set up decision rules and upload these leads as external activities, but it would be more effective to act on these leads in real-time by automating the process using the LinkedIn Campaign Manager Cloud App.

 

Goals

Paid social enables us to reach a large target audience outside of our marketable contacts within the Eloqua database.  Integrating the LinkedIn Cloud App we aim to achieve the following:

  • Increase in leads that come from paid LinkedIn campaigns
  • Decrease the time leads are generated to the time the sales team receives the lead
  • Updating contact fields with the most up-to-date contact information attained from a LinkedIn profile.

 

Implementation steps

  1. Download and install the LinkedIn Campaign Manager App (Client Admin rights)
  2. Configure the App.  This was tricky for us because as an enterprise company we have multiple accounts for different paid campaigns.  If this is your situation, you will need to create LinkedIn credentials for each account.
    1. Tip: it wasn't clear where to obtain the API Key and Secret and found this LinkedIn article to be helpful.
  3. Configuring the lead form. Since you will be pushing form data through to the Eloqua Form Submit App, it is important that you use fields on the LinkedIn Form that will map to the fields mandatory for pushing leads to your CRM. Here is a sample:

 

     4. Configure the elements in the campaign canvas:

  • LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms: configure the feeder with credentials, LinkedIn campaign, and field mapping data. Also, configure the frequency and end-date for the sync.

  • Form Submit App: the data from the LinkedIn form will flow into the Form Submit App so it can be digested by Eloqua.

        Here you will configure the feeder data from an Eloqua form designed to automatically push leads to the CRM. We use program builder for this and the decision rules are based on the form field data and processing steps are set to Add to Program Builder.

 

Don't forget to add a target step for errors!

 

  • CASL and Double Opt-In compliance.  Pushing the leads into a CRM does not concern e-mail compliance, but it does create a new contact to the Eloqua database that can be emailed. To address this, we add a decision step that compares contact fields of the form submitter based on country.  If they are CASL or Double Opt-In then they get an e-mail thanking them and giving them the option to opt-in and then another to confirm.

 

In conclusion:

Prior to using the LinkedIn Campaign Manager Cloud App, capturing leads from LinkedIn forms was an inefficient manual process which resulted in missed opportunities for conversion due to the time it took the form submission to reach a Lead Specialist.  Now we have the ability to close the gap on the process with automation using the Cloud App in Eloqua. The second the form submission occurs on LinkedIn, the data flows into the campaign canvas and the lead goes through the outbound sync to Salesforce.  Since testing, what once took a month, or more, to process now takes a few hours. Since implementing, we have had an increase in requests for campaigns using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and we look forward to using paid social ads as a new channel for lead generation opportunities.

 

Helpful Courses:

  • Engagement: App Cloud
  • Technology: B2B System Integration. Helpful in understanding how data is pushed from Eloqua to CRM
  • Conversion: B2B Advanced Editing and Form Processing

Recommended Eloqua Classes

The following Eloqua Training classes were instrumental in solving the marketing challenge, and should be taken before attempting the same solution outlined below:

  • B2B: Fundamental Series
  • B2B: Engagement
  • B2B: Targeting
  • B2B: Conversion

 

Summary

Companies host events because it’s an avenue for promoting their products/services directly to clients and prospects. Some companies host an “event series” (or complex event) which is essentially the same event, but takes places in different locations. Because event series are a large-scale operation, promotion becomes very important. One of the best ways of doing this is through digital marketing (i.e. email and social media).

 

The Challenge
A lot of work goes into orchestrating these event series, from arranging the speakers to finalizing the locations.  It can even be an arduous task on the marketing-side, setting up and executing email campaigns through platforms like Eloqua. The main challenge is figuring out the most optimal campaign flow so that:

 

  1. The end-user experience is seamless
  2. The turn-around time for setting up assets and campaign canvas is not too long/tedious
  3. Reporting (on email stats, form submissions, etc.) is consistent and easy to manage
  4. The lead flow is uninterrupted

 

Original Campaign Performance Benchmarks

We thought the “best” approach to setting up event series in Eloqua was having separate canvases for each location. Below is an example of one event series with four separate canvases

 

 

 

To execute such a process, this involved the marketers to:

 

  1. Create separate campaign canvases
  2. Create email assets (for each campaign)
  3. Create separate registration and confirmation landing pages (for each campaign)
  4. Create separate forms (for each campaign)
  5. Create separate segments (for each campaign)

 

For this one event series alone, we had built over 40 assets! In the end, we had discovered our “best practice” campaign process was actually inefficient and prone to a lot of human errors. Another discovery (this one a bit more surprising) was that contacts being invited to attend one event location (as we were building our segments to invite contacts to a specific location), were also asking for information or to be registered for the other event locations as well.

 

Our findings showed that our current state of executing complex event campaigns was not working.

 

Our goals for revamping this process

Seeing a need to refine our current process, my marketing team had set out to optimize the execution of event series campaigns. Our goals were simple:

  1. Reduce the number of Eloqua assets needed
  2. Reduce the turn-around time between setting up canvas and deploying
  3. Ensure that the data flow was efficient
  4. Ensure a seamless end-user experience, and allow the flexibility to attend any of our event locations

 

Custom Data Objects – The Solution

To solve our issue, we turned to Custom Data Objects (CDOs) in Eloqua.  They allow us to store data without stretching our contact and account field bandwidths. In addition, we can utilize the data stored in CDOs in other parts of Eloqua such as building field merges, creating logic in dynamic content components, and filter contacts in as segment.

 

 

Eloqua Campaign Process Flow (Old vs. New)

By using CDOs, we’ve been able to roll this multi-location event into one campaign. This eliminates the need to build duplicate assets for each individual campaign (under the new model). At a high level overview, below I’ve compared the new campaign process to the old one from the end-user perspective.

 

Old campaign model

 

Contact receives email (location specific) > contact opens landing page > contact registers > contact is redirect to thank you page and receives confirmation email (this process is replicated across multiple campaign canvases)

 

 

New campaign model (one campaign)

 

Contact received email > contact opens landing page > contact choose event location and registers > contact is redirect to thank you page and receives confirmation email (location specific)

 

 

 

Eloqua Campaign Set-Up Process

Below is an overview of how this was built out in Eloqua. The complex event campaign seen in the screenshots below had over 11 event locations. With the utilization of CDOs (and other Eloqua tools) we were able to condense this into one campaign.

 

 

1. On the form side, build a pick-list with all of the event locations.

Pro tip: For the “Please Select” option, keep the option value blank. This will prevent registrants from using it as an acceptable value.

 

 

2. Build your CDO (refer to the relevant B2B: Conversion).

Pro Tips:

  • a. The two required fields in your CDO are Email address and the form field that captures the registrant’s event location
  • b. When setting up your CDO, make sure it’s set up so that the records map to an existing contact record, or create a new one

3. In the form processing steps, add the form processing step “Update Custom Data Object – With Form data” Map the email address and event location pick-list to the matching fields in the CDO

 

 

 

 

 

4. In the Dynamic content section, use the event location field in your CDO to dynamically populate the event details  per location (see B2B Engagement for setting up Dynamic content logic)

 

 

 

5. Create a “design” email, and insert the dynamic content logic into the body of the email. This is your confirmation email. Add a “send to submitter” form processing step, and use the newly created confirmation email

 

 

6. Once the end-to-end flow has been set up, you can start testing the end-user experience, and see how the confirmation email populates when selecting a different location on the registration page

 

 

Conclusion

 

At the beginning of this challenge, our goals/benchmarks for success were validating how much we could reduce the amount of assets and time required to execute a multi-location event campaign. As the chart below states, leveraging CDOs allowed us to condense separate attributes for each event location under one campaign canvas. This significantly reduces the amount of time required to build, test, and execute a campaign because assets needed to only be created once. In addition, we also noticed that the time to manage an event series in Eloqua was reduced because we needed to only monitor one campaign canvas versus two or more. Our other concern while setting out to test this new process was the impact on leads created in our salesforce system. We actually got positive feedback from our lead specialists, who found it helpful to have all leads from an event series, grouped under one campaign in salesforce, instead of under four separate ones. Lead specialists were already briefed on the context of the event, and had no problems using Eloqua profiler to check and see which location the lead had registered for.

 

 

4.jpg

 

 

Overview: Campaign process before and after CDO usage

Old process – separate canvas per location

New process – Eloqua CDO and dynamic logic

2+ canvases required

1 canvas required

Minimum of 22 assets (emails, landing pages, forms, segments) required

Minimum of 12 assets (emails, landing pages, forms, segments)  required

Time to execute – at least 2-3 days to set up assets and to test*

Time to step-up and execute – at least 1 day to set up and execute*

Form data – separated across multiple reports

Form data – one singular report

Lead flow - multiple campaigns in TRUSTLead flow - one campaign in TRUST

 

*- this time estimate is relative to how experienced your team is with Eloqua, and if your assets are standardized/templates1.

 

Future Application of CDOs - Optimizing Event pending registration Campaigns in Form Processing steps

 

We are now leveraging the use of CDOs further in the form processing steps by automatically determining the form submission response between automatically being confirmed for an event, and receiving a pending registration notification. In a new event campaign process, we will set up a pending registration if there is limited seating at an event. The challenge is our stakeholders want to automatically confirm anyone from our Eloqua segment, but then put anyone else in a pending registration step in the campaign canvas for review/manual confirmation. Using CDOs, we've managed to build in the logic to do just this! Eloqua will send a segment member that submits a for registration the confirmation email/Landing page based on their status int he CDO. Anyone not originally in the segment, will be updated differently in the CDO (using custom update rules in the form processing step and a hidden field seen in screen shot 1 and 2), and then receive a pending registration landing page after registration, followed by being added into a "wait-step" in the campaign canvas for review by the internal team before confirming registration (see screenshot 3 as an example of the conditional logic which uses CDOs to determine whether a form processing steps fires or not).

 

1.jpg

 

2.jpg

 

3.jpg

B2B marketers are usually looking for innovative ways to improve their marketing campaigns. Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy that combines the best of sales and marketing and uses their resources to approach, in a personalized way, a list of defined accounts.

 

Thus, the ABM efforts drive much higher ROI, reduces the waste of resources, allows a personalized and optimized communication, allows clearly defined goals, and contributes a better sales-marketing handshake.

 

The Challenge

How can a company achieve the ABM benefits through digital marketing channels? Answer: Using Eloqua to deploy personalized communications and pushing requests of customers to be served by their account manager.

 

The goals

Two goals were set. The first was, generate explicit requests of visits/quotes. And the second was to create awareness of the account managers for each account/region.

 

Benchmark

First, it is necessary to document the “before” state by analyzing email sends. It was discovered that the tactic was to send communications by geo instead of by account, and sometimes that was not related to the application that the contact is working on. Second, main accounts to launch this initiative were selected and were divided by region.

Blog 1.jpg

 

New initiative

It was decided to create a campaign in which we introduce the field account manager for each account. An email template and a landing page which includes a ‘contact me’ form was created, then replicated for each region. The form was configured so that a notification email would be sent to the account manager and the digital marketing lead.  The person submitting the form would be sent to a landing page and then to the company main webpage.  Then, the account manager makes a personal approach with the submitter.

 

Blog 2.jpg  Blog 3.jpg

 

Several marketing cloud courses influenced this campaign. Targeting and segmentation changed from geo to account and region, a form was created and used to get specific interest of the potential customers, and an automatic insight report (subscription) was activated. Likewise, there’s a welcome campaign active with those assets, so if a person from the accounts is added into our database, they will get the introduction email after a short time. The Oracle Marketing Cloud courses were a key element in developing the campaign.

 

The next step is to create just one email and use dynamic content to personalize the signature depending on the account and where they are located (the site), to keep their contact information updated.

Impact

The metrics from these emails exceeded our regular metrics. Open Rate was increased almost by 20% and Click-Through Rate was increased by 3%. The number of requests received was great. It was a good practice to add the ‘application’ question on the form because the sales people contact them with solutions related to their needs, saving time of the sales team. Besides, every time a contact requests a quote they move forward in our lead scoring model. 

 

Aligning our digital marketing efforts to the ABM strategy is helping us to influence our contacts, increase likelihood of purchase, and create valuable content to address the top accounts. We can communicate better with them via web, mobile and email, be more effective targeting specific industries, and measure and optimize the ABM campaigns to ensure results over time.

RESPONSE PROCESSING AT SCALE IN A LARGE B2B ENVIRONMENT

 

THE CHALLENGE:

 

The challenge in our B2B large enterprise environment was to process a large number of marketing activities properly at scale as well as to ensure the leads flow to our CRM system in time.

 

Our enterprise Eloqua implementation (instance):

  • Supports multiple regions
  • Supports multiple product lines
  • Has several API integrations with internal and external systems

 

The major use cases where we faced response and lead processing related issues:

  • When the same contact submitted multiple form responses in a short period of time.
  • When we used blind form submits as an integration and the partner submitted the records in batch (and the batch included the same contact multiple times).
  • Custom integration through Bulk API and the vendor submitted the responses in a batch including the same contact multiple times.

 

We have identified the following issues as a result of the above scenarios:

  • Duplicated and/or missing lead records in the CRM system
  • Inaccurate lead scores
  • Inability to properly track the lead source
  • Different reporting accuracy challenges

 

The root cause of these issues was that the Eloqua contact record got updated - sometimes multiple times - before the lead processing program completed in Eloqua and the lead record could have been created properly in the CRM system. The investigation was challenging since the behavior was not consistent within these use cases. The number of impacted records and the issue cause depended on the Eloqua instance performance as well as the time that was needed to have the lead program processing completed for the response / contact records in question.

 

OUR SOLUTION:

The solution in our environment was to leverage the Custom Object capability in Eloqua to store all response separately. We implemented a general process and guidelines to ensure when a form submit / response is captured a new record is created in a dedicated custom object with a time stamp added to the new contact record creation or updated in the Eloqua Contact table.

 

To ensure consistency all the response capture (intake) processes had to be adjusted to use the new response custom object. Once the response custom object was created we had to review and ensure that all the form processing steps were connected to this new custom response object, this included forms hosted on Eloqua and on other websites as well as event related forms. We learned that if you are capturing information on a form that does not need to be on the contact record, you can use the Update Custom Object processing step. The response processing steps, programs, and syncs also had to be adjusted to use the response custom object (like lead scoring and CRM lead creation). In addition to the form configurations we had to align the custom API integrations to ensure our partners are also leveraging the response custom object and loading / updating it properly in parallel to the Eloqua Contact and other out of the box objects.

The response custom object also provided the opportunity to enable more detailed reporting and easier troubleshooting. We configured each response processing step to update the response custom object record with a specific status code and time stamp. By using these status codes and time stamps we could set up an enhanced operation and lead flow monitoring process including reporting. In addition we integrated the new response custom object into our Enterprise Data Warehouse we were able to deliver more accurate business reports and dashboards.

 

High level overview of the Response Custom Object in the framework:

 

Luminary.png

THE OUTCOME AND RESULTS:

 

  • Enhanced lead quality, reduced duplicate leads: As the lead creation in the CRM system used the response custom object the lead record had the values from the actual response and not from the most recent Contact record. This eliminated the duplicated leads due to an update overwriting the Eloqua Contact record.
  • Increased efficiency across the organization: Due to the processing status codes the response processing investigation was much easier and faster. We developed a response / lead processing dashboard that shows the number of records in the different process statuses as well as the number of errors and their different statuses. This self-service dashboard reduced the queries to our platform team as the demand generation team could check their lead flow status themselves.
  • Enhanced reporting capability: The processing status codes enabled us to identify the problematic parts of the lead flow process. It also enabled us to improve campaign set ups and accelerate lead flow. This is because we are able to measure the time required for each processing step. Once we knew that we were able to take steps to improve the problematic ones.
  • Improved targeting and segmentation capability: The response custom object was also a great source for our Enterprise Data Warehouse that provides the data for segmentation and list pull process.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

 

I highly recommend that before making a decision to move to the above described processing architecture (or to a similar one) you thoroughly analyze all your use cases and the related business requirements. This will drive the supporting design and process/object architecture.

 

The Eloqua custom object capability provides great benefits but it also adds complexity to your Eloqua instance. If the standard out of the box Eloqua objects and response / lead processing capability can meet your business requirements the less customization is always better. If you decide to go with the custom object approach ensure you thoroughly test the configuration - ideally in a sandbox environment - including all the integration points to avoid any surprises in the production process.

I had experience on a large enterprise Eloqua instance where the out of the box Eloqua response and lead processes worked well with some additional custom processing that accessed the Eloqua Contact, Form and Marketing Activity data through API.

 

So the best solution really depends on your specific requirements and usage.

 

RECOMMENDED COURSES:

• B2B: Integrating Custom Objects with Campaign Canvas

• B2B: Advanced Editing and Form Processing

• B2B: Effective Marketing with Custom Objects

Introduction

Data are key for many marketing activities such as segmentation, lead scoring, and analysis.
Having at disposition a range of tools to manage the data is, therefore, a key element to accomplish marketing duties.

 

Those tools should help to maintain accurate, current, and relevant data in the database ensuring high-quality data. High-quality data is the starting point to put in place effective distribution practices, in order to establish meaningful conversations and long-lasting relationships with prospects and customers.

The present blog post is about data management tools that can be used in Eloqua to cleanse the database to achieve the objective of having high-quality data.

 

Marketing challenges

Hitting targets based on key metrics such as email deliverability, addressable contacts, and the volume of the target audience, is a challenge that marketers face every day. All these targets rely on effective distribution: ensuring the delivery of the right message to the right audience.

 

Quality of the data sitting in the database is, therefore, a fundamental antecedent to reach the right audience.

The efforts to maintain a healthy database are even more important when multiple data sources feed into the database, which can lead to some inconsistencies in taxonomies and conventions. Also, changes in the competitive arena and in the consumers' demand can impact on the kind of data acquired in the database. It is also worth mentioning that some incorrect values or blank fields are derived from human errors and manual uploads. These factors can lead to poor data quality and, therefore, to the risk of missing revenue opportunities.

 

Documenting current state

To start the process of cleaning the database, the first step is to evaluate the current status of the database. This can be done through the Eloqua analytics section:

  • Contact field completeness expressed in %. Using this analysis we can assess how many blank fields we have in the database


  • Database health dashboards. This dashboard indicates the number of contacts in the database and the percentage of reachable contacts. We, therefore, expect to increase the number of reachable contacts once implemented the cleansing process

  • Fields & Views section. This is important to start building lookup tables for the update rules to overwrite wrong values or fill the blank fields




Goals

To assess the effectiveness of the data cleansing process, we need to compare the figures and stats shown above, before and after the changes. The most important goal is to reduce the number of blank fields and to correct the incorrect values.

 

 

Implementation steps

 

a. Data Audit

First of all, using the Field & Views section, it is important to carry on a detailed data audit procedure. In doing so, you will see how many incorrect values you have in your database for each record field. This will allow you to build lookup tables and then, put together your update rules that will be set up in the Program Canvas.

 

b. Building the Program to rinse your Data

To reduce the number of blank fields and overwrite the incorrect values, we used two tools in Eloqua

  • Program Canvas

Within the program canvas, we have created specific steps for the action that needs to be performed on each contact field.

  • The program canvas is mainly made of update rules
  • The update rules are created for each field we want to correct or fill up-in case the field is blank. For each update rule, we can select what kind of update action we want to perform: append a value to the field, apply data stamp, overwrite from the Lookup table, or overwrite from other fields

 

  • In case we overwrite values from lookup tables, we have to prepare a spreadsheet to upload in Eloqua: on one column, we list all the errors we found in the Field and Views, and on the other one, we put the corresponding value we want to substitute the existing field with.

  • Contact Washing Machine (CWM) that can be downloaded from the Oracle Marketing AppCloud

The Cloud actions that the CWM can perform to modify contact fields are:

  • Trim Actions to delete extra spaces
  • Case Actions to modify the casing of the field text
  • Substitute Actions to replace or remove some field text
  • Extraction Action to extract data from field text
  • Standardization Actions

 

c. Results
There are many ways to evaluate whether the contact washing machine is doing its job. One of those is to produce a second data audit report after having put in place the data cleansing process. If the tool works successfully, some figures and percentages should change, for example, the % of reachable contacts or the volume of a certain segment.

In doing so, the goal of achieving a more effective distribution selecting the right audience is accomplished.

 

 

Conclusion

A cleaner database leads to more effective distribution practices, allowing the business to target contacts that were previously excluded from marketing communications.

The cleansing process can be done effectively through some Eloqua tools- Program Canvas and the CWM app.

This has resulted in the following benefits:

  • more efficient targeting activities
  • more accurate lead scoring reports: the explicit score is now reflecting more contacts present in the database
  • more contacts resulted to have met the threshold required to pass through the next stage of the marketing funnel
  • a higher volume of MQLs that the Marketing team has been able to deliver to the Sales team
  • more opportunities for the Business
  • more accurate reports for the marketing funnel analysis, conversion, and validity of the lead scoring model.

 

An effective and efficient Contact Washing Machine will also help in the future to monitor the quality of incoming new data; it will help the marketing team to achieve its objectives around the effectiveness of targeting efforts and health of the database.

Overall, a cleaned database should result in better business performance, measurable in terms of revenues.

 

Helpful Marketing Cloud courses

  • B2B Targeting
      • B2B: Advanced Segmentation
      • B2B: Data Cleansing
      • B2B: Web Profiling
      • B2B: Custom Subscription Management
  • RPM: Effective Nurturing
  • RPM: Lead Quality
  • RPM: Targeting & Segmentation
  • B2B: Fundamentals of Segmentation

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