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Introduction:

 

What is email personalization? Email personalization is customizing email content for the individual.

 

Challenge:

 

Our database consists of diverse customers. Current workflow involves one batch and blast email that is sent out to the entire audience. When email content differs, multiple email versions are generated to ensure right messaging. In addition, more than one audience segment is required to be built. In a fast-paced work environment this can lead to an unmanageable workload.

Creating personalized emails for a wide range of individuals can be challenging. Is it possible to personalize emails without having to generate multiple assets? This blog will focus on the advantages of using dynamic content to achieve email personalization and a more efficient workflow.

 

Goals:

 

  • Streamline work process to eliminate multiple asset creation for similar email content.
  • Utilize dynamic content in Eloqua to generate a personalized email experience.
  • Leverage personalization in emails to drive engagement.

 

Benchmark Current State:

 

  • Email metrics are performing around industry standard.
  • Process of creating multiple email versions and audience segments require additional work time.

 

Initiative:

 

Step 1 – Clean Data

Cleaning and standardizing data. Personalization requires that the information in our database is clean, consistent, complete, and current (four Cs of data quality). Recorded information in the database is used to drive dynamic content. Without clean data individuals will not be able to experience the intended targeted message.

 

Refer to B2B: Profile and Target to learn about data cleansing.

 

Step 2 – Content Creation

Build one email.

 

Personalization to include in email body:

  1. Add in a field merge for the contact’s first name in the email salutation to provide a more personalized experience. Field merges can also be included in the subject line.
    • Optional suggestion: Can set a default value (ex. customer) to populate, in the event first name field is blank. Note: It is not best practice to set up default value in a first name field merge for forms.
  2. Sign email off using a signature layout to allow individuals to have access to sender’s contact information. If the email needs to be signed off by multiple individuals from the company/organization, a general signature layout can be created from Eloqua user fields. Using a signature layout composed of user fields requires a signature rule to assign who the email is coming from. Since information is pulled from the Eloqua user, ensure information in user signature field is accurate. 

 

Step 3 – Dynamic Content

Create new dynamic content. The pre-built content can be dependent on information from: contact fields, account fields, custom object, or event data.

 

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Example:

If, contact field equals “fill in the blank” display this content. Boolean logic (and/or) can also be used to create a more complex filter criteria.  

Remember to select a default rule. Default rule content will display when no other rule conditions are met.

 

Step 4 – Incorporate Dynamic Content in Email

Go back to the email and add in the created dynamic content (highlighted in blue).

 

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Step 5 – Test

Send test emails to yourself to ensure that everything is working as it should.

 

All these step are covered in B2B: Engage and Enrich (personalizing campaigns).

 

Impact:

 

Since implementing dynamic content, our working hours have significantly decreased. Moving forward only one email with dynamic content and one audience segment is required. Furthermore, dynamic content can be re-used for other emails. Overall our engagement levels have improved.

 

After implementing dynamic content:

Unique Open: 31.13%

Click-to-Open: 8.69%

 

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Before implementing dynamic content:

Unique Open Average: 25%

Click-to-Open Average: 3-5%

 

Next step is to continue exploring other options for email personalization.

 

Summary:

 

A one size shoe does not fit all. As marketers we can take advantage of the information in our database to provide a customized email experience for our readers.

Marketing Challenge: Our Gmail audience--50% of our database--were having difficulty receiving communications.

 

Our sending practices were aligned with Gmail’s Bulk Sender Guidelines, as well as Oracle best practices:

  • Target audience built off engaged contacts
  • Branding & Deliverability properly configured
  • Proper throttling when volume ramped up

 

Our campaign/email metrics were on par with our previous marketing automation platform’s benchmarks (30% Open Rate, 3% Click Through Rate), so from an aggregate perspective, there weren’t red flags.

 

Unbeknownst to us, we were having a deliverability issue with Gmail, which didn’t come to surface until numerous Gmail contacts reported they hadn’t been receiving their communications. 

 

Again, looking at aggregate level reporting (Email/Campaign Analysis Overviews), things looked fine. We needed deeper insight into our data for our Gmail audience.

 

Step 1) Checked Reputation

 

We confirmed we were not on any blacklists and our Sender Score was very high 90’s.

 

Step 2) Leveraged Insight reporting for deeper analysis.

 

We customized the email analysis report to now include email domain as a column (Insight > Catalog > Shared Folders > Email > Email Analysis Overview - click Edit).

 

Under the Criteria tab, locate Email Address Domain field under the Contact folder/category. Drag field over next to Email Name. You can further customize, adding additional fields, removing fields, moving columns, if desired.

EmailAnalysisOverviewCustom.png

 

IMPORTANT: when ready to save this report, select SAVE AS (floppy disk with pencil icon), as you would not want to overwrite the master report.

 

After running the report, Gmail’s activity metrics were drastically lower than other inbox providers. This told us one of two things, either A) our Gmail audience is collectively uninterested (which historical benchmarks prove otherwise), or B) Total Delivered did not equate to communications physically landing in one’s inbox.

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Step 3) Developed an Action Plan

 

With option B being obvious, we put forth an action plan to re-establish our reputation with Gmail, which included:

  • Temporarily halting outbound communications to our Gmail contacts.
  • Further filter our Gmail audience to only market to our most active contacts.
  • Introduce flow logic at the campaign level to route Gmail contacts to dedicated email steps, which we customize with extensive throttling.
  • Increased domain-level report frequency to identify red flags earlier.

 

Also, we configured our sending domains on Google’s Postmaster Tools due to Gmail not offering a traditional feedback loop via Oracle’s Branding & Deliverability configuration. If you have a Gmail account, there are two options:

 

A) Submit a My Oracle Support ticket to have the Oracle Deliverability Team configure for you. You’ll need to supply domains/subdomains, your account short name, and the email address/es of those needing view rights.

 

B) Configure Postmaster Tools yourself (it’s super simple, see below):

 

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  • Enter the domain/sub-domain you use to authenticate your email.

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  • Copy the TXT record and add it to your DNS configuration. Once configured and propagated, click “VERIFY.”
  • Once verified, give it a couple of days of high-volume sends in order for data to be reflected in Postmaster Tool dashboards.

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Step 4) Rolled Out Action Plan

 

Delivering to our most engaged Gmail contacts, as well as throttling as to not set off Gmail’s algorithm alarms helped re-establish our baseline reputation. As we saw our deliverability metrics increase, we slowly began to expand our time span of engaged Gmail contacts, e.g. started with 0-2 months, increased to 3-4 months, etc. Anytime we saw Gmail react negatively, we’d pump the brakes. When reaction was positive, we’d step on the gas a bit.

 

The custom email overview with domain level breakdown was key as we ramped up our volume. As our volume increased, we were able to better leverage Google Postmaster data, including these insightful dashboards (not all-inclusive):

 

Spam Rate - highlights the volume of user-report spam vs. email sent to inbox (DKIM authentication required)

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Domain & IP Reputation - insight as to whether Gmail spam filters might mark emails from Domain or IP as spam or not.

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Feedback Loop - shows average spam rate across all identifiers flagged on a given day and the number of unique identifiers flagged by FBL per day (when applicable) over time.

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Results/Conclusion: It took us roughly 4 weeks to get back into Gmail’s good graces. We’ve continued to monitor the reports/dashboards above, in addition to automating other Insight reports, Spam Unsubscribe and Bounceback with Messaging, to assist with our on-going reputation efforts.

 

It’s not foolproof, but we’re proactively putting ourselves in the best position to land in our audience’s inbox. As the adage goes, “it takes years to build a reputation and just minutes to ruin it.”

 

Cloud Course Influencers:

  • Eloqua Fundamentals: Fundamentals of Segmentation/Campaign Canvas
  • Profile & Target: Data Cleansing
  • Insight for Reporters/Analyzers

Email Deliverability: Are You Blacklisted?

 

The email marketing world is constantly innovating, and it has become hard for marketers to keep up with the rules and regulations that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Anti-Spam organizations impose. Additionally, email marketers must strategize about how to make their emails stand out amongst the dozens spam, phishing and malware emails that end up in people’s inboxes daily. Try as we might, sometimes we might end up in the junk folder--or even worse, blacklisted.

 

However, if precautionary steps are taken when implementing Eloqua and adherence to processes as you use Eloqua daily, your email deliverability rates should not be at risk. The MM: Email Deliverability course that Oracle offered a great overview of things to consider when crafting a strategy around how your company should approach email deliveraability. Additionally, Oracle offers a course on Blacklisting Basics. As a consultant I’ve worked with many clients who are challenged with subpar deliverability rates and they are wondering how to improve their inbox placement. In this blog post, I will share some general information about email deliverability and steps you can take in Eloqua to protect your deliverability and sender scores.

 

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Email Bounces

Email bounces are an unavoidable aspect of email marketing. Emails can bounce for several reasons and they are usually categorized into one of the two following types--Hard bounces or soft bounces. Potential causes of a hard bounce could be that the email address may have been deleted or expired. Or there could be a typo, making the email address invalid. Soft bounces usually happen when someone’s inbox is full and they’re unable to receive new messages at that time. You should try to remove, suppress, or correct email addresses that record bounces. Repeatedly sending to invalid email addresses is one of the top ways to tarnish your deliverability rate.

 

What to do in Eloqua: Eloqua will automatically take care of tracking your soft and hard bounces. You can use the reports like Campaign Analysis Overview – Total Bouncebacks or Email Analysis by Activity Date – Total Bouncebacks to keep track of your bounces. Consider creating a shared list or shared filter to monitor soft bounces because Eloqua will convert a soft bounce to a hard bounce in some circumstances. Remove anyone who is marked as a hard bounce from your segments and consider establishing a process to manage soft bounces. The Oracle University class Moving Contacts in an Active Campaign gives some good ideas about what you can do with bouncebacks that happen in your campaigns

 

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Broken HTML

It is easier than ever to create a beautiful looking email without any code. However, many emails that are sent are not W3C compliant and contain invalid HTML. Emails that contain invalid or stray code are more likely to be blocked. Luckily, there is a great tool at validator.w3.org where you can check your email’s code for errors. It will even tell you where you went wrong and how to fix it!

 

What to do in Eloqua: Luckily the new email design editor will take care of all the HTML for you. However, if you are inserting custom HTML using the Custom Code design component, make sure that there are no errors. If you are using the HTML editor, work with your email developers to make sure they are adhering to email HTML best practices. What works on a web browser, will not always work in email clients. Since many teams have marketers who are not experts in email development, it is easy to upload an HTML file that was created outside of Eloqua. Oracle University's class on uploading an HTML email gives an excellent step by step overview of how to work with HTML files that were created outside of Eloqua.

 

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Shared IP Addresses

Chances are that you’re not sending emails from a dedicated IP address. Traditionally, B2B marketing automation providers split the usage of their email IPs across their customers. Unless you’ve made sure that you’re on a dedicated IP, you’re probably sharing with someone else. If you’re sending from a shared IP, all it takes is one other person on the shared IP to ruin deliverability for everyone.

 

What to do in Eloqua: Unless you’ve purchased the dedicated IP address add-on from Oracle, you are likely to be on a shared IP address. Check with your Oracle account manager to find out if you are on a shared IP. If you want to upgrade from a dedicated IP, your account manager should be able to help you decide if that is the best decision for your business. Another consideration when talking about IP addresses, is IP warming. You wouldn't want to run a marathon without warming up, this same principle goes for your IP. You will want to make sure that you warm your IP up before you start sending out emails en masse. Oracle's course on IP Warming Basics covers how to implement an IP warming strategy and why it's important for email deliverability.

 

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Provide an Easy Unsubscribe Process

A study by MarketingSherpa found that an easy unsubscribe process was the most effective method used by email marketing professionals to increase email deliverability rates. Your customers expect to have control over the messages that they receive. An unsubscribe process is mandatory, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consider giving your subscribers the option to change the frequency of the communications they receive.

 

What to do in Eloqua: Using Email Groups is a great way to control your subscribers and the types of content that they subscribe to. Your Eloqua instance comes with a built-in subscription management page that requires no coding or technical setup! The subscription management center is also easy to customize. You can use tools like the Blind Form Submit for a one-click unsubscribe method. This presentation from Topliners gives a great overview of how to set up a custom preference center.

 

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Authenticate SPF and DKIM

Trust is very important in business transactions. It’s important to let your subscribers and their receiving network that you “are who you say you are.” Authenticating your IP and domains through methods like Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) is your way of showing your subscribers just that. These tactics help the recipient's network to filter out emails that are spam or phishing emails. Include your IT team when discussing adding SPF and DKIM to your email deliverability strategy as they will likely need to set it up for you.

 

What to do in Eloqua: The Eloqua Help docs provide a lot of helpful information about implementing SPF and DKIM techniques. Don’t forget to involve your IT team in the process, as they will likely need to create records on your servers to authenticate your emails. Oracle also offers a branding & deliverability package that will set you up for successful email deliverability. Furthermore, the Oracle University course on Email Authentication Basics was very helpful if you are unfamiliar with SPF or DKIM. These are complicated processes and if they're implemented correctly, you should only have to do it once. The course covers the different types of email authentication and shows you how to use them to your company's advantage.

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