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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.