In Sureshot’s third Eloqua Office Hours, viewers were invited to ask our CEO, David York absolutely anything about Eloqua. In this open Q&A webinar, David answered audience questions and equipped viewers with insights on how to improve data standardization processes, find mystery contact sources, and incorporate Eloqua best practices that produce big results. To get the 411 from this information-packed webinar, scan our notes below.

David’s Deep Experience With Eloqua
David has been a user of Eloqua for 17+ years, and was introduced to the platform in 2003 while working in marketing operations for a large corporation. Upon leaving that post, David served as an Eloqua Solutions Consultant for over four years, using the platform day-in and day-out to help more than 400 clients get more from their Eloqua experience. In 2010, David launched Sureshot as a marketing operations consultancy and martech development company. Sureshot began developing plug-in products for Eloqua that empowered users to enhance a variety of functionalities and expand its capabilities.

About Sureshot
Sureshot helps marketers automate data-driven campaigns across their martech stack. As marketers are adopting more and more technology, there are more moving parts to manage. At the same time the expectations and responsibilities of those tasked with managing marketing operations is continually increasing. Many times the complexity of a stack leads to more semi-automated processes which include a variety of manual to make everything work. The deluge of manual steps really hinders a marketing team’s performance and effectiveness as they attempt to respond to marketing at the speed of data. This is where Sureshot comes in. We create apps that resolve issues related to data, integrations, data quality, content, personalization, etc.

Question #1, Roberto: I work for a large organization with a multitude of individual business units all over the world, and all of the units are using the same Eloqua platform. Some of the users are not marketers, but project managers, and so they don’t have a lot of Eloqua experience. This has led to a ton of random data collection as well as an abundance of open text fields in forms. My team is trying to manage these issues through our governance process, but it is difficult. Is it possible to use the update rules within a program canvas to automate modifications needed in basic demographic and firmographic data, with regard to the personalization and data points we collect on blind forms and page tags, etc.? I’ve used a data washing machine in the past, but it doesn’t give us as much control as we would like. I have been using Eloqua for a very long time, but I’m open to any ideas on how to best optimize and automate this process considering the millions of records we have.

David: Great question! As marketing consultant, Sureshot has certainly handled a number of projects with regard to data quality, data standardization and data enrichment. It sounds like one of the challenges that you are dealing with is standardization. You’ve got data coming in from multiple places, and you have open text fields and form fields, and this creates a hodge-podge of different data points. Sureshot has done some large scale implementations of update rules to solve this particular kind of problem. Of course, this is a process that you still have to regularly monitor and update. A couple of examples of ways you can solve these issues are:

Example 1: Data Standardization Via a Third Party Integration
Let’s use a title field as our example. If everyone is going in and putting in their own title, things can get tricky from a segmentation standpoint. Let’s say as a marketer you want to create a segment based on the title field, or different roles that reflect the specific personas that we are marketing to. Some customers solve this by doing an integration with a third party data provider, like D&B or ZoomInfo. These data providers give you standardized data sets for the fields you need, like role or job level. You can query the third party provider by submitting your list of people and requesting to receive the appropriate current title for each one.

Example 1.2: Update Rules
When customers have not wanted to use a third party data provider to update and standardize their data, then what Sureshot has done in the past to address this issue is build update rules from scratch. This method covers about 90 to 95 percent of the data. Here is the process that I’ve gone through before in the past when I’ve done this:

  1. First, get an export of all the values that exist in the title field, which is a significant amount of data.
  2. Next, create a look-up table that you can use with an update rule that shows all of the values in a title field, as well as the value of a standardized title that you want to translate them into.

Update rules are great for this approach because you can upload a look-up table and have it be as big or as small as you need.

The Challenge to Update Rules
The challenge with this approach is that you expect the data you get to have a match on your update list, but there will always be outliers from the original list that are not going to match the data that’s coming in. This means you’re not going to get a 100 percent match, but this approach is definitely a great starting point for standardizing data.

Managing Update Rules
Be sure to revisit your update rules each month or even on a quarterly basis to make sure your update rules are catching everything you set them up to do.  If necessary, update your update rules to accommodate any new data sets. This method does require a lot of work up front. For instance, you will need to comb through all of your titles and find the list of 20 values that you want your data sets translated into.  Then, you may need to parse those data sets even further by separating out job levels and job departments. This, of course, will depend on the breadth of your market. The good news is that once you’ve got a first iteration of your update lists, keeping your data standardized and your lists updated becomes significantly more manageable.

Follow-Up Response, Roberto: Whenever someone submits a form through an email we categorize what they are clicking on. We have a canvas in the background with a form submit that has a processing step that says “add this value or this set of values to this field.” The set of values is where I got into a bit of a hiccup. For example, we have one field that’s based solely on engagement status, and we define that based on the number of touchpoints a person engages with on email and web. Once they hit that threshold, it defines their engagement value and puts it the field. This enables us to segment off of it and say, “in addition to all the other segmentation criteria, I only want to market to the people who are actually engaged with our campaigns.” When we got into a more robust and sophisticated version of this kind of segmentation and began looking to do cross-view interests, it quickly became exceedingly complex.

Using Form Submit Data for Segmentation Roberto: For example, at my company we market to every industry vertical that exists. There are a lot of synergies that exist between two industries, such as automotive and industrial technology. What I wanted to do is have all these custom objects ready that I’ve built and put in place, but I wanted to use update rules to perform functions like:

  • Every time a person goes to any product page associated with a particular business unit, add the business unit name as a value to this field. If it’s one value, great, and if it’s multiple values, fine. Essentially, I want to add this information to the field, so that I can determine if I’m marketing within a specific industry about a specific product line. By gathering this data, I can see who else outside of an industry I am missing and add them to a segment.

Follow-Up Question, Roberto: How do I use an update rule to either add or remove multiple values from an individual field – based on the criteria of people meeting a particular threshold and being identified within a segment?

David: Update rules are basically guided by an “if this, then that” principle. It’s a linear process and there’s a lot you can do with it, but it’s not something that is conducive to adding or removing multiple values from an individual field. There is a lot that Eloqua provides out of the box, such as update rules and data management tools that give you great flexibility. They have tried to simplify some of that with their contact washing machine app, which you have tried. There are some other more technical approaches I can share with you, but let’s have a deeper discussion about this offline when I can take more time to show you some options. For now, we’ve got questions from others I need to address before today’s Eloqua Office Hours is over.

Roberto: Sounds good, and yes, let’s do that. I appreciate your time.

Question 2, Amy: You know how on the home screen for Eloqua it says “The total database activity in the last 30 days” and it shows all your new contacts? Well, for some reason it’s showing that we got 107,000 new contacts yesterday, and I thought, “Hmmm, that doesn’t seem right.” I went to the audit log and checked and it doesn’t look like anyone has uploaded any lists. I have no idea where these 107,000 contact could be coming from.

David: Have you been able to double-check your upload history?

Amy: Yes, and I ran a report on the dashboard thinking I could drill down to see what was going on, but it would only give me a number.

David: Have you run a report on form submits?

Amy: I have not, but that might be helpful.

David: Do you have a CRM integration that’s active?

Amy: I do not, but I do have a program running for SMS that sends people a campaign whenever they submit a form, but these contacts were uploaded from a shared list. I checked that campaign thinking that maybe a lot of people had found the web page and wanted to sign up for our SMS, but that was not the case either. I don’t know where else to look.

David: It’s a triage process and you are definitely checking all the right things. The upload history is the first thing that would come to my mind because it will show if there is a CSM upload, as well as who uploaded it. Do you have any other integrations set up? If so, are there any performing reporting on the back end that you know of?

Amy: No.

David: Then, the only other point of entry where data comes into the platform is via form submits.

Amy: I’d like to think we’re that popular, but 107,000 people in a day; I can’t imagine.

David: The only other thing I can think of is there may have been a bot that got a hold of one of your forms and began spamming it. That’s the only thing that would have the potential to post 100,000 new contacts in a single day. One of the challenges with forms is that if you don’t have Captcha on there, you can get an issue where a bot is able to infiltrate a form, so I would definitely check there. The second place to look is on your form submissions. What you want to look for is any unusual activity? Other than an integration, manual upload or form submissions, I’m not aware of any other way for data to get into an Eloqua database.

Amy: Thanks!

David: One last thing I recommend you do is: pull a few of the recently created contacts into a segment and spot-check them to see if they are real people. You can also drill down into your spot-check on 10 or 20 of the contacts and see if they have a common thread. For example, did everyone in your sample submit the same form? Or did they all receive the same email? Of course, you only need to do this if you have determined that they are real contacts. You can even export the list and look at the data on the records. If a list got uploaded and a glitch happened that caused the audit log not to show it on there, then when you look at the data, it may lead you to the source of how those records came to be.

Amy: Awesome. Thank you!

Question #3, David: What’s a best practice for Eloqua that you’ve seen produce results?

David: We have a customer in the real estate business, and one of the things that we’ve been working on with them is automating highly personalized communications. They had a goal of netting new contacts by taking the most recent articles from their website and creating an automated welcome campaign that introduced prospects to both their brand and content.

Best Practice Application
As prospects trickle into your database, consider having their visit trigger a three-touch welcome campaign that allows them to get to know your company. Some of our clients have gotten very sophisticated in this approach. For example, based on how people interact or respond to the welcome campaign, prospects were sent down a variety of different nurture tracks that were determined by their unique interests in products, or other useful data.

Sureshot Activate Content Personalization Tool
Sureshot has a content personalization app, called Activate, that automates the process of pulling personalized content into emails. After our customer had used it to customize the emails for their welcome campaigns, they saw an immediate boost in customer engagement. They were able to equip each customer with the news, insights and articles that were of particular interest to them. The welcome campaign they sent out typically has three articles at the top that are matched to the customer’s interests and then further down the page there are three additional articles. We began capturing the data points regarding which customers were interacting with which articles and we tagged the subjects that were of interest to them. Then, we were able to deliver more articles that were of known interest to them in follow-up emails. We’ve been able to help this customer deliver personalization on a 1 to 1 basis for both their messaging and content.

Automating Personalized Multi-Channel Campaigns
We have another client in the healthcare space who wanted to send hyper-personalized multi-channel nurture campaigns. They wanted everything to be personalized for each customer, from the subject line and title, to the headline and intro copy of their emails. All of those fields were filled automatically using the data we had for each person. They have a fairly large library of content that spanned their stack and lived in a variety of places. We have been working with them to integrate the right information into the right campaigns, from email and RSS feeds to SMS, MMS, etc. We’ve helped them to do all of this in an automated fashion so it reduces all of the copy and pasting and the need to manually enter content.

Question #4: Where do you suggest users go to learn more about Eloqua when issues arise?

David: The number one resource I recommend searching when you are having Eloqua issues is their Topliners Community. It’s an active community for Eloqua users and they have a lot of guides and articles available. I also recommend looking for Eloqua user groups. Our partner Sojourn Solutions hosts a virtual Eloqua Users Group once a month. There are also some Eloqua groups on LinkedIn. And of course, you can always email me and ask me any Eloqua question at any time: david.york@sureshot.io.