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Eloqua Office Hours: Webinar #1

Recently, Sureshot hosted Eloqua Office Hours, an interactive webinar Q&A session in which viewers were invited to ask our CEO, David York absolutely anything about Eloqua. In this fun and informative webinar, David answered four audience questions and equipped viewers with lots of helpful tips and insights they can use to improve their Eloqua experience. You can click here to watch the replay of our first Eloqua Office Hours, or 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.

Question 1:  How many people does a marketing ops team need to have in place in order to manage each campaign or automation well?
(Submitted by webinar viewer, Kelly)

David:  First, let me ask how your team is distributed? Is it a global distribution or by business unit?

Kelly:  Our team is in North America and has five people, who each handle a different facet. Lead generation is handled by one person, who also works with our writers to develop different forms and links. Our director manages all distribution, booking and buying. The rest of the team is focused on developing copy, content and design.

David: So you want to know how many campaigns one team member can manage and operate in Eloqua?

Kelly:  Yes.

David:  There are two different schools of thought with regard to organizing a team to execute campaigns: the first is to create a team of specialists and the second is to create a team of generalists. One of the reasons I asked about the distribution of your team and its makeup is to determine which of these approaches will work best for you.

Creating a Team of Specialists

Specialization is probably the most popular approach for executing campaigns via a marketing automation system. When I was a first-time customer of Eloqua, everyone’s role in the marketing ops team was generalized and each person by necessity had to wear multiple hats. However, nowadays, what I have seen work as we help customers lead the digital transformation conversation at their organization is the specialization approach, which is also known as the Center Of Excellence model. If you create specializations in different operating areas, then you can expand your capabilities. When you have one person focused on one area, then the scale of what that person can handle is greater than if her responsibilities are spread across multiple areas of a campaign.

Working According to Strengths

When executing a campaign, there are multiple areas that require attention, from the creative aspect (concepts, copy & design) to operational delivery (campaign set-up, list uploads, etc.) Those roles sit on opposite ends of the spectrum and you will want to pay attention to your team members natural dispositions, as in whether they are predominantly right brain (creative thinkers) or left brain (linear/analytical thinkers). Ask yourself: are there folks on our team that lean into some areas better than others? If so, can we create more of a specialized team where one person is focused on the technical delivery and another is focused on creative development? Doing it this way will enable your people to handle a higher volume of the same work. Although keep in mind that each person’s capacity may be different based on his or her technical acumen or creative giftings.

The Team of Generalists Approach

If you have a team of five people and you decide everyone is going to be generalists, each person will need to become skilled at handling all the aspects of a campaign. From the brief and concepts, to the creative development and assets, to the campaign’s execution, a generalist approach requires a much broader scope than if you provide specialization in those different areas by working according to different team members’ strengths.

The Bottom Line

There’s a structural question inherent in determining your team’s needs. It’s difficult to give a straight numerical answer because the number of people you need will vary based on how you organize and dedicate the team. In addition, the complexity of the campaigns will also impact the number of people you need. However, if you planned to do only generalized marketing campaigns, then I would estimate that every team member should be able to handle 10 or 15 of those.

Kelly:  Thank you, this was very helpful. I have a much better idea of how we will organize everything. I think we will all train on Eloqua, and then figure out who will specialize in what areas and how each person can contribute.

The Paradigm Shift of Implementing Marketing Automation

David:  I have implemented marketing automation at two different times at two different companies before working at Eloqua. The first company was an established marketing department with about 15 to 20 people. I had an affinity for digital technology and so I naturally gravitated toward marketing automation functions more than anyone else on our team. We also had team members who gravitated toward the creative and content side, so we began creating areas of specialization. It was still a team effort, but each person was responsible for different areas of the process.

A specialization model empowers you to get more scale out of the campaigns you create in the long run. It also helps you grow your team because it enables you to see the areas where there are gaps in knowledge and capabilities.

Kelly:  We are probably going to need to grow after implementing Eloqua, so thank you for that heads up.

David:   When you focus on how you can maximize the value of your investment, it will always lead you down the right path. I recommend pursuing specialization in marketing and marketing ops because it allows you to have greater scale. You can also use the prioritization of your campaigns to help you determine your team’s needs. Think about your timeline for what you want to achieve and how long you have to get there. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a way to reverse engineer this team so that we get where we need to go?
  • Can we plug people into different roles and make the most of their natural dispositions?

Kelly:    What do think about certifications? Do I need to have someone on my team that is Eloqua certified?

David:   I would definitely recommend certifications because it gives your people a baseline of knowledge across all the major functional areas of Eloqua. Certifications are also a good confidence boost for your team members, and are ideal for helping those, who lean toward the technical side, grow professionally and develop their talents. In short, certifications are a great building block for becoming better and better at using Eloqua to the fullest.

Data Quality and Data Governance

A lot of the questions Sureshot gets asked about Eloqua center around data quality and data governance. People want to know:

  • How do I measure data quality efficiently?
  • How do I ensure consistent data quality throughout my database?
  • When data comes into the system how do I make sure it’s validated and accurate, etc.?

With both Eloqua and marketing automation tools in general there are definitely some areas around data governance where there are some challenges you will face as a marketer. Most of the time, when you upload a list into Eloqua it’s going in exactly how you uploaded it. Data governance is your first step toward better data quality. A few questions to ask yourself are:

  • Where are the sources of data coming from?
  • Can I apply governance to those specific sources?

Programmatic Data Governance

If data is coming from a program source, like a web form, then you have the ability to apply data governance to that form. Things to consider include:

  • Do I have dropdowns for specific data fields that I want to be standardized?
  • Do I have validation on the form fields?

You can apply data governance to things as minor as field completion, but you can also do some things around specific fields.

Email and Phone Validation

One of the solutions Sureshot offers is for email and phone validation. When you add an email validation integration to your form it enables you to make sure someone is not putting in spammy or invalid email addresses. You can also have the app confirm that a phone number is valid whenever it gets submitted into that form. Those are elements of data governance that you can programmatically manage. If you choose a CRM integration, you can programmatically manage that by adding a contact washing machine app.

Process Governance and List Uploads

Another aspect of data governance comes into play when you perform list uploads. When you have marketers manually going in and loading lists, governance becomes a bit more of a challenge. With governance, you’ve got to think of the human side of the process. Programmatic data governance occurs when I make technology do something. Process governance covers all the steps involved in how I orchestrate both humans and technology to accomplish a goal.

You want to make sure that there is some level of process governance built into your marketing organization, so that someone can’t just go in and load lists willy-nilly into your database because that will impact your data in a negative way. Once you’ve got your lists uploaded, you can use apps like a contact washing machine or email and phone validation to programmatically cleanse, enrich and fix data issues.

Question 2: We have multiple accounts in Zoom and WebEx, and I would like to be able to capture prospect and customer interactions and see which webinar they attended. This will enable my team to better integrate the data into Eloqua, and do a better follow-up/nurture campaign or email. Ultimately, I want to do all of this automatically – without having to manually extract lists from WebEx and Zoom and re-upload them.
(Submitted by webinar viewer, Nancy)

David:   From my perspective, there are two ways to handle this.

  1. First, Zoom has an Eloqua integration. I don’t know if you’ve implemented it yet, but we use it at Sureshot for our events. When you integrate Zoom into Eloqua, you can see which folks are registering and attending your webinars and feed those registrations into a campaign. I believe WebEx has a similar integration that Oracle built.

Process Example

If you feed the registrants of a Zoom webinar into an Eloqua campaign or program canvas it enables you to do a couple of different things:

  1. You can add registrants to a specific list and have that feed into a shared list in Eloqua.
  2. You can use your shared lists for communications, segmentation and other endeavors.
  3. Another way to do it is to pull attendee data from Zoom for your webinar and create a campaign that says if the registration feeds in, pull them in here and add them to the registrants list. Afterward, you can check and see if they attended. If they did, you can add them to an attendee list, which will be different from your registrant’s list. You can also make a separate list for no-shows.

Custom Data Objects

A list is pretty straightforward, simplistic and easy to implement. However, if you are running a high volume of large scale webinars from multiple sources and you have a ton of data, then using the list method may not be scalable due to complexity. If this is the case, then another way to approach this challenge is to use Custom Data Objects (CDOs). In Eloqua, there is a Custom Data Object area which basically lets you bring in and mark registrations and attendants. It’s also referred to as the events object.

CDO’s enable you to create a discreet record for each event attended, and then that record is linked to each individual contact. They give you more flexibility and a more robust dataset. For example, I can use a CDO to find an individual in my Eloqua database and see in an object form if they attended, registered or no-showed. Although the data structure is more complex, it gives you better insights into multiple webinars, attendance and things of that nature.

Nancy:  Since we have multiple accounts for Zoom – if I were to use CDOs, how would I keep data updated? Can I automate it or do I still need to do a manual list upload every single time to that custom object?

David:   If you have integrated multiple Zoom accounts that you’re feeding data into, you can use CDOs to automate that process — even if you’re having to do a list upload. If you can’t integrate multiple Zoom accounts, then choose the Zoom account that’s doing the most webinars and have that automated. If you have other teams that need to load data, you can still load that data and automate the process of creating object records after the fact. I call this semi-automated because someone is having to load something, but afterward it can be picked up and automated.

Question 3: When it comes to custom objects, we have multiple fields for each contact, but when you move over to custom objects how much information can you actually feed in? For example, our company sells warranties and one customer can have multiple warranties. They could have one warranty coming up for renewal or 10, so my question is can we feed multiple custom objects in for one client and have them list out their merge codes within the email, as in “these warranties are up for renewal” and then we list all of them – it could be one or 20? Is that possible through custom objects?
(Submitted by webinar viewer, Alicia)

David:   The short answer is yes. The longer answer is Sureshot actually built an application that does this because many of our customers had this same challenge. Natively in Eloqua the management of multiple custom objects in a single email is not possible because their application looks and acts on only the most recently created one. Our app pulls all the custom objects that pertain to a customer and then it lets you order them or show and hide the specific ones that you want.

Alicia:  When we’re feeding all those custom objects it will be through an API, so instead of feeding it to Eloqua would we be feeding it through Sureshot’s app?

David:  Yes. Our app empowers you to do what you want with your Eloqua data. It takes data out of Eloqua in real time and automates the process of constructing and sending personalized emails.

Alicia:  Will there be any spacing issues? If I’m using merge codes and I have five merge codes listed within the email as bullet points, and one customer has one renewal and another has five, will there be five line breaks, or does the app take care of that?

David: Yes, it’s completely configurable and you can format it however you want. One of our customers in the education field sends an email to students that lists all financial aid received over the year and they follow the same process. Their emails show multiple loans or grants and each list is specific to the person it’s going to. They have it formatted as a table and the table creates a new row for each additional custom object, but you could do the same with a bulleted list by adding a new bullet for each custom object. It’s very flexible in how you configure it.

Question 4: Are there best practices regarding bounce-back emails?
(Submitted by webinar viewer, Lily)

David:  Everyone has to deal with bounce-backs and there are multiple ways to handle them based on the type of bounce — whether it’s hard or soft.

Lily:  I work at a theater production company that sends email campaigns to large lists of up to 2 million people. Within the campaign we have domain checks and we batched our list, but we are still having bounce-back problems.

David:  First, it’s important to note that the root of this problem is data quality. When your database has data quality issues, you’re going to have bounce-backs. The easiest way to address bad data in your database is to use a third party email validation service. That would be my recommendation.

When I launched Sureshot in 2010, one of the first things we built was an integration for email validation because I saw it was an issue that every marketer struggles with. Email decay is currently around 20 to 25% annually, so that’s a large chunk of your database that can produce bounce-backs.

Consider Your Data Sources

If you are capturing data with forms, you can put checks and balances in place to avoid human errors and make sure emails are valid. If you are getting lists from various sources, as most marketers do, then you want to make sure those sources are regularly validating their lists. Depending on the source, you may get a different level of quality and dependability.  If you aren’t sure if the sources you are buying lists from have already validated their data, you can use an app that offers third-party email validation, which is another app Sureshot offers. Our app goes in and finds the email addresses that are bad or have a record of pervious bounce-back data and enables you to reduce bounce-backs.

Managing Forms for Email Bounce-Backs

One of our customers is a large university that was having major issues with their email sender score. The quality of their IP address was getting dinged because of this issue. They were getting tons of information via form data, and so we set up our app to validate all emails as they were entered into their forms. This enabled them to know immediately if the email was spam or a disposable email address, and they were able to quarantine bad emails ahead of time and prevent bounce-backs from happening.

Another way to address bounce-backs is to look at the domains where the majority of your bounce-backs are coming from and quarantine those domains. Email validation is relatively inexpensive but tremendously helpful when it comes to keeping your database clean and making the most of your marketing campaign budgets.