Monday, May 31, 2010

Justifying Adjustments – Saying Hello…Faster

(Guest post from Amber Stevens)

A few weeks ago, @heatherfoeh wrote about the value of a Welcome Program. This past November, the Eloqua marketing team launched our own version of a 3 touch – 30 day Welcome Program designed to engage prospects during the time when they’re known to be most receptive to giving and receiving info (according to MarketingSherpa study). Initial results were amazing with click-through rates reaching over 20% in some instances. But, like any good marketer, we know there is room to optimize. Here’s what we’ve learned along the way.

Unsolicited hello’s make you seem like a crazy person. This might seem obvious, but we got so excited with the initial results of the program that we started convincing ourselves that it made sense to welcome everyone. Conversion rates plummeted. Using the ‘Email Group Overview Grouped by Contact Field’ report (which is great for slicing and dicing email results) to sort on lead source, I combined similar sources and quickly realized that for us, welcoming acquired names through list builds and our sales team prospecting efforts drove the lowest CTR and the highest un-subscribes.

We stopped doing that.

It’s also important to note that when we run online events or promotions with outside vendors, we send one “bridge” email to follow up on the specific event or action they took, and then feed them into the welcome program. We had considered stopping this practice thinking that perhaps only those contacts who directly sought us out (ie came to the website) should be welcomed, but when we looked at the data, we realized we have great conversions from our 3rd party leads.

We’ll keep doing this.

No one cares about “that guy” or your service pitch. Using the report ‘Email Group Overview’ I could see that conversions drop off drastically on both the second and third emails. Turns out, people LOVE the offers in the first email – but the second and third don’t drive a fraction of the conversions. Even when we swapped offers from a customer story (swapping male for female images had no impact) to our money back guarantee service, the second communication still gets paltry results. I think this has something to do with their buying stage – you wouldn’t necessarily care to learn more about services if you’re just window shopping. The third email achieves higher than average click through rates, but is still less than half as effective as the first email.

We’re going to revise the program and make it one touch – leveraging the highest converting offers (our Eloqua demo, fun intro to marketing automation and Best Practice Videos) – and minimizing other content by providing, but not over promoting.

So, as you can see, saying hello can take many different forms. The first step is to just get started – you can always learn and adjust along the way.

Please post your thoughts or questions on lead nurturing – I’m interested to hear what you’ve seen be successful.

Find me on Twitter @AmberSte

Thursday, May 20, 2010

“Stop Light Program” – Filters for controlling Email Frequency

Guest post from Carlos Cerqueira, a senior product specialist on our Premier support team.


Have you been enjoying the new Contact Filter options but want some ideas for incorporating them into your Email Marketing, beyond simple segmentation?
A great way to incorporate the new filter options into your email campaigns is to use the concept of Email Frequency or as one of my client’s has coined it: “The Stop Light Program”. This allows you to address issues with over saturating prospects/contacts with emails by automatically having them removed from email sends once they reach an appropriate number of email receptions.

The need to create a program is no longer required but the idea is still much the same: Create a series of Filters based on email frequency ranges that assign contacts a Red, Yellow or Green value. Based on the color assigned to the contact you can then implement these filters into various areas of the application to either block or allow email sends to these contacts.

Prerequisites for Filters

What you want to do is to decide beforehand what amount of email sends should classify a contact to be placed into the Red, Yellow or Green categories. You will need to input those values in your filters when you create them.

There are valuable reports in Eloqua that will help you decide as an organization what are acceptable email ranges to assign to your different colors.

An Example would be as follows:

Red – received over 10 emails in last month

Yellow – received between 4 and 9 emails in last month

Green – received between 1 and 3 emails in last month

A Valuable report is the Email Frequency by Contact Group (which is also a great report to look at on your Contact Group Dashboards) which will show you all the contacts in that group and how many emails they received within a certain time range:

Creating Filters

To create a new filter head over to the Contact Tab and select the Contacts dropdown. Select Create a new Contact Filter.

Once you are in the Contact Filter canvas you can see all your criteria options on the right hand side which can be dragged and configured on your canvas area.

The criteria we are interested in is the “Have been Sent an E-Mail”:

Click and drag that criteria onto the canvas and a configuration window will pop up:

Each color will be its own filter and the email amounts can be altered at any point as your initial ranges may be re-thought.

Additional criteria such as Contact Data may be used to further segment out your contacts to target specific industries, companies or countries, i.e. Adding a criteria to only see contacts that are part of a certain company:

Another good tactic is to incorporate other activity based criteria into the filter such as Opened emails, clicked and E-mail, etc. This allows for granular filtering and also then allows for more flexibility in how you leverage these new filters.

Leveraging the Filters

Now that you have these filters built you want to know how to implement them into your current process to possibly prevent “Red Stop Light” contacts from receiving any emails until they are Yellow or placing your “Green Stop Light” contacts into a nurturing campaign.
Below are some suggestions that might help you decide how you are going to incorporate these filters into your system:

- Master exclude List - If you are experiencing issues where you don’t want any contacts who have received over a certain amount of emails to be emailed at all until they are within Yellow or Green ranges then placing the “Red Stop Light” filter into the master exclude area would be an option. The master exclude list can be accessed by Customer Administrators under the Setup->Management ->System Management tab but be warned that any contacts added to this list are EXCLUDED from any email sends in your system.

- Default Distribution Lists – Another exclusion option is to add the “Red” filter into default distribution list’s excluded area which would mean any NEW distribution lists will automatically have that filter as an excluded asset. The Default distribution list configuration is again only accessible by Customer Administrators and can be found in the Setup->Management->User management tab and from there just click the User Defaults and Settings menu:

- Nurturing Campaigns – What to do with the Red and Yellow filters is generally obvious but there are possibilities for your Green filter where you can combine activity criteria (opens, clicks,etc) as mentioned earlier in the post to pull contacts into a lead nurturing program. This allows you to engage a target audience who you know is interested in your product/service but has not been bombarded with recent emails.

Hopefully this had shed some light on the power and flexibility of our new Contact Filters and encourages you to try and think outside the proverbial box.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun with Eloqua and JQuery - Tracking PDF Links

(Guest post from Joel Rothman)


I have been tinkering a little bit with jQuery. FULL DISCLOSURE, I don’t know the first thing about .js or .css. All I know is that often when I see something really cool on the web and I ask how it was done, I very often get the response ‘jQuery’. So, I did some digging. It’s basically a javascript library that is light weight, and designed to simplify client side scripting.

If you don’t know what it is, check out

When I was looking at all the functionality, I was thinking about ways that my clients could benefit. A relatively simple one was PDF tracking. The ability to track PDF’s is awesome. It allows for in depth lead scoring, as well as targeting and segmentation. PDF’s have always been a challenge, because you cannot embed JS directly into them, so you can’t load your Eloqua tracking scripts. The standard solution is to change the URL of the PDF’s to a file hosted on the clients site, with the URL as a query string. What this allows is for a web visitor to hit an HTML page, that does 2 things:

1. It records the URL and pushes it into Eloqua as a page view

2. It redirects the visitor to the PDF

Now, this system works really well, but you do need to change every URL, and I have actually encountered CMS systems which do not allow this! So, I decided to see what I could do with JQuery.

Now, I am used an older jQuery library (1.3.2), but the same code should work for all. Basically, what it does is when a link that ends in .PDF is clicked, it loads a JS function that fires the URL into the Eloqua site map, then allows people to go to the page. I have tested on all major browsers, and it works well. Some mobile browsers do not have JS enabled by default (think older blackberrys). But, the nice thing is, the PDF still loads fine.

In order to get the code to work, the first thing you need is to load the elqFCS.js file that is included in your elqNow folder, using standard scripts. This can be included along with the standard Eloqua scripts:

And the jQuery script looks like this:

Obviously the line numbers are just there for reference. But, it breaks out as follows:

1. Loads jQuery library

2. Starts script

3. The $ starts the jQuery function. This line is pretty standard, and just defines that something is going to happen on a defined event

4. Again, the $ means jQuery. This reads “when an attribute with a value of PDF at the end is clicked, run the following function

5. This function is the standard Eloqua FCS function, which basically forces a URL into the site map, when the URL is loaded in the brackets. The (this).attr(“href”) portion grabs the URL of the PDF that is clicked

The rest is just closing the scripts. Now, for line number 5, the key is to determine if your PDF links are relative or not. If they are not, then the above works. If they are, you might have to hardcode a domain in, or use a document.location function to grab the URL.

As well, in my samples I always had the function loading in the head tag, but I actually don’t think it matters.

The next step is to try to figure out how to capture right clicks on a PDF, for when people right click and save. I think this is really simple, using the following jquery plugin:

Any feedback? Anybody else doing anything interesting using Eloqua and jQuery?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Identifying Bounceback Hotspots with Analytics

(Guest post from Rob Heerdegen, one of our top Product Specialists in the EMEA region)


I love reporting! I'm one of those analytical geeks who just can't help but prove how right was my assumption. Sound familiar? This will be right up your alley.

Eloqua is home to thousands of great reports. And then when you combine some of those reports with our segmentation and activity based filters, WOW, you have analytics that keep you and your marketers busy for days!

A client I work closely with in the Financial Industry here in London, UK, was eager to find different use cases for these new filters. Email deliverability is always a hot topic for them. With marketers around the world, they very much leverage Eloqua's decentralised flexibility but put in monitoring tools (proactive and reactive) to keep tabs on the health of the global marketing efforts, centrally.

Here was ONE way they could leverage these filters to be more on top of issues of email deliverability or subscription health by understanding exactly where any issues (such as a high number of bouncebacks) were taking place.

(1) Show me my Data! Building a contact view

Create, or have your administrators create, a contact view, to isolate the field(s) of interest from all of your segmentation fields. See only what you want and need!

(2) Find me all my bouncebacks (or unsubscribes) in the last X days/months by Country... OR Geo region... OR etc.

Country, Geo.Region, Email Address Domain, Job Title (normalised I hope!), etc.

Simply create a new contact filter, with a single criteria 'Bounceback' (or Subscription) and set the time range for something practical, in the past 1 month.

(3) Build me my report!

Go to Reporting and search 'Field Completeness'. Find the report 'Contact Field Completeness by Contact Filter'.

Chose your filter, pick your view, and run!

Drill down on each of the major segments (e.g. Country, Email Domain, Region, etc.) to get the breakdown. Add these reports to a dashboard, or to an email update report!

Quick tip! Want to keep your finger on any hot leads turning cold? Copy your bounceback filter just created and add a contact segmentation field 'Lead Status' = HOT (or whatever your naming convention is) to find and be alerted instantly to any changes to email status of 'HOT' leads.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Separating your Marketing Database into Active/Inactive

Given the new advanced contact filters that were just released within Eloqua, here is a refresh of an older post on the topic of separating your active and inactive contacts. Thanks Chad Horenfeldt for the refresh:

One of the most important goals of Lead Nurturing is to maintain permission to stay in front of your audience with your communications. Data from Marketing Sherpa on content relevance and unsubscribes has shown that many prospects will not necessarily click on an unsubscribe link when they lose interest in your messaging. However, far worse, they may become emotionally unsubscribed, reflexively ignoring and deleting your messages as they arrive.

If you continue a rapid pace of marketing to this emotionally unsubscribed segment, they may at some point click the “this is spam” button, causing you a significant deliverability headache, even if they had originally subscribed legitimately.

The first step in avoiding this situation is to identify the inactive members of your database. To do this within Eloqua is very easy. You can create a filter and use Activity and Inactivity criteria that will tell you which contacts are not active. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following article: “Contact Filters - Creating Contact Filters”. In your filter, choose the following criteria:

• Has been sent at least 3 email in the last 6 months
• Subscription Comparison: Contacts who are subscribed as of now
• Has not opened 1 email in the last 6 months
• Has not clicked on 1 email in the last 6 months
• Has not visited the website at least once in the last 6 months
• Has not submitted at least 1 form in the last 6 months

It should look like this:

The last step is to use advanced logic so it looks like the following:

Therefore, all active contacts are those that have been sent at least 1 email and have not unsubscribed and have not performed any activity.

With this segment defined, you can then suppress them against regular email distributions, in order to ensure that they are not communicated to more than they would appreciate. You could even set up Default Distribution Lists that would automatically suppress these contacts.

Depending on their level of disengagement, you can target them with special re-engagement offers (How To - Create an Automated Reengagement Program) or campaigns using other media types such as direct mail or a calling campaign.

The critical point, however, is to identify and monitor the inactive segment of your database. By understanding its size and any trends in its growth, you can begin to understand how your messaging is resonating with your audience, and adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Priority Mode - Perfect for Fast Follow-Up

Eloqua's Spring release had many interesting new capabilities in it, but among the most powerful is a new "mode" for processing your marketing automation programs that process leads from inbound forms that need to be followed up quickly.

Typical marketing automation programs in Eloqua use "Standard Mode" for processing. This mode means that every 15 minute cycle, each step in the program is processed, emails are sent, data is manipulated, contacts are updated, and then moved to the next step.

This works very well for situations where you are using a marketing automation program to send outbound campaigns, observe online behaviour, and then send another campaign a few days or weeks later. The time increment of 15 minutes per cycle presents no problem at all in this scenario.

However, for inbound leads, who have just submitted a web form, this is not the case. You often want to score them, cleanse and normalize data on them, and then route them to sales for follow-up very quickly. With each step adding time before the lead got to sales, this was a challenge.

Now, Priority Mode solves that problem. Marketing automation programs that are enabled in Priority Mode will run every contact in the program (up to 100 at a time) all the way through the program every time they run, and they will run every 5 minutes.

To enable a program to run in Priority Mode, simply select that as the mode you wish to run it in when you click "Enable Program" and are presented with the choice.

If you have existing programs that take hot leads from your web forms and pass them to sales, you may wish to revisit them and have them run in Priority Mode if it makes sense.

Note that only 100 contacts at at time will run through the program. If there are more than 100 contacts in the program, the remainder will be left for the next 5 minute increment. As this mode is mainly useful for quickly getting leads out to sales from web forms, this is usually more than sufficient (as most sales teams cannot process more than 100 leads every 5 minutes).

I look forward to hearing from you as you experiment with Priority Mode for your programs.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Company Level Lead Scoring - from 4Thought Marketing

Guest post from 4Thought Marketing's Mark LeVell. 4Thought Marketing has been a great "Expert in the field", having worked with Eloqua over a long period of time, and having developed Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and Facebook extensions for Eloqua, among other innovations.

In this post, Mark looks at the challenges and opportunities of company-level lead scoring.


For many B2B companies, traditional Lead Scoring programs have a weakness in that they typically score on an individual (contact) basis, or sometimes a summed individual basis, but often fail to consider the broader and more complex corporate digital body language that can signify a valuable lead. Today we explore how more complex Lead Scoring methodologies on a company basis, can result in higher quality leads for the Salesforce.

Most Lead Scoring programs start with the premise that there are two ways to look at an individual prospect’s potential value: their Profile Fit (or explicit data) and their Engagement Score (or implicit data). Marketing organizations review the data available about a prospective customer that has been obtained in a variety of methods (form submissions, website visits, webinar attendance, etc.) and then ascribe different weighted values to each of the different data elements. Based on the aggregate value of the activities, a score is calculated which the Marketing team can then use to either pass the prospective customer to the Sales organization as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or continue to nurture through various marketing nurture campaigns.

Why Look at Company Level Lead Scoring
While this traditional approach to Lead Scoring does a very good job of determining if a contact has reached the threshold of MQL in a Business to Consumer (B2C) environment, it does not take into account the notion that in the Business to Business (B2B) environment, very often the value of a prospective lead is actually based on the activities of not one, but several individuals at the target company.

When scoring the potential value of a company as a lead, it is very valuable to look at all activities for all individuals at the company. As a good sales rep knows, different individuals at a company have different interests and different hot buttons. When a rep is reaching out to a prospect, she will target presentations to these people with a message unique to the role each person is playing in the buying cycle.

Similarly, when scoring leads, a Marketing organization would be wise to ascribe different values to different types of activities performed by people in different roles at the prospect organization. If each of these individuals were scored independently, not one of them might reach the MQL level. However, when scoring a complete organization, it is possible to rewrite the Lead Scoring program to view activities across different individuals and different activities, and arrive at a point where the sum truly is greater than the whole.

One quick example will show what we mean. Let’s assume the target market consists of Finance organizations looking for new accounting software. There are several key individuals involved in the buying process: the Finance Manager, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and the IT manager. While the CFO is the ultimate target, the Finance Manager is more likely to become involved early in the buying process. The IT manager will also be involved early in the decision process as well. If the Lead Scoring program ascribed a high value to a CFO title, and lesser value to a Manager level title, this company may linger in the nurturing stage, while the selling company waits for the CFO to visit the site and submit a form. However, if Company Lead Scoring is utilized, it would be possible for the prospect to achieve MQL if both the Finance Manager and the IT Manager do certain activities – where neither of them alone would have reached the MQL level. This would give the sales rep the ability to call on the CFO knowing that much of the early information gathering has already occurred.

Company Scoring PLUS Individual Scoring
Note also that company level lead scoring doesn’t necessarily obviate the need for individual lead scoring, but rather is often best used in addition to individual lead scoring. However the presence of company lead scoring should often cause a company to “raise the bar” for individual lead scores. This may result in fewer contacts passing through as leads, but more companies passing through, and more importantly all the leads passed to sales are now higher quality.

Company Level Lead Scoring is not simply the aggregation of individual lead scores, but rather a set of values ascribed across an organization such that the organization reaches MQL even when no individual would be worthy of that level.

The question then arises, what are the various methodologies to score at the company level, what situations do they each apply to, and how do they compare?

Definition of Terms
So that we can talk about company level lead scoring algorithms we first need to define the various components that may contribute to that. I’ve intentionally only given high level meanings to these labels, and not specific calculation methods because they will be calculated differently depending on the corporate sales model. We’ve added the following lead scoring fields that are similar to the existing Contact lead scoring fields, except that they are determined based on data gathered across the organization

Company Lead Score – Implicit: A measure of the Level of Engagement at the corporate level. This looks at implicit activities at all contacts in the organization.

Company Lead Score – Explicit: A measure of the Profile Fit at the corporate level. This examines demographic information captured about the organization as well as a composite of profile data for all contacts.

Company Lead Rating – Implicit: The weighted rating of the company based on the Level of Engagement score

Company Lead Rating – Explicit: The weighted rating of the company based on the Profile Fit score

Company Lead Rating - Combined: The final lead rating we will attribute to this company – similar to the Lead Rating for a contact, this value will determine if the lead is Marketing Qualified

Corporate Recency: The overall recency of activity within the corporation. Just as with scoring at the contact level recency of activity should also apply at the company level.

At the company level the calculation of recency becomes even more complicated than at the contact level, because recency in some way needs to be evaluated and weighted across multiple contacts. After all, companies don’t visit your website, contacts do. So calculating corporate recency must involve a calculation based on contact recency. And here again, we may choose to apply a weighting by title to which contacts affect recency the most.

We can also automatically apply recency at the company level if we apply it to the individual contact scores before they are rolled up to the company level. However, if we don’t apply recency in some way at the company level, then several contacts from a company that visited you three years ago could combine with a recent scale-tipping visit resulting in an MQL that really shouldn’t go to sales.

Simple Company Lead Scoring
Obviously, scoring at the company level is primarily for B2B situations and Company Lead Scoring can be as simple or as complex as necessary. Often simple is optimal. In a short sales cycle situation, anytime 3 or more people from a single company hit the website within the last 3 months we have an MQL. Done! This Lead Scoring program would simply calculate a Company Lead Score – Implicit and combine it with a Corporate Recency value to ascribe a Company Lead Rating – Combined value.

Another situation where Simple Company Lead Scoring is optimal might be selling services for heating or air conditioners. In this situation simply focusing on a few key titles related to “maintenance” might be best. This program would include values based on contact titles as well as Company Lead Score – ExplicitCompany Lead Score – Implicit to achieve a Company Lead Rating – Combined value.

Complex Company Lead Scoring
A good situation for Complex Company Level Scoring might be a complex sales environment that requires multiple high level purchasers. In that situation, looking for multiple high level titles over a longer period of time (6 months) might be appropriate. B2B doesn’t always mean company level scoring… however complex B2B sales processes would almost always benefit from Complex Company Lead Scoring. This Lead Scoring program might use each of the values defined above, looking at Company Lead Score – Implicit and Company Lead Score – Explicit to calculate ratings based on weighted criteria, including which pages were visited and which forms were submitted by different individuals in the company. After a critical level was reached across the target company, the Company Lead Rating – Combined value would achieve MQL status, and the lead would be passed to the sales team.

Developing a Company Lead Scoring program can bring tremendous advantages to an organization provided it is implemented in a well thought through manner. It requires knowledge of the target market as well as the activities that signal a qualified prospective company Lead. Moving from contact level Lead Scoring to Company Lead Scoring also requires a collaborative effort between the Marketing and Sales organizations and should be reviewed periodically to ensure highly qualified leads are being scored effectively.