Best Practices from Oracle Development's A‑Team

Condensed version of "Classic Rookie Mistakes with Eloqua"

Michael Sullivan
Principal Cloud Solutions Architect


The following thread was posted on TopLiners (https://community.oracle.com/thread/3666600). I found it insightful to see what kinds of disasters people can make in the real-world. For the sake of brevity, I have condensed/edited it here for you. You don't need to understand how Eloqua works to quickly see what kinds of issues newbies run up against. Makes for good reading if you want to gain some insight about Eloqua and other CX products. (It also suggests where product management could make some improvements...).

And finally, as developer/architects, if we want to integrate with Eloqua we need to consider how another application might "discover" Eloqua objects when it is clear that humans are having trouble finding/managing their own content! (read below)

Classic Rookie Mistakes with Eloqua

  • 1. Not following the setup guides. You need to benchmark, develop data dictionaries, naming conventions, etc. We didn't do this until almost a year in and really lost almost a year's worth of true productivity.
  • 2. Running a bunch of campaigns out of the "testing area" email group.
  • 3. Placing filler content in an active campaign. Whoops - just sent an email out with "NEED SUBJECT LINE" in the subject line area.
  • 4. I see people skimming over best practices because "We need to get value out of this investment, so we need to start sending lots of emails..." Obviously, I am a proponent for seeing the highest ROI possible, but many times this means slowing down enough to think through the strategy for your naming conventions, email groups, campaign strategy and business processes.
  • 5. Not using segmenting/filtering contacts properly with the right combination of "and," "or," and, correct grouping.
  • 6. You're right... that one totally plays with your mind, and then you get into include/exclude. We'll usually have an extra person or two check our logic.
  • 7. I heard of a story where emails were being sent from reps that were no longer with the company...
  • 10. How about forgetting to set AM/PM in the wait step so the campaign gets sent out stupid o'clock in the morning!!!
  • 12. Sometimes I actually forget to put Tests in the Testing area
  • 13. Naming conventions for sure! They learned fast to use them or reporting was a disaster!
  • 14. One time I sent out an email to 30K contacts where all the links were broken. Ooops! Triple check, triple check, triple check. I've made several and seen more than several... My most recent was last year (yes, IMO, even after six years in the system, you can still make "rookie-like" mistakes). Last year, I modified all of our integration calls to sync on the 18 digit SFDC ID, tested and it appeared all good. However, I just discovered I forgot to remove the "use case sensitive comparison" criteria on our Company/Contact linkage (still an old school deduplication handler set). I have over 10K contacts w/ possibly suspect links to companies. DUH! Lesson? A second set of eyes on a test case matrix is always a good idea! One of the craziest I've ever seen? One user - at a VERY large enterprise client - deleted one of their many Hypersites. Not a landing page. Not 100 landing pages. The ENTIRE site! Of course, Eloqua was able to help them get it back online via the backup files, but it was chaotic for a while! Lesson? ALWAYS read - and re-read - the pop-up warnings, especially before deleting!
  • 16. Forgot to schedule a batch email and send it right away to thousand of contacts!!!
  • 17. Accidentally clicking on "Send Plain Text Only" tickbox under the email setting. Proceed on to test on the HTML version and send out the email and thousands of text email were sent out instead of html...
  • 18. 3 major rookie mistakes so far: 1) Being the only person trained or working with Eloqua at our company. The implementation has been more than challenge. With ROI pressures to get campaigns out, the biggest rookie mistake i have made is prioritising the wrong things at the wrong time resulting in spreading myself a little thing. I feel there is still a long road ahead to solve this particular issue however I'm getting a little better as I'm working out what process leads onto what, and what process's can be run in parallel. 2) Requesting a password reset for the cloud connector site (not being allowed to set it to old password) I set it to something else. Unfortunately on the same day as a webinar invite went out. So all those who wanted to register for the webinar got stuck in the cloud connector waiting for the correct password. I luckily noticed about 45 mins before the webinar but I'm sure it affected attendance. 3) Third mistake was not spending enough time on Topliners earlier in the year. Took a while to understand the possibility of getting such varied advice so easily.
  • 19. Always, always back up your landing pages before copying and pasting updated code... especially for live pages.
  • 20. Building emails with 3 dozen text boxes and wondering why we have rendering problems.
  • 21. Echoing what many others have said. There's a lot of foundational work that needs to be done during day/week/month one (including setting up and understanding naming conventions, defining success metrics with the help of your immediate colleagues, etc.). Don't skip the groundwork -- it's important!
  • 23. Nearly deleting our entire EMEA nurture microsite. Yikes! Luckily it didn't happen but the scare did lead to a great feature called recovery checkpoints.
  • 24. can't stress this enough - as much as naming conventions/folder structures can get in the way, they are a blessing.
  • 25. Believing everything will work as normal after a release. The Lucy to my Charlie Brown...
  • 26. When saving a form as a template in Eloqua you also need to save it as a form in the assets area because these are two different entities within Eloqua. Either I missed this in my class or I completely forgot about it until I had to update templates.
  • 27. Thinking that PDF download tracking will work just by creating the link.
  • 28. Setting a field as mandatory during smart start and wondering why you have a draft error stating a field is mandatory!
  • 29. Adding a filter to an active segment and forgetting to check its dependencies. And then asking the person who you poked fun at for having the same draft error the day before!
  • 31. After nearly eight years, I still get caught with time-based errors. Email send times, wait steps, even auto synchs. I would blow something up 3-4 times a year if I didn't have some great people watching my back. I also do something wrong with the data priority order on a twice-yearly schedule. Haven't done that in a while so I'm probably due.
  • 32. Bringing dirty data full of duplicates into Eloqua from my CRM upon the first sync. When your Smart Start consultant tells you to clean your data before it gets synced over during Smart Start, SHE MEANS IT!!!!
  • 33. Not getting Eloqua University licenses for ALL of our Eloqua users!
  • 34. Mapping out a campaign on paper before just placing it into Eloqua and pressing the Start button. It's amazing what a little paper and pen and also a little writing out of campaign logic can do to save time.
  • 35. Implementing a change in assets (Email, landing page, or form) in last minute and hoping everything went well, trying to make stakeholder happier. Truth is, more trouble, get CHANGE REQUEST SLA established (how much time is needed to implement the change or how much delay in campaign based on the time or request) to not fall for this one.
  • 36. I never make mistakes but a "friend of mine" once enabled a campaign where all of the assets weren't ready and put in dummy asset to be able to activate the campaign. My "friend" did this one about a year ago on a campaign. Put in some dummy place holders and intended to go back and add the real emails once they were ready. Got busy and didn't get a chance to disable the campaign before the dummy emails were sent out.
  • 37. Rookie mistake that I make for anything that includes building something on the web: Download before you upload. "Damn, I overwrote that file AGAIN!"
  • 40. Sent out my first Eloqua email just before I went on a vacation. We had a few people check it including myself. No-one caught on that we were linking to our staging site and not our production site. Two lessons learned: 1.) Replace your logo on your staging site with something big and red (assuming your logo isn't already), and 2.) Don't bring your phone on vacation
  • 43. My new trick is to put filler content that would not be embarrassing if it got sent out. (where possible, and when I have to use filler)
  • 44. Forgetting to add a new rep to the signature rules is one. I think the biggest was not selecting all rows when sorting a spreadsheet so that the first name field was scrambled against the email address field - uploading it and overwriting all those first names. MEMO TO SELF - UPDATE IF BLANK! Going too fast with wanting everything. Start small, think big!
  • 46. Our rookie mistake involves the "other" system - allowing duplicate contact/lead records in that system and then attempting to connect that to Eloqua, only to realize that oops, duplicate contacts are BAD and we should not have allowed that.
  • 47. We had one person in charge of everything that was running in Eloqua for several years and when she left the company we weren't sure what we were inheriting. It took us several months to get up to speed!
  • 49. Turning on our first big campaign with a form evaluation time of immediately (should that REALLY be the default system setting? C'mon!) and not seeing Dynamic Content request that was in it.
  • 51. Not reading the manuals!
  • 52. I'm also in my first month of using Eloqua, I've read this blog post so I could make sure not to repeat the same mistake... So recently, I sent out an email blast - I tested everything and it was going smoothly! For some odd reason, it felt too good to be true (especially for an Eloquean Newbie)... Turns out, I was wrong! Everything did go smoothly but the Sales team were getting the Out of Office messages instead of Marketing... I checked the settings and realized the "Reply-To" was set to the sales team email address... yikes! CHECK EVERYTHING!
  • 54. I think starting with small, less complex campaigns initially would have been better for increasing our confidence. I like the motto of crawl - walk - run when learning something new. It just helps you get a better foundation and reinforces your understanding of the nuances of a new system. ALSO, don't be afraid to ask questions and admit you don't know and answer! Everyone has been very helpful!
  • 55. Making mistakes is good till the time we learn something out of it. When I had initially started using Eloqua, I did not use the "Copy" and "Save as a template" feature for around a month. I used to waste a lot of my time creating similar emails from scratch again and again. Sounds stupid, but I can always use this as a benchmark to measure how far I have come improving and learning the nitty gritties of the system.
  • 56. The thing that still gets me to this day is not correctly setting the Key Field Mapping in form processing steps. It's almost always my problem when my forms aren't working properly. And, I almost never realize it until right after Eloqua Support starts to tell me to check the "key field..." You'd think I'd learn. The image is from a live form I've had running for over a year.
  • 57. Something that is easily forgotten here is going to "Manage Links" and marking "Track All". We still have the mindset that Eloqua will automatically track all of the links for us.
  • 58. Making changes to and saving a shared segment, when I should have saved it as a copy before I made the changes! Luckily I remembered the changes made, and changed it back before any damage was done!
  • 59. Ha Ha! We've all done it! Rule to thumb, Shared anything make a COPY! and do no harm! Proofread, proofread, proofread... have someone else check it... let it sit again at least overnight and look at it again with fresh eyes. I often send out similar messages for up to four different firms within our organization, so it's easy to copy an email and forget to change a minor detail (like someone's name). As simple as it sounds, I've created a checklist and will sometimes ask someone else to double-check a test email before sending out my final. The checklists includes things like Are all logos correct? Are all names correct? Are all phone numbers correct? Do all links work? Are all dates correct? Am I using the correct list? Measure twice and cut once...
  • 61. Creating a check-list is a great idea. It helps in reducing agitation and prevents fatal activation accidents. My checklist includes - Double checking subject lines and sender information, testing the email in all browsers, form processing steps, date and time of activation as per the correct time zone etc. After all, prevention is better than cure.
  • 63. The one thing I would add for the emails I do is to make sure "Allow Resend to Past Participants" is turned on because I mainly send transactional emails and it is not uncommon for me to send the same email twice. It's not the end of the world if I don't turn this on (there are workarounds), but it does make it easier.
  • 64. We do Test Sends to the whole campaign team, so when we didn't check "Allow Resend to Past Participants", they didn't get the "actual" send going to clients, and panicked that none of the clients got the emails either.
  • 66. Our group based its naming convention off one we got from Eloqua here. In our Marketing group, the people pulling reports are different than the ones building assets and configuring campaigns in Eloqua, so bad naming would mean disaster in reporting -- i.e. it wouldn't be clear to them in Insight which emails, campaigns, forms and LPs were theirs, and they'd miss some data.
  • 67. My advice for a naming convention is: Be consistent! Use the date (at least month and year) - also see #1 Call it what it is! Try to avoid crazy acronyms unless they are commonly used in your organization. (refer to #1)
  • 68. We built a Asset Name Generator right into the Eloqua API and force our global users to use the tool every time they create a new asset. The tool is just a form with some drop-downs that allows them to select all of the components of the name (Year, Quarter, Asset Type, Product Type, Geo, etc.). Once they make their selection, the tool spits out a name in the proper convention. Here's an example of what it spits out: The format is as follows: year, quarter, geo, country, product type, offer type, language, name (and the last one, (name) is a free text field for them to add whatever they want). We did this to enable us to find assets quickly and easily - especially since we no longer have the tree-structure view like we had in E9. What's more, we use the convention to easily create reports in insight. It's been a life saver.
  • 69. Ugh, had a couple scares myself. Big reason I take a hard stance that if assets and decisions are complete at handover, I don't care about timelines, I'm not taking it. They can stomp, huff and puff all they want, it's just not worth it.
  • 73. This is a great post I'm currently taking my first deep dive into Eloqua this week and it's great to quanitify the importance of a lot of these things - in particular the naming conventions and the way this will help with reporting. One of largest problems to overcome is multilingual campaigns covering EU and ensuring that our maintain efficiency within the team.
  • 74. About 4 years ago, while working at a company that sold through a channel model into the wireless industry, I confused my "ands" and "ors" while building a segment and mistakenly sent a newsletter from one channel partner (Sprint) to ALL of our contacts (Verizon, AT&T, US Cellular, etc). Our channel partners were none to pleased! Let's just say, 4 years later, I still obsessively check my segments 7 or 8 times before hitting activate...and then say a little prayer as the emails start flying. That's one way to learn segmentation
  • 77. And then be sure to use the list! It's so easy to get rushed and think you have things done. Checklists and standard processes are key.
  • 79. In all of my excitement to activate a campaign I forgot to add an essential wait step and discovered just how fast Eloqua can send contacts through a campaign flow.
  • 81. I've seen that happen numerous times. I think the timing of campaigns is very difficult to test; just takes checking and re-checking.
  • 84. We have a new client with a very similar need. We're inheriting hundreds of current landing pages, no solid naming conventions. Curious about the details of your form - can you share any details around what you used to build this?
  • 85. Organization is a huge deal in Eloqua. Create naming conventions and an organizational system from the get-go!
  • 86. Naming convention saves my bacon. For what it's worth I use the following: All assets start with the date e.g. 20140927. It doesn't matter what it is, a form, email, landing page, shared lists, the campaign even images or documents if they are specific to a campaign. They all start with the date. The date is more about a unique number than it is about the date specifically relating to the campaign. Except perhaps for an event, I use the date of the event as the unique number. As an example, our newsletter is called Outside The Cube (You can subscribe here :-). So my naming convention is like this: Campaign: 20140909 Outside the Cube 011 Emails: 20140909 CUSTOMER Outside the Cube 011 20140909 PROSPECT Outside the Cube 011 20140909 REM CUSTOMER Outside the Cube 011 (REM is "reminder" i.e. the email they get if they don't open the first one - that works a treat) 20140909 REM PROSPECT Outside the Cube 011 It means that I save assets etc in specific folders, but I rarely navigate through folders to find things, I just search for them in the search box, it's easy and saves time and because of the date I know I have the right asset associated with the right campaign. This is just one option, I'm sure there are many ways. I hope this helps.
  • 87. I also make sure to include event names, subdomain names and such in names. Anything that's a distinguisher helps.
  • 88. How did you set this great tool up? Via forms? I want to use this for our campaigns as well. I have almost the same naming convention set up as you and this would force us to use every time.
  • 89. You can use the Eloqua 10 Naming Conventions Template located here: http://topliners.eloqua.com/docs/DOC-2861. You can customize it to your team's needs and go from there!
  • 90. This was done with a simple, 3rd party-hosted web page which was served up through the Cloud Connector panel in Eloqua. Pretty simple solution but effective! :o)
  • 91. On the subject of campaign naming conventions - we built a simple tool to make life as easy as possible for our marketers requesting campaigns from us: Twitter | Campaign Name Generator
  • 92. Not noticing the end date on my first campaign. Ended up with a Completed campaign where a lot of members were just thrown out... Won't happen again that's for sure...
  • 93. There are different types of naming conventions based on your company activity or size. From my perspective, I used to work with this kind of naming convention: YEAR-Region-Country-BU-Type-campaign name or form name or landing page name Example : 2014-EMEA-FR-Event-Road to Revenue Tour
  • 94. We have established naming conventions but it's so difficult to maintain them!
  • 95. Agree. Although our naming convention was agreed upon by all parties, it does tend to have some organic growth over time... sneaks away from you.
  • 96. Naming conventions can be difficult to maintain and enforce, especially at first! One helpful solution is distributing a template to all users where they just fill in their pieces and the template auto-generates the full name for them. Beyond that, you can show users how reporting works and how a mislabeled piece of content, e.g. wrong geo or product type, won't be pulled into their reports and will actually change others, so for the good of everyone involved it's worth taking the extra time to double check a name.
  • 97. making sure you roll out changes to small pieces of your database, even if you've been doing this for years. Testing is a great start but a lot of the times the tests are only covering ideal and/or known cases. Once a solution is implemented you'll see unexpected results. It's much easier to fix 500 or 1,000 contacts that ran through a poorly thought out update rule than 1.5 million contacts!
  • 99. A while back I was hitting my head in the wall to understand why a contact is being created for form submissions even though the processing step of update contact was set up in a way that some particular submissions should not have been updated as contacts. And then I started testing things out to find that if you add the 'Add to shared List' processing step in the form, every contact will be created as contacts irrespective of the conditions specified.
  • 100. Forms can be quirky and counter-intuitive until you run through a real-world exercise like this. Can't count how many times I've run into similar issues on form processing steps and now I just know to check a box or not add specific steps, etc. just from experience, nothing you would learn in a class!
  • 102. Headers with spelling mistakes - triple check!
  • 103. I have a "friend" who has done that too. It's particularly easy to do this on webinar campaigns, when you need to wait for the webinar recording to be available to finalize the follow-up email. The next time my "friend" did a webinar, "she" set the wait step before the non-final email to 12 months and set "herself" an Outlook task to finalize the email the day after the webinar. It worked like a charm... after the email was finalized, we deactivated the campaign, re-set the wait step, and re-activated it.

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