Personalisation tips for savvy Eloqua users.

When attempting to personalise your campaigns, you don’t want to struggle with your platform and with limited capability.

There are no shortage of sources for you to learn about “personalisation” or even “hyper-personalisation”. I’d suggest the difference between the two has more to do with buzz-words than anything else. Regardless of buzz-words, your data will determine the level of personalisation you’re able to achieve.

To what degree you’re able to personalise your campaigns comes down to the quality and quantity of your data balanced with the value of your goods or services. For example, is there value or merit in personalising a campaign for 60 people?  It depends, are you selling $35.00 T-Shirts or $120,000 luxury vehicles or perhaps an $850,000 consulting gig?

The value of your product or service will generally help determine the appropriateness of your personalisation goals. The size of your audience does play a part, but I’d suggest only when you balance the potential opportunity value with the audience size. 

This is the process I use to determine how and if I’ll personalise a campaign.

It should be said that there are some basics that I always follow, however these basics are built on a good knowledge of the data I have to work with. This includes always addressing people by their first name. Some think this is overkill, however if I wanted to send you an email I wouldn’t address you as “Hello” or even worse “Hello Valued Customer”. If I valued you, surely I could at least call you by your name. I work in a B2B high-value environment, so I will generally ensure I use the Contacts’s organisation name at some stage in the communication, as appropriate.

I generally break my process into three parts.

  1. It begins with a Campaign Objective. The Campaign objective is critical, this is where we lock in the overall objective of the campaign. We determine the format of the campaign, the experience we plan to deliver. If it’s an event, we outline the audience we want to target. If it’s thought leadership or other types of content, we determine who would most likely find value from what we have to share.
  2. I then move to Audience creation or Segmentation. (You may call this a List, I choose not to call it a List*) I then begin to build an audience based on a specific set of parameters or data points sourced from the campaign objective. Using Eloqua’s Segments builder I apply various filters, removing them, adding more and constantly looking at the people being added to or removed from the Segment. The goal is to build a segment with the right people and at a quantity that I’m confident will get the results I need.
  3. Now look at your data to determine your personalisation options. Take a close look, a very close look at the data. The things I’m generally looking for in my work environment are industry, job category and a persons recent level of engagement with similar on-topic content. A persons recent activity on the website is easily viewed by Eloqua. In fact I often find there are people I can add to a campaign based on their web activity alone. 

*Why not a “List”?

It may come down to semantics, but my view of the word “List” in the email marketing world is generally a fixed, static list manually uploaded to an email marketing platform. e.g. MailChimp started using the word “Segment” in place of “List” or in addition to “List” several years ago.

In summary, in my view a “List” is static in nature. A “Segment” (in Eloqua speak) is a dynamic group of people pooled together based on a mix of profile data and engagement data that I can access and filter against. Along with recency filters e.g. “In the last 30 days” etc, the number of people in the Segment can differ from hour to hour and change once the campaign has gone live.

Watch this quick video to see Eloqua Segments in action, it’s so simple!

Graduate from tired, static, fixed lists of people…

Same as last month, grab the old list…

People are not static, their interests change over time. If you have a fixed list of people based on a set of criteria you created months ago, then there’s every chance your campaign will miss the target when it goes live. Eloqua users have the ability to build a Segment based on a set of filters. By using filters you know that the audience you arrive at is as current as it possibly can be.

Why is “boolean” search capability a game changer?

“Boolean search is a type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators (or modifiers) such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. For example, a Boolean search could be “hotel” AND “New York”. This would limit the search results to only those documents containing the two keywords.”

SOURCE: webopedia

From small things, great things can grow!

Dare to do something different, maximise your technology to get the best possible result.

I was at a house party a few weeks ago and I met a young guy in a marketing role with a government department. We discussed various strategies for audience engagement. Listening to him share his frustrations around audience design and working with “Lists”, I shared some of the principles I’ve outlined above. 

In addition, I suggested he look at some way to build a preference or subscription centre so his audience could share what interested them.


His audience was largely medical professionals, doctors and nurses in various disciplines. 

We talked about newsletter design and how one newsletter was sent to the entire database. Meanwhile his executive team are expecting ever increasing engagement stats.

It was at this point I suggested using functionality like Dynamic Content driven by the expressed preferences of audience members. This would potentially take a newsletter with up to 15 articles, down to a newsletter with 8-10 articles, giving people the content they’ve actually asked for.

Logic suggests that if you can present people with the content they’ve asked for, surely engagement would improve. That’s certainly been my experience.

My top tips for smarter Eloqua Segmentation & Personalisation

The key point I’ve tried to get across in this  blog post is that personalisation is more than just field merges and greeting people by their name. It’s about having a clear campaign objective to provide a foundation for your audience creation combining digital body language, profile data, along with expressed and implied interests.

1. Determine the values, or the underlying data that defines your target audience.

  • Eloqua users can use Email Group subscription status to be the source of truth for inclusion in a campaign e.g. subscribed to newsletters, events or webinars etc.
  • You may also use Segment filters to determine new Contacts in your database and then deliver a welcome campaign invitng people to visit your Preference Centre to share their interests and subscribe to other services.

2. Personalisation is more than addressing a person by their name.

  • When building your audience use Segment filters to uncover common digital body language. e.g. if building an audience for a webinar, uncover people who have visited specific pages of your website in the “past 60 days” that relate to the topic of the webinar.
  • If you’re in the habit of working from fixed lists or lists compiled by the sales team, there is little chance you will pick up the people suggested above who have visited specific pages of your website.

3. Eloqua Segment filters combined with Custom Objects help build highly personalised audiences.

  • I see Eloqua Custom Objects often used when complex data models make it difficult to tailor communications. A Custom Object caters to a one-to-many relationship vs. the Eloqua Contact, which is a one-to-one relationship.
  • One of the most common use cases for Custom Objects is to draw in data from the CRM. Your CRM contains standard objects like Leads, Contacts and Accounts. They connect to Eloqua by default. CRM Opportunities is connected to Eloqua as a Custom Object. This is helpful because you can then exclude Contacts associated to an open Opportunity.
  • Other CRM Custom Objects, generally unique to your organisation, can be connected to Eloqua helping you build smarter Segments and enhance your personalisation.

4. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done, dare to do something different.

  • This requires a paradigm shift. It means not sending an email to the entire database because a senior executive, with no digital marketing experience, thinks it’s a good idea.
  • It’s about taking steps, small steps and making changes in the way you do things. Think of it as a “Test, Improve & Measure” (TIM) process.

“A paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Even though Kuhn restricted the use of the term to the natural sciences, the concept of a paradigm shift has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events.”

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Hero photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash