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Chapter 4: Event Registration

Overview: Two registration processes.

Regardless of the type of event you’re hosting, Oracle CX Marketing Eloqua can help manage your event registration & reminder process. 

If there’s no ecommerce requirement i.e. no one will be paying to attend your event, you can manage the entire process in Eloqua. 

In this chapter of Eloqua for Dummies I’m going to walk you through two registration processes and explain the differences.

It will take me some time to do that, so I’ll start with the “registration” process and then follow with the “RSVP” process.

You ask people to “Register” or you ask them to “RSVP“.
They’re not the same thing.

Registration

Chapter 4 | Event Registration

If your call to action is simply “register today” or “register now“, it implies that if the person does NOT want to attend, they’ll simply not register. Simply asking a person to register is typically the process for large events i.e. conferences, trade shows and webinars. 

The registration process typically consists of between one to three invitations being sent to your target audience. Your last invitation may be positioned as a “Last Chance to Register” communication. Using Eloqua’s Digital Body Language, you can be a little smarter than that.

“répondez s’il vous plaît”: please reply

Chapter 4 | Event Registration

When you invite someone to “RSVP“, the expectation is that the person responds with either a Yes or No. Ignoring the RSVP is considered rude in most cultures. RSVP is generally used in more formal settings e.g. a formal sit down event with a meal, a ball or perhaps a product launch event. 

The RSVP process does add some additional complexity to your Eloqua Campaign Canvas and the design of your Form. However, you can create templates, so you just need to do the ‘thinking’ once and then share the process with your Eloqua users.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

What’s the difference between “Register Now” & “RSVP Now“?

The process you select to manage the invitation and registration process will alter the way you build your multi-step campaign and your form processing steps. Most events you host will require your guests to either “Register Now” or “RSVP Now”. 

On the surface, there may not appear to be much of a difference between the two questions, however the way you build your multi-step campaign and the processing steps of your form, will differ significantly. I’ve explained further below.

Register Now

When you invite people to “register” for an event via email, they can respond in one of two ways.

  1. Click on a link in an email and complete a registration form.
  2. They will ignore your invitation

Simple.

RSVP Now

When you invite a person to RSVP “Repondez, s’il vous plaît”, which translates to “respond please” there is an expectation that the intended guest will respond with either a Yes or No. Quite simple, however the capturing of two responses and the different experiences that follow, needs to be thought through.

Why do you want to ask people to RSVP in place of Register?

These are some of the responses I’ve heard from customers:

  • “Well, we’ve always asked people to RSVP”.
  • “If people RSVP No, we don’t want to invite them again to the same event.”

Let’s get some basics out of the way to start with the “Registration” process

For the purpose of clarity, I refer to “invitations” being sent multiple times to those people who have not registered. “Reminders” are ONLY sent to people who have registered.

To be super clear, we send the first invitation, the second invitation and perhaps a third invitation. Recipients of an “invitation” are yet to “register”. Only people that have “registered” will be sent reminders, reminders to attend the event they’ve registered for.

I’ve listed a series of questions you should have answers to as you begin designing your CX with the Campaign Canvas and Design Editors, regardless of which registration process you follow.

  • Will my event be a webinar or an in-person event?
  • Will there be an expectation to add more people to the campaign AFTER it has been activated or gone live?
  • Will the event require the use of Dynamic Content to “pitch” the event to various groups within the Segment? e.g. the language you use to “sell” the event to an individual contributor may be different than a C-Level executive.
  • How many days/weeks prior to the event date will the campaign be activated/go live?
  • How many times will we invite people – taking into consideration that once a person has registered we obviously won’t send them a second or third invitation.
  • How many days/weeks prior to the event will reminders be sent to those people that have registered?
  • Will invitation emails be sent from a generic company email account or personalised from the Account or Contact owner as determined by the *CRM?
  • Will confirmation emails be sent from a generic company email account or personalised from the Account or Contact owner as determined by the *CRM? 
  • Will reminder emails be sent from a generic company email account or personalised from the Account or Contact owner as determined by the *CRM?

My advice would be to send confirmation and reminder emails from your company, not from the Account or Contact owner. You don’t want to ‘over-bake’ the personalisation. You don’t want clients/prospects to start viewing emails from Account or Contact owners as “marketing” emails”.

  • Will the event require people to choose one or more sessions to attend?
  • Are you required to capture dietary requirements?
  • Will you be offering an SMS/Text Message reminder to registrants?

*NOTE: For the purpose of this example, the assumption is that you have Eloqua integrated with a CRM platform and you have the Account and Contact owner details from the CRM synched to Eloqua.

If you choose to invite people to “Register Now”, try these steps…

Building your event campaign with the call-to-action as “Register Now”

There are a range of way you can do this, my suggestion below covers the essentials and provides some tips along the way.

Try this as a checklist of sorts….

Multi-step Campaign Canvas

  • I’d suggest you consider one canvas to send invitations.
  • Use the Form to send the confirmation/auto-responder email. If you want to send a personalised confirmation email to registrants, you will need to do that from the Campaign Canvas where you can apply a Signature Rule.
  • A second canvas will receive registrants from the Add To Campaign form processing step and then send email and SMS reminders
  • You may plan ahead and have a third canvas to send post event communications e.g. photos from the event, links to presentations etc.

Why multiple Campaign Canvases?

You’re unable to activate a multi-step campaign until all elements have been configured. It’s my experience that the communications for most events happen in three stages:

  1. Invitations to attend 
  2. Registration form & confirmation emails along with reminders to attend
  3. Post event communications i.e. “thank you for attending” or “sorry we missed you”.

TIP: For webinars, I usually begin by building all assets for # 2 listed above because I’m usually adding links to social and our website. This means I have the registration page and confirmation email ready to go and I want that live ASAP to capture organic traffic. I then build assets for #1 listed above and then after the event, all assets for #3 listed above.

Example: Your Email Assets

As a general rule, emails 1, 2 & 3 are similar. 1 & 2 are identical, except for a change to the subject line and the preview text.

Email 3 needs to subtly acknowledge that the person may have reviewed the event details, but did not register.

  1. 1st Invitation – sent to all campaign members.
  2. 2nd Invitation – sent to those who did not open the first invitation & did not register.
  3. 3rd Invitation – sent to those who opened the first invitation, but did not register.
  4. Confirmation – sent to those who registered for the event.
  5. 1st Reminder – sent to those who have registered.
  6. 2nd Reminder – sent to those who have registered.

Your Assets – Emails, Forms & Landing Pages

  • Emails: It’s probable you will have up to 6, perhaps more, emails.
  • Forms: One form will cover your registration needs.
  • Landing Pages: Two pages should be sufficient – one to host the registration form and the second as the confirmation page.

Components – images, files

  • You need to think through hero images for your emails and banners for your Landing Pages.
  • You may want to provide registrants with access to content, for example PDF’s etc. prior to the event. These could be shared via the confirmation and/or reminder emails. You could also include access to the same content via the event registration confirmation landing page.

Tools

  • Shared Lists
    • Registered – your source of truth for all registrants, populated by the Form Processing steps
    • Requested an SMS reminder (optional)

*NOTE: When you send an email using the Form Processing Step, you can’t apply a signature rule to that email. If you want to apply a Signature Rule, you will need to use the first email on your second canvas to do that and then WAIT until the first reminder email is designated to be sent.

Asking people to RSVP is a slightly more formal process & requires a little more thinking from a CX point of view.

Building your event campaign with the call-to-action as “RSVP Now”

Over the years I’ve seen people complete an RSVP process in a range of ways. Some are what I’d call “half baked”, they go part to delivering an RSVP experience, but do not cater for the full requirements of an automated RSVP process.

The key things people forget or don’t think of when automating an RSVP registration process:

  • Humans are unpredictable and will rarely behave in accordance with your planned, automated process. 
  • If you provide people with the ability to RSVP Yes or No to an event, you must also provide them with the chance and ability to change their mind. 
  • People will change their mind, this is usually the case when you send your email and/or SMS reminders. You don’t want them manually emailing “marketing@acme.com” – they should be able to update their RSVP from Yes to No via a form.
  • You just need to ensure your Form Processing Steps are configured in such a way to automatically manage that process.

Multi-step Campaign Canvas

  • I’d suggest you consider one canvas to send invitations. This first canvas is designed to push people to the RSVP landing page & form.
  • Use the Form to send the confirmation/auto-responder email to those who RSVP Yes.
  • The second canvas will receive those who RSVP Yes from the Add To Campaign form processing step and then send email and SMS reminders leading up to the event.
  • You may plan ahead and have a third canvas to sent post event communications e.g. photos from the event, links to presentations etc.
  • For those who RSVP No there’s no need to send them an email, just take them from the invitation email or form to a personalised confirmation page acknowledging that they’ve take the time to let you know they can’t make it to the event.

Your assets – Emails, Forms & Landing Pages

  • Emails: It’s probable you will have up to 6, perhaps more, emails.
  • Forms: One will cover your RSVP needs. You may require a second form if you choose the blind form submission process to manage the RSVP No folks.
  • Landing Pages: Three pages should be sufficient. 1. To host the RSVP form, 2. To host the RSVP Yes confirmation page and 3. For those who RSVP No.

Components – images, files

  • You need to think through hero images for your emails and banners for your Landing Pages.
  • You may want to provide registrants with access to content, for example PDF’s etc. prior to the event. These could be shared via the confirmation and/or reminder emails. You could also include access to the same content via the event registration confirmation landing page.

Tools

  • Shared Lists
    • RSVP All
    • RSVP Yes
    • RSVP No
    • Requested an SMS (optional)
  • You will use the CONDITIONAL Form Processing Step to drop people into respective Shared Lists. Except for the RSVP All shared list, all form submissions, regardless of their RSVP being Yes or No, they will all go into the RSVP All Shared List.

*NOTE: When you send an email using the Form Processing Step, you can’t apply a signature rule to that email.

Try this example:
Your email assets

As a general rule, emails 1, 2 & 3 are similar. 1 & 2 are identical, except for a change to the subject line and the preview text. Email 3 needs to subtly acknowledge that the person may have reviewed the event details, but did not register.

  1. 1st Invitation – sent to all campaign members.
  2. 2nd Invitation – sent to those who did not open the first invitation and did not RSVP Yes or No.
  3. 3rd Invitation – sent to those who opened the first invitation, but did not RSVP Yes or No.
  4. Confirmation – sent to those who RSVP Yes for the event.
  5. 1st Reminder – sent to those who have RSVP’d Yes.
  6. 2nd Reminder – sent to those who have RSVP’d Yes.

Form considerations

With no coding needed, the simplest way is to create a Picklist with the Option Names “RSVP Yes” and “RSVP No” and the Option Values set to “Yes” and “No”.

I’ve seen some Eloqua clients have two buttons in the invitation email, one says “RSVP Yes” and the other says “RSVP No”. Respondents are then taken to one of two Eloqua Landing Pages.

RSVP Yes takes the person to a form where they confirm their details, submit the form and reach a confirmation page.

RSVP No takes the person directly to a confirmation page, with a blind form submission executed on the way through.

Various ways to deliver your RSVP experience

Easiest, no coding needed

Option A

Your invitation email contains one call to action button “RSVP NOW”.

The Eloqua Form on the Eloqua Landing Page requires the person to select RSVP Yes or RSVP No from a single select picklist.

Your Eloqua Form can auto-populate meaning that the person who is responding “RSVP No”, doesn’t really have to do anything except select RSVP No from the form.

If you’re asking for dietary requirements, do not make this a required field. If people have requirements, they won’t forget to tell you.

Option B

Your invitation email contains two calls to action, one says “RSVP Yes” and the other says “RSVP No”.

If they select RSVP Yes, they’re taken to a landing page to complete the RSVP Yes process. From there they will submit the form and reach a confirmation page and be sent a confirmation email.

If they select RSVP No, I’d suggest you take them directly to a confirmation page where you address them by name saying something like “Thank you for taking the time to let us know you’re unable to make it to our next event [FirstName].”

If you want to automate the RSVP No process further, you will need to think about a blind form submit. This is covered in the next section.

A little HTML of sorts

Option B would be enhanced with a Blind Form Submission.

A blind form submit means we capture the RSVP No response from the person and use the Form Processing Steps to drop them into respective Shared Lists to ensure you don’t send them additional invitations.

The actual form submission is unseen by the person clicking on a special URL in the email. They click on RSVP No and are taken to a confirmation landing page – the form is submitted on their behalf before they reach the confirmation page.

This process requires a second form and a specific confirmation landing page in addition to what you build for people who RSVP Yes.

Create a blind form submission

Access Eloqua Help Centre for instructions on how to build the URL you’ll need to place behind your RSVP No button in the invitation email.

“A blind form submit link is a special URL that includes pre-defined responses to specific form fields. When a contact clicks the link (for example “RSVP No” covered above), the form responses are submitted to Oracle Eloqua, creating a seamless experience of automation for you and your contact.

Because the user is submitting a form, this means you can also execute form processing steps with a single click. 

Blind form submit links are great for collecting simple responses, such as: registering for an event, subscribing to a newsletter, or configuring opt-in preferences.”*

*SOURCE: Eloqua Help Centre

Some serious HTML coding

Once you move into the realm of using Eloqua’s source editors you will need to have some HTML expertise.

You may choose to upload HTML from a 3rd party application e.g. DreamWeaver.

You can create new Eloqua landing pages using the HTML upload wizard. To take advantage of Eloqua’s rich personalisation functionality you will need to explore the code requirements covered below.

There are really very few limitations once you start building your assets in HTML.

The three buttons below will take you to various sections of the Eloqua Help Centre to assist with a few points you will need to be aware of.

RSVP Considerations

Once you factor in human behaviour, you realise the RSVP process becomes a little more complex to configure but you can do the thinking once, then template the process with Eloqua. I’ve captured various points below that I’d suggest you need to think through. 

  • Will your email contain two buttons? e.g. “RSVP Yes” and “RSVP No”?
  • If a person clicks on RSVP Yes, take them to an Eloqua Landing Page & Form. You may need to capture dietary requirements and offer an SMS reminder for the event.
  • If a person clicks on RSVP No – what experience will you deliver? Please, please do not make them complete a form to tell you they can’t make it. I’d suggest a simple blind form submission, taking them to a confirmation page, addressing them by name and thanking them for taking the time to respond. Your blind form will be submitted without the campaign member even knowing and you can drop them into respective shared lists on the way.
  • Make sure your RSVP No form adds the person to the RSVP ALL and the RSVP NO Shared Lists.

Various approaches to deliver your registration/RSVP experience

The three options below range from the easiest to the more complex. The difference between RSVP option A & B is where you choose to locate the ability for the person to RSVP Yes or RSVP No. Do you have a single button in the email Option A, where all respondents need to complete the form to RSVP or Option B, where you have two buttons in the email and the person can RSVP directly from the email and are only required to complete the form if they select RSVP Yes.

The advantage of RSVP Option A or Option B is that you can direct people back to the same landing page and form from the reminder emails. For example, your reminder email can offer the registrant the ability to “update their RSVP”should they change their mind and are no longer able to attend.

They can change their RSVP to “no”. You will have additional Form Processing Steps to “Remover 

For absolute clarity, you would select one of the three approaches listed above for your registration CX. It would add unnecessary levels of complexity to try and combine these experiences across a single campaign.
For absolute clarity, you would select one of the three approaches listed above for your registration CX. It would add unnecessary levels of complexity to try and combine these experiences across a single campaign.

In the context of your events, it’s highly likely you want to deliver a consistent experience from event to event. The same number of invitations, a similar experience at the point of registration, confirmation emails and reminder emails etc.

You may choose to alter imagery to suit the event, however from a branding point of view I’d suggest you want potential guests to recognise the event as yours.

That familiarity isn’t just conveyed through branding and imagery, it’s also conveyed through the “experience” you deliver.

By creating multi-step campaign canvas templates, you maintain your “experience” from event to event.

You also make it easier for a colleague to pick up your event if you’re on leave/vacation.

Visit the Eloqua Help Centre for further instructions

Creating blind form submit links

“A blind form submit link is a special URL that includes pre-defined responses to specific form fields. When a contact clicks the link, the form responses are submitted to Oracle Eloqua, creating a seamless experience of automation for you and your contact.

Because the user is submitting a form, this means you can also execute form processing steps with a single click. For example, use processing steps to add the contact to a campaign, add them to a shared list, or send an email notification to a sales representative.

Blind form submit links are great for collecting simple responses, such as: registering for an event, subscribing to a newsletter, or configuring opt-in preferences.”*

Your Eloqua Form design is a critical part of the “automation”.

In the example below, you see how we use the CONDITIONALLY control on the form processing step to automate the management of people to the RSVP YES or RSVP NO Shared Lists.

Your RSVP YES Shared List is your source of truth for final headcount/numbers at your event. I always request staff/team members to complete the RSVP registration process. That way the RSVP YES Shared List is my absolute source of truth for catering, name tags, gifts etc.

Why templates make such a difference.

The use of templates is a core function within Eloqua and I honestly do not understand why people struggle with this concept. To few of my clients choose to use templates, there’s no shortage of reasons they provide as to why they don’t but very few of them make sense to me. If you’re of the same school of thought, skip ahead to the next section.

Multi-step Campaign Canvas templates

In the context of your events, it’s highly likely you want to deliver a consistent experience from event to event. The same number of invitations, a similar experience at the point of registration, confirmation emails and reminder emails etc.

You may choose to alter imagery to suit the event, however from a branding point of view I’d suggest you want potential guests to recognise the event as yours. That familiarity isn’t just conveyed through branding and imagery, it’s also conveyed through the “experience” you deliver.

By creating multi-step campaign canvas templates, you maintain your “experience” from event to event. You also make it easier for a colleague to pick up your event if you’re on leave/vacation.

You will find a section in the Eloqua Help Centre titled “Copying campaigns“.

You can make a copy of a simple or multi-step campaign. You can then change the campaign for your needs. When you copy the campaign, Oracle Eloqua copies almost all the campaign’s configuration and settings. After you make a copy, you’ll want to open the copy and make sure you configure it for your current needs.

However, it then says the following…

“Tip: If you are copying a multi-step campaign, you might consider creating a campaign template instead. Templates are an easy way to speed up your campaign creation process, reduce errors, and ensure consistency.”