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Deliverability: A Primer

There are key components that contribute to good deliverability (and similarly, a good sender score):

1. List quality, regular maintenance and hygiene

Keeping your list clear of bounces and regularly removing inactive subscribers reduces the appearance of being a spammer. A clean list is comprised of regularly emailed, active subscribers who have not bounced, unsubscribed and are routinely engaging in your marketing emails. ISPs look suspiciously on email senders who have a high volume of unknown recipients, inactive recipients and regularly send to bounced email addresses. Eloqua Certified Partner

Bounces fall into two categories, soft bounces and hard bounces. Hard bounces are email addresses that are invalid, closed or non-existent, these are permanently invalid. Once Eloqua finds a hard bounce it automatically excludes it from future sends. Soft bounces are email addresses that are active but the email is turned away prior to delivery, this is temporary problem. Eloqua will try to resend the soft bounces in a campaign for a period of times before giving up, soft bounced emails are not (by default) marked as anything but soft bounce in Eloqua and can be emailed at a later time/date. Soft bounces are more nuanced than hard bounces, the data returned to the sender contains reason codes, which should be mined for information and processed accordingly. A full list of server reason codes can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HTTP_status_codes, although not all codes listed are applicable to email directly but email bounce codes can be found in the list starting with 5xx. It is highly recommended that senders build a programmatic approach to handling soft bounces. This should include logic that parses the bounce codes differently based on what the status code is relaying.

List quality also helps avoid the pitfalls of spam traps and blacklists. While no list is immune to these it is a significantly smaller risk when you maintain a fully permissioned opt-in list that is regularly purged of inactive and invalid data.

2. Spam Traps

A spam trap is an email address that was typically not ever intended for communication but purely intended to lure spam. In order to prevent legitimate email form being invited the email address is typically only published in a location hidden from view but visible to email address harvesters (which are illegal under CAN-SPAM). Since no email is solicited by the owner of this address any messages are considered to be unsolicited and therefore spam.

3. Black Lists and Filters

There are five major types of blacklists and filters.

  • Third Party/Public Blacklists: Companies that publish publicly available databases of bad senders. No special credentials are required to start a blacklist but some are more popular than others and are actually used as references for ISPs and some corporate IT departments.
  • Sever-side filters: These are filters such as SpamAssassin or Brightmail, they use their own sets of filtering rules to catch messages suspected of being spam. Some of these technologies use heuristics, Bayesian analysts and collaborative filtering. Many ISPs rely on customized server-side filters to filter messages.       These filters may also take message volume into account and block a sender who exceeds a set transmission rate.
  • Client-side filters: Recipients know that spam can make it through the various processes in place to block it and therefore can utilize tools such as Norton AntiSpam, McAfee SpamKiller or even rules built into their Outlook client to filter messages.
  • Corporate blacklists: Software filters and hardware tools are available to email administrators that provide them the ability to create an internal blacklist and therefor block email originating from any organization for any reason for any length of time.
  • Private/ISP blacklists: Large ISPs like Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail are likely to maintain their own proprietary list of known spammers and problem senders. Some provide feedback loops that give senders warning they are in violation of spam rules at the ISP and some (like Gmail) provide no feedback at all.

Deliverability testing through tools provided by Eloqua or third-party services such as Litmus offer the opportunity to test emails for filtering prior to sending, thus giving a sender the opportunity to make changes before their message gets sent to the junk folder or not delivered at all.   For additional details on specific filters see Appendix: Spam Filters.

4. Complaint rate

Even with a fully opted-in list and a very clean database complaints happen, recipients may hit the spam button when fatigued with your message (instead of unsubscribing) or might accidentally hit it.   Regardless of the way it happens the ISP will still count this as a complaint.   It is generally accepted that anything greater than 1-3 complaints per thousand (0.1%-0.3%) emails sent is enough to revoke white-listing status on an IP address. Complaint rates beyond these are likely to result in negative hits to your sender reputation and deliverability. As a rule of thumb your complaints should never exceed your unsubscribes for a campaign, if it does it should provoke research into the campaign and what might have caused the problem.   Typically high complaints rates can be attributed to changes in your email programs, things like changes in send times/dates, frequency of messages, content that a subscriber feels is not relevant or using your list to promote third-party services/products or content your subscribers feel is questionable.

Blog Written By: Lauren Kincke

Lauren is an Eloqua Team Leader for The Pedowitz Group. She is an Eloqua Partner Certified Consultant, Certified Salesforce.com Administrator, and has a wide range of experience with various marketing and email automation platforms.

Eloqua – January Release

Previously Eloquans looked forward to four major releases a year, now Oracle Eloqua brings you releases twice a quarter to offer up new product capabilities sooner. They also will be breaking out their releases into two categories now:

  • Oracle Eloqua Releases (e.g. 466, 467, and so on – instead of Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer)
  • Oracle Eloqua Apps and Sales Tools Releases (e.g. 2.3, 2.4, and so on)

So this will change up our usual “favorite features” posts a little I’m sure, this time around there’s one simple feature to call attention to in release 468 which is scheduled to start dropping very quickly:

If you’re unsure of which POD you are on (and therefore when the release will hit you) check out “Find you POD” on Topliners.

In Release 468 salesforce.com/Eloqua customers will find a nifty little gem of a feature, the ability to link activity you send to CRM to the campaign it is associated with! Prior to 468 you would have the ability to dynamically merge the activity information (in the example below Form Name, Form Submit ID) and date (in the example below Submit Date), after this release you will able to link your activity to a campaign with the Campaign ID and External Campaign ID fields.

Why is this so cool? Well think about how a sales person sees this activity if you’re feeding it to your CRM:

So, what does it mean to use those IDs? It means now you will be able to attribute relevant activities to a campaign and help a person who is reviewing the activity in SFDC better understand the context for all of the activity they see.

A few quick notes about this new feature:

  • You do not have to use these IDs, your calls will work just fine without them.
  • If you do not write activity across to SFDC this will have no impact on you.

Will you be using this feature in your activity calls? We certainly find it interesting for those who send activity across.

Blog Written By: Lauren Kincke

Lauren is an Eloqua Team Leader for The Pedowitz Group. She is an Eloqua Partner Certified Consultant, Certified Salesforce.com Administrator, and has a wide range of experience with various marketing and email automation platforms.

Finding the Best Training Partner

At a recent Marketo User Group meeting, I was talking to a former Marketo Foundation student, catching up. We traded restaurant recommendations and discussed exercise (as well as discussing Marketo). I was telling him that I’d completed physical therapy a while back (and written a blog about it and marketing) and was now working with a trainer who was tailoring a program to my physical issues and goals. He commented, “It’s great that you’ve found someone who can really be a partner to you!”

Of course, that night as I went walking, I thought about that and the work I do with clients. It’s the same thing: while the exercises may be similar for different clients, there are specifics that you’ll only pick up on if you’re listening carefully and working as a partner towards the same goal. Listening to those cues can make the difference between rapid success and…just ok results.

Here are the parallels:

Exercise

Revenue Marketing

Physical Therapy

Critical functions not working – need diagnosis and treatment

Personal Trainer – early stages

System is stable, but remedial work is needed to maintain health going forward

Personal Trainer – mid-stages

Systems are ok, but could be optimized and fine tuned

Personal Trainer – later stages

Working towards a specific goal and measuring progress towards it

Advanced Training

Picking new goals, and continuing to optimize around them

While it’s still going to be (at least) a few months before I’m allowed to start running again, I’m now in the “systems stable, remedial work” part of my physical training. I’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s a lot more to do!

The same is true of your marketing automation and CRM systems, your business processes, and your strategies. You need to work at sales and marketing alignment, not just give lip service! My trainer tells me that 95% of his clients don’t do the work between appointments on their own to make more, faster progress. And the worst offenders are those who only meet with him once a week.

If you’re looking at your marketing automation, CRM, processes and alignment only when you have an “appointment” (quarterly reviews, anyone?) then you’re doing the same thing – expecting huge results from…not much effort. But you’re going to get to your goals faster and in a more effective way if you have a personal trainer to help you along, monitor your progress, and push your limits – one who has lots of experience, knows best practices, and can use all that to make sure your own unique requirements are being met.

Another parallel? Now when I go to the gym to do my exercises (because I am one of the 5% who does my exercises between appointments), I can tell how awful my form was before I had a trainer, overhear the bad advice amateur lifters give each other (yikes! More business for the physical therapists!), and know that I’m now doing the right things to ensure my future success. I was not using best practices. Now I have a coach and trainer who makes sure I do and continues to push me to improve.

Have you got a partner (or really sharp colleague) who’s listening to your specific needs and adjusting your training regimen? Are you doing your exercises between sessions? As I can tell you from the last 3 months, it’s never too late to start!

Blog Written By: Emily Salus

Emily Salus is the Marketo Practice Director at The Pedowitz Group. She has over 20 years of experience in Marketing, PR and Sales. Emily is a certified Marketo technical consultant, providing Revenue Marketing services and strategy to enterprise clients and best practices and training to the SMB market.

Take the Guesswork Out of Content Development

Content is king! At least that’s what we’ve been hearing these past several years or so. It’s no secret that having a lot of good content is absolutely necessary for the success of inbound, nurture, and outbound marketing efforts, and in many ways Marketing Automation has afforded us new abilities to analyze how our target audiences are interacting with the content we are providing.

It’s easy enough to set up and track our marketing campaigns to tell us which pieces of content drive the most revenue. This type of analysis is a game-changer for marketing departments, but it still relies on quite of bit of “trial-and-error effort” to arrive at certain conclusions. That kind of effort costs time and money, and while it needs to be an ongoing part of your marketing efforts, consider a simple addition to your content development process; one that cuts out the guesswork: ask.

What better way to find out what your target audience wants to be wooed by then to ask them? It’s the beginning of a new year, why not reach out to your marketing base for its opinion on what’s important?

Aside from the obvious benefits of having your leads tell you precisely what they want, campaigns of this nature go a long way in softening the relationship you have with your database. By reaching out to specifically acknowledge that you are sensitive to their needs, you can give them a sense of the level of care they can expect to receive if they become (or remain) a client. You’re proving that your company is committed to adding value, not just getting their business. “I’m listening” goes a lot further with prospects than “listen to me.”

So as you head into the new year excited to execute new marketing campaigns, before you begin to devise your content strategy, save yourself a few steps and ask your marketing database what they expect to see from you in their inbox this year. Your marketing metrics as well as your company’s bottom line will thank you for it.

Blog Written By: Alyssa Hewitt

Alyssa Hewitt is an Associate Revenue Engineer for The Pedowitz Group and a Marketo Certified Expert. With a passion for reporting and analytics, she loves to dissect data in an effort to better understand the genetics and behavioral tendencies of a lead database; knowledge that eventually translates to revenue-driven marketing strategy.

Documenting Marketing Automation: Life-Saving Continuity

“…The contemporary prejudice is that too much paperwork slows you down, clogs things up. But if you take an historical view, it’s bureaucracy that sees you through the rocky patches and enables the state to survive. Bureaucracy is not evidence of inertia; it is life-saving continuity…” – A History of the World in 100 Objects, Episode 71.

While we like to think of Marketing Automation as nimble, I often see practitioners racing to the next thing without documenting what they already have. The next thing that happens is that someone leaves the company and the remaining employees – or the new ones who were hired to replace the departing employees – are left without any organized plan or history of what has been implemented in the Marketing Automation platform. This leaves the company, and the employees, at a distinct disadvantage.

Another circumstance I see is where documentation is being created – but only as a final deliverable before the employee leaves. In this case, because it’s last minute and written by someone who is no longer invested in that particular Marketing Automation instance, it’s easy for critical items to be forgotten. Your best policy is to document as you go, so nothing is missed. Make sure there is documentation around these critical areas:

  • Governance – Which roles in the MA platform exist, and who has responsibility for executing which items?
  • Templates – Which email and landing page templates are used for different brands? Which are old (in which case, document, but archive them)?
  • Naming Conventions – Have a standard that is comprehensible (without needing a dictionary of acronyms) and make sure everyone uses it.
  • Process – One of the hardest: what are the pieces needed to launch a program, for each type of program you run? Are approvals needed? From whom? How long does it take to get from idea to launch to results?
  • Marketing Calendar – Whether you use a Marketing Automation feature or product or a whiteboard, make sure everyone knows what’s coming next and what is planned.

Once you have documentation, ensure that you update it regularly so that it is always current. If your processes change, your documentation needs to change with it.

While compiling your documentation might feel tedious, remember that you are preparing for those “rocky patches” – when someone goes on maternity leave or you have a new employee who needs to ramp up quickly. And your bureaucracy will be what lets the state, or in this case, your company, survive – and thrive – in the next generation.

Blog Written By: Emily Salus

Emily Salus is the Marketo Practice Director at The Pedowitz Group. She has over 20 years of experience in Marketing, PR and Sales. Emily is a certified Marketo technical consultant, providing Revenue Marketing services and strategy to enterprise clients and best practices and training to the SMB market.

Uncluttering your Marketing “Life”

I jokingly refer to myself as a digital hoarder, I have every email (sent and received), every document, presentation, spreadsheet and more at my fingertips and now, thanks to the beauty of cheap digital storage I don’t see that stopping now. Woohoo! The power of the cloud! I recently ran across a really good article on decluttering your life, both mentally and physically, and it got me thinking, as marketers and technologists are we doing the same thing to our systems?

The first place to start looking for the clutter is among the contacts in your marketing automation platform. It is easy to forget how much your old contacts can be harming your campaigns and frankly dragging down your metrics. If you are sitting atop a database full of inactive contacts you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

Okay, so you’re less concerned about your metrics (not sure why but ok), how about the carrying costs of that dead weight? Most marketers forget that they are paying for automation (at least some of the bigger vendors) based upon the feature set they have access to but also based on the volume of contacts in their database.

How do you take action? Here are our simple steps:

  1. Define what “inactive” means to your company. Make sure to take into account how people interact with your marketing efforts and how long your sales cycle is and how often you are reaching out to these contacts.
  2. Create a few cuts of the database to understand how many of your contacts have been inactive for 6 months, 9 months and a year.   One example of how this might look:

  1. Create a reengagement campaign. Think creatively, obviously these contacts were not interested in your usual content, think about being radically different for this. What’s the worst that happens? I’ll tell you what it is, that they don’t engage, in which case you are no worse off than you already were.
  2. Measure, optimize, repeat. After you have your campaign off and running, look for ways you can optimize it and set a frequency for when you will be re-running it, you want to keep the database clear of that clutter on an ongoing basis.

As the year winds down remember to think about cleaning house a bit before you start pumping new programs out do a little bit of de-cluttering too.

Blog Written By: Lauren Kincke

Lauren is an Eloqua Team Leader for The Pedowitz Group. She is an Eloqua Partner Certified Consultant, Certified Salesforce.com Administrator, and has a wide range of experience with various marketing and email automation platforms.

Think Like A Consultant

Oracle Marketing Cloud A piece of my role at The Pedowitz Group involves training our newest Eloqua team members. Whether they come from the role of a technology or marketing practitioner or they have been consultants before we have our own methodology and approach. Part of that training is technical, part of it is in our RM6 methodology and part of it is making sure our team is staffed with the highest quality consultants we can have. Being consultative is not something everyone is born with (let’s be real, most people aren’t born with the skills they use they are taught!), so I a big part of what we teach is how to be a consultant and how to grow and develop those skills.

While you might not want to work for a consulting group there is a huge value in being consultative with your own “internal customers.” Just knowing the technology or being a great content creator isn’t enough, being able to think like a consultant will put you head and shoulders above those who can’t. Here are a few of the basic tips I give my team:

  • Always ask questions

Understand not just the requirements for a project but the use cases. Good example, when someone asks you to add a field to Eloqua understand what they are trying to achieve, maybe adding a field (when you have a limit of 250 custom fields) isn’t the best solution. The person asking doesn’t always have your level of expertise so you have to understand the business use/case for a situation before just jumping to take action.

  • Think around corners

What is the long term impact of the ask? Will there be a larger problem caused by doing something in a specific manner? Similar to “always ask questions” understanding the driver behind a request is going to help you understand whether there are unintended impacts that could stem from a particular request.

  • Information is good, information plus advice is better

Knowing your space is important, but being able to give well reasoned, logical explanations for why things happen is great. Being able to advise your team on an approach to a problem is better.

  • Document, document, document

Time to sound like a broken record but document your work! Why wouldn’t you want to document what you have done (to show the value) so that it can be tweaked and maintained properly going forward? Providing information on what exists in your instance of Eloqua (or any other tool) means you are giving your colleagues a hand when they have to understand it later.

The bottom line, consultants jobs are rarely just about what we can do in the tools we work in, they are nearly 100% about problem solving skills.   My experience as a consultant is that my clients are rarely helpless in their technology or other efforts but the value we provide them is in being able to see the big picture and making sure we are untangling all the knots.

Blog Written By: Lauren Kincke

Lauren is an Eloqua Team Leader for The Pedowitz Group. She is an Eloqua Partner Certified Consultant, Certified Salesforce.com Administrator, and has a wide range of experience with various marketing and email automation platforms.

Why I Hate The Word “Smarketing”

I know it’s cute, and it’s another word mash up, but I really, really hate the term smarketing. I know it’s meant to show that sales and marketing are really one, that it’s one team, and that we’re working together, but to my mind it belittles both and minimizes the unique characteristics that make both teams critical to any organization.

Sales managers and the sales reps have unique skills. Some are “farmers” doing their own kind of regular nurturing of leads who are sales-ready, but need a bit of care before they’re ready to buy. Some are “hunters” strategically stalking their leads, finding their pain points, and showing how they can help. They tend to be more outgoing and thrive on the thrill of the chase.

For marketing, the chase is different. It’s the long-term, painstakingly planned development of larger programs that will educate and influence leads until they’re ready to talk to sales. It’s outreach, and response when someone new arrives on the horizon. It’s an ongoing challenge to develop interest, educate about solutions, and ultimately bring prospects to sales’ front door.

Like football teams that have both offense and defense (and we don’t collectively call them doffense!), each specialized function is needed in order to win the game against the competitors. Both are highly valued and support each other. When the competitor tries to poach leads or customers, it’s time for both sales and marketing to play a comprehensive game to ensure they keep winning – and not drop the ball.

While I strongly endorse that marketing and sales need to be collaborative, cooperative, and share revenue goals, each team has special players that provide different roles – and trivializing their valuable skills with cute names is just not on. Inside sales, of course, remains a unique bridge, as pointed out in the blog: The Revenue Marketer’s Guide to Inside Sales.

For the record, I don’t like the terms “marketeer” or “webinar” either, but I’ve learned to live with the latter.

Blog Written By: Emily Salus

Emily Salus is the Marketo Practice Director at The Pedowitz Group. She has over 20 years of experience in Marketing, PR and Sales. Emily is a certified Marketo technical consultant, providing Revenue Marketing services and strategy to enterprise clients and best practices and training to the SMB market.

5 Quick Wins for Insight Reporting in E10

All about the metrics, right? Everyone loves good reporting but let’s be real, we aren’t all data scientists or marketing analysts. So what is a Modern Marketer to do? Here are a few of my favorite tips for ways you can push your Insight Reporting a bit farther without having to go learn a new tool or get a Statistics degree.

1.  Visual Thresholds Editor

So, if you’re like me and you like visual presentation of the data to help make sense of it, then this is going to become your new best friend. This allows you to enter thresholds around data and then select formatting for specific values. A great use case for this is highlighting all campaigns in red that have a click through rate of lower than 10%.

Visual Thresholds Editor

This is super simple to configure. Once you are inside of Insight, click Data à Visual Threshold Editor and then select your data point as well as the property type. Once this is set, you can then click on the bar graph and make edits to the formatting such as color.

2. View Filters

Have you ever been overwhelmed when you run a report and realize you just want to see a portion of the results? You’re in luck! Utilizing View Filters allow you to further filter the reports provided to you from Eloqua based on those that meet your requirements. A great use case for this is if you wanted to see the top 10 campaigns based on Click Through Rate.

View Filters

To configure, Click Tools à View Filter and then select your requirements.

3. Navigating

I don’t know about you, but I’m directionally challenged when it comes to just about anything navigation wise. So it’s no surprise when I do circles inside of Insight reporting flipping back and forth between reports or changing dates. If you’re like me, you’ll be happy to learn this little trick.

Eloqua Navigation

Home – This takes you back to the home page to choose while folder of reports/dashboards you want. (This is where I used to always click and have to go back through all the folders or use the search bar again to get back to where I was…not anymore.)

Back Arrow – This takes you back to the prompt window. This is great if you want to change the date range or edit which assets the report is ran against.

Folder with an Arrow – This takes you back to the folder you were in before you selected which report to run. This is super helpful when needing another report for the same asset. For example, you were looking at Email Bouncebacks and afterwards you want to look at Spam Unsubscribes – use this button instead to save time.

4. Save Reports

Now that you’ve gotten your report exactly how you like it and would like to save some time next time, but what do you do? No problem, save the in the My Reports section and all of your filtering and formatting will also be saved.  An Analyzer license is great but luckily you don’t need one to save all of your customizations!

 5. Drilling Down Into The Data

Do you love specifics? This is the easiest way to dig deeper into what the reports are actually saying. If you see a number or text value that is underlined then you are able to click on it and it will drill down further for you. This will always open up in a new window, so fear not that you will not be able to get back to the original report.

**Note: You are only able to drill down. Example: Country is able to be drilled down to State/Province but you are unable to drill into State/Province and select Country.

Blog Written By:  Stephanie Pence

Stephanie Pence is an Associate Revenue Engineer for The Pedowitz Group. She has an Eloqua Master Certification along with 8 years experience in Sales, Marketing and PR.

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