Delivering an email at the right time is key to effective engagement. The definition of “right time” includes where contacts are in the buying cycle and when contacts are checking their inboxes. We’ll look at options to ensure emails are delivered at the right time and, when necessary, how to override Oracle Eloqua’s defaults to ensure your emails get to the right contacts.
The best time to send an email depends on several factors, including your organization’s engagement metrics, the email content and the audience. Sometimes it makes sense to send an email to everyone at the same time. For other campaigns, you may need to send an email over a longer period.
For example, if the email is part of an ongoing nurture campaign and uses a signature rule, you’d schedule the email during business hours so if the recipient replies to the email, people are available to respond.
If your organization is global, extending the send time window may not go far enough. To customize the send time for multiple regions requires additional configuration. You could configure decision steps and wait steps for each time zone, or you could leverage apps to simplify the process.
For example, Relationship One has two apps that, when used together, allow you to automatically send emails based on time zone.
- Time Zone Appender. This Cloud Action appends a time zone to the contact based on values within the contact record, such as country.
- Time Zone Checker. This app allows or restricts contacts’ movement through a campaign step at a specific time or during a window of time.
In a campaign email step, the Scheduling tab allows you to define sending days and times. However, there are scenarios where emails should be held or sent on specific dates. For example, many organizations don’t send emails on holidays, when people are likely to be out of the office.
To manage these exceptions, another Relationship One app, the Campaign Date Checker, allows you to configure Go dates and Hold dates. These are dates that allow members to move onto the next campaign step, or prevent members from moving forward, such as holidays.
What if you could get down to the contact level and optimize email sends based on the best time for the individual? The Send Time Optimization by contact is planned for release later this year. When available, this Oracle Eloqua tool will determine the optimal time to send an email based on the contact’s engagement history. Watch for this feature in an upcoming release.
Overriding Oracle Eloqua’s Defaults
Optimizing campaign sends by date and time zone won’t matter if the email is never sent. Oracle Eloqua has several built-in settings to ensure an email is not sent to a contact more than once, and that unsubscribe contacts are excluded. The intent is to prevent spamming a contact, and it is the right approach and a good practice. But there are times you need to override these processes based on the type of email and campaign flow.
If you choose to send an email to a contact more than once, or email a contact that has globally unsubscribed, be sure this is the desired result. If you step over these guardrail, be cautious.
Allowing Emails to be Re-sent
When adding a segment to a campaign canvas, you have the option to:
- Add members once when the campaign is first activated.
- Add members regularly until the campaign is deactivated.
An Oracle Eloqua safeguard kicks in when you try to “Add members regularly until campaign is deactivated” and select the campaign setting to “Allow contacts to enter a campaign more than once.” If you select both these options, Oracle Eloqua prevents you from activating the campaign to avoid contacts falling into an endless loop.
This is a limitation specifically between the segment setting and the campaign setting. The solution is to add contacts to the campaign from an alternate source.
- From a Form. If a form processing step is adding contacts to the campaign, you can check “Allow contacts to enter the campaign more than once” on the campaign canvas.
- From Program Canvas. Add your segment to a Program Canvas, and then use a step to move the contacts to the campaign canvas. In Program Canvas, contacts are automatically allowed to enter the program multiple times. The Program Canvas evaluates the segment daily. For most always-on campaigns, such as welcome or nurture paths, this should be an acceptable time frame.
- From Program Builder. Similar to Program Canvas, use Program Builder to move contacts to the campaign canvas. Unlike Program Canvas, Program Builder processes contacts hourly. If you need contacts to enter a campaign more frequently than once a day, Program Builder would be the solution. Keep in mind, though, that at some point in the future, Program Builder will be deprecated. Because of this, Program Canvas is the preferred source when possible.
You must configure one more setting to ensure contacts who re-enter the campaign canvas will be sent the email. On the email step’s Sending Options tab, check to “Allow emails to be re-sent to past recipients.”
Eloqua naturally suppresses email sends to anyone who has unsubscribed. This is critical to keep your organization from violating email regulations. However, there are times—such as when sending a transactional email or delivering information requested by the contact—that overriding the unsubscribe is acceptable.
Admins can choose to “Send email to unsubscribed members” on the email step’s Sending Options tab. Consult your legal team to understand when this is permissible.
Now that you’re leveraging Oracle Eloqua to reach the right people at the right time, you’ll have more time to relax. Cheers – it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.