Steps to Designing an Email Prioritization System

Steps to Designing an Email Prioritization System

Let’s face it: We send a lot of emails, and important messages can get lost in the noise. While there’s no way to control what other organizations are sending your contacts, you can prioritize your communications to help ensure that high-value emails are noticed.

The system described here uses Email Groups and Shared Filters to prevent overcommunication to individual contacts. It creates a window of time around your urgent communications by delaying the delivery of lower-priority emails to ensure important messages get the attention they need.

Email Group Alignment

Before any system can be implemented, you’ll need a way to categorize and prioritize the emails you send. Oracle Eloqua Email Groups are a great tool for this task, as they are attributes of the emails themselves, unlike field and custom data object (CDO) data, which are attributes of Contacts.

Begin by creating a ranked list of Email Groups around the types of communications you send. You can assign priorities to your existing Email Groups or take the time to realign your emails around a new set of Email Groups. An example might look like this:

  1. Transactional : Confirmations, recall and safety notifications, and other must-send communications
  2. Events: Live webinars, workshops and other activities that are time-sensitive
  3. Newsletters: Periodic news and updates from your organization
  4. Welcome: Onboarding emails for newly qualified leads
  5. Nurture: Ongoing top-of-funnel communications to prospects

This will require some effort, may involve participation and buy-in from multiple stakeholders, and it could even affect your subscription management systems. Time spent aligning your emails around a clear set of Email Groups will pay off down the road with an effective and easy-to-maintain email prioritization system.

Frequency Filters

The prioritization system uses frequency filters to delay the sending of low-priority emails, giving your high-priority emails extra space. The filters look for a window of inactivity to deliver low-priority emails. In this example, we’ll use the Newsletters, Welcome and Nurture Email Groups as our low-priority emails. Transactional and Events will be the high-priority messages.

Set up a Shared Filter using the Sent Emails from Email Groups criterion. Add all high-priority Email Groups (Transactional and Events) to the criterion settings and choose a time span of “at least one time within the last 24 hours.”

The time you choose here will define your window of inactivity. It can be increased or decreased to suit your needs.

Email Prioritization System - Shared Filter

Campaign Application

Place the frequency filter in a decision step on your Campaign Canvas immediately ahead of each email step and configure the step with a 4-day evaluation period. The wait period can be adjusted to suit each campaign’s needs.

Email Prioritization System - Campaign 1

Email Prioritization System - Filter Config

Contacts flowing into the frequency filter step will be evaluated to see if they’ve been sent an email from any of the high-priority groups with the past 24 hours.

Contacts who have not been sent a high-priority email in the last 24 hours qualify for the No path and can proceed to the email step.

Contacts who have been sent a high-priority email in the last 24 hours will be held in the Filter step for 4 days. The filter will continue to re-evaluate their status, checking to see whether it’s been 24 hours since a high-priority email was sent.

If the contact reaches that 24-hour period, they’ll move out of the step along the No path and will be sent the email. If 4 days go by without a 24-hour window, the contact will exit the step via the Yes path, where they can either exit the campaign or be placed into a Shared List for follow-up.


This system will effectively prevent low-priority emails from being sent to contacts too soon after a high-priority email. It addresses the scenario where an important Transactional or Event email goes out in the morning, only to be followed by emails that clutter the recipient’s inbox.

High-priority emails can benefit from a similar approach where it’s possible to wait a short time before sending to help ensure it is noticed and opened. This may be possible for event-based communications where there’s ample response time, but it may not be suitable for certain types of Transactional emails that are more time-sensitive.

While Email Groups are a good foundation for these filters, others can be used to prioritize and control the frequency of email sends. A filter evaluating Sent Emails from Campaigns can be effective for organizations that have high-priority always-on campaigns. Using this as your frequency filter will ensure that all other communications take a back seat to emails coming from high-priority campaigns.

Be sure to monitor the performance of the prioritization system. Check frequently to see whether large numbers of contacts are being suppressed from emails by the frequency filter. This could indicate either a misconfiguration in one of your steps, or that the evaluation period on the frequency filter needs to be increased.

Finally, consider doing a before-and-after report on the open rates of your high-priority emails. An increase would support the theory that oversaturation was harming the performance of these messages. No change could indicate that your customers are fine with the volume of emails you’re sending and, perhaps, are open to more.

Ultimately, each audience has a different appetite and tolerance for email. Prioritizing your marketing messages can help ensure your campaigns strike the right balance.

Questions about your email prioritization system or looking for some extra assistance? Contact us for help.

By | 2019-08-08T14:27:52+00:00 August 8th, 2019|Customer Experience, Email Marketing, Marketing, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Thank you for subscribing!
Subscribe to our Thought Leadership Today