Eloqua is a really powerful marketing automation platform, and there’s a ton it can do. However, it’s not the most intuitive system I’ve ever used. I’ve gathered this list of problems I’ve run into over the years — let’s call them Eloqua pitfalls — to help you avoid some of these same traps.
1. Programs are not immediate
Eloqua’s programs only run once a day. You might be thinking, well, that’s not a big deal. But it kinda can be. For instance, if you have a program that looks for contacts with a country name instead of a country code (because you know, someone didn’t follow the rules when manually importing their list…not saying any names…) you’re probably going to end up with some crap data in your report. There are workarounds for this, but they’re not the easiest or most intuitive.
2. Form processing is really complex
I mentioned this in my Eloqua review: form processing is really powerful. It allows you to send internal notifications, create custom data object (CDO) records, update contact details and so much more. But adding on to your form processing gets out of hand really quickly. What do I mean? Let’s say you need to send an internal notification for multiple product lines to multiple regional sales teams. That needs to happen in form processing, but it would require you to build a lookup table and a whole LOT of conditional rules to happen correctly.
With this level of complexity, the room for human error is pretty considerable, so testing/QA is really important. I’d also recommend that you set expectations with your stakeholders too, because it’s only a matter of time before other teams ask for “simple” updates that are really not all that simple to actually implement
3. Managing those CDOs can get ugly
These are fancy tables that house any info your lead-generating heart could desire, like product tables, lead records, form submission data and more. But managing these tables is no simple task. This tool still uses the old, outdated UI (again, see my review for details), and you can’t easily run your CDO records through a workflow to clean up data automatically. You’d have to send the connected contacts into a program that feeds the linked CDO records into yet another program that cleans them, if you wanted to do any sort of mass update on your CDO records. And let’s not forget that we just learned that your programs execute only once a day.
4. Unique email metrics are kinda whack
For some inexplicable reason, Eloqua has bucked the trend of pretty much every other email performance report when it comes to recording the number and rates of unique email opens and unique email clicks. When you’re looking at a single email, the report works just fine. But if you want to run a report that shows the performance of three emails in a single nurture campaign, the unique open and click totals will always be less than any of the individual emails in the campaign.
How is that possible, you ask? Eloqua changes the definition of “unique” when comparing multiple emails to mean, “unique to the contact”. So if a contact received three emails, then opened and clicked all three (good job, marketer!), each individual email would show 100% unique opens and clicks, but the total for the comparison report would be 33% unique opens and clicks (wha…?).
This is because a contact can only be counted once for a unique action, and then gets divided by the number of emails. I know it sounds impossible, but there are multiple help articles and community board posts about this exact thing. If you also have Oracle BI, you can create custom calculated fields to calculate this field the way everyone else in the marketing world would.
5. Tracked fields are limited
Eloqua only lets you track ten fields at once (like email, first name, company, etc.), but you can have as many programs queued off of those fields as you need. This means that if you want to have a program that listens for changes to a specific value then enrolls that contact into the program for further action, that value needs to be one of the ten tracked fields. So be very thoughtful about which fields you want, because it is a super pain in the butt to have to unwind a tracked field that you want to replace later.
Imagine if a year from now, you realize you actually need to track a different field, maybe product interest, but you’ve already used your ten fields. You’ll have to remove all dependencies on one of the other tracked fields before you can switch.
6. Contact field value change history isn’t a thing
Eloqua does not track the history of a contact field value so you can see how the data has changed. This means that hunting down the cause of a field value change is not an easy task. I know from experience that it requires a lot of guessing-and-checking and as many open browser tabs as your CPU can handle as you compare and contrast assets. Not my idea of fun.
In contrast, HubSpot tracks all contact fields (see point #5) and will show you all previous values, the dates of changes, and how the data was changed (the source, for example, Salesforce or a HubSpot workflow), all by default.
Whether you’re just getting started or have been using the tool for a while, knowing these Eloqua pitfalls will help make your job a little bit easier!
I am a marketing operations expert with a decade of experience working for startups, agencies and enterprise-level companies around the globe. After stints in Boston and Madrid, I’ve settled in an idyllic Vermont farmhouse with my wife and two rescue dogs. When I’m not at my computer, you’re most likely to find me tackling a home improvement project way beyond my skill level or trying to find a new fly fishing spot in a nearby river. Say hello or hola on LinkedIn .