Eloqua Review: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying

Eloqua Review: Everything You Need to Know Before BuyingScore 70%Score 70%

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Eloqua review: Top takeaways

What’s awesome

Eloqua offers a rich set of tools to support multi-step and drip campaigns, with lots of logic and available plugins to help you get really specific with your customer journey (and who doesn’t love that?).

Eloqua is really customizable, so you can make it your own. Almost any function in this marketing automation platform can be customized to your business needs. The possibilities are endless! Well actually, the limits are your available time to invest, how well you know the tool and the bounds of your imagination.

The landing page and email editor are amazing. Once you have a solid style and CSS file set up in your template, it’s easy to create great-looking landing pages and emails with their modular editing tool. More on this later.

Form processing may be the most important tool in Eloqua. Manipulating data here is crucial to your success. It makes it so much easier to create custom data objects and route contacts to the correct follow up campaigns.

What kind of sucks

Far and away, Eloqua’s support is the worst in the marketing automation category. It once took me a month to get their support team to change the admin for one of their new add-on services, which meant I literally couldn’t use the tool. That’s no good.

Also, their tool functions are not logical. They have tools called Campaigns, Programs, and Program Builder. What’s the difference, you ask? As one Eloqua University instructor put it, “Campaigns are like Programs, but they are for campaigns.” Ah, right. And ‘Programs’ is ‘Program Builder’, but with a new user interface and only some of the functions. So if you want to send an email drip campaign, then update a custom data object table based on the contact’s activity and then sync it all to your CRM, you could be looking at using all three tools to accomplish the not-so-impressive feat.

What’s missing

Social anything is missing completely. There are no native functions for social publishing, listening or reporting, but it does have integrations to point solutions like Hootsuite that can be useful.

Phone support is another big miss. Oracle has canned their dedicated Eloqua support team, and now all support tickets are handled through a portal, so…basically, email.

And finally, unlike some other systems, Eloqua doesn’t offer an out-of-the-box GDPR solution. They do offer a strict tracking mode for cookie consent with a pop-up message and standard email marketing permissions. But by default, any new contact added to Eloqua can be mass emailed, unless you build a custom program to unsubscribe contacts that have not opted-in. You can do it, but it requires a lot of custom work.

My two cents

Learning Eloqua and getting support is way harder than it needs to be. They don’t have a robust online user community like Marketo. The Eloqua University is expensive and doesn’t deliver the kind of depth needed to become a power user, unlike HubSpot. And as I mentioned, the support team is slow to respond, since it’s only email, unlike every other platform.

And you need to be ready to shell out the big bucks if you go with Eloqua. Nothing about this is cheap. You’ll pay high platform fees, you’ll pay for Eloqua University seats, and then you’ll also pay consulting fees for people with the expertise to do the things you need done, because eventually, you’ll need outside help.

Easy like Sunday morning?: Eloqua ease of use

The good: Email & landing page editing

The editor tools are intuitive and the drag-and-drop features are good. You can create as many templates as you want, and they recently released a new feature (modules for email and landing pages) that lets you create reusable building blocks that you can drop right into any asset.

For example, you can build a three-column block with images, then add H2’s and body text below each and style it all to match your brand. This saves a ton of time when you’re building new assets, and supports better consistency. You can even lock the style elements of modules for an extra level of brand adherence. My only real complaint is that you aren’t able to edit just the mobile version of an asset. (Read my other article for other pitfalls to avoid).

The good: Customization

You can create incredibly complex automation workflows and business processes using Eloqua. You can create custom fields, custom data objects, look up tables, validation rules, lead scoring models and more to tailor the system to fit any sales or marketing process. It’s easy to see how that would be critical for organizations with really complex environments. On the whole, this tool set is very powerful.

The good: User permissions & management

You’ll be impressed by the level of granularity available for managing user roles and user group permissions. User permissions can be set to create, delete, access, edit or view every asset, and you can even set whether users can lock assets that they have created. This level of control should meet the demanding needs of large enterprises where tight oversight is a must-have.

The not-so-good: User interface (UI)

The UI is inconsistent across the platform. It’s pretty obvious that there are some tools that haven’t been updated in a long time, while others have been reworked more recently. The newer tools (campaigns, programs, emails, landing pages) are in general, very good. But the older ones (program builder, update rules, custom data objects, integrations) are really pretty bad by comparison. It makes for a somewhat jarring experience.

The decent, but limited: Reporting

Eloqua’s out-of-the-box reporting is decent. But take note: they calculate unique open rates across multiple emails differently than every other platform (it counts a unique open by contact, not a unique open per contact per email). As for customized reporting, if you have Oracle Business Intelligence, Eloqua integrates with it natively so you can create powerful reporting dashboards. Just be aware that it’s not easy to do; this will take a good amount of knowledge to accomplish.

The not-so-good: Integrations (doesn’t play well with others)

Eloqua offers a large marketplace for connected apps, and a lot of Eloqua agency partners have custom integrations for all kinds of different solutions. If one of those apps breaks (which happens often), Eloqua support pushes you back to the app owner’s support, but in my experience, their support often doesn’t know how to fix the issue. I’ve seen a client waiting on a fix for almost a year on one of the integrated apps. Generally speaking, Eloqua just doesn’t feel like a platform that is easy to connect to other tools. They also don’t offer an integration with Zapier, and that can be a big roadblock to quick connections.

Start me up: Getting Eloqua

In my experience, implementation is slow. This is typically caused by a combination of the overall complexity of the tool and the fact that the average Eloqua customer is a slower-moving, larger enterprise that’s less agile. Eloqua offers different implementation packages depending on what you are looking to accomplish.

To learn more about implementation, check out our article, Getting Started on Eloqua.

A little help from my friends: Support & training

As I mentioned earlier, Eloqua support can only be reached by entering a ticket through the online portal. They do have a phone number, but the person who answers is quite literally only able to submit the same support ticket as you, on your behalf. They will ask you the same questions you get online, then submit it for you. So…I don’t advise this option. Unless you’re really lonely or something.

Training is pretty expensive and requires paid seats to Eloqua University. You’re probably better off looking for live training, because it can’t be much more expensive and you’ll actually be able to ask questions. I did an Eloqua University course once that was clearly a recording of a live training, and they didn’t even bother giving us access to the data sets referenced or to take out the mentions of activities that happened in the original live course. #fail

The real bad: Customer experience

For a while, I had two Eloqua sales reps and couldn’t identify the intended difference between them. They were great at telling me about new tools, but the hand off to support was always rocky. I have no idea what internal system Oracle is using to manage their customer base and licencing, but it is not delivering a seamless experience for the customer.

Our team bought licenses for Eloqua University and yes, they do have a lot of content and they did a good job with the production value of their videos. However, trying to learn how to actually use the tool, even when you’re experienced with other platforms, leaves something to be desired.

The videos are general walk-throughs that give some insight into how the tools work, but not enough to go out and build the kind of custom automations that Eloqua is designed for. The complexity of the tool set compared to the simplicity of the training felt like going from a bicycle with training wheels directly to the cockpit of a jet fighter. Which, incidentally, is not as awesome as it sounds. True, they are both modes of transportation, but all of a sudden, you’ll have a whole lot of questions that you weren’t ready for.

What’s it gonna run me?: Eloqua pricing

Eloqua does not publish their pricing model, so it’s hard to compare apples to apples against other platforms. But the bottom line is: Eloqua will be very expensive, if not the most expensive, of the marketing automation platforms available on the market. It won’t be right for everyone, including smaller organizations who have simpler marketing needs. Visit Eloqua’s site for more.

Tool Showdown


Summary THE BOTTOM LINE Here's how we rank what's "in the box" for this platform.

Landing pages
List segmentation
Workflows & automation
Contact & company records
Reporting (standard)
Reporting (custom)
Native integrations
Marketplace / custom integrations
Website tracking
GDPR Tools

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