Using Eloqua for Crisis Communications

“This is critical.  This email must go out in the next 7 minutes.”

60-minutes-stopwatchThat is how much time a client of mine was recently given to send an important email announcement to their entire customer base.   The company she worked for (which will remain anonymous) is a software security vendor.  The email was intended to direct customers to a new patch release which eliminated a vulnerability in their product to thwart a recent cyber-attack.

Sometimes we face an important choice: When it comes to really important emails, should we use Eloqua to send the email – or should we send it using our company mail server?

For customer email announcements that involve just a handful of people at a time, it might be best left to the account manager to send the email on behalf of the company.  But for companywide announcements, it makes sense to stick with Eloqua.

Using Eloqua to send crisis email instead of Outlook/Exchange offers several compelling advantages:

  1. You can deploy large-scale emails to customer lists very quickly, within minutes.
  2. Your email send volume is not limited by company mail server policies (you are not limited to 200 contacts per email in Outlook/Exchange Server).
  3. Customers are (presumably) already receiving email from you with Eloqua, so your sender policy framework (SPF) and IP reputation within these accounts should guarantee that your crisis emails are received as well.
  4. Using Eloqua offers you for detailed information on receipt and responsiveness to these critically important emails – opens, clicks, bouncebacks, all of which can direct further follow-up action with specific customers (did they download the patch?).


Getting the List Together is the Hard Part  

If you can imagine how things unfold in a crisis situation, minute by minute, the most challenging aspect of crisis management is not the email content itself.  It’s getting the list right.   Take a close look at your database and ask yourself:  If I had to pull a list of our active customer contacts right now, in the next few minutes, could I be sure that I can pull in 100% of our active customers?  Could you get the entire list ready in 7 minutes flat?

The way to make your customer list available in a crisis starts with good practices in your CRM database. These include:

  • Having an “Account Type” field in CRM that identifies active customers and is centrally controlled, ideally by a single individual or team inside the company who can “own” the accuracy of this field.
  • Following an established process to add primary customer contacts to CRM under these accounts.
  • Creating integration linkage between Eloqua and CRM for account-level data.
  • Having ready-made contact filters and distribution lists in Eloqua for active customer contacts.
  • An appreciation shared between account managers, sales reps and professional services employees of the importance of CRM data (for times like this!)

In a crisis, the marketing manager should be able to prepare an email, load the active customer list with confidence that everyone who matters is included, and send the email within minutes.  All without the need to upload separate spreadsheets, or deal with one-off entries.

Comments, stories and experiences on this topic are most welcome.


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