Custom, what?

That’s more or less how I reacted as a novice when my Eloqua mentor came around the corner with an implementation proposal for this monstrous webinar campaign that I had planned with my marketing team at the time.

Custom Data Objects (also called Custom Objects or CDO) expand your contact and account data: status updates in lead management, purchase histories, click paths in your online configurator – where large amounts of data would otherwise flood your contact or account master data, you can store and document them on CDOs according to your requirements. Using the email address or another unique identifier, you can link the individual data records to the contact or an account. That's why CDOs are called relational databases.

That's confusing? Let's compare it to a picture from everyday life: In the old days, when you visited your doctor, he often had a paper file card in front of him. The envelope contained your name, address and probably your telephone number for feedback. In short: your master data. In Eloqua, these are the data you would write to the contact. When the doctor took up your symptoms, he made a note on the card during each of your visits and added a date. You can compare the doctor's patient file with a custom data object in Eloqua. Each entry corresponds to a CDO record.

If you work with an Eloqua standard license and up, you can create as many CDOs as you like. Okay, that's not quite true. The limit is 25 million Custom Data Objects. For each CDO you can generate up to five million records. In addition, each CDO allows up to 1,024 individually defined fields. If you want to break the limits, you will be busy for quite a while 😉

You can create CDO-Records with the Form Submit App or with our GDPR Manager app. You can find out which advantages the GDPR Manager offers you on our product page.

Between my first webinar campaign and today lies half a decade and during that time CDOs have become a permanent and valued companion for me. Where does the enthusiasm come from? That's what I'd like to show you with these three use cases:

  1. Data Insights thanks to Snapshots 
  2. Personalization par excellence
  3. Maximum transparency in data collection

1. Data Insights thanks to Snapshots

At APTLY, we support our customers in optimizing their customer lifecycle. As a rule, we start with a lead management process. For this process, we define which steps a lead goes through until it converts to a customer and how the sales process is subsequently structured. We then implement the lead management process in marketing automation and the respective CRM system. In Eloqua, we rely on Snapshots for lead management. Snapshots are CDO records that you configure without a unique code field. If you were to select a unique code field, the CDO record associated with the contact would update again and again. For each contact you would have exactly one CDO record at this custom data object. If you do not select a unique code field, a new record will always be created. This allows a contact to receive multiple CDO entries. This way you can create a history by temporally recording each lead status and adding your parameters, such as:

  • When did a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) convert to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)? 
  • What was the trigger that converted it? 
  • Did he qualify via a certain score or did a defined action trigger a Compelling Event so that he slipped on the fast track to sales?

One thing I learned from using Snapshots to gain more data insights: Once you start to see data in new contexts, it makes you addicted to more data insights. And even if you're sure you know your processes inside out, you'll always find optimization potential: for the process itself, for the marketing activities you're doing, and also for the budget you're spending on them.

2. Personalization par excellence

I'm a content marketer through and through. This means that I get excited when I can design campaigns that are both relevant and personalized. With Field Merges and Dynamic Content, Eloqua offers me the ideal tool. But what’s even better: I can expand these functionalities thanks to Custom Data Objects.

My first webinar campaign was a monstrous one: We offered a series of sessions at two different times. A total of almost 20 sessions. In the past, this offer was always very well received by customers and interested parties. However, we received negative feedback because interested parties (we did not yet have any marketing automation in place) had to register individually for each webinar via the standard registration pages of GoToWebinar: if someone wanted to take part in seven webinars, they also had to complete the form seven times. Some of them had the idea to contact our marketing team so that we could do this manually for our customers. This further increased our motivation to find a better registration process.

What did we do about it?

We created a Custom Data Object for the webinar campaign in which each session was configured as a field. Using an Eloqua form, interested parties could then select all the webinars they wanted to participate in at once. We wrote this information to the CDO and then created a confirmation email via Dynamic Content, in which all registration information with details on the webinar content and speakers were summarized. John Doe received his personalized registration confirmation for Webinar 1, 2 and 3, while Jane Smith received an overview of Webinar 2, 6 and 7. The customer's feedback was excellent. 

Of course, you can also imagine similar scenarios for purchase histories or license renewals of your products. You can use the CDO information to announce new products and services by email if you have documented existing purchases.

3. Maximum transparency in data collection

Article 15 of the GDPR grants people a „Right of access by the data subject“. If personal data has not been collected from the person concerned themselves, you must be able to provide them with information on where you got which information in the event of queries. Conversely, this means: maintaining the source and the date on which you received the information for each personal detail. 

This is a difficult task using contact fields. Firstly, because Eloqua doesn't offer you a „change log“ on contact fields. On the other hand, because only 250 contact fields are available to you in Eloqua. Custom Data Objects, in contrast, can be used to display a history of activities. And if a contact knocks on your door, you can easily export your information and show them the origin of his data in detail. This creates trust. 

Initially setting up this GDPR process and consistently integrating it into all forms and contact imports requires some work. But it is worth it. Because in this course you will not only deal with the GDPR setup itself, but also with your data management. You will find out: Data maintenance contributes to your campaign results and the customer experience. A survey by Econsultancy shows: More than half of the companies that already have an advanced level of maturity in customer experience find that the focus on protecting consumer data has a positive impact on the customer experience. To learn more about GDPR-compliant processes in Eloqua, also take a look at our GDPR blog post

There you have it – three use cases that will make you love CDOs! And what’s even better: All of the above explained CDO setups can easily be implemented using the GDPR Manager app. You can find out more about our Eloqua app on our product page.