Transactional Emails and Unsubscribed Contacts: The Subscription Process in Eloqua

I found many discussions about this topic, and many customers trying to find an easy and safe solution to quickly send transactional emails. Finally I had the chance to set up a full customized process and I want to share my findings with you.

Transactional Emails

Eloqua offers the possibility to automatically manage subscriptions and create an Email Subscription Center that can be use to help email recipients receive email they are interested in. When someone globally unsubscribes, Eloqua ensures this contact will not receive any email. But there is still a group of emails that are sent to complete a specific transaction, and cannot be included in a Subscription Center: the “Transactional Emails”.

More and more companies have an e-commerce platform, and, depending on the nature of the transaction, they are required to send to their customers transactional emails. For instance:

  • order confirmations/overview
  • purchase receipts
  • shipping notifications
  • system alerts
  • invoices
  • password resets
  • account balance updates
  • auto-responders
  • support requests
  • cart abandonment
  • app error alerts
  • check out, get a receipt
  • track the package, get shipping notifications
  • invitation to rate the item(s) purchased

So what happen when contacts are globally unsubscribed in your marketing automation tool? Can they receive transactional emails?


In Eloqua there are 2 options to send transactional emails to unsubscribed contacts:

1-    Create an email group for this specific kind of emails and send them through a Program: the step will be configured with the action „Send Quicksend Email“, and under „Override options“ the option “Allow Email to be sent on Unsubscribe” is selected.

2-    Create a full customized subscription management process that will not use the standard functionalities of Eloqua, so all contacts will appear in the system as “globally subscribed”, and their subscription will be managed only by using Email Groups. This new configuration will allow sending emails using campaign canvas.

Setup a custom subscription workflow in Eloqua

A custom subscription process has no negative impact to the organization, but it is important to keep in mind some aspects:

  • All contacts will result in Eloqua as “globally subscribed”, the real information about the global subscription will appear in the contact custom field Email opt-in
  • If a contact globally unsubscribed, the checkbox called “Email opt-in” will be updated. This is the field to use in Segments in order to see the contact´s subscriptions
  • If a new email group will be created in the future, the subscription process will need to be amended to include the new group
  • The Segment´s filters “Globally Subscribed” or “Globally Unsubscribed” cannot be used anymore
  • Subscription/unsubscription data will be visible only by running customized reports based on the form where unsubscribed contacts data is stored
  • In “Insight” , the standard Eloqua reports about Subscriptions/Unsubscriptions will not show the real data (Database Health Dashboard, Email unsubscribed overview, etc..): it is recommended to use only customized reports.
  • The unsubscribe link in email footers will be updated with a new link
  • A new customized form to unsubscribe contacts will be created
  • Form processing steps like “subscribed globally” and “unsubscribed globally” cannot be used anymore.

 Configuration details

This process is based on email groups, so it is very important that each of them are kept updated:

  • Ensure you have created all email groups including “Transactional Emails” group
  • If you don´t have it yet, create an Email Preference Center where your contacts can choose the topics they are interested in. This page will not show the email group “Transactional Emails”
  • Create the custom contact field “Email opt-in” (or, depending on your decisions, „Email opt-out“)
  • Create the Program called “Subscribe/Unsubscribe to Email Groups”: all contacts that have subscribed or unsubscribed will be sent to this program where each email group subscription will be updated.
  • Create the Landing Page “Unsubscribe_Success”: this page appears to all contacts that click on the email link “Unsubscribe from all emails”.
  • Create the Form “Global_Unsubscribe” with the following processing steps:
    • Set the field “Email opt-in” to “0”
    • Send contacts to the program “Subscribe/Unsubscribe to Email Groups”
    • Redirect to success page “Unsubscribe_ Success”
  • Update the email footers with the new link, that will look something like:

This link contains important information that will allow you to know where the unsubscription comes from:

  • Eloqua Campaign ID (elqCampaignID)
  • Contact email address
  • Email name (from where the contact clicked on “unsubscribe”)

To get a report on Unsubscriptions, you just need to run a report based on the form “Global_Unsubscribe” or go to the form > form submission data.

Results and conclusions

This process works very well and in case your Eloqua is integrated with the CRM, the Sales Team will also benefit from it: they will be able to unsubscribe a contact but you will track all this information in the Eloqua form. All contacts will be subscribed to the transactional emails, including those unsubscribed by the sales team.

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Francesca Turri

Francesca has more than 5 years experience in integrating CRM and Marketing Automation technologies into different organizations. She works strategically with customers, to understand their business objectives, determine the best approach for leveraging APTLY solutions, and provide recommendations on how to proceed.

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