Data Import Priority in Eloqua: What it is and why it's important by Sojourn's Alex Robinson

February 28, 2022 Chuck Leddy

Data comes into Oracle Eloqua via various sources, fueling campaigns and more, but not all sources of data are of equal quality. When good data and bad data compete, you can have data conflicts where lower quality data can potentially overwrite higher quality data. When bad data wins, everyone else loses (marketers and customers especially). Rules governing data import priorities exist to resolve these conflicts. 

Eloqua defines data priority this way:  “Data priority compares new data to existing data, then determines whether to update contact data depending on the source. If Oracle Eloqua receives incoming data with a field that is different than what exists in the system, the platform considers both the sources of the new and existing data before updating the field information.”

Multiple sources of data = Potential data quality problems

Alex Robinson, Marketing Automation Consultant at Sojourn Solutions, discussed data priority at a recent Oracle Eloqua User Group meeting. Robinson noted that Eloqua stores data from multiple sources, such as list uploads, form submissions, and integrations with CDPs and CRMs. Data can come through the import/export as well as through the API. “All that data coming into Eloqua from different sources varies in quality and accuracy,” he says.

Data coming in from Salesforce, for example, is often considered the gold standard for data quality because “it’s likely been verified by a sales rep who verified the phone number and other information associated with the contact,” says Robinson. On the other hand, you might get a third-party list with data that’s unverified and is likely less reliable. 

Because data quality can differ by source, “Eloqua has a priority level on each field within the contact table for a specific record. These priority levels,” says Robinson, “seek to prevent the overwriting of higher quality data with less reliable sources of data.”

How to set your data priority in Eloqua

“There’s a tool in the Eloqua integration area that’s used to set the [data] source import order,” says Robinson. While users can change the order, the default order priorities are usually recommended for most Eloqua instances. For the Eloqua default order, bulk API would be your top priority. “You can create new priorities using the button in the lower right corner of the screen – you scroll down on the right slider for the button to show,” says Robinson.

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Deleting any priorities that you haven’t created yourself is not recommended, as the deleted priorities could be integral to the operation of the underlying system. If you make deletions, you could experience all kinds of problems with bad data overriding good data as it comes in. 

Know what’s causing the problem when importing data

Sojourn’s Karin Pindle offered an example to illustrate Robinson’s point about the importance of data priority for marketers. “Sometimes users who are importing data into Eloqua think Eliqua is broken, but it turns out that their data priority is the root of the problem,” says Pindle. For example, a user might be uploading a list and checking a few contacts in Eloqua to ensure that the upload is properly updating those contacts. “They go through a couple contacts,” says Pindle, “then start asking, ‘why the heck isn't the country field in Eloqua updating with the country value in the list I’m importing?’ The user blames Eloqua for the problem, but they don’t realize that they have to change the data priority in Eloqua in order to achieve their goal.”

There are times when you’ll want to change the default priorities, such as when you have a custom integration with an in-house database that should be higher up in the priority order because of its higher quality data. “In that case,” says Pindle, “you should change the priority order in Eloqua. If you don't keep this in mind and don't have data priority set up properly, you're going to have problems and frustrations.” 

Plan before changing data priorities

Robinson emphasizes the importance of “putting some forethought into how you’re going to change any data priorities. You’d probably want to pause any inbound integrations passing data to Eloqua, pause your syncs or your imports. Make sure everything's paused when you make the priority change. Otherwise, things could get really messed up.” 

Robinson described three items that do not apply to Eloqua’s data priority order:

(1) manual updates to a contact record, which will update a field regardless of priority;

(2) update rules via program builder or custom object services; and

(3) form submission updates, which will overwrite existing fields. On form submissions, Robinson explains that “you have some ability within the update rule to control how that happens. If you have a lower quality form, maybe a demo form, you could choose to not have it overwrite specific fields.”

Practical examples of data priority at work

Robinson offers two examples:

1. Salesforce vs. Third-Party Lists. “Let's pretend I have myself listed as a Salesforce contact. If you upload a third-party list with my data on it, the existing Salesforce data will not get overwritten because it has a higher default priority. My first name and last name stay, my company and title stays the same, as does my phone number, and city. Now if a field in Salesforce was blank prior to the third-party list coming in, that field would be updated by data from the list. So maybe the zip code would be added from the list.”

2. API Import vs. Salesforce Contact. “On the data priority default in Eloqua, I believe API is the higher priority here. So if you have a Salesforce contact like myself, the API will take higher priority and the API data would overwrite the Salesforce contact data.”

It’s important to first, know that data priority rules exist so you understand what’s being overwritten when you import data and second, to have the capability to make changes to data priority to meet your needs. As Pindle notes, a lot of marketers have no idea about data priority and get mad at Eloqua when things “go wrong” due to data priority rules they’re completely unaware of. After reading this post, you won’t risk being that marketer.

To discuss how to manage your data priority in Oracle Eloqua - in addition to any challenges with your overall data strategy including governance - reach out to us.

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