Return Path Eloqua

Return Path

Return Path is the leader in email deliverability. Every day, tens of thousands of customers trust Return Path data and insights to help them optimize their email marketing. Partnered with best-in-class email service providers, we help marketers take their email programs to the next level by driving more response and increasing revenue.

Return Path was acquired by Validity in May 2019. The combination of Return Path and Validity provides organizations with the most comprehensive technology solutions to target, contact, engage, and retain customers effectively.

Client Challenge

Return Path had challenges in three key areas:

All of the problems in each area essentially fed each other.  Poor database health, meant that they could not perform detailed profile scoring and in turn, incomplete information meant that they could not adopt persona marketing for their outgoing communications and campaigns.

Return Path did not previously have a lead scoring model in place and all leads from sender score got sent straight into a lead que that was then profiled and called up by two dedicated tele-services teams.

In essence their challenge was that they were sending one shot generic email communications to their entire database.  In turn they were routing anyone that signed up for their Sender Score product straight to an expensive teleservices team that was there to pre-qualify everything.



Each area was dealt with as a separate stream.  These were then dealt in a three phased sequence:

  1. Database health
  2. Persona development
  3. Lead scoring
Database health

The first step being able to facilitate persona development or lead scoring was to have a clean, healthy Eloqua database.  Several options were considered:

  • Teleservices canvasing
    The teleservices team would be engaged to run a huge outbound call campaign on the database the missing information.
  • One time data cleanse
    The database would be uploaded to a platforms and set against certain rules and then data appended – one time only, then resent back to Return Path for import
  • Database append service
    An external service such as D&B could be bolted on to Eloqua and have the data they were looking for constantly refreshed with the most up to date data that D&B had.
  • Profile update campaign
    An Eloqua campaign would be set up that would have gated content which would update the contact record facilitating gaining the most up to date information
Option Cost Speed Reliability Future proof
Teleservices canvasing 🔴 🟡 🟢 🟡
One time data cleanse 🟢 🟡 🟡 🔴
Database append service 🟡 🟢 🟢 🟢
Profile update campaigns 🟢 🔴 🟢 🟡

Return Path chose the Database append approach so this was implemented.

Persona development

Now that we had the most up to date information about our Eloqua contacts this information was sent through to SFDC, the data crunched and personas started to identify themselves:

  • VP Marketing
  • Email Marketing Manager
  • Email Marketing Analyst
  • Deliver Systems Administrator
  • Operations Manager
  • Director of Security & Risk
  • Abuse Desk Manager

We then developed a Return Path product usage matrix and utilizing our new persona tool we could leverage this for persona based messaging using Eloqua dynamic content blocks in emails and develop more sophisticated lead nurture and accelerator campaigns.

Lead scoring

Data analysis was carried out and it was found that:

Incoming leads breakout:


North America





The lead status though yielded some alarming results:




In Progress



46% of leads were getting passed directly to a teleservices team that were disqualifying these contacts.  This was a massively unacceptable volume and drain on resource.

A lead scoring model was swiftly implemented which drastically reduced that volume of “leads” being passed over to sales and thus had a huge impact on resource spend.



Quantitative analysis took place in three key areas and found that:


Form conversion increase using data append


Email click through increase using personas


Teleservices cost reduction

Whilst the engagement was a success for the business, neither the marketing department or the teleservices team were briefed of ready for the impact.

The marketing department were bonused on volume of leads being sent to teleservices and the teleservices team (external) had to lose people from the team since there were less leads coming though.

From now on I remind clients that a lead scoring model is not a silver bullet that generates loads more leads, it generates less lead volume but better quality, thus improving sales numbers whilst lowering the cost of sale.

Greg Staunton

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