Ed Hadley[Posted by , Senior Mar­ket­ing Man­ager, Neolane, Inc.]

There is a clear con­ver­gence of past and present hap­pen­ing in mar­ket­ing today; tra­di­tional strate­gies such as email, direct mail, and call-centers, and emerg­ing chan­nels like mobile and social net­works are each demand­ing a piece of the over­all mar­ket­ing bud­get. As a result, the need for a true, cross-channel cam­paign man­age­ment solu­tion has become imper­a­tive for mar­keters look­ing to sus­tain one-to-one dia­logues and achieve max­i­mum ROI.

At the same time, though, mar­keters con­tinue to show a heavy bias toward email mar­ket­ing as a lead­ing channel—and for good rea­son.  Accord­ing to the 2012 DMA Response Rate Report, email had the high­est ROI (28.5) of any direct mar­ket­ing chan­nel.  In addi­tion, sur­vey results show email mar­ket­ing is the most effec­tive prac­tice for lead generation.

Campaign management

What this means is that cross-channel cam­paign man­age­ment and email mar­ket­ing should go hand in hand.  Together, they can help brands not only exe­cute effec­tive email mar­ket­ing strate­gies but unify all com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels to orches­trate mes­sages dri­ven by indi­vid­ual needs, inter­ests, and behav­ior, and thus deliver great cus­tomer experiences.

Yet, often­times, brands enter the eval­u­a­tion process for cam­paign man­age­ment solu­tions think­ing they need a sep­a­rate email ser­vice provider (ESP) for email exe­cu­tion. Why is this? 

This belief is likely dri­ven by the short­com­ings of legacy cam­paign man­age­ment tools, which were designed to sim­plify seg­men­ta­tion and list selec­tion processes for tra­di­tional, offline chan­nels. Because they weren’t built from the ground up for dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, their email exe­cu­tion capa­bil­i­ties are weak, ren­der­ing them nearly obsolete.

What brands ulti­mately real­ize is that there are “dig­i­tal native” cam­paign man­age­ment ven­dors with best-in-class email exe­cu­tion.  These CCCM plat­forms elim­i­nate the need for a sep­a­rate ESP and offer sev­eral key advantages:

  • Greater insight – Email cre­ates a tremen­dous amount of insight before, dur­ing, and after the click.  While most ESPs pro­vide only aggre­gate data via reports, many CCCM plat­forms track behav­ioral data at the indi­vid­ual level and main­tain a sin­gle real-time view of cus­tomers.  This insight can be lever­aged to deliver more rel­e­vant mes­sages across all chan­nels, not just email.
  • Greater effi­ciency – With two sys­tems, brands must per­form tar­get­ing queries in the cam­paign man­age­ment tool and then upload their lists and cre­ative to the ESP for deliv­ery.  This multi-step process length­ens cam­paign cycles and exhausts lim­ited resources. With the right CCCM plat­form, plan­ning, tar­get­ing, exe­cu­tion, and mea­sure­ment can be per­formed in one sys­tem, bring­ing a much higher degree of efficiency—and automation—to processes.
  • Greater rel­e­vance – The moment a list is “cut” and uploaded to an ESP, it’s essen­tially stale.  Con­se­quently, cam­paign per­for­mance may be less than opti­mal.  With a CCCM that com­bines a cus­tomer data­base and exe­cu­tion engine, the seg­men­ta­tion and per­son­al­iza­tion cri­te­ria are applied to the lat­est cus­tomer data at the moment of exe­cu­tion, increas­ing rel­e­vance.  This also allows for more event-triggered and real-time messaging.
  • Lower TCO – Invest­ing in and main­tain­ing two sep­a­rate sys­tems will increase the total cost of own­er­ship.  With the right CCCM plat­form, there’s no addi­tional effort or cost required to inte­grate email, mak­ing it faster, eas­ier, and cheaper to deploy.  By exten­sion, it’s also eas­ier to main­tain, as the inte­gra­tion doesn’t break every time either sys­tem is upgraded.

We pre­vi­ously pub­lished a list of 10 Ques­tions to Ask When Eval­u­at­ing Cam­paign Man­age­ment Solu­tions.  Specif­i­cally in the con­text of email, it’s impor­tant to focus on whether the plat­form has a robust and scal­able exe­cu­tion engine and cross-channel inte­gra­tion to deliver truly seam­less cus­tomer expe­ri­ences.  If the plat­form can sat­isfy these require­ments, then there is really no need to con­sider a sep­a­rate ESP.

As tra­di­tional and emerg­ing mar­ket­ing chan­nels con­tinue to col­lide, it’s time to adapt, and move beyond your email ser­vice provider. True cross-channel cam­paign man­age­ment solu­tions allow orga­ni­za­tions to deliver mes­sages (includ­ing email) across all chan­nels, while cap­tur­ing and ana­lyz­ing data to cre­ate com­plete cus­tomer pro­files, prim­ing cus­tomers for sales.

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