[Posted by Ed Hadley, 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.
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.