What good is your ESP if it doesn't play nice with your other systems? Unless you like piecing together disparate data as well as looking in several programs to get a full-scale view of your email marketing campaigns, your ESP must integrate with your existing back-end systems.
As an example, with our previous ESP, we had to put in a request to have our IT department pull customer lists for us based on pre-defined segments. The ESP didn't integrate well with our data warehouse, and there wasn't a simple way for us to run our own segment queries and automatically generate the lists we wanted immediately before the email drop. Many of our customers received emails from us that were no longer relevant since the queries were usually a few days old by the time we were able to do the drop. As a result, the email campaigns weren't as effective as they could have been. In addition, we were constantly running the risk of our newly acquired customers thinking we weren't paying attention.
If the integration with your back-end systems requires heavy consulting fees to do something that seems relatively simple (e.g., data feeds, database linking for list queries), then it's likely not worth spending the time and energy to make it happen. Instead, find another ESP that is able to integrate easily. Your back-end systems are going to vary from others, so you'll need to interview several ESPs to find the right fit. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as a one-size-fits-all ESP when it comes to database integration, but when you find a match, you'll wonder how you managed without it.
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Thanks for the comment Annie. I hope that the ESPs view the article with your suggestion in mind.
These 6 reasons to fire an ESP not only warn people looking for the right ESP to consider these options seriously, but it also gives a good guideline to ESP themselves on the sort of level they need to participate on to be considered against their competitors. Thank you for setting the caliber high!
Hey Sean,It all comes down to this; the problems that you've mentioned aren't a reason to fire a vendor, but a reason to fire the person that selected an inadequate vendor in the first place.I've already gone point by point to your post and you haven't given me anything back other than insinuating that my view is colored from an ESP perspective and that I haven't any client-side experience. Did you bother checking me out before making such assumptions? Looks to me like the same approach as you seem to have taken in selecting an ESP.... I'm just sayin'....My post links to yours a half-dozen times and you've been kind enough to post back to me in the comments here, so I guess it's up to the reader to form their own opinions....
John, Thanks for your comments both here and on your post. While I may not be an expert on the inner workings of ESPs for an insider's perspective (since I've never worked for an ESP), my background comes from years on the client side. Each of the examples I've given in the article are based on real experiences from the lens of an advertiser. I'm not alone either. Many advertisers commonly share the same types of frustrations with each other. My experience with all vendors is that it begins with delivering what is promised and expected. Expectations need to be clear from both parties. It's defintely not a one way street. For the client side, expectations continue to evolve as business needs dictate. If a true partnership has developed, then solutions can usually be had. If not, the relationship can turn into a business hinderance quickly. In my experience with ESPs (and generally with several technology vendors), this is the case.
It's interesting that your vocabulary tends to fall to the negative with things like "fire" and "ripping".... It's also interesting to note that while you comment that you love being taken to task, I don't seem to see any defense of your original position either here or at http://RedPillEmail.comAnd while you're obviously not an authority on the subject (that's a rip, fyi), and most certainly have some unrealistic views of the role of an ESP, I'd hate to see someone with even less experience take this post as authoritive - because it's posted at iMedia Connection - and perhaps cause a rift between they and their vendor that wouldn't have been there otherwise. That would not be fair to the reader or the vendor.But hey, thanks for the link to my post! :)
Just came across this blog post ripping each of the points I gave in the article. I love it when someone takes me to task, whether I agree with them or not. Read this post and comment back here on this article to let me know your thoughts on his points as well as mine. http://redpillemail.com/blog/2009/6-reasons-to-fire-your-esp-seriously.html
Thanks Toni. Reporting is so crucial, that it has to be a top focus when going through the RFP process.
I totally agree with looking into the training and reporting before going with a system. Our ESP counts preview / testing in over-all results, and unsubscribes as click-throughs. Correcting the report is a manual process.
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