Regardless if you are a B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business) marketer we hold these truths to be self evident.
Any capable Enterprise or Mid-Market vendor should allow you _the Marketer_ to integrate to systems in a sophisticated manner with work-flow and every need that addresses the B2C and B2B business need across messaging channels (Email, Mobile, Apps, Display and yes Print as needed). It is 2014, and marketers not only require these operational constructs regardless of audience, but also the measurement to understand the attribution of their marketing spend across channels.
While our team at The Relevancy Group sits with clients seeking new ESP (Email Service Provider) omnichannel (err that would be cross-channel, multi, omni?) solutions to discover, optimize and remove challenges. Last year The Relevancy Group represnted 18 billion email marketing messages out to bid. Want to do an RFP, talk to us.
When we published The Relevancy Ring – ESP Buyer’s Guide, 2014 we found that unfortunately for some vendors they are still projecting all about us and them, versus just speaking about the the merits of their own business. Read the free excerpt of The Relevancy Ring – ESP Buyers Guide with the free subscription to The Marketer Quarterly. Understand the ESP contenders and leaders, while all were invited in a solid methodology of innovation and invitation – see who is missing. Every vendor paid the same nominal fee to cover data and survey cost – this unlike my previous employer, our approach underscores that for inclusion all pay the same regardless of the grand relationship. We and I always have been objective, did I mentioned I walked out of my previous green screen employer (I’ll save that for the next book), but read the report – it is the most comprehensive research and combined along with Chris Marriott and Nick Einstein we scored different aspects and didn’t know the combined score until we did that.
Some vendors think they do not need outside objective validation, and many are not in touch with their clients. There are some believe that B2C marketing is so special that their company can keep a separate company to solely address B2B marketing. That notion is so curious, in that in so many businesses that I have worked for as well as our current market clients, well this fake wall of a separation of “church and state” seems well – so foreign and reminds me of my 1980′s and that “tear down the wall” quote.
So unless you are Roger Waters – you should never invest in a Wall. And yes for the music folks out there Waters sang and performed in Berlin after _that_ wall came down, for the record with heroes such as Levon Helm and other Band members.
It simply surprises me, the arrogance of some vendors that do not realize that there is a common ground of production, of targeting, the dynamic content tools, the workflow that necessary, the scale and delivery – between B2C and B2B – really you want to make these silos larger by different solutions and brands? Shameful. WOW – you vendor want me to choose which role I play? I am talking to B2B, tomorrow I am talking to B2c, well that might be a nuances, production reality, but really if you separate and make me select two platforms to do this, well then … it isn’t going to work out well in the end. So vendors, don’t ask clients to select a side of the wall. Think back anytime there is a wall or silo between applications and tasks – EVERYDAY VENDORS if that is your dream, I ask you to just think Berlin. Think East and West, Think B2B, B2C, thing of operational empowerment. Then Think ALL MARKETERS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Regardless of your role, it is about your BRANDS client experience and we don’t take off our behavior when we shift from work (business) to consumer and as a marketer. So if you believe that, well then why wouldn’t you need the same tools and if you had to purchase them from two separate companies, well that is just silly.
Integrate and do it eloquently without the promise of tomorrow, but what is actually available today. REST JSON just saying.
Interested in hearing more – well subscribe to this free digital magazine The Marketer Quarterly that will provide insight on how B2B/B2C CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) from the Red Cross deal with and include such separation – hint: see every subscriber regardless of business type attribute as one! Your brand will be better for it!
Don’t settle for legacy and #failed innovation – be equal - Learn more with free research, content and discovery at The Marketer Quarterly
All the best,
I was recently interviewed by DM News, if you missed it, here is a copy.
Q&A: David Daniels, A Renaissance Man
We’ve all heard that email is dead. But David Daniels, CEO and co-founder of marketing education and advisory service provider The Relevancy Group, says email is here to stay. I sat down with Daniels at ExactTarget’s Connections ’13 conference, and discussed which email marketing metrics and trends are here for good.
How would you describe the year of 2013 to 2014?
I would describe it as the renaissance for email. People finally understand that it’s not going away. It’s here to stay. At The Relevancy Group, we like to think about it like our digital fingerprint because we need an email address to pretty much do anything or everything. Are people interacting with email less? No. On the desktop computer maybe. All the things in mobile have really fueled [the renaissance].
Are there any common email practices today that really make you cringe?
There are a number of people that [don't] actually use the data that’s available to them and actually test. There’s so much opportunity out there. In our market research, we do surveys every month. And still, the number of people that use click behaviors as a segmentation attribute—have you clicked, haven’t you clicked—it’s still only about a quarter of marketers who actually use that data…Those are things that make me cringe: Why aren’t more people doing that? The other thing is testing. We still only see about one-third of marketers—and that number is pretty consistent year to year—do even basic A/B testing. I think part of the reason for that is it’s a time and material issue. There’s just not enough hours in the day.
When marketers buy technology, it’s usually best-of-breed. What are the advantages and challenges?
The integration of that data or the time it takes to get that data [is a challenge]. Some of our large retail clients have to go and fill out a statement sheet even before the data gets pulled to say “this is my ROI statement of why I want to see that data out of that repository…” You have to go through all these layers and hoops. That’s about a week before you actually get the data that you think you want. Then when you get it, you might think this isn’t actually the data that I was looking for.
What’s one channel that email complements particularly well today?
It’s certainly social in both directions: Being able to use social as a platform to acquire new email registrants but to also use email as a push channel to say ‘you just bought this, can you go do a product review on our website?’…Consumers again feel like they have a voice and they’re part of that process.
What’s one metric that you think marketers overhype?
Open rates would probably be one of those metrics because it’s flawed. It’s been flawed since email started…Why the open rate doesn’t really matter is because all of the images have to render. Most things are off by default. We know that about 40% of consumers turn images on. Now with the way that people are triaging their email on the mobile devices, that plays into it. It’s a rendering issue. It’s a good indicator if you see your opens drop off. That’s probably an indicator that there’s a deliverability issue. It’s good from that perspective as an alert. As far as a constant measure to look at or to benchmark people on across the industry, it’s a horrible metric…I would focus more on the behavioral things like clicks and click-to-open rates.
This infographic highlights the growth of outsourcing marketing to the cloud as well as marketer priorities and the benefits of outsourcing marketing analytics.
Tips to Guiding Email Marketing Vendor Selection
One of the things that we do at my firm is help our clients write requests for proposals (RFPs) and manage the email marketing vendor selection process. While all vendor selection processes are specific to the client’s specific needs, there are a few major categories that we find consistent. This is particularly true for marketers who are embracing the Connected Marketing Framework, managing not just email, but also mobile, social, and the channels adjacent to digital marketing.
Given the overwhelming need to powerfully integrate email marketing into a broad array of channels and datasets, marketers should emphasize the value delivered from these integrations by taking the following into consideration when selecting a vendor.
Email Marketers Must Calibrate Vendor Selection Criteria to Reflect Emerging Market Certainties
Considering the evolution of the current market and the expectations for its continued change, marketers must adapt their email marketing vendor selection by mapping it to these three major categories.
- Channels served. Encompassing the entire digital marketing continuum that is necessary to empower the customer lifecycle of acquisition, engagement, retention, and advocacy.
- Email. The ability to schedule, throttle, and manage outbound email marketing and inbound reply handling. This includes segmentation, testing, dynamic content, triggered messaging, transactional message support, deliverability tools, and custom reporting.
- Social. The ability to extend email’s reach to social networks, launch and manage social marketing campaigns, and measure and analyze subscribers’ social behavior.
- Mobile. The ability to leverage SMS messaging as an email opt-in point and manage outbound campaigns through mobile messaging, as well as enlisting design remedies to ensure that email and landing pages render appropriately on small screens.
- Websites. The ability to deploy and measure microsites, landing pages, and blogging functionality, as well as optimize these pages for search engine marketing placement. Functionality should be present for retargeting of page content or display ads that tie to email offer content and/or subscriber click behavior.
- Search. The ability to leverage the relationship between paid search (SEM) and email marketing in terms of enabling efficient list building and relevancy. Also, the ability for email recipients to share content in emails to the web that is automatically optimized for natural search.
- Usability. While ease of use is placed firmly in the eye of the beholder, marketers must judge usability by the solution’s ability to easily reuse, store, and organize mailings, campaigns, data, and content. Such an emphasis on reuse and overall usability will create much-needed efficiency for the marketer. Also, pay careful attention to the vendor’s use of scripting and the specific scripting language.
- Subscriber integration and management. The ability to manage not just subscriber data for email, but also additional marketing channels so that marketers can understand and manage the interrelation of a subscriber’s channel preference across the entire customer lifecycle. A differentiation in this attribute is the integration of relational data into email databases to allow the marketer to utilize a broad dataset for segmentation and targeting.
- Content. Often a missing piece of functionality within email marketing applications, the need to augment legacy content management systems will grow as marketers embrace a variety of digital channels. The ability for the vendor to store, manage, and organize a host of content attributes and formats, including video, are functions where there is a great lack of parity within the marketplace.
- Smart integration. The ability for a vendor to intelligently integrate to common external solutions, such as how popular sales force automation tools and databases must extend beyond a robust application-programmable interface and manifest into tight integrations with critical applications.
- Analytics. The ability to measure and analyze not only email marketing performance, but all relevant digital marketing channels including website measurement. The keys to improving the marketer’s relevance among her subscribers will be found within this piece of functionality.
- Redundancy. For most marketers, email marketing represents a huge mission-critical revenue source. Marketers must evaluate vendors based on their ability to provide redundant operations in the event of a crisis. This includes the service-level expectations when downtime occurs as well as maintenance windows and how such planned maintenance impacts mailing schedules as well as email messages that have already been deployed.
- Strategic. The common thread of email marketing over the last decade was that each year brought new challenges and the perpetual bar of sophistication will continue to be raised. The importance of a comprehensive methodology of strategic best practices advice and services will continue to grow in importance. Marketers must use the vendor’s capabilities in this regard as a wedge to separate vendors in the selection process even when functionality differences cannot be easily discerned.
- Tactical. As important as strategic advice is, it is imperative that prospective vendors can provide the tactical services to lend a hand with the production and management aspects across the digital marketing spectrum.
- Support. The relationship that marketers have with their vendors is tempered by the quality of the vendor’s support services. While the cost of message deployment can be commoditized, marketers must recognize the premium associated with satisfying support services. Beyond functionality, we consistently find that the vendor’s inability to delight their clients is the single biggest issue that drives marketers to switch vendors.
Join The Relevancy Group CEO David Daniels and VP of Services Chris Marriott, on August 29th at 1 ET for a free webinar titled The Future of Email Marketing: Five Trends to Anticipate. In this webinar brought to you by Plan to Engage, David and Chris will discuss five emerging trends that will impact consumers and marketers alike. David will provide survey data to illustrate marketer’s top priorities and highlight which tactics are driving marketer success. This fun and informative session will provide a forward looking outlook and also prescriptive advice on which strategies to embrace.
How to Prevent an Email RFP Disaster
TRG’s Chris Marriott writes a sizzling article on his experiences to avoid a disaster. In Full Disclosure, The Relevancy Group provides RFP services to avoid such disasters. Regardless if you utilize our services or not, learn something from the many years of experience that Chris has to offer. …. Enjoy!
I have sat on both sides of the table in a lot of enterprise email RFPs over the years. Sometimes it has been representing an ESP. More recently I’ve been helping marketers through the process of selecting a new ESP. Some of what I’ve seen over time has surprised me, so this month I’m going to share tips for both ESPs and marketers on how to improve the RFP process — and possibly, if you are an ESP, how to improve your chances of a win in your next pitch for an enterprise client.
Tip No. 1 for marketers: Plan your meeting agendas carefully
It’s important that you remember you are going to have to sit through final presentations for several ESPs. Keep this in mind when drawing up agendas for the in-person meetings. For example, while it might seem like a great idea to hear about things like “How email is evolving” or “The impact of mobile on email marketing,” there are plenty of places you can get this information. Devoting a significant part of the in-person presentations to topics like this means that you are going to have to sit through four or more presentations on the same topic. You can trust me that by the third meeting you are going to dread this section. Why? Because all of the ESPs are going to tell you pretty much the exact same thing on broad industry topics like these. You’re not going to hear anything that will help you determine who might be the best partner.
A better approach is to figure out what it is about your current partner that has brought you to this point. Are there pain points in the process that could perhaps be made to disappear if you changed ESPs? Are there steps that could be automated to reduce time and cost? Use cases are a great way to get fresh thinking, even from the incumbent. Asking the ESPs to use the in-person meeting to respond to specific use cases lets you see how they approach problems, how they think, and who the really smart people on their teams are. Even if you’re doing the RFP only because procurement mandates you do one every three or four years, that doesn’t mean you should simply settle for a cheaper ESP. Switching is going to be brutal; don’t kid yourself. It’s only worth it if you get a better solution along with some cost savings. Asking their opinions on social media isn’t going to get you there.
Tip No. 2 for marketers: The search process is going to take longer than you think — every time!
I have never participated in an RFP where the original timetable was met. Not one. RFPs are very time consuming, and they should be because the stakes are so high. So don’t be surprised when end of February becomes early April. The longer time frame isn’t indicative of a breakdown in the process. It merely reflects the fact that you are going to have so many people involved with so many moving parts that, even with the best intentions, meeting dates are going to take longer to get scheduled.
If you go into an RFP with this attitude, then you’ll be able to time it while taking into account peak sending periods for your product or service and not find yourself having to migrate to a new vendor right before that time hits. This way, if you’re a retailer you don’t get stuck migrating in November, if you’re a cruise line you’re not doing it in February, and if you’re a summer vacation spot, you’re not migrating in May. So by all means put together a timetable for the RFP. You have to start somewhere. But bear in mind it’s an aspirational timetable.
And if you still are going into the process insisting that you will stick to your original timetable, at least negotiate a month-to-month deal with your current vendor so you’re not stuck when your date slips (and it’s going to). You’ll get a much better deal if you’re not doing it 30 days before your current contract expires. At the beginning of the search, your vendor still thinks they are in the running. Later in the process, if it looks like you’re not going to pick them, they won’t be so flexible.
Read more at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/34511.asp#xoTidSEp4FF6EwtK.99
Here is an excerpt of my latest @ClickZ column, The Future Is Now – 4 Steps to Connected Marketing
I am showing my age, as 2013 marks my 25th year working in direct and digital marketing. The lessons that I have learned being a part of and building businesses through this time have enriched my life. If you know me or have followed me over the last 15 years when my role transitioned from practitioner to consultant and industry analyst, then you know I am all about sharing best practices. The ideas that I share are for the greater good in order to drive results today and to embrace the future in the aim of continuous improvement.
It has taken years for technology to mature to the point today that empowers all of us and our always-on, persistent connected society. If you are a reader of my column, you can likely identify with being a contributor to that connected society, but here I ask you to take this journey to see if you measure up as a connected company. That is, are you practicing connected marketing?
What do I mean by connected marketing? My firm has four major themes to our Connected Marketing Framework.