A siloed approach to email marketing and campaign management only leads to customer fatigue and frustration. Organizations that tear down these walls and deliver a relevant, seamless, cross-channel customer experience will be rewarded with share of mind—and wallet.
Back in the 1990's when email was just starting to catch on, email service providers emerged to support new fledgling email marketing teams, which used the external service to outsource message delivery. Since email marketers at the time hadn't progressed beyond the 'batch and blast' mentality, it was relatively easy to cut a list and then use the ESP to broadcast their campaigns.
The technological silo created by ESPs, however, has helped reinforce the functional silo, making it progressively harder to integrate email with other channels and deliver a relevant and consistent cross-channel customer experience.
Email possesses several inherent qualities that make it unique among marketing channels: it is real-time, interactive, trackable and fully customizable. Unfortunately, ESPs can prevent marketers from taking full advantage of these inherent qualities and realizing greater marketing ROI.
For example, many ESPs offer limited data modeling, targeting and tracking capabilities that can reduce personalization options; marketers can also be forced to perform list selection in separate databases and then upload the files to the ESP. The additional steps, along with multiple systems and GUIs, significantly slow down go-to-market time—preventing email from being truly real-time.
Because of its interactivity, email creates a tremendous amount of data and insight into customer behavior before, during, and after the click. With an ESP, this valuable behavioral data can be trapped on the vendor's servers. While marketers usually get the output/visualization of this data in the form of reports, they rarely have access to the raw data and thus can't bring it into the master marketing database in order to enrich customer profiles and execute more targeted, relevant campaigns. The result is less effective marketing.
A cross-channel campaign management platform can allow marketers to implement—or leverage, if it already exists—a central database of record that encompasses all known and inferred customer information, including contact information, socio-demographics, transactions, computed data, expressed interests and preferences, behavioral information, etc.. This insight can be leveraged for progressively better targeting and personalization across all channels, not just email. In this way, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and marketers reap the benefits in the form of greater campaign results and revenues.
One of the largest systematic problems with ESPs is that they can breed a culture of marketing to the channel. Each marketing team is narrowly focused on the goals and performance of the channel for which it's responsible, with little or no regard for the overall customer experience. With multiple point solutions, it's incredibly complex to coordinate campaigns across channels in order to establish and maintain a positive, relevant, and personalized customer experience. Instead, with channels managed in silos, customers suffer from inconsistent and poorly targeted messages, contact fatigue, and frustration.
A cross-channel campaign management platform allows marketers to holistically manage their marketing campaigns—and the customer experience—from a single interface, ensuring they're always marketing to each individual and his or her interests, needs, and preferences. By focusing on the customer experience, marketers will not only improve the performance of each individual channel but also overall marketing ROI and revenues.
While coordinating outbound channels alone can drive results, the real payoff comes from integrating email with real-time inbound interactions initiated by customers via the Web, call center, or point of sale (POS). Study after study concur that inbound visitors presented with a relevant offer are much more inclined to respond, compared to recipients of one-off, direct outbound communications.
With inbound/outbound fusion, all the rich behavioral data created by email informs offer selection on inbound channels, and vice versa. If a customer ignores a specific offer delivered via email, the platform can automatically suppress that offer from other channels, so it's not presented when that person visits the website a week later. The way a customer interacts with a specific email can even drive what content they're presented when they click to the web just seconds later. A sophisticated platform can also dynamically insert the most relevant offers into an email at the moment of execution.