Until recently, marketers have had access to only two enterprise marketing email solutions: on-premises software or cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). However, as the demand for more sophisticated, integrated marketing management and analytics has increased, the shortcomings of cloud and on-premises solutions are becoming more apparent to marketers.
Although on-premises solutions have the benefit of providing direct access to customer data, they tend to be heavy and complex systems that require a great deal of support from the information technology (IT) department. As a result, many companies have switched to the cloud to manage marketing data. But, businesses are starting to realize the limitations and security risks of replicating and synching customer data to an email service provider (ESP). In addition, silos of information stored by cloud solutions have made it difficult for marketers to obtain a unified view of their customers.
In response to these challenges, a new option has emerged called hybrid email marketing, which combines the security and direct access to data of an on-premises system with the ease of use, scalability and reliability of the cloud. The hybrid technology takes the best aspects of in-house, on-premises technology and pairs it with the benefits of cloud computing, giving marketers the ability to communicate more effectively and efficiently with customers. Below are three ways marketers can expect this new hybrid technology to impact the way marketers manage and use customer data.
1) No More Data Duplication and Synchronization
How much money has your company invested in a data warehouse to store sensitive customer data behind a secure firewall? With all of the effort your company has invested in keeping your data safe, does it make sense to spend additional time, money and resources to duplicate this data and send it to an email service provider who then charges you to store the data behind their (hopefully secure) firewall?
It is not uncommon for an enterprise to spend millions of dollars each year to manage data and store it securely behind the company firewall, only to replicate it and push it to the cloud, where it then has to be synchronized with the original database on a regular basis. The duplication of sensitive customer data is not only time consuming and costly, but it also creates additional security risks.
Hybrid email marketing eliminates the need for database replication and keeps customer data where it belongs, behind your company’s internal firewall. So, instead of pushing sensitive customer data to the cloud, hybrid email marketing allows you to plug directly into you company’s database, which means you can say goodbye to painful and complex extract, transform, load (ETL) data integration, duplication, and synchronization processes required for transferring your sensitive customer data from your database to a third-party email service provider.
2) “Near” Real-Time Data Gives Way to “True” Real-Time Data
One of the biggest challenges in using big data for email marketing is getting updated data to an email service provider and keeping it in sync and fresh. As soon as data is replicated and sent to the cloud, it is out of date. It takes time for changes in one database to be reflected in a duplicate one. In most scenarios, it takes hours for an email service provider to make updates. In worst-case scenarios, it can take days—an eternity in today’s fast-paced customer lifecycle.
Hybrid email marketing is designed to eliminate this lag time by allowing marketers to access data directly from the source. Instead of replicating data and sending it to the cloud, hybrid email marketing provides access the freshest, most up-to-date data from your company’s secure database. By accessing data directly from your database, you can create personalized, relevant, and immediate messaging using the freshest data available from all consumer touch points. The outcome is true real-time access (not “near” real-time) to any and all customer data.
3) Decreased IT Involvement and Increased Marketer Autonomy
Traditional on-premises systems are typically heavily dependent upon IT for ongoing support, maintenance, and development. Not to mention ongoing oversight of email deliverability management and Internet service provider (ISP) relationship management. This heavy burden on IT has prompted many companies to opt for cloud services, which relieve IT of these tasks, but cloud services still require a great deal of involvement from IT when it comes to developing and managing ETLs for data replication and synchronization protocols.
However, the IT investment required to install and maintain a hybrid solution is minimal, and on-going involvement from IT is greatly reduced. The hybrid model for email marketing frees IT resources from the hassle of writing data replication scripts and routines, and it is also much easier to implement. The lightweight hybrid model takes hours, not weeks or months, to install. IT’s main responsibility with the hybrid model is to manage the internal database and make data available and easy to access for marketers. Hybrid email marketing also empowers the marketing team to make changes to data sources independently from an email service provider, which gives marketers more autonomy and control over customer data.
Although this new hybrid technology is changing the email marketing landscape in multiple ways, it is important to note that it is not a fit for every marketing program. The benefits of the hybrid model are most realized by high-volume, data-centric organizations that are managing large amounts of rapidly changing data. But for these big data companies, hybrid email marketing offers a new way to communicate with customers more effectively, more efficiently, and most importantly, in real-time.