Email Marketing Integration: the 4 points to start with

Maybe you are looking for the best email service provider there is for you, or your program has grown in complexity and you’re ready for more email integration than your current ESP can offer.

Then it is time to look at 4 of the most important factors as you start your search for a new service provider with the right email marketing integration.

Warning: They’re not the factors you might expect, such as, “Does the ESP offer an open API ?” No, these are internal factors, the things you must know about your organization and goals before you can objectively evaluate the email integration capabilities of an ESP.

1. Which size ESP will fit my email integration needs?

The size of your company does not determine the size or the capabilities of the ESP you need. Your organization might fall into the SMB category, yet send millions of emails per month. Your company might be small in size, but big in complexity. Take this into account as you research email service providers, keeping in mind the size of your need, not the size of your business.

As an email marketer, your needs are probably more demanding than you realize. A more robust ESP might be in your best interests. Our Chief Technology Officer Cameron Kane likes to say, “You don’t have to be a big company to be a big communicator.”

2. What are your business needs?

Also be clear on what you want to be able to do. One of your biggest concerns should be getting business systems data into the new ESP. Your business systems might include: CRM, ERP, customer management software, web applications, and any data being collected on prospects, leads, customers or partners. Make sure you know what that data is, what are your datasources, and what you want to be able to do with it.

Email service providers have plenty of different strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to email integration. Start with what you want to do, not what the ESP can do.

3. What is your email technology roadmap?

When your email program is evolving to include sophisticated email integration, a technology strategy is imperative. Getting data into the new ESP, keeping it up-to-date, and extracting it when and how you want…this is complex stuff.

If it’s not done right, it won’t save you time and might even take you more time. Having a technology strategy and even mapping out a technology roadmap can go a long way in ensuring your investment in a new ESP will pay off.

Digging into the details of email integration
Developing that technology strategy means you have to be open to bringing in some help. You need to know the details, the nuts and bolts, but you probably don’t have time to really figure them out. It can get highly technical, but not all of us have a Chief Marketing Technologist in house.

Someone will have to determine how it will be used, but also how the data flows and the integration will work. Where is the data going to go, what will the set-up look like, when and how the data will be extracted.

Are you that data details person?
Do you really want to know if you need one type of API vs. another?
Do you really want to know the ins and outs of data modelling?
Do you want to delve into flat vs. relational data, how they work and the benefits of each?

Chances are, you’ll need some kind of partner to guide you through evaluating email integration capabilities. It might be someone in your IT department or it might be an outside email technology consultant. Either way, you’ll likely need some assistance. Be ready to seek help, but be sure your business needs are well understood first.

4. Are you ready to invest at this stage?

When evaluating email integration capabilities, also remember that what seems too costly now might be what you need later down the road, and not investing in that infrastructure now could cost you more later. In the end, that makes the cheaper, less robust solution the costlier one.

Always keep in mind the potential and possibilities of the future. If you opt for an ESP email integration solution that’s limited but cheaper, you could very well end up having to do a costly and cumbersome migration of data later on. Future migrations will show up if you do the earlier mentioned technology roadmap and make it easier to do make an honest price comparison based on total costs of ownership, that should include switching costs.

Also keep in mind my earlier point: Your business might be small but your needs big.

So before you start that email service providers comparison…
When you’re starting your email service providers comparison and email integration capabilities are high on your priority list, make sure you’ve done all of your work internally before deciding on an ESP. Know your business needs, your technology strategy, and your willingness to invest in a more robust solution. Only then should you tackle the nuts and bolts of what each ESP has to offer.

About Marco Marini

With 25 years in business, Marco is a walking encyclopedia of all things email: best practices, technologies, trends, and more. Marco is currently the COO of iPost, an email platform built for marketers by marketers. iPost an easy, flexible, dynamic marketing automation solution for email and mobile marketing. He has also held key marketing positions with CyberSource, ClickMail, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada.

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