Selecting an
enterpriSe-level email
marketing vendor:
Advice for emAil mArketers with
sophisticAted needs




PrePared by ...
Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHite paper
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHite paper
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                     WHite paper

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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHite paper
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                       WHite paper...
Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHite paper
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHite paper
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EntErprisE Email
rFp tEmplatE
For email marketers with
sophisticated needs




PrePared by SilverPoP
www.silverpop.com
Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS                                                                      WHitE papEr
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Emailmarketing Selecting A Vendor

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Emailmarketing Selecting A Vendor

  1. 1. Selecting an enterpriSe-level email marketing vendor: Advice for emAil mArketers with sophisticAted needs PrePared by SilverPoP www.silverpop.com
  2. 2. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper Selecting an enterPriSe-level email marketing vendor: Advice For email marketers with sophisticated Needs in the early days of email, online marketers would happily shoot a thousand arrows in the hopes of hitting a lone bull’s eye. But in a channel long since overrun by spam and irrelevant marketing messages, marketers have turned to advanced techniques and technology to ensure their mes- sages are delivered, anticipated and welcomed by recipients. in order to reach customers today, careful marketers use strategies and tactics that include: • demographic and behavioral segmentation • dynamic personalization • campaign automation • lifecycle and integrated marketing • email reputation and authentication systems • list, deliverability, permission and frequency management sound complex? it is. for help meeting the channel’s unique challenges and opportunities, many companies are turning to outside firms for their email services. But choosing an email service provider, or esp, can be a complicated undertaking of its own, and one that requires care. Why your choice matters email is one of the most complex vendor decisions a large-enterprise marketer is likely to face. Unlike many other services purchased by marketers, email services should never be bought on a spot or job-by-job basis for three major reasons. first, reputation plays a big role in email deliverability. having your email hop from one vendor to the next means you are never in the same place long enough to establish a positive reputation, and the major isps are not in the habit of giving unknown emailers the benefit of the doubt. to maximize deliverability, your email must come consistently from the same vendor (and the same ip address) over an extended period of time. Your reputation on that ip will be built over a matter of months and, given good practices, your deliverability potential will reach its peak after three-to-six months of steady mailing. the second reason that should drive a long-term email vendor decision is technical integration. many of the more advanced, results-lifting email marketing techniques like automated campaigns and lifecycle marketing require a much richer degree of data integration than simple batch-and- blast marketing has in the past. more data needs to be passed more often, and in some cases it needs to happen instantaneously (think receipts and alerts). once campaigns of this nature are set up, it becomes difficult and impractical to move from vendor to vendor, so selecting the right partner from the start is essential. lastly, your customer data is potentially the most valuable asset your company owns. who can you trust to protect and care for an asset of that value? Because your email marketing vendor will play an integral role in the communication between you and your customer, careful consideration needs to be given to the reputation, integrity and technical expertise of your vendor. will they be there tomorrow to serve your needs? can their product development keep up with the rapid changes in the email marketing landscape? So, Where to begin? Before you can look for an email service provider, you must first understand the current state of your email marketing program. And, you must know what you need to accomplish now and in the foreseeable future. this means establishing a business case, goals, a timeline and budget, and being ready to proceed as soon as you can select a vendor. once you are ready to communicate with a vendor, be honest about your needs – avoid attempting to cover every possible feature or service solu- tion you can imagine and, instead, go deep on the features you know you need today and in the next 2-4 months. look at not only whether a vendor offers your required features, but at how well they are implemented. And, rather than relying on what a vendor has named a feature or how exciting it sounds, make sure it can do what you expect and that it’s actually something you will use, or you may be disappointed later. www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  3. 3. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper Also make sure you are confident of a vendor’s ability to meet your current and foreseeable requirements—the last thing you want to do is start all over again a few months down the road because the vendor you have chosen can’t keep up with your email program’s growing needs. avoid common Pitfalls companies coming from an in-house solution or another esp may make some common mistakes in the vendor selection process, such as soliciting proposals without knowing exactly what they hope to accomplish, and/or not supplying vendors with enough information to give highly-customized responses. in these instances, vendors must make assumptions or supply generic answers, which can lead to email marketing programs that are more defined by vendors’ answers than companies’ actual needs. or, a company may be so specific and exacting about what it wants that it leaves little room for email service providers to actu- ally offer ideas or propose solutions based on the very thing they do best. finally, not everyone knows exactly what to ask, or how to weigh responses. like a passenger asking a pilot how she flies the plane, unless he has taken flying lessons, her answer will have little meaning to him. he must take her word for it. decide Whether you need an rFP many companies with sophisticated email marketing programs and staff, and a lot of experience or exposure to the esp mar- ketplace, already know what they want, and are prepared to move quickly based on key information from vendors. many others elect to go through a formal process called a request for proposal, or rfp. An rfp is a document you write when you want to solicit competing proposals and price bids on an email marketing solution. regardless of whether you undertake an informal or formal vendor selection process, be sure to invest the time you need. for most marketers, email yields the single highest return on investment in their marketing arsenal and it often drives the highest revenue. Yet many marketers will select an esp based on only two or three hours of actual conversation and a software demo. in the following sections, we’ll outline key steps to finding the right email service provider for your company’s current and future needs. while these sections refer specifically to a formal rfp process, even an informal process can greatly benefit from fol- lowing the same lines of inquiry described below. should you decide to craft a formal request for proposal, we’ve even included a comprehensive rfp template with this white paper that you can use as a guide. do your Homework As we go through these steps, be aware that a good rfp document may take considerable time and resources to produce. You want to create an rfp that will attract well-thought-out proposals, and that will set the basis for a comfortable working relationship with the vendor you choose. if you are unsure about how to proceed, call a few vendors and ask them to speak informally with you. most will be happy to offer guidance and insight. in addition, as you prepare to select a vendor or to write your rfp: decide Which level of Service you need how are you going to run your email marketing program? will you want full-service, self-service, or something in-between? Your vendor, known as a software as a service (saas) provider, will host its software—known as an application service provider (Asp) solution—for you in its own data center and provide all maintenance, daily technical operation and support. the saas model of software delivery eliminates the need for you to devote any of your own hardware, software or technology personnel in order to use the application. You can choose a: • Full-service aSP Solution: with a full-service option, the vendor runs the entire application and all associated services invisibly to you. • Self-service aSP Solution: with a self-service option, you operate the email marketing application through a web-based interface. • collaborative aSP Solution: You and your vendor both operate portions of the application, and work together on services related to email strategy, best practices, fulfillment, creative design or marketing. 2 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  4. 4. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper Figure 1: A simplified view presenting the trade-offs of three popular models for companies running sophisticated email marketing initiatives with email service providers. Sophisticated outsourced Solutions for Sophisticated emailers Self-Service/ Full Service Self-Service Full Service collaborative companies with limited staff or limited email Upfront costs highest low medium expertise benefit most from a full-service cost per message* highest lowest medium model. full service is also useful to companies overall costs highest lowest medium that need a broader range of services (such level of email as search engine optimization or direct mail). lowest highest medium Advertising agencies, direct marketing agencies expertise required and a few esps are able to offer the soup-to- marketing value- highest lowest medium nuts solutions required for full service. they will added services not only deliver your messages and report on email expertise the results, but they will also help you with your highest lowest high available marketing strategy, creative design, analytic pricing is based on campaign per message per message modeling and almost everything else you’ll + per message + services need to launch your email program. companies + services considering the full-service model must also *Includes cost of service as well as delivery. choose which way to go: a full-service agency that has an esp partner, or an esp that also offers a full range of agency-type services. decide on Prospective vendors Self-Service eSP next, identify a small handful of vendors with the best chance of meeting your if your budget is scarcer than your time, self- requirements. don’t just enter a term in an internet search engine; ask around. service may be the way to go. A good self- Your colleagues, friends, and local chapters of any marketing or professional as- service email service provider will offer some sociations to which you belong all can be great sources of information. if you are level of guidance in the form of technology already a client of a major analyst firm, check to see if it offers a vendor ranking. support and white papers, but the rest is up for instance, Jupiterresearch conducts a comprehensive evaluation of email to you. You’ll perform all of the services, from service providers for its annual “e-mail marketing Buyer’s Guide.” it may also strategy to execution. many marketers prefer be helpful to keep up with which vendors are quoted in trade publications, offer this approach because they control the cost quality email marketing resources such as studies and white papers, and speak and the timing of virtually every aspect of their at national-level events for online or direct marketers. campaigns. vendors are People, too when going the self-service route, make sure Although vendors welcome the opportunities to bid on projects, keep in mind that the prospective vendor’s technology is easy completing an rfp requires a lot of work with no guarantee of compensation. to to use. screen shots and quick demos are not ensure that vendors pay careful attention to your request: sufficient to determine real ease of use. Ask for an in-depth, scenario-based demonstration, • contact them in advance and invite them to participate in your rfp. (this and be sure you understand each step as you also is an opportunity to get an initial impression of each vendor.) go through it. • Ask for just the right amount of information you need to make a good decision. collaborative eSP • refrain from sending your rfp to firms with whom you have no intention this is an email service provider that offers of working. both technology and á la carte services that you • don’t use an rfp in order to get ideas for your email marketing program. can mix and match as you need. this model • don’t issue an rfp in order to get an idea of how you should plan your is among the most popular in the industry be- budget. cause it enables marketers to build and run the simpler elements of their program, but still lean on their esp whenever they need additional technical support and expertise. www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  5. 5. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper Write your rFP the ideal rfp will consist of two main parts: information to provide and information to request. the information you provide, request or empha- size may vary greatly depending on your particular business situation, and whether you are looking for a full-service, collaborative, or self-service solution. Section i: information to Provide the first section should help prospective vendors understand you better so that they can craft a proposal that best suits your needs. this includes information: • about Your company. provide information about your company’s history, product mix, target audience or other fac- tors—such as competitive environment, ongoing marketing initiatives or unique business challenges—that are helping to drive the scope of your rfp. • about Your email Program. outline the reasons for your initiative, describe your goals, provide a timeline and yes—de- tails about your program. for instance, having an idea of your message volume, features used, success rates, etc., and understanding your concerns and problem areas will help esps make informed proposals that address your unique needs. do You even need an rFp? • about the rFP Process. provide administrative and proposal submission guidelines, and a schedule for the rfp process. one thing few companies companies with sophisticated email marketing do, but that most vendors find helpful, is to provide a proposal scoring sys- programs and staff, and a lot of experience or tem. for example, you might assign an overall weighting of percent each exposure to the esp marketplace, may decide for a vendor’s technical proposal, management proposal and cost proposal, to skip the rfp process altogether. they know and set forth criteria within each that are scored against a total number of what they want, and are ready and able to points possible. make a decision based on pricing, capabilities and references. this approach has notable providing vendors with as much information as possible in your rfp will save advantages: everyone a lot of time and discussion. if you are disclosing sensitive company information, you may need to require that participating vendors sign a non-disclo- • rapid implementation. skipping the rfp sure agreement prior to receiving the full rfp. process means companies can get started with a new vendor that much more quickly. Section ii: information to request this appeals in particular to companies seeking to minimize disruption to their cur- the second part of your rfp is where you ask vendors to propose solutions to the rent email marketing programs. project you’ve described in section i. • time Savings. not having to go through the breadth of the questions you ask will depend on your needs. for example, the rfp process can add up to significant if you are looking for a self-service solution, you naturally will want to focus on time savings for everybody involved. features and usability, whereas a full-service client who won’t directly operate • Vendor attention. A vendor will swiftly put the application will probably want to know more about a vendor’s professional its best foot forward for a company that services. clearly understands the business, knows what it wants, and is looking to go to deci- Below we’ll briefly discuss the five parts to this section of your rfp: vendor infor- sion quickly. mation, proposed solution, customer service and support, references, and pricing. we’ll highlight some questions you may not have thought of to ask but should, one potential disadvantage to bypassing the and offer some new insights and twists on old questions designed help you more rfp process lies in overlooking vital details. in accurately gauge a vendor’s response. their desire to dispense with formalities and get underway with a new esp quickly, marketers vendor information may inadvertently forget to ask about required features, capabilities or services. marketers can Ask for company information. learning about a vendor’s history, current situation, minimize the chance of this occurring by outlin- client base and future outlook will help you determine whether it will be a suitable ing their most important requirements before business partner. important questions to ask include: they speak with vendors. 4 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  6. 6. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper • executive Summary. in much the same way that providing information about yourself gives a vendor context in which to craft your proposal, asking a vendor to describe itself in four or five brief points, or to describe its vision of the future of email and online marketing, can tell you volumes about its personality, philosophy and how it perceives its role in the industry and as your service provider. • Vendor Stability. will your vendor be around for the next few years and, if so, will you be happy with the level of services and technology you receive? for independent esps, longer-term stability is easier to determine. what kind of growth has the firm enjoyed? the most robust firms have grown 2-0 percent over four or five years. has that growth been con- sistent for the last three or four years, or has it had more ups and downs? perhaps the best predictor of stability in small companies is profitability – are they generating positive cash flow? And if so, for how long? larger companies are the least likely to go out of business, but that longevity doesn’t always extend to their divisions. if the email division of a large company you are considering has been acquired, ask when that acquisition took place. if it’s been a few years, it’s a good sign that it will be around longer term. if a larger company has acquired several email companies, ask which platforms will survive and what the timing is for integrating them. Bear in mind that integration, with its inevitable disruptions, can be tough on customers. • competitive Differentiation. what makes a vendor different from the five or so other companies that are participating in your rfp? Asking this question is a great way to gain extra insight and further differentiate between vendors as you nar- row down your choices. however, don’t be disappointed if email vendors appear similar in many ways. most major vendors boast similar features. But you may be able to uncover key differences by comparing the depth and strength of those features. key differences also may lie in responsiveness and customer satisfaction. Analysts like Jupiterresearch often compare customer turnover and satisfaction rates in order to further differentiate between vendors. Proposed Solution how does the vendor propose to make your project a success? here’s where you find out. As you carefully read the responses in this area of your rfp, you should begin to get a real sense of whether the vendor really understands what you are looking for, and can deliver what you need. Among the details you will be asking about are: • Features. vendors love to talk about features. Although features are important, they are not the only drivers of long-term email success. what you also want to know is, does the product keep up with the constant changes happening in the industry? so, rather than focusing solely on a particular feature when evaluating a vendor’s offering, try also to get a broader sense of how frequently it enhances its product, particularly in response to customers’ needs. start by asking yourself: what capabilities do i need now? what capabilities will i need six months to a year from now? And will the vendor’s current or anticipated product give me the appropriate capabilities as those needs arise? Ask the vendor to describe its “roadmap” for anticipating and staying ahead of your email marketing needs. finally, look deeper than the “major feature list” (e.g., dynamic content and triggered campaigns). from a day-to-day productivity point of view, it’s the hundreds of smaller features you use that will enable you to achieve your goals as much as, if not more than, the bigger ones. • Data Security and Storage. You know the customer information and mailing history database you’ve carefully grown over the years? imagine losing it in an instant. Because you never want to lose important data, you need to know up-front if your Asp’s data center is sufficiently secure and backed up. Ask how it handles data security and storage, and have your it staff conduct a technology overview to check and confirm this for you. • Well-established aPi. do you need your vendor’s email marketing program to easily tie into your other systems? An Api, short for application programming interface, is the interface that a computer system or application provides in order to al- low requests for service to be made of it by other computer programs, and/or allow data to be exchanged between them. Be sure a firm has a long history with respect to Apis and can point to their successful use by a significant portion of its customers. Also make sure its Apis fit your technical standards, i.e., is it Xml-based, or does it employ web services or service-oriented architecture? A vendor whose application does not easily integrate into yours may offer to build an Api for you. this may be an appropri- www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  7. 7. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper ate solution, but before you agree, be sure you thoroughly understand the scope and complexity of such an undertaking, and how any potential difficulties could impact your email marketing program. customer Service Support what would happen if you found yourself unexpectedly short-staffed, or in the midst of a peak mailing period? instead of hiring someone, can a vendor backfill your needs? Because “life happens,” be sure to ask prospective vendors to detail any supple- mental services they offer, such as overflow support, which would make the resources available if you need them. references when you ask for references, dig deep. for a fresh perspective and possibly more-candid conversation, skip over a vendor’s most popular, marquis references. Ask instead for the names of companies that aren’t called on as often. to get a better idea of how well a vendor will meet your needs, ask for the names of companies with an email volume, level or type of service similar to yours, rather than companies that operate in the same industry as you. finally, ask that a vendor’s references be comprised of one client of two or more years, one client of six-2 months and one client of less than six months. some key questions to ask: • how quickly does the vendor upgrade its software and services in response to your needs and new industry requirements? • how would you describe the quality of new releases and upgrades? Are transitions smooth with regard to lead-time and preparation? • how has the vendor improved your email marketing productivity? • how did the vendor improve on or solve an existing dilemma or problem? • did the vendor offer any useful features you did not know you needed? • how does the vendor handle itself when something goes wrong? Are problems escalated appropriately? do you feel like you get the answers you need in order to report back to management? • did the vendor integrate your applications? how well did it work? were the ongoing costs and support what you expected? • was the vendor willing to go the extra mile when you had unexpected needs? • was pricing in line with your initial quote and expectations? • how is the vendor’s uptime? Be aware that, in order to avoid unduly imposing on their clients, vendors typically refrain from providing specific reference information until after they have passed through the initial stages of the rfp process. Although this reluctance may strike you as unnecessary, keep in mind that someday you may be asked to serve as a reference. chances are, you would want the same consideration. preparing to Write an rFp? get Started with Silverpop’s enterprise email rFp template created to help guide marketers through the process of crafting an email marketing rfp, silverpop’s enterprise email rfp template takes you through each section of your document step-by-step. filled with sample questions you can ask and guidelines you can establish throughout the rfp process, the template helps ensure that you create the most thor- ough and appropriate rfp for your company’s unique business needs. You’ll find your copy attached with this silverpop white paper. detailed Pricing is the price really the price? for many vendors, the cpm (cost per thousand) only covers delivery – the total cost can be far greater. to get the answer, ask prospective vendors to lay out all costs up-front. Better yet, ask for scenario based pricing rather than just an á la carte list of charges. consider all potential charges, such as image hosting, form hosting, database changes, deliverability management, viral messaging, customized reporting, set-up fees, access to Apis, and deliverability monitoring. www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  8. 8. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHite paper Also factor in your scalability needs. it’s not uncommon for companies to see volumes increase significantly as their programs grow. By obtaining itemized or scenario-based pricing, you can get more accurate picture of how much your program will actu- ally cost, and what to expect should your volume or service needs escalate. after you issue your rFP Although timelines can vary depending on the urgency or level of detail required, you generally should allow about three weeks for vendors to complete and submit their rfps. during and after this time, you should: • allow open communications. many companies curtail vendor access during the rfp process. however, making sure vendors have some- body they can call for clarification ultimately works to your benefit. designate these individuals and provide contact information in your rfp. • answer questions. to ensure prospective vendors understand your request and can prepare an effective response, allow them to ask ques- tions and seek clarification of any part of your rfp during a question and answer period that you specify. • use a defined, multi-phase approach. send your rfp to five to eight companies and then narrow it down to three to four. Get a cursory, 90-minute software demonstration and use this second phase as a way to get to know the character of each firm. After this phase, run the final evaluation on your two best candidate firms. do in-depth demos, make sure to meet the people with whom you would be working and, if possible, actually use the software yourself. • get an in-depth demo. to the extent that you will be operating the vendors’ email applications yourself, be sure to get an in-depth demon- stration from your finalists so that you can see how easy or difficult the features are to set up and to use. many buyers only allow 0- to 90- minute demos in an effort to fit in as many as possible. the fact is that the demo-ability of software is often unrelated to its actual day-to-day effectiveness. • consider getting a two- or three-hour demonstration from each of your final two best vendors. Ask them to demonstrate each claim in your rfp. You can accomplish this by providing an actual email campaign scenario, and asking them to walk you through it from start to finish using their application. if you are looking for a full-service solution, sit down with your potential account manager and go through the process of campaign creation through delivery. • meet the people. if you are looking for more than a straight, self-service Asp solution, then you will want to meet and talk with the people with whom you would be working: your account managers, strategists, etc. make sure that you like them in addition to being confident of their abilities. After all, the success of your email marketing program may hinge upon your ability to work well together. You’ll also want to meet the people leading the company and setting the company’s culture and direction to get a feel for how your relationship is apt to progress. conclusion the dynamic nature of email means that marketers must satisfy the growing demand for highly-relevant messaging while simultaneously overcom- ing a barrage of deliverability challenges. marketers who do it well are rewarded with high levels of loyalty and return on investment. marketers increasingly are turning to email service providers for the technological capability and industry expertise they need. consider a vendor the same as you would a potential partner. can you see yourself together in five years? You want someone you can grow with, a company that can support your needs now as well as accommodate the higher service levels and increased message volume you’re likely to need in the future. the email service provider you choose ultimately will depend on your company’s unique vision, budgetary, service, technology and integration needs and constraints. we hope this white paper has provided you with useful guidance and insight into the vendor selection and rfp process, and we wish you success in finding the right esp to help you protect and cultivate your online customer relationships both now and into the future. for more information about silverpop’s email marketing products and services, please contact us at: 8-silvpop (4-8) or info@silverpop.com visit us at www.silverpop.com Silverpop – Your Partner for email marketing Success www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  9. 9. EntErprisE Email rFp tEmplatE For email marketers with sophisticated needs PrePared by SilverPoP www.silverpop.com
  10. 10. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr the enterprise email rFp template by silverpop takes you through each section of your request For proposal step-by-step. Filled with sample questions you can ask and guidelines you can establish throughout the rFp process, this guide helps ensure that you create the most thorough and appropriate rFp for your company’s unique business needs. RFP Content • opportunity overview • about the company • email marketing requirements • Vendor information • Vendor solution • technology • customer service support • references • pricing • the rFp process • evaluation of proposals • terms conditions Opportunity Overview Briefly introduce in one page or less your Request For Proposal (RFP) seeking to evaluate and select an email marketing solution, and inviting selected vendors to participate in the competitive proposal process. You should briefly note your reasons for seeking an email service provider, or any RFP process guidelines or evaluation criteria. Also include the name and contact information for your RFP project coordinator and any others whom vendors may contact regarding your RFP. About the Company To the extent that it enables an email service provider (ESP) to better understand your unique business situation and submit a thoughtful and highly-customized proposal, describe your company to any degree via any or all of the categories below or more. • overview • product mix • target audience • distribution • ongoing sales and marketing initiatives • organization structure • competitive environment • Unique Business challenges • Vision www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  11. 11. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr Email Marketing Requirements To enhance an ESP’s understanding of your email marketing needs, describe your email marketing program, the ways in which you are outgrowing your current methods or wish to expand your capabilities, and what you want to accomplish going forward. • current email marketing Program Describe your current email marketing program, i.e., types of campaigns, frequency, volume, response rates, deliverability, data and list management, integration, number of users, etc. • goals Describe your email marketing goals, and how you propose to achieve them, i.e., increase conversions by providing relevant, targeted emails that build relationships with new customers and foster repeat purchases. Or, drive down costs by increasing efficiency in email delivery to customers and by decreasing the amount of time it takes to create and launch campaigns. • current requirements In order to achieve those goals, describe your technical, functional and business requirements regarding email creation and campaign execution, list management, deliverability management, tracking, reporting and analytics, technology integration, legal and regulatory compliance or more. Also describe your preferred working relationship requirements and ongoing maintenance and support requirements. Are you seeking a full-service, self-service or collaborative ASP solution? • Future requirements Describe any additional capabilities, such as those related to campaign sophistication, increased volume or technology integration, which you don’t yet need, but that you anticipate needing in the future. Indicate whether you anticipate these needs within 6-12 months or after 12 months. Vendor Information Now that you have given an ESP a context in which to craft a response, it’s time to begin asking questions. First, find out more about the ESP itself. Use or tailor the following questions, or create your own, in these categories: • executive Summary please describe your company in four or five brief points, including your vision of the future of email and online marketing and how you are planning to meet it. • company information . company name, headquarters address and number of employees in: a. engineering and products b. network operations and product management c. client services and support d. sales e. consulting and product services . Year founded, and years providing email marketing services 3. parent company name and address, if applicable 4. cities of other company locations, if applicable • Financial Stability . is your company publicly traded? if so, please provide your company’s most recent audited annual financial statement and/or annual report, along with stock symbol and where traded. if your company is privately held, please describe your funding sources. please advise [company name] of any of the following: a. pending or outstanding regulatory issues b. terms and conditions for insolvency c. causes for changes in service and severability . Briefly describe any organizational changes such as divestitures, acquisitions or spin-offs involving your company that occurred in the last two years or which you anticipate to happen within the next months. 3. is there, or within the last three years has there been, any litigation or governmental or regulatory action pending or threatened against your organization that might affect your ability to provide services to our company? www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  12. 12. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr 4. if you are a privately held company, are you profitable? if so, how many consecutive quarters of profitability have you achieved, and how many quarters out of the last 36 have you been profitable? if not, when do you anticipate achieving profitability? 5. if you are a publicly traded company, is your division profitable? if so, how does the profitability of your division compare to that of the overall organization? if you are not profitable relative to other divisions, when do you anticipate achieving profitability? • management team please provide background information on your senior executive team: a. chief executive officer/president b. chief Financial officer c. services d. engineering e. sales • other Products and Services do you offer products and services in addition to email marketing? if yes, list and briefly describe them. • client Base . how many active clients do you service, representing which industry verticals? . what is your ratio of asp to full-service clients? 3. what is the average mailing size? 4. what is the approximate total number of emails sent monthly across all clients’ lists? • competitive Differentiation . what major technical innovations have you made in the last months, what development efforts are you focusing on now, and what key new features do you expect to add within the next year? . is there any other functionality or competitive advantage that would distinguish your service from others? Vendor Solution Depending on whether you are seeking a full-service, collaborative or self-service ASP solution, use or customize the questions in this and the following sections as you deem appropriate or applicable to your needs, and/or create additional questions or scenarios specific to your email marketing requirements. n = full-service n = collaborative n = self-service • campaign management nnn . do you have the ability to send in the following delivery formats: text, html, multipart, aol, aol multipart, sms, and rich media including Flash and streaming video? nnn . do you have the ability to send specific email types to known recipients of those types, such as html or text emails? please describe. nnn 3. can your system accommodate list segmentation, and how easily can we import our existing email lists to your system? For instance, how much time is required per 00k-recipient import with 0 columns? nnn 4. is it necessary to contact the vendor prior to uploading a new list or new list schema (i.e., new columns)? nnn 5. do you provide each client with a dedicated ip address? if so, do you charge a fee for this? nn 6. what technical skills are required for publishers to set up an email campaign? nn 7. if we do the creative work and list segmentation, what is the turnaround time for a personalized email campaign? nnn 8. can we preview campaigns in html and text formats before mailing? nnn 9. can we test an email both to an internal seed list for functionality, and also to a larger test sample, prior to a full deployment? 3 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  13. 13. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr nnn 0. can we stop, and then re-start campaigns? nnn . can we control email frequency to recipients through your application? if so, how? nnn . can we archive and retrieve previous campaigns? if so, how long are they stored and available? can we target based on responses to previous campaigns? nnn 3. can we trigger automated messaging based on customer actions, such as email opt-in, change in preferences, catalog request, online purchase or other actions? nnn 4. can we automate event-driven mailings such as subscription renewal reminders or birthday greetings? nnn 5. can we automate a sequence of messages based on where someone is in the customer, product or purchasing lifecycle? nnn 6. do you offer dynamic content customization – ability to assemble messages based on rules? nnn 7. detail your ability to personalize based on any attribute in the database, and your ability to render personalization dynamically as messages are deployed, and your ability to personalize the subject line. nnn 8. can we mask tracked Urls with our own domain? if so, can we use our own customized Urls for return addresses and click-through Urls? nnn 9. can we dynamically generate personalized Urls at the individual level? nnn 0. can you provide image and html hosting? and, can you also host small sites with database functionality? nnn . can we conduct a/B or nth-testing within your application? is this functionality included in the Ui? nnn . can we capture and automate responses to email replies, such as unsubscribe requests and email change-of- address within your application? nnn 3. what languages/dialects do you support, and what languages/dialects do you plan to support in the future? describe your multinational implementation experience, and provide examples of email creative if possible. • list management nn . do you offer the ability to query the database from the user interface? if so, please describe this capability. nn . do you offer the ability to merge lists being imported through the user interface? nnn 3. do you purge content or data? if so, please describe this process and how long content/data is stored. nnn 4. describe your opt-out management process. nnn 5. describe how new data fields can be created, edited and deleted in the existing database. is there a limit to the number of fields that can be created? nnn 6. please describe your bounce/undeliverable management process. nnn 7. what is the maximum number of attributes allowed for each customer record? do lists require a common format, or can lists have unique fields as we deem fit? nn 8. do you offer the ability to import and export data to and from the database through the user interface and at what speeds? nnn 9. can we monitor the progress of each campaign being deployed? if so, is this in real time? nn 0. how many users can have access to the user interface at one time concurrently? nn . describe the process for creating a user in the system. nn . does the administrator(s) have access to user passwords? nn 3. can the administrator(s) change user passwords? nn 4. do we need to contact you for any user actions? • Permission and Deliverability management nnn . do you have full-time staff responsible for maintaining isp relations, monitoring delivery and complaint reports and addressing delivery issues? nnn . do you work with any email authentication, reputation or certification services? if so, which ones? nnn 3. how are clients notified on an on-going basis of industry changes in email messaging compliance? nnn 4. describe how your solution addresses: a. isp filtering b. Black-listing and white-listing c. response to isp inquiries and complaints d. Goodmail certified email service 4 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  14. 14. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr nnn 5. do you provide real-time alerts for deliverability by isp, blacklist or abuse issues? nnn 6. do you differentiate between email inbox delivery and bulk or spam folder delivery? nnn 7. do you offer content-checking that could alert us to content that is likely to cause our email to be filtered as spam? nnn 8. can you build and/or host a permission center to store and capture opt-in/opt-out selections for multiple subscription streams? if so, can you maintain changeable and permanent suppression lists? • reporting and analytics nnn . please indicate whether your solution offers reporting for each of the following on emails sent by: a. Basic metrics: opens, clicks, forwards, subscriptions, unsubscribes, type (html, text, aol, etc.) b. delivery metrics: list size, total sent, hard/soft bounces, abuse complaints, suppressed recipients, seed recipients c. other metrics; conversion count, conversion revenue, conversion products, web pages visited, rich media played, attachments downloaded d. delivery rates by domain e. seedbox deliverability monitoring f. trends over time g. aggregate mailing reports h. campaign comparison reports i. list based reports j. reply reports nnn . are all your reports updated in real time, and can they be accessed in real time? nnn 3. do the reports provide both aggregate (total overall) and unique (each recipient is counted only once) views on your response metrics? nnn 4. can we drill into our metrics to find out which specific recipients opened, clicked or converted? if so, can this ability be limited to select users? nnn 5. which mechanisms are available to track web page visits? nnn 6. can we report on the web-site click-stream, and track downstream purchase conversions after the initial click within an email? if so, can we export click-stream data back to our internal database? nnn 7. how much information can we track for conversions? can we track products, associated skUs and unique pricing per product? can we track non-purchase conversions? nnn 8. can we get detailed response rates for each dynamic content block and content element? nnn 9. can we view which dynamic content rules are being triggered most often, and what links are associated with those rules? nnn 0. can the reports be exported via the user interface as well as apis? nnn . can our mailing response data be overlaid on list fields, i.e. first name or account id, during export? nnn . can our large export files be easily downloaded via Ftp? nnn 3. can we drill down into our results and create customized reports within your application? can these reports be generated in real-time? nnn 4. can demographic or profile information be added after the mailing has been sent and still used for analysis? nnn 5. can we set the business rules for handling hard and soft bounces? nnn 6. describe your forward-to-a-friend tracking functionality. how does it ensure our message will not be forwarded to someone who has previously unsubscribed from our mailings? nnn 7. how long will reporting information be available after the campaign is mailed? Technology • infrastructure nnn . describe the architecture of your system. nnn . identify all hosting service providers. nnn 3. what technologies are used (Java, activeX, etc)? 5 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  15. 15. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr nnn 4. what os platform(s) do you run within your product infrastructure? nnn 5. will client side hardware or software be required? nnn 6. describe your hardware platform. nnn 7. do you use load balancing? nnn 8. which database(s) are used for custom application development? nnn 9. which relational database(s) are used in your product environment? nnn 0. how is change control managed? nnn . how is testing accomplished? nnn . describe your database structure in terms of how data is stored. nnn 3. discuss your scalability. nnn 4. what is the average and maximum speed of email deployment through your asp platform? nnn 5. what is the volume and frequency of email in the largest campaigns you send? nnn 6. describe your software maintenance and update procedures. nnn 7. describe your problem resolution and escalation procedures. • Platform integration (aPis) nnn . describe your ability to automatically transfer data between your database and our database, including method of transfer, technology(ies) utilized and set-up process. nnn . describe your ability to interface with in-house list management systems. nnn 3. describe your ability to interface with web-site analytics systems. nnn 4. what is involved in automating list imports/exports through Ftp? nnn 5. what is the timeline and process for account implementation involving data integration? • Data Security and Storage nnn . describe your firewall procedures and solution currently in use. nnn . describe your intrusion detection system(s) and solution currently in use. nnn 3. describe the system audit/testing process in your organization. Be specific and include the independent organization that audits you and the timing of these reviews, as appropriate. nnn 4. describe how your system protects information from unauthorized use and access (by employees, by solution vendor employees, and by outsiders). nnn 5. describe your redundancy procedures should a server failure occur. nnn 6. describe your data backup policies and procedures. nnn 7. describe your email data storage capabilities. is there a base amount of data hosted before database-hosting fees are incurred? nnn 8. what is your policy regarding archiving email campaign data? if we have to pull data from data archives, what is the procedure? is there a charge to access archived data? Customer Service Support • account management nnn . please provide a timeline and describe the process for implementing a new account. n . will we have a dedicated account representative? how many accounts does each representative service? nnn 3. what account management options do you offer? nnn 4. do you conduct periodic account reviews? how often? nnn 5. do you provide 4/7 technical support? nnn 6. describe the formal and informal communication processes. how will communications occur between our companies? nnn 7. do you have specific service standards regarding returned phone calls or client inquiries? nnn 8. do you have a standard method for sharing “best practices” information with customers, and for apprising them of important or urgent developments in the email marketing industry? nnn 9. describe your method for apprising customers of important product performance issues, developments or updates. 6 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  16. 16. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr • aSP Solution training nn . describe the training process, including schedule, formats and costs. nn . do you provide renewal training to accompany system enhancements/upgrades? nn 3. is on-site training available? nn 4. how many people can attend each training class? nn 5. do you offer service/support packages for more advanced assistance, such as programming or technical integration? • Supplemental Support do you offer additional services to accommodate increased needs that are unexpected or anticipated, such as temporary staffing shortages or peak times? if so, please describe. • Professional Services do you offer additional creative, strategic and technical services? if so, please describe. References • client companies if your company is selected as a finalist in this process, we will want to contact three current clients as references: one client of two or more years, one client of six to months, and one client of less than six months. are you willing and able to provide these references? • activities, awards and accolades please list notable industry affiliations and activities demonstrating your leadership in the field of email marketing. please describe any notable industry recognition related to your email marketing products, services or staff. Pricing • implementation, regular ongoing and contingency costs . please provide pricing, and itemize for each product/feature/functionality for which there is a cost associated. costs should be based on monthly billing. all costs, including email deployment fees, should include volume discounts where applicable as well as any minimums. . are there additional costs for any of the following with your asp solution? if so, please detail the cost and the factors that influence that cost: a. setup or initial database configuration costs b. adding columns list/database after initial upload c. setting up accounts for additional client properties d. having multiple lists or databases e. data hosting f. access to apis g. automation fees h. exporting data from the system, i.e., tracking, lists, content i. Forward-to-a-friend, opt-in, and preferences form manager j. Unique ip address k. dynamic content l. campaign automation m. a/B split and criteria/demographic based segmentation n. customized reporting (analytics) o. deliverability management p. white-listing 3. please provide deployment pricing on a cpm basis. 4. please provide costs for customer service and support, including: a. account management b. training 7 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  17. 17. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr c. on-demand services d. creative, strategic and technical services e. third-party fees 5. please outline invoice/billing methodology, controls, audit procedures and dispute resolution procedures. • Scenario-based Pricing please provide pricing against the following scenarios of our needs: [create scenarios outlining monthly email deployment volume plus features, functionality and level of service required.] The RFP Process • general information and timing this project is being led and coordinated by: [name, title, company, contact information] all questions relating to this rFp, and your formal submission, should be addressed to the project coordinator. You may also contact the following individual(s) for clarification regarding this rFp: [name, title, contact information of additional available contacts.] timing our goal is to select a new email service provider by [date]. we must receive your completed response by [date]. we will select finalists by [date]. these finalists will be asked to come to our office to present their services to us during the week of [date]. • rFP Schedule . rFp issued [date] . rFp Question and answer period (ends on) [date] 3. answers posted [date] 4. proposal due [date] 5. Vendor presentations/demos [date] 6. notification of finalists [date] 7. Finalist presentations [date] 8. announcement of winner [date] 9. contracts complete [date] 0. implementation begins [date] • Question and answer Period guidelines we will host a question and answer period once the rFp is issued. You are welcome and encouraged to ask any questions that you feel are necessary to create a winning proposal. all questions should be submitted by email to the rFp coordinator by no later than [date]. responses to questions will be [posted/distributed] on [date] to all vendors participating in the rFp. • Proposal Submission guidelines the following information should be included in your response to the rFp in the sequential order listed: . table of contents for rFp response . name, business address, telephone/fax numbers and email address of individuals serving as primary and secondary contact regarding this rFp. 3. executive summary of your response that highlights and summarizes the most salient aspects in terms of satisfying the requirements presented in this rFp, and provides the key points that may distinguish your work from others competing for the contract. 4. current or prior working relationship with our company, including a listing and description of current contracts and their effective and ending dates. 5. rFp response. please organize your answers to the rFp questions posed within this document in the order of sections and sub-sections presented. 8 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  18. 18. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr • Due Date, Format, recipients please provide an electronic submission of your rFp plus one copy by mail. completed proposals should be sent as an email attachment to the rFp coordinator by [time/date]. email attachments should be in ms word, excel, powerpoint or pdF format [or other preferred media]. Your hard copy submission should be in our hands by our close of business the following day. we recommend that you contact the rFp coordinator to confirm receipt. if you are using an online rFp service or solution, we recommend that you provide ample time and precise instruction. Evaluation of Proposals You may wish to clarify your RFP evaluation process by creating your own pre-defined RFP evaluation criteria and standards, such as in the sample scoring and weighting system below. To further define your requirements, create categories within each or any of your criteria and assign points that count toward the total number possible. all accepted proposals will be evaluated on three criteria: technical proposal, management proposal and cost, as described below. the firms demonstrating the best ability to meet our requirements then will be asked to present their proposals in person and to give a short product demonstration. two top firms then will be selected as finalists, and will be additionally scored on a final presentation and references, as described below. • Scoring proposals will be evaluated according to the scoring system outlined below: technical proposal -- 5% 5 points management proposal -- 35% 35 points cost proposal -- 0% 0 points sub-total 80 points Finalist presentation -- 5% 5 points references -- 5% 5 points sub-total 0 points total 00 points the winning firm will be the firm awarded the highest number of points as outlined above. technical Proposal we will evaluate your responses [in the Vendor solution and technology sections of the rFp] to determine how well your software and hardware capabilities would meet our current and anticipated future needs. the technical portion of your proposal will determine 5 percent of your score. management Proposal we will evaluate your responses [in the Vendor information and customer service support sections of the rFp] to determine how well you understand our unique business needs, and how well your proposal addresses them. and, we will evaluate how well your company and service capabilities would meet our current and anticipated future needs. the management portion of your proposal will determine 35 percent of your score. cost Proposal while we value competitive pricing, and desire to obtain the best price possible, the evaluation process is designed to award the contract to the firm whose proposal best meets the requirements of this rFp, not necessarily the firm that submits the lowest cost. 9 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.
  19. 19. Your Partner For email marketing SucceSS WHitE papEr Finalist Presentation Finalists will be invited to present proposals to the evaluation team on [date]. we will evaluate finalists based on an in-depth software demonstration, proof of capabilities described in the rFp, and the overall quality of our interaction with individuals with whom we are and would be working, i.e., the expertise, experience, responsiveness and accessibility of client service representatives, account managers, strategists, technical experts etc. references Finalists will be asked to provide names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of three business references for which work has been accomplished, and to briefly describe the type of service provided. • notification Firms whose proposals are not selected will be notified by email on [date]. Terms Conditions Use this section for any legal disclaimers, i.e. non-disclosure or proprietary information, ownership, rights reserved, obligations, etc. For more information about silverpop’s email marketing products and services, please contact us at: 866-silVpop (745-8767) or info@silverpop.com Visit us at www.silverpop.com Silverpop – Your Partner for email marketing Success 0 www.silverpop.com 1-866-SilVPoP (745-8767) © 2007 copyright Silverpop. all rights reserved. the Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems inc.

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