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Whitepaper choosing 2012_web2

  1. 1. Digital Marketing Solutions Guide 29 factors to consider in 2012
  2. 2. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDEContentsIntroducing our 2012 Guide Page 1Let our guide help you find your ideal Digital Marketing Solution Page 229 Factors to Consider in 2012 Page 3The Platform Page 3 Usability Reliability Data Management and Integrations Page 4 Data Intelligence Data Integration Application Programming Interface (API)Segmentation, Targeting and Automation Page 5 Segmentation Dynamic Content Automated Email Transactional EmailsEmail Deliverability and Rendering Page 7 Deliverability Sending Reputation Management Authentication Scoring Tools EngagementEmail Results Page 9 Testing Reporting ROIBeyond Email Page 11 Third-Party Integrations Consulting ServicesEmerging Channels Page 11 Social Media Mobile Email and SMSBusiness Requirements Page 12 Trial Accounts Pricing and Contracts Implemenatation Timeline Customer Service Training Enterprise NeedsLegal Requirements and Data Security Page 14 Legal SecurityCall on Clickmail Page 16 v
  3. 3. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDEIntroducing our 2012 GuideAnother year has gone by, and as I take time out to reflect on 2011, I’ve realized that the evolution of email marketingdoesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Email marketing has become increasingly more digitally interactive, and withthat, a growing number of integrated marketing technologies have continued to emerge.In 2011, Social and Mobile continue to dominate the industry airwaves, and with them a new concept called EngagementMarketing has continued to grow. As a result, many strategies have grown and developed including: marketingautomation, social influence, QR codes and geo-targeting. (But you can read more about these in our EngagementMarketing Guide.)So, what does this mean for us email marketers? For starters, the stakes are higher. In order to stay on top of the latesttrends, we need to commit ourselves to the time and money it takes to get them up and running. Secondly, we must learnto adapt. The industry is changing at a rapid rate, so we must change with it; change our processes, strategies, and idealsof what email should be. By embracing these new technologies we can encourage more engagement from our subscribersand establish a better relationship with them, increasing our ROI as a result.In my introductory letter for our 2011 guide, I speculated that our 2012 guide would likely not include any email serviceprovider (ESP) references (as the industry seemed to be walking away from that term). This year, I have found that to betrue. Many providers are starting to refer to their solutions using words like “engagement”, “digital”, “interactive”, andmany more. And so, we have decided to use the phrase “digital marketing solution” moving forward as we felt it bestdescribed the products in the industry.You’ll notice in this year’s edition of the guide, we’ve made some changes to the order and grouping and have expandedon some factors as well. We hope this helps you better navigate through our guide and find all of the essential informationyou are looking for.Cheers to you, a prosperous 2012, and a new guide to help you choose. Choose wisely. Choose well.Yours in successful email marketing,Marco MariniCEOClickMail Marketing 1
  4. 4. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDELet our guide help you find your ideal Digital Marketing SolutionYour digital marketing solution will have a huge impact on your marketing success. Use this guide when reviewingpotential solutions to increase your ability to make the right selection for your business. This Guide does not mentionspecific digital marketing solutions. Instead, it covers 29 factors to consider. For each factor, we have included detailsabout why it matters so you know how to prioritize it for your particular organization. We have also included detailedinformation on how to streamline your research.Because the research is so labor intensive, there is a time cost to selecting an email marketing solution. Plus there is therisk that a less-than-optimal tool will jeopardize your email marketing ROI for the long term. ClickMail can reduce thetime—and therefore cost—of choosing a digital marketing solution, and help you make the right choice. ClickMail is avendor-neutral email marketing consultancy and value-added reseller of digital marketing solutions. We can help you avoidthe hassles of an RFP, and instead, help you quickly determine your requirements, evaluate a short list of options and evengive you firsthand knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of the providers you are considering.Will any one tool completely satisfy all of the factors included in this guide? Not likely. But if you’d like some helpprioritizing the features that matter most to your organization, ClickMail can help. We can even provide you with a freetrial of one or more platforms, so you can complete a hands-on evaluation before you commit (and before you pay).2
  5. 5. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE 29 Factors to Consider in 2012 The Platform 1. USABILITY Why It Matters – Although the usability of a digital marketing solution’s interface is ultimately determined by the user, it affects how well it will work for your organization. If your staff finds it difficult to use, they will not use it effectively. If they find it easy to use it will minimize errors and increase their efficiency. What to Look For • How well does the interface work on an individual level and for your organization? • Does it allow for a workflow that fits with your organization? • How much training is required? • Consider the GUI: Is there a drag-and-drop visual workflow? • Is list segmentation and automated messaging easily configurable via drag- and-drop GUIs? • Consider ease of navigation, reporting, account configurations and profile We encourage our settings.clients to get hands- • Is the workflow intuitive? Are there preloaded templates? Is there a WYSIWYG editor? on experience • Is there the ability to turn on or off features for different user roles? evaluating both • How easy is it to execute an A/B split test? What can be tested in A/B splits? • Does the workflow allow for an approval process? the user interface • How streamlined are the task workflows? • Does the workflow provide assistance on how to conduct more advanced email and the workflow strategy? of an application to • Does the platform allow for a user to easily set or select a custom “From” and “Reply To” email address? evaluate for ease of • Does the platform allow for role-based or department-based access? use, effectiveness 2. RELIABILITY and efficiency. Why It Matters – When your platform is down, you lose the ability to send manual and automated emails (even those already scheduled). You may also lose valuable email tracking data. Any time-sensitive or revenue-generating initiatives are essentially rendered inoperable. That impacts your customers’ experience. What to Look For • An uptime of 99.5% or higher. • Ask for a Service Level Agreement (SLA), and find out your recourse if the SLA is not met. • How often does the platform release updates that need a temporary service suspension? • How much unplanned downtime has the platform experienced in the last 12 to 24 months? • Ask about technology investments within the last 12 to 24 months. • Does the tool have redundant data centers? • What architecture enhancements have they made to ensure the application is available 24/7? • Request customer references. 3
  6. 6. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE Data Management and Integrations 3. DATA INTELLIGENCE Why It Matters – Data has always been important, but now it is even more so. It is time to move past simply keeping your data clean to learning from it in order to become as relevant as possible. You also need accurate, real-time data to make informed and immediate decisions. What to Look For • What types of data management tools does the tool offer? • Does it update data continuously with automated features such as self cleansing mailing lists, bouncing email addresses, audience preference changes and unsubscribes? • Can the system support your relational data structure? Can you easily create a data mart or does it accommodate integration to a data mart solution? • Check the data retention policies: Will you be charged for storing your data? • Are keys (GUID’s) other than email address available for uniquely identifying a record supported? • Are there easy-to-use segmentation tools for data filtering? 4. DATA INTEGRATION To avoid any Why It Matters – To be effective, email has to be timely, relevant and unnecessary personalized, which requires access to the data that results in that relevance. Often this means email must be driven by data from outside the email marketing downtime, we application. Data integration means connecting disparate systems so your email platform can work with web analytics, CRM systems, your CMS and custom recommend being reporting dashboards. CRM systems like Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics very clear in your offer growing options for integrations, which means additional and new approaches for you to consider. communications What to Look For about your timelines, • Does the platform have pre-configured integrations with the tools you want to but also realistic in integrate to? • Will you need to contract someone to do the setup for you? your expectations. • Will the platform allow for point-and-click automated data integration or will you need to build it utilizing the Application Programming Interface (API)? • Will your platform choice integrate directly with your CRM? If so, does it support all the functionality you will need or is the integration lacking in any respects? • What is the breadth of the API functionality? For custom integration, look into the breadth of the API to determine how much can be accomplished via the API. • Does the platform allow for campaign management through your CRM? 5. APPLICATION PROGRAMMING INTERFACE (API) Why It Matters – When it comes to building an integration utilizing a platform’s API, keep in mind that different companies have different skill sets and it is best to ensure that the platform’s API can be easily and effectively leveraged by your firm. Many digital marketing solutions provide code samples for different programming languages so make sure their examples are written in a language that your developers are comfortable with. Most top tier digital marketing solutions have a professional services division to handle these integrations for you. But they are often backlogged with projects from their largest customers, so be sure you are clear on expectations of timelines. Ensure the team has hands-on knowledge of the platform as well as your back-end systems, and ask for and follow up on references.4
  7. 7. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • Are there ongoing support costs for managing the integrations? • Do you have the internal personnel to help with changes? Or would you need to contract the work out to a VAR (value-added reseller) like ClickMail or the platform directly? • Is there an online developer community? Examine sample code. What is the availability of skilled programmers to develop and maintain the integration? Also look behind the scenes to evaluate the platform’s infrastructure to support the API calls. The best API is not going to help if the redundant, scalable infrastructure is not there to serve it. • Ensure the API can support the scale of your record-set and is able to synchronize at a reasonable frequency. • Understand and evaluate the type of API the platform offers: - XML based“ClickMail tailored an - Web services: Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) - REST ESP solution that fit - Synchronous vs. Asynchronous • Ensure they have samples of the language that you will be building in: .NET, our exact needs and PHP Ruby or Java. , actually allowed us Segmentation, Targeting and Automation to trial the solutionbefore we committed 6. SEGMENTATION Why It Matters – You want the ability to segment your database and target to it. It was as if we your marketing efforts. This enables you to send the right message at the right were measured and time to the right audience. As subscribers become used to increasingly relevant messages, there is a greater corresponding need for increasingly relationalfitted and allowed to data and easy-to-use segmentation tools. Segmenting data easily with one-click functionality means your marketing efforts can be more easily targeted to the walk the room in a right list. And smaller, more targeted email lists consistently perform better in new suit before we terms of opens, click throughs and conversions. bought it.” What to Look For • Can you search and select based on date ranges, demographic values and email preference metrics? Can you easily determine past recipient behavior, Jeff Pecor including opens and click throughs? Can you view users’ history?Sr. Communications Director • Does the platform offer support for relational data? Is there support to bring Yapta.com in ecommerce or web analytics data to help drive better segmentation or personalization? • Does the platform allow for custom demographic fields? With what kinds of limits and costs? • Can you do complex filtering without knowing SQL? Or if your team already knows SQL, make sure the platform allows for SQL queries. • Ask about frequency capping and timing filtering factors so you can make sure subscribers are not emailed too frequently. • Is there a tool to query the data for further list segmentation for better targeting? • How easy to use are the segmentation tools? Drag and drop functionality can be very useful for easier segmentation. • Is complex segmentation possible (e.g. blending demographics, past email behavior, and other data such as website analytics)? 5
  8. 8. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE 7. DYNAMIC CONTENT Why It Matters – Content is key to a successful marketing campaign. It’s not enough to have quality content these days; consumers are becoming ever-more sophisticated and your content needs to target their expectations. Content needs to be dynamic: responsive to things like buying and browsing habits, and compelling: current, relevant, and targeted. What to Look For • Is there dynamic content creation capability? “When I first started • What tools are available to help assist with creating content? with HealthGrades, • Can you use dynamic content and segmentation tools together to produce compelling content? they had yet to 8. AUTOMATED EMAIL implement a formal Why It Matters – Scalability of automated email means more 1-to-1 messaging, integrated email which also means being more timely and relevant with your audience without requiring a lot of extra hands-on management. Automated emails allow you to program. I reached send emails that facilitate highly engaged clients based on purchases, transaction out to Clickmail confirmations, browsing behavior and more, and can also assist with drip or lifecycle campaigns. Choosing a solution that supports a user-friendly automation for advice. [They feature can be ideal if you want to optimize your email initiatives and minimize the manpower required to manage your email campaigns. were] the perfect guides through the If value is derived from the email interaction, then focus on the automation capabilities of the platform. If your value is derived from the logic or business process. They not rules at the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) level, focus more ononly have a high level integration between the two platforms. of knowledge and What to Look For • The ability to send drip and triggered emails. expertise, but they • Easy integration with third-party databases like CRM, web analytics, Enterprise bring to the table a Resource Planning (ERP), data mart and ecommerce. You need to be able to query data sources for effective segmentation. practical knowledge • Query/segmentation abilities within the platform, including support of a content library or the ability to integrate with a Content Management System of what would work (CMS) via WebScrape and/or API. Also consider how complex it is to set up and best.” maintain. • Is lifecycle messaging possible? Is it determined based on subscriber behavior blended with demographic values? Brian Vacanti • How much support is available and/or required from your internal IT to set Vice President, Marketing up and maintain the automation? How much does it cost to have the platform support it? HealthGrades • Do you need or want your platform to act as a data mart, providing a means to store, manage and/or query data from disparate sources? If so, how easy is it to set up, modify or enhance? Is this something you can do or do you have to utilize the platform’s professional services team? 9. TRANSACTIONAL EMAILS Why It Matters – Transactional messages are a way to improve your relationship between your organization and its subscribers. By sending order confirmations, welcome emails, remarketing emails, password resets and shipping information, you are further engaging your customers and giving them the information they6
  9. 9. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE are asking for. Transactional messages also tend to be more time-sensitive than marketing emails, which increases the need for a platform that will support this functionality and ensure timely delivery, regardless of the volume. What to Look For • The ability to send transactional messages with a different dedicated IP address. • The ability to send Multipart/Alternative MIME Format transactional messages that allow you to track opens and click throughs, as well as up sell or cross sell. • Can you send transactional and marketing emails within the same account? How soon are emails sent when you evoke the API call? You ideally want them sent out within 30 to 60 seconds. Does the platform charge extra for the ability to quickly send or prioritize your message? • Can you report on transactional messaging traffic within the same account? • Is the performance date from transactional messages easily leveraged for other email types? • If transactional emails are mission-critical, look for tools that move transactional messages to the front of the queue for immediate delivery. • Can the tool support your transactional email volume without a custom SLA? We encourage you Email Deliverability and Rendering to actively monitor 10. DELIVERABILITY your deliverability Why It Matters – For most digital marketing solutions, delivery only means there was a successful handoff between MTAs (Mail Transfer Agents). For a marketer, to improve your delivery means the email arrived in the recipient‘s inbox—not gone missing, or email reputation to the spam or junk folder. A marketer needs the email to be delivered to the recipient’s inbox so that it can be opened, clicked on and interacted with. In and ensure you are order to accomplish this, everything related to deliverability must be optimized, including monitoring your sending reputation, because the online sendingcommunicating with reputation will affect the deliverability of your emails. If deliverability is a high your most engaged priority for your company, make sure your new platform manages and monitors deliverability appropriately on their end. list of subscribers. What to Look For • Will the platform allow a third-party deliverability audit by a company such as Pivotal Veracity/IBM Unica or ReturnPath before requiring a contract? • Is deliverability consistently monitored by the platform? • Does the platform have a team of postmasters to interact with Internet Service Providers (ISPs)? If so, how many? • Does the platform offer certified mail options through relationships with ReturnPath or others? • What about data hygiene services? Does the platform scrub against known spam traps, active complainers and undeliverable addresses? • Will your new platform proactively notify you if your deliverability drops? • If your deliverability drops, what evaluations and remedies are available? How long does this process take? 11. SENDING REPUTATION MANAGEMENT Why It Matters – ISPs look at several factors when deciding whether or not to let your email through their system and into their customer’s inbox. Your sending reputation is one of them. Just like a real-life reputation, your sending reputation as an email marketer is based on your past behaviors. Your reputation must be stellar to keep your email deliverability rate high. Send to bad email addresses or 7
  10. 10. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE people who report you as a spammer, and you are putting your reputation at risk. Your platform’s behavior can put your reputation at risk as well. What to Look For • Can you have your own dedicated IP address? Is there an extra cost? Can you elect to be in a shared or distributed IP mail server pool? Can you transfer and use an existing IP address to your new ESP? • Is there reputation support within the platform’s service offering, including whitelisting, feedback loop (FBL) enrollments and authentication protocols assistance? • Is there real-time monitoring and alerting capability for blacklisting, domain blocking and abuse reporting? • Does the platform allow you to sign up for whitelisting status with ISPs? Will they do this automatically on your behalf? • Does the platform provide you the data from FBL enrollments? • Does the platform offer suggestions to manage or improve your reputation? Deliverability 12. AUTHENTICATION and subscriber Why It Matters – You need authentication to protect your online reputation. Authentication is publishing the mail servers that are authorized to send email engagement are on your behalf. This establishes who you are and gives the recipient a method to identify your email. There are currently four main types of authentication: SPF of the utmost (Sender Policy Framework), SenderID (SPF2), DomainKeys (DK) and DomainKeys importance in email Identified Mail (DKIM). Having a good sending reputation leads to a better deliverability rate because most ISPs look at your sending reputation as a key marketing. ClickMail factor on whether to route your message to the inbox. Proving your identity can can direct you to the also help reduce the likelihood of a legitimate email being mistaken for spam, and help reduce and even prevent evil-doers from spamming or scamming your appropriate tools to brand. evaluate this data What to Look For and provide you with • What types of authentication does the platform offer? • Will you be able to test installation of these technologies? feedback on how to • Are there extra setup and monthly costs to use these technologies? • Does DKIM setup cost extra? improve. • Does the platform offer a dedicated IP or bank of IP addresses? • Does the platform offer third-party Domain Key signing for shared IPs? 13. SCORING TOOLS Why It Matters – Scoring tools allow you to monitor, manage and improve the delivery, credibility, reputation and rendering of your marketing and service communications. For example, most ISPs like Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail help determine whether to deliver your email to the subscriber’s inbox based on your online sending reputation, so you want tools for measuring that. You might also want to know what your emails look like in different email clients: If your emails do not render properly in certain email clients, you run the risk of not only having a bad user experience, but damaging your brand as well. Digital marketing solutions are providing more marketing automation capabilities, including lead nurturing and lead scoring, which could help you to grow your subscriber list. These are just a few examples of the types of scoring tools that might be important to your organization.8
  11. 11. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • Review the scoring tools for their ability to give you insight into content scoring, email client inbox rendering, ISP deliverability, blacklist monitoring and your online reputation. • Does the platform provide marketing automation capabilities, including lead nurturing and lead scoring? • Does the platform use its own or a third-party reporting tool such as Return Path or Pivotal Veracity/IBM Unica? • Is the report actionable? Does it indicate how to correct the problems it detects? 14. ENGAGEMENT Why It Matters – A subscriber’s engagement, or lack thereof, directly influences your deliverability and ROI. ISPs are now keeping track of how users interact with their emails and decide which emails are classified as spam based on that data. If a recipient does not engage with your emails, the ISP may consider your email spam in the eyes of that recipient. You need new tools that move you beyond open rates to data that really matters, like knowing who did what with your email. On the flip side, engagement technologies can make your emails even Engagement more relevant and timely. Engagement can be a useful tool to further segment your data and manage your interactions with subscribers. For example, usingtechnologies can help data on recent click-throughs and site visits, you can determine which users areyou make your emails highly engaged and those that are becoming inactive, and target your messages to these disparate groups accordingly. In addition, intelligent content—content even more relevant that renders when an email is opened rather than when it was sent—can have live offers that are tied to your inventory. If something is sold out or the first 250and timely by moving respondents have already converted, an alternate offer is presented. you beyond open What to Look For rates to data that • Do you need a tool to measure engagement? • What kind of engagement tools does the platform offer? really matters, like • Does the platform provide actionable, real-time reporting of data from knowing who did ecommerce sites and social sites? • Look for the ability to track and store open time by user.what with your email. • Can you optimize your send times on an individual basis per subscriber with the platform? • Does the platform offer integration with third-party tools that helps you measure engagement? How about engagement beyond email? • Does the platform offer the ability to render dynamic content based on engagement? • Consider other possible integrations with social sites, ecommerce site, web analytics. Email Results 15. TESTING Why It Matters – Testing is very important to an email marketing campaign because testing will help you determine what is effective and what isn’t. And in the ever-changing world of digital marketing, what worked last year may not be what works best this year; so consistent and constant testing should be a key component of your marketing strategy. As users increase their mobile use, it becomes increasingly important to test how your email designs render across a variety of platforms. 9
  12. 12. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • What testing capabilities does the platform offer? • Does the platform offer data compiling and drill-down ability? • Does the platform offer inbox preview testing? • How easy is it to execute an A/B split test? • Does the platform support multivariate testing? • Which variables can you test with? - From Address - Subject Line - In-email content - Time of delivery - Day of delivery 16. REPORTING Why It Matters – Reporting and analysis tools are critical for measuring the effectiveness of your email campaigns and making adjustments to optimize ROI over time. Standard metrics include sends, deliveries, opens, click throughs and When compared to forwards, but are more advanced metrics available if you need them? Make sure other marketing you are clear on the metrics that matter for your business and review how well the reporting capabilities of the platform match those needs. channels, the ROI of What to Look For email marketing is • Is the reporting insightful? Meaningful? Easily actionable? unsurpassed – this • What level of reporting is available for bounce messages? Will you be able to discern why a message bounced? is why marketers • Does the platform offer programmable post click-through reporting such as continue to expand clickstream behavior? Do you have flexibility to customize the reports? • Is it to easy to export results so they can be used with other tools or data? their marketing Look for the ability to tag links for analysis in web analytics tools, as well as the ability to share information between web analytics, your CRM system andbudget by redirecting the platform. Also, find out if the platform automatically handles email replies.investment from less • Does the platform offer social media data metrics? • How about business intelligence reporting? proven marketing • Does the platform’s reporting include conversion tracking? Is it easy to deploy? • Can you get actionable reports on multiple opens that indicate a higher level of mediums. interest and potential engagement? • Is there any kind of proactive reporting that will alert you to a problem? For example, if your open rates or clickthrough rates drop below a certain threshold, will you be notified? • Can you setup custom report(s) and view the data that is most valuable to you? 17. ROI Why It Matters – According to Direct Marketing Association’s 2011 Power of Direct economic impact study, email marketing is returning vastly more for every dollar spent on it this year than every other marketing channel. When compared to other marketing channels, the ROI of email marketing is unsurpassed – this is why marketers continue to expand their email marketing budget by redirecting investment from less proven marketing mediums. Tracking conversion rates through email open rates and click-throughs will ultimately yield more return on your investment. New analytics programs are available to help you view and track your ROI.10
  13. 13. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • Does the platform offer conversion tracking? • Does the platform offer integration with analytics programs? How robust is their reporting structure? • What actionable cross-channel reporting capabilities exist within the platform? Beyond Email 18. THIRD-PARTY INTEGRATIONS Why It Matters – Email is still the strongest, most effective messaging medium out there. One characteristic that makes it so strong is its ubiquity. It is everywhere. As new technologies are developed, email integrates more and more with add-on services and innovations. If your platform’s UI does not let you adopt these innovations by integrating with third-party services and technologies now and in the future, you will fall behind your competition. What to Look For The email marketing • Does the platform offer support for integrating with new technologies? • Does the platform offer technology that identifies people as smart phone space is ever- recipients and send them a version optimized for rendering on a smart phone? • Does the platform support SMS (text-based messaging)? changing, so staying • Does the platform support social media integrations? on top of the latest • Can your email be integrated with direct mail? • What is the platform’s roadmap for third-party integration in the future? trends is a must. We • Is there a single tool that performs everything, or will you need separate tools? recommend having 19. CONSULTING SERVICESaccess to someone in Why It Matters – Agency-type services such as strategy, professional design, email deployment, email-specific HTML coding, and integration services can the industry that can help you optimize your email marketing program, especially if your department assist you with the is understaffed or less experienced. Consider capabilities you want now and those you might want in the future, such as campaign planning, list growth, latest technologies deployment or customized web development including landing pages, signupand direct you on the and profile preference pages and reporting. best initiatives for What to Look For • What other services does the platform offer? your business on an • Is there an active partner network? Which vendors has the platform partnered ongoing basis. with? For how long? • Does the platform offer multi-modal messaging, like SMS, voice or fax to augment email from within the application? Emerging Channels 20. SOCIAL MEDIA Why It Matters – To keep pace with the rapidly changing world of technology and cultural expectations, email must integrate with social networking tools. That is the only way you can hope to communicate with all audiences, as some stay with email for communication and others move to social media. Integrating with social media also extends your reach, getting your message in front of more people when shared. A best practice is to allow subscribers to share your marketing message or your email content with social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. You also need the ability to solicit email signups at your social network pages. As the world of digital marketing becomes more social, there are increasing opportunities for more strategic placements and capabilities for social media to integrate with email campaigns. 11
  14. 14. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • Is social media integration a priority for the platform? • Can emails be shared with social networks using their email platform? Is it a full integration or only a partial solution? • What tracking does the platform report on regarding social media engagements beginning from an email? • Does the platform integrate with other tools to manage social channels and define social influencers? • Does the platform offer the ability to track influencer ratings? 21. MOBILE EMAIL AND SMS Why It Matters – As more users increasingly utilize mobile applications to check email and perform transactions, mobile ROI is only going to climb. As mobile marketing increases, it’s important to get a jump on the trend and ensure that your email marketing campaign is optimized for the mobile landscape. If your emails don’t render effectively on a smart phone, you run the risk of not only having a bad user experience and ignored email, but damaging your brand as well. Another way to start thinking about mobile integration with your email campaign is to use SMS to gain subscribers. Allowing subscribers to opt-in to Don’t get caught up receive text updates from you and to subscribe to email updates using SMS is yet another way to make your email marketing campaign visible and available toin “cool” functionality prospects. that you don’t What to Look For need now or won’t • Does the platform offer mobile optimized email? • Does the platform offer an easy-to-use mobile online commerce? realistically use in • Does the platform offer the ability for subscribers to text-to-join using SMS? • Is the platform integrated with location-based services? the next 18 months. • What mobile-optimization and segmentation tools does the platform offer? Most marketing organizations switch Business Requirements providers every 24 22. TRIAL ACCOUNTS Why It Matters – Typically you are making at least a one-year commitment to months anyway. a platform. Choosing a tool that does not do what you need it to can cost you. Big time. A new platform can cost you money if it is difficult to use, and if the deliverability rate is not as high as it should be. What to Look For • Make sure you can take the user interface for a test drive. Do not rely on the service provider showing you an internal demo version. Get an actual instance of their platform that you can test drive yourself. • Does it have the features and functionality you are looking for? Are they easy enough for you and your team to figure out and use? 23. PRICING AND CONTRACTS Why It Matters – Having flexible pricing and payment terms that match your requirements based on your sending patterns and budget constraints means you have a vendor that is responsive to your needs. More flexible contract terms mean you are better equipped to try new tactics without long-term expense commitments. Most platforms require a 12-month usage and revenue commitment. You do not want to choose a platform solely on price, but you do want to know exactly what you are getting.12
  15. 15. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE What to Look For • Which features have costs? Dynamic content, dedicated IP addresses, API deployment, surveys, transactional messaging, data storage and hosted content or landing pages are all features to ask about. Investigate these details early in the selection process, particularly if you are in a highly regulated industry such as finance, insurance or healthcare, or if your corporation is known for strict contractual negotiations. • Does your platform offer flexible billing terms, such as allowing you to ramp up over time, as your usage increases? • Ask for contracts from potential service providers and have them reviewed by your legal department for any red flags before final vendor selection. 24. IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE Why It Matters – Email can be instant…but not always. If you are waiting on an implementation you may begin to lose out. An API integration is typically the most time-consuming, but implementation can also involve setting up your account, creating email templates, importing lists, setting up authentication protocols and more. You need to know how long to expect the process to take, who is responsible for doing what, and in what order the configuration tasks must be completed. The sooner you What to Look For and your staff are • Will the solution provider commit to be up and running by a certain date? proficient on your • Will they agree to built-in financial consequences if the timeline is not met? new platform, the 25. CUSTOMER SERVICE faster you can start Why It Matters – When there is a problem, you need timely resolution. With over 100 platforms to choose from, much of email is being viewed as a commodity.reaping the benefits Therefore level and quality of service is a prime differentiator.of your investment, What to Look For and the less likely • Is reaching a live person important to you? Do you need 24 hour access to support, or are you willing to wait until the next day for help? During which you are to make hours are calls answered? • Test and track after-hours support, including timeliness of email responses to mistakes. support queries. What type of ticketing system exists? • Ask for references from current clients. • Once up and running, do you anticipate your organization will rely on self- service, collaborative services, or full services? Is this likely to change? Self- service users: consider the possibility that you will need some interim help. 26. TRAINING Why It Matters – The sooner you and your staff are proficient on your new platform, the faster you can start reaping the benefits of your investment, and the less likely you are to make mistakes. You will also want ongoing education to ensure you continue to deepen your knowledge of the platform, especially when the platform releases upgrades and new features. What to Look For • You want a platform that offers easy access to resources to ensure your ramp up time is minimal. Are there costs for initial or follow-up training? Is training available both online and live? • Do new releases include training? Are there extra charges for support? • Is there training available beyond the platform interface (i.e. training on best practices)? 13
  16. 16. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE • Does the platform supply industry information, case studies or other educational resources? • Is there a user community or conference for additional learning opportunities? • Is there training available for your developers supporting integration efforts? 27. ENTERPRISE NEEDS Why It Matters – An enterprise-sized business will have specific requirements from a platform. This kind of larger organization might have different business units running independently of one another, for example, but with a need to control the look and feel of any messaging that goes out. What to Look For • Are you be able to silo business data, so one department cannot email another department’s list, for example? • Does the platform offer master or corporate level views into the activity of different departments working in the tool? We encourage you to • Does the platform allow corporate level approval? What about a master assess the present reporting toolset that pulls in data from the different departments? • Can headers and footers differ for different accounts and brands? and future needs of • Can you have different unsubscribe policies between business units? Can a user unsubscribe from one brand’s list without unsubscribing from all lists? your business needs before choosing a Legal Requirements and Data Security new platform. If you 28. LEGAL have an idea of the Why It Matters – Your customer and prospect data is one of your company’s most valuable assets. If your organization requires you to manage data a certain type of services, way, legal considerations matter. You will definitely need to make sure your pricing and features emails are CAN-SPAM compliant, but there are other regulations you might need to comply with as well, such as the new Canadian anti-spam law (FISA), you are looking for, the California Online Privacy Protection Act (OPPA) and others. All top tier digital marketing solutions have requirements for emails sent out through their you will be able platforms. Will your emails meet those requirements? to make a better What to Look For decision on your • Will the platform help you determine which marketing content is legally platform. acceptable in transactional emails? • Is the platform able to help you comply with the new, more stringent, Canadian anti-spam law? • What is the recourse if you violate one of these laws or policies? 29. SECURITY Why It Matters – Your email lists are valuable proprietary information. People are increasingly concerned about the security of their data, and are hesitant to use a third-party tool because of security issues. Therefore, security should extend beyond the platform to cover access to the network as well as local access from the platform facility. Also, public companies must comply with regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). Before evaluating the security capabilities of any platform, be clear on the requirements of your organization and industry, in particular, the level of security wanted or mandated. Ensure that your selected provider maintains a security methodology that you are comfortable with.14
  17. 17. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDEWhat to Look For• Is the company SOX compliant?• Do they have network intrusion detection? Firewalls? Employee screening? Monitored access at the office and at the data center(s)? Security cameras? Do they require vendor employee background checks?• Are they insured, licensed and bonded? Internally consider password strength and encryption safeguards.• What types of audit trails are available? Can you see who logged in and what they worked on?• What type of security tools are in place? Do they provide monitoring and alerts? IP whitelisting? Factor authentication?• Has the company been through a SAS 70 audit? If yes, at what level?• If you are managing your own data, are your data transfer protocols safe and aligned with your marketing needs? 15
  18. 18. DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS GUIDE Call on Clickmail If you have reached this point of the Guide, you are probably realizing you have a lot to consider with the 29 factors outlined above. But you do not have to consider all of them, only those that matter to your organization’s business objectives and email marketing programs. And you do not have to consider them Your ESP Selection Tool alone. Sorting through the myriad strengths and weaknesses of each platform can be a streamlined process when ClickMail is guiding you. We know the platforms. www.espinator.com We know how well they rank for each of these factors. And we know we can help you find the right tool for you. Looking for specific As a value-added reseller, working with us is risk free. We’ll set you up with trial Email Marketing accounts so that you can try the platforms before you purchase your account. recommendations? And once you’ve selected your provider of choice, our partnerships with over a dozen digital marketing solutions will allow us to offer you competitive pricing Although our 2012 Guide is on your platform selection. vendor agnostic, we have With ClickMail on your side, you will learn how to use the platform faster and built an Email selection tool utilize the features of your digital marketing solution to the fullest extent featuring specific platforms. possible. And when you’re ready to grow your email marketing strategy, our You can access this tool at technical and strategic consulting services will help you earn the maximum return www.espinator.com. from your email marketing investment. Powered by Let ClickMail to become an extension of your email marketing team by helping ClickMail Marketing you on the path to becoming a successful and profitable email marketer. For more information, contact us at 650-653-8055, 866-418-4877 or sales@clickmailmarketing.com.16
  19. 19. About ClickMail Marketing ClickMail Marketing is an email consultancy and value-added reseller of over a dozen digital marketing solutions. As one ofthe fastest growing email solutions providers in the industry, westrive to stay vendor neutral so that we can recommend the best solution for your specific marketing needs. We also publish The Whitelist, an email marketing blog, at www.ClickMailmarketing.com/whitelist/ and The ClickMailMarketer newsletter at www.ClickMailmarketing.com/signup.html. Connect with us: Facebook: www.facebook.com/clickmailmarketing LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/clickmail-marketing Twitter: http://twitter.com/ClickMail RSS: http://clickmailmarketing.com/whitelist/feed/ClickMail Marketing, Inc. Phone: 650.653.8055155 Bovet Road, Suite 310 Toll Free: 866.418.4877San Mateo, CA 94402-3108 Fax: 650.350.1056 info@clickmailmarketing.com www.ClickMailMarketing.com