As you look forward to taking your email marketing program to the next level in 2018, it’s also important to take stock of how the industry evolved in 2017 if you don’t want to get stuck with high expectations and an outdated strategy. If you don’t learn the lessons of last year, you’ll repeat the same mistakes others already learned from.
Like with all things marketing, nothing in email stays static. The industry is always evolving to incorporate new technology and customer preferences. Before rushing into your first 2018 campaigns, evaluate what might be different from a year ago. That will help you anticipate where your customers will expect you to excel. Because your email marketing standards need to be at least as high as theirs.
After spending years talking to enterprise organizations about their email marketing needs, the perception that changing email service providers is extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive has been difficult to avoid. It comes up in conversation after conversation. It can feel like an accepted fact for large B2C companies — if they’re going to make an ESP change, the problems with the current one better be debilitating enough to justify months of hard work and transition.
We wanted to explore this question further for our 2018 ESP Satisfaction Survey. So we decided to conduct a study of large organizations across the country to see if this anecdotal evidence would be reflected in the unfiltered opinions of marketing professionals who are impacted by an ESP change. We launched this survey to better understand how enterprise-level marketers use email. And how they view their relationship with their ESP.
In recent years, many leading brands have diligently been working on eliminating data silos and ensuring that there’s one source of truth for all of their data. New information pours in by the second. Marketers instantly use that data to create highly personalized experiences on the web and mobile apps in real time. Online retailers work hard to make their website a well-orchestrated, enjoyable experience for customers, often with highly customized elements and personalized recommendations. Everything is immediate. The standards are high. No retailer would accept their website being too slow to respond to customer behavior.
For retail marketers, the holidays are a time of intense pressure and scrutiny. Most retailers see their revenue numbers soar during the holiday season. And online and interactive channels are increasingly driving those numbers. Marketing teams have carefully planned and coordinated for months to ensure customers get maximum value and a better experience.
Whether they’ve realized it or not, enterprise marketers have had limited options for years when it comes to email marketing solutions:
- Option A: Commercial email service providers (ESPs). These essentially come in two flavors — Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or on-premises. Obviously, SaaS dominates in this industry, with many vendors rebranding in recent years as “marketing clouds.” Traditional on-premises solutions are hard to find nowadays but still exist.
- Option B: Custom in-house solutions. Many companies, particularly larger senders, have developed their own custom email marketing solution in house for a variety of reasons. These businesses then typically utilize a cloud-based email delivery solution to get messages out the door.