Why Outsourcing Email Makes Sense

Josh GordonMany companies - ranging from large to small across the business continuum - grapple with the question of outsourcing email versus building an in-house solution. Over time, that decision usually becomes less black and white and a hybrid model begins to emerge where the in-house group runs some email programs from the in-house solution, and an outside vendor runs other, more advanced programs. This is usually an organic development. At one time, several years ago, a decision was made to do email marketing in-house, and a solution was built to in-house accordingly.

Over time, however, the ability of the email marketing program was not adapting at the required pace. The need for more targeted dynamic content in email programs was immediate. Therefore, investing the resources – both time and financial – in getting the in-house solution up to date was no longer cost-efficient or smart.

Outside email marketing vendors, however, have tremendous incentive to build, adapt, and refine their software solutions to meet the ever-changing demands of the consumer. It is not simply a “need-to” for vendors, it is crucial to their growth and survival in an increasingly competitive space.

So as the email marketing industry comes full circle – from outsource to in-house to a hybrid model – the reasons for tipping the balance to an outsourced email marketing partner have never been more clear.

There are a few strong reasons, too many for the limited space here, for outsourcing, or at least shifting the balance to email vendors.

Reason #1: Marketers, the age of consolidation is upon us. The entire direct digital marketing ecosystem is highly fragmented, giving marketing organizations more incentive than ever to consolidate vendors and seek out efficiencies. The key is finding the right vendor that facilitates consolidation by centralizing all useful marketing data in the same software platform that delivers the emails.

Reason #2: Access to leading edge email software that’s managed by experts. Okay, I’m no fan of buzzwords like “leading edge,” but email marketing companies must maintain the most recent, sophisticated capabilities – from dynamic content features to up-to-the-second delivery assurance tools.

Reason #3: It’s cheaper to outsource than continue building an in-house solution. It’s not just investment in the technology infrastructure, it’s the need to constantly upgrade combined with the very real need lean on professional services for the latest and greatest in design and campaign execution.

Reason #4: Reliability is paramount. Besides deliverability, reliability is the most important feature of a good email marketing company. Triggered emails need to go out on time, dynamic content modules needs to be delivered to the right audience segments, etc. Email vendors that concentrate heavily on deliverability and reliability separate themselves from the pack.

There are more than four reasons, and more depth to each reason. The takeaway is that email marketing vendors are distinguishing themselves in new an interesting ways, as I first wrote about here. What makes your email marketing partner invaluable?

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  1. Posted May 30, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Great detailed information, I just bookmarked you on my google reader

    Sent from my iPhone 4G

  2. Posted July 7, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    These are great reasons to switch over to a trained and professional ESP. We think #4 really rings true – you need someone reliable to take control of your email marketing and keep all the wheels greased. Thanks for the article, we may link back to you in an upcoming blog post if that’s ok.

    • Posted July 7, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Kim. Please feel free and link back.

      Reliability is crucial, no doubt. And, beyond the reliability of the software, how reliable is the development structure for the software, how reliable is innovation, etc.? These are all important questions to ask to solve not just the short term email relationships needs, but long term ones as well.

  3. Posted July 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Great post Josh. And I totally agree. Given the unbelievably low price — particularly for the do-it-yourself vendors like Constant Contact — and the points you mention, it’s really more of a question of “Why wouldn’t you?”

    All the best,

    • Posted July 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. The main point to keep in mind is to simply understand the diversity of the market for email vendors. Constant Contact like vendors are available, but when the points I make in the article become critical, then a more robust software platform is necessary for deliverability, testing, targeting, and reporting.

  4. Posted July 9, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Really good point, out sourcing the software is the best option – let the ESPs look after the tech and you can get the results.

    The reason why ESPs exist is because it has always been complicated for marketing departments to get the IT dept. to allocate resources for them and marketing rarely had any control.
    With ESPs the marketing dept has full control over the resource thus making everything easier and more efficient as well as having the dedicated expertise of specialists at hand – not all ESPs will give you that level of personal support and consultancy, I know we will though 🙂

    • Posted July 12, 2010 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Excellent points. I think a hidden point here is that the ESPs should design software that is more marketer friendly. With the steady drum of “the content is still king” in all marketing circles, the software must be easy to use so the emphasis stays on the customer.

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