Marketers often use multiple technologies or approaches to send email communications. It’s important to understand the different characteristics of each method before deciding which is best for a given situation:
- Third-party email vendor. These companies rent lists or send emails on behalf of an organization, which prevents deliverability concerns for your IP range and avoids the risk of damage to your sender score/email reputation (senderscore.org). Hidden spam traps exist in some purchased and rented lists, and bounce-back rates and complaint rates (spam button) are higher with these lists. Just as a credit score builds over time and is based on behavior, your reputation and sender score is built every time you send an email. If a third party sends an email on your behalf, this alleviates the risk to your score. Ensure the vendor’s brand and legal compliance in order to avoid damage to your brand values. Some countries have laws that ban the use of third-party email vendors and prohibit the practice of sending email on behalf of another entity. Consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance. Here are some critical questions to ask your third-party email marketing vendor.
- Marketing automation platform (MAP). Once an inquiry raises its hand with a response to an offer or to engage with your brand, a MAP offers the ability to nurture contacts over time for eventual conversion to closed deals. MAP vendors offer various database contact structures. For example, a MAP may allow you to parse out contacts, making it possible to market to purchased lists. However, since MAPs are typically the marketing system of record, the database must be as clean as possible. Many clients use a non-MAP approach to communicate to potential suspects, adding a contact to the MAP only after the prospect has reached the inquiry stage of the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall.
- Email service provider (ESP). An ESP is typically used in conjunction with a MAP. An organization sends email (bulk, batch and blast, and possibly from purchased lists or legacy internal databases) for a specific offer, hoping to convert suspects to inquiries (hand-raisers). Email sent using an ESP should link to a landing page with an offer that requires a form submission. The form submission should be integrated into the sender’s MAP. Like MAPs, ESPs provide response rates, and let you control branding and reporting. Many offer a free trial, then charge a monthly fee with a monthly contract. Choose an ESP with a pricing structure that fits your needs.
To determine which approach is best for your organization, consider your choice against each of these factors, ensuring that each objective is met or considered:
- Deliverability and frequency. An organization that does not control its sender score risks poor email deliverability. Additionally, an increase in email frequency, paired with a lack of relevant messaging, may mean higher frustration levels among customers and prospects, causing a higher percentage of the contact database to opt out or down. Organizations must monitor their deliverability rates, as well as their frequency rates, against best-in-class companies and their own benchmark metrics to identify areas for improvement.
- Internal compliance and legal issues. Adhere to your organization’s internal guidelines regarding brand compliance and reputation. Additionally (especially in countries with laws for electronic communications and opt-in compliance), your approach must comply with each country’s specific legal requirements.
Note: SiriusDecisions is not legal counsel. This blog post is not meant to be used as legal advice and is not an exhaustive list of all compliance requirements. We recommend that you consult your legal counsel to ensure that all applicable legal requirements are met in relation to you.