Should e-mail always be kept in-house?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

Should e-mail always be kept in-house?

Deciding how and where to house technology for an e-mail deployment engine often comes down to two choices: Work with a host ESP or use in-house or custom-built software

Dave Hendricks
VP of marketing strategy & GM, StormPost, at Datran Media
20 years of industry experience

The question of whether hosted e-mail systems or in-house systems are right for a company's e-mail deployment strategy comes up often in the assess­ment and selling process. The right answer is dependent on what's needed.

For example, the security-conscious CTO of a bank might think that an in-house system is preferable, since his or her privacy or security policies might prevent data from being exchanged or shared with a third party. The ability to integrate with secure systems might be a deciding factor.

The CMO of a retailer might prefer the support that comes with a sophis­ticated, full-service application service provider (ASP), provided by an e-mail service provider (ESP). Perhaps the ser­vice provider doesn't need to integrate with any existing systems and rather just needs to deliver mail, and report results quickly and reliably.

Today, there are several different ASPs and software options to choose from. However, there are far more ASPs than licensed software providers. The popularity of ASPs should not sway you in that direction. The only deciding factors should be your critical business issues — whether service, sup­port, security or cost-driven. It is pos­sible to find businesses that run both models, because they have different departmental needs that can't be met by a single modality.

Figuring your needs out before choosing a vendor — and not getting caught up in features you may not need or want — will lead to a smarter decision on your part.

Patrick McHugh
EVP, Neolane Inc.
More than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development

As e-mail becomes a strategic cus­tomer relationship channel, marketers need to determine whether in-house software or self-service e-mail service providers (ESPs) are best. The answer may be determined with an assessment of your level of marketing maturity. How do you plan to evolve your use of e-mail in terms of personalization, and coordination with other channels?

To be used as an effective, strategic communications tool, e-mail must evolve beyond typical ESP-driven “batch and blast” scenarios to support more personalized, interactive, real-time and behavioral-based communica­tions. This evolution requires compa­nies to replicate complex transactional, attitudinal customer data and provide for rich, data-driven offer manage­ment and dynamic content. These requirements are best supported by an in-house enterprise marketing platform that does not only execute e-mail cam­paigns but also automates and unifies core marketing processes in one system of record. Marketers using ESPs ulti­mately struggle with decreased control over their e-mail campaigns, increased costs and time-to-market constraints.

For companies with maturing and increasingly sophisticated e-mail strate­gies, next generation in-house solutions based on Web services can be deployed in distributed computing environments — marrying business rules with ease of deliverability that effectively eliminates the burden on IT. As a result, they offer a lower total cost of ownership when compared to ESPs, delivering the best of both worlds.

DMNews' decision
Increasingly, today's marketing mandates involve personalization, online components and the ability to test and clean, expansive databases. Our experts contend that both in-house and hosted systems can provide a baseline of services; however, e-mail marketers must know their own goals and consider integration with other channels before deciding.

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