Find the Right ESP Platform for You: A Guide Through the Jungle of Tools
If you’re reading this, you’re experiencing one of two things. The first scenario is that you’re finally getting your company’s CRM marketing strategy up and running, for the first time, ever. The second scenario is that you’re thinking of switching things up — and you’re in shopping mode. Either way, our CRM platform guide will point you in the right direction. So get your pen and paper out, and prepare your “pro” and “con” columns.
But, before we begin — you need to ask yourself these key questions.
- Have you considered the costs of implementing a new Email Service Provider?
- Have you established your company’s goals for the year? What about the goals for your marketing team?
- The Marketing Cloud: What is it and do you need it?
WHY EVEN CONSIDER CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT?
We know that you know the answer to this. But if you’re going to bat for budget from your superiors, you’ll need to explain it to them. Here’s a quick snapshot of what to say: First and foremost, it’ll beat out any outdated method of customer data analysis or customer acquisition you’re currently using. And, deploying a CRM strategy doesn’t change the way you run your business — but enhances your operations from multiple departments, and carves out several opportunities. Here are a handful of those opportunities:
- Increase your multi-channel and multi-device presence.
- Gain insights into target audiences.
- Build relationships with customers.
- Create compelling content.
Still can’t convince the boardroom? Add a little fear into the narrative: If you rest on your laurels, you’ll lose customer retention, loyalty and awareness to your competitors who have been collecting valuable insights — and creating personalized customer experiences — while you launched those “batch and blasts.”
The Emarsys platform.
DO I NEED ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES?
This is the part where your company needs to do some soul searching. You can jump right in and commit to platforms like SalesForce. There’s nothing wrong with that. SalesForce, for example, is an industry leader in ESP — and the most well-known, for good reason. With them, you’ll receive the full suite — customer engagement optimization, customer trends analysis, lifecycle automation, email automation, SEO tracking — the works. If all of those capabilities aren’t on your “must-have” list, you should step back and keep shopping.
If you’re a small business looking to generate traffic and increase your brand recognition, SalesForce definitely isn’t for you. Of course, there are plenty of viable options out there to help smaller businesses. But to avoid all of this trouble try running through a checklist before you begin your ESP platform search.
- Who is your target audience?
- What have you achieved so far?
- What are you willing to spend?
- Will this impact your workforce?
- Are your employees willing to adapt to a “relationship-first” mentality?
That final point is something to consider, as your company shifts their focus to the platform, there might be some push-back. It’s an issue that’ll come up, but it should be addressed before establishing a CRM strategy. If you have everyone on board with the transition, the process will be much more seamless. So bring up the idea of introducing a new platform — or a first platform — before you dive in.
SO YOU’VE ESTABLISHED YOUR PARAMETERS, NOW WHAT?…
It’s time to pull the trigger and decide what platform works best for your brand. Keep in mind, you’re entering a relationship, not just buying a product. After all the deliberation, decision-making and budget analysis, you’re now able to responsibly choose your ESP.
The most popular option most ESPs have invested in is cloud-based solutions. It’s a reliable alternative to the traditional in-office hardware and there’s no need for onsite setup — reducing your overall purchase cost. At the same time, updates and maintenance are automatically handled by your ESP. Entering into a marketing cloud strategy also allows for a seamless transition into mobile and tablet, which are arguably the most important things marketers will be focusing on heading into the new year.
A list of our go-to platforms:
For the large to mid-size business:
- Salesforce — The team at Salesforce are ultimate professionals, always willing to be there for your assistance. They offer a wide range of options from full suite to single, but this is more than just a marketing juggernaut. They cater to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
- Emarsys — With locations around the globe, this platform offers the first marketing cloud for retail and e-commerce. Primarily a data-based platform, Emarsys gives you B2C marketing automation software; fusing machine learning and data science to bring you the perfect recipe for building brand loyalty and increase your revenue.
- Bronto — Acquired by Oracle in 2016, these marketing gurus have been in the game for a long time and have proven their worth time and again. Their sophisticated marketing platform utilizes personalized multichannel content, advanced email automation and ultimately pushes for higher engagement.
For the smaller business:
- MailChimp — Once considered a side project, MailChimp has quickly become a leading marketing automation platform. They send over a billion emails a day, all the while championing the “little guy” with their easy-to-use technology for smaller businesses looking to grow.
What’s up next on your list?
Shopping is underway — well-done! You can cross that off of your to-do list. Next up, make sure you do demos, speak to reps, and generally do your due diligence. Choosing a CRM platform is a big commitment for companies that will, if done right, affect every single department. It’s not a decision to take lightly, so keep that “pros” and “cons” list flowing until you feel 100% confident.
A look at a typical comparison grid.
If you want to learn more about Email Service Providers chat with our senior partner Caren. Reach out to her at Caren@Benjamin-David.com.