Now Is the Time to Change Your Marketing Provider
Marketing is hard work. Every day you sit down at your desk and start to roll that rock up the hill that is your to-do list. Even on the days when it gets to the top, by morning it is back at the bottom and you have to start all over again.
The promise of marketing technology was supposed to make this easier. The promises made around that conference room table seemed real. Grow your email list. Automate your processes. Increase revenue. Report results. But it just didn’t turn out that way.
Now you are wondering if today is the time to change your cross-channel marketing provider. Whether you call them your ESP, your email vendor, your marketing software, it is time to consider moving on from them and find a new partner.
There are lots of reasons to make this change, but we know it’s not easy. We have been there. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. We want to help you through this decision. It will be a lot of work to move. And what if you replace your current issues with a new set of issues? Will it have been worth it? That all depends on how bad it is now.
And how bad it is now depends on your role. If you are the one who is building campaigns and pushing out emails, then the wrong system causes you daily pain. You may not get to make this decision alone, but you surely are an influencer in the process. A documented list of shortcomings helps your cause. The discussion below can help make your case.
It’s not a decision to be made lightly. We want to help you through this decision.
If you lead the marketing team, your reasons for making a change might be related to the day-today operation, but they could be very different. Your reasons could be situational and have nothing to do with the software or the vendor at all. It could be based on previous relationships or vendor consolidation. Thinking through the following situations is still a worthwhile exercise.
Show Me the Money
Marketing software is an expense. There are monthly fees, implementation charges, support fees, and program fees. Each one of these is a real cost. They may be negotiable up front, especially if you signed a longer term agreement, but you need to have confidence that the amount due will not change.
There are a couple of ways that this starts to feel like a problem. The first is when your vendor is constantly charging you for things that you thought were included. This starts when you budget for your purchase and you discover all the add-ons that are required for your marketing program to work. This is especially bad when the feature that initially sold you on the software is only available in the premium package or requires custom development. This type of vendor behavior continues throughout the engagement. Every new request requires a new PO and additional charges. Marketers have told us that they feel like they are being nickeled and dimed. And it doesn’t feel good. You need a different kind of change – one that actually adds value. The better way to approach the cost of marketing software is to think about it in terms of value.
Marketers have told us that they feel like they are being nickeled and dimed. And it doesn’t feel good.
This can be a pure ROI calculation based on what you are spending and what the return of your program is. But you can also think about the revenue you are generating from your email programs with the support of your software partner that you would not otherwise realize. If you are not getting value from your ESP, then it is time to consider a change.
It Just Works
The nature of software has changed significantly over the years. The programs marketers use live in a browser window. That means they just work. Or they should just work. You pay for access and you are able to get your job done. Or your team gets it done. What happens if the software is too hard to use? It is too hard to build campaigns, pull in data from other systems, get emails out the door, and report on performance. Too hard can mean lots of things. Proper training can help. So can IT support. Using the software for a period time can help too. But every time a new person joins the team, their learning curve is too steep.
And what about when the software doesn’t just work? Not all software does what is required at the outset. Costly customization may be involved or workarounds may be the recommendation if the vendor just can’t make it happen. There can be outages when the software isn’t available. The highest level of availability is called five nines – uptime of 99.999% – which allows only about five minutes of downtime annually.
This is the type of service level agreement that most clients are beginning to expect. Or there are bugs that just can’t be solved that prevent campaigns from going out properly. When the technology gets in the way and doesn’t work, it is time to consider a change.
Guiding the Way
Marketers want strategic partners to help them meet their goals. This doesn’t mean having someone tell you what to do. You set your own strategy, but providing guidance on how to get there has become an expectation. Client success managers, strategic consultants, and business analysts are part of the team that supports marketers. They can provide tips and tricks and best practices for campaign development, creative design, using customer data, and reporting frameworks, but they can also provide bigger ideas on how to move a business forward and grow revenue.
Your ESP has many other clients who are building cross-channel marketing campaigns that drive consumers to open, click, and buy as a result. Some of them are making over a million dollars per day from purchases directly attributed to emails. Marketers want and need that level of expertise in their business. It should not feel like the vendor is creating a program from scratch for your business. They have done it many times before. And the unique needs of your business should affect the edges of set-up, not the core of your program.
Many software companies outsource their strategy offerings to third-party partners. No matter how many brands they have supported, working with an outside organization is not the same as working with the company that created the software. But what happens when the “success” manager from the vendor is only focused on keeping you happy enough to secure a renewal, rather than being interested in the success of your business? That’s right. It’s time to consider a change.
Experience It All
The customer experience you enjoy – or endure – with your marketing vendor is about how you feel based on all of your dealings with them. That comes from your day-to-day interactions with their people. Do you have a dedicated team? Are they truly invested in your success or are they just checking a box? Monthly call. Check. Emails going out. Check. Database healthy and backed up. Check. The level of service and support sets the expectations for the entire experience. And whether it is included or there is always a charge for something extra reinforces those expectations.
There are some basic functions that should happen – but don’t always – like setting up alerts to ensure campaigns are operating correctly, seeding email lists with vendor and company addresses, basic training at the outset, but also on an ongoing basis. At a more advanced level vendors provide specialists in creative, strategy, campaigns, data management, analytics, and deliverability. Are these people dedicated to your account so they get to know your business, or are they shuffled in at an hourly rate based on who is available?
Some marketers want to purchase access to the platform and manage all aspects of their program themselves. This self-serve approach might be about cost-savings, but it could also be about taking advantage of the expertise already available in their team. Vendors need to provide the right level of strategic support for clients like this too.
No matter what level of service and support you require, if you don’t feel like your vendor is providing it to the level of your expectations – which includes if additional charges are required – then it is time to consider a change.
The Latest and Greatest
And finally, you might be suffering from Shiny Object Syndrome. Your current vendor is doing an adequate job, but you heard about something new. There’s a company getting lots of coverage for their unique approach to marketing. And you want it. On the face of it, this may not be a good reason to consider a change.
However, maybe there’s a level of innovation that you are not seeing in your current software. If the product roadmap does not reflect where the marketplace is going, this is not just the desire for something new. Will the new features help your team be more efficient? Will it allow your campaigns to connect with your customers in a deeper, more engaged manner? Ultimately, will it drive more revenue for your business? If the real answers to those questions are yes, then it is time to consider a change.
Any one of these reasons is strong enough to begin the process of finding a new email marketing software partner. Whether you go the route of a formal RFP or just start building your consideration set with a series of introductory conversations, make sure you are looking to make a change for the right reasons.
The process of finding the right partner takes many conversations and demos. And implementation will take several months that will stretch your team thin. You might even need to run concurrent systems. So this is not a decision to make lightly, and the experienced team at Cheetah Digital is here to walk you through every step of the process. We work with brands that are well known to you. It is likely that there is an email in your inbox right now that came from one of our clients – we send over a billion ever single day. Let’s start talking and see how you can meet or exceed your business results with the help of the right partner.