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Email Marketing & Its Critical Role in The Evolution Towards Real-Time Marketing

SAP and Unica both held their annual user conferences last week in the same city – Orlando. Both events highlighted a fundamental shift that’s underway in the world of B2C marketing. Corporations are moving from near-time to real-time marketing communications, where they can immediately serve up personalized experiences to consumers interacting with their brand across multiple channels. This might sound next to impossible, but for companies that use multichannel campaign management (MCCM) solutions like those offered by SAP and Unica, there is a real opportunity to reap the benefits of real-time marketing – and email marketing is one of the most effective channels for executing on that strategy.

MCCM solutions make it possible for companies to capture customer information across multiple touch points and then make that data readily available to drive campaigns. The advent of social media has forced companies to start looking at customer experience holistically, rather than continuing to operate in disparate marketing silos. Loyal customers expect a brand to know who they are and what they like, regardless of what channel they choose to interact with the brand through. Real-time marketing enables companies to achieve a new level of relevancy that meets customer expectations and drive significantly higher response rates and revenue per customer. Companies that chose to embark on such a significant undertaking will have a critical competitive differentiator in the coming years.

Email marketing is fast emerging as the common thread that links all of these customer interactions together. It is the hub of all digital marketing conversations and the unique identifier in many customer databases. A cutting-edge example of real-time marketing comes from Unica marketing excellence award honoree Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). When someone books a room online at one of IHG's 4,400 global properties, they automatically receive a confirmation email that is tailored to the individual based on their loyalty status, the hotel location, their purchase history and specified preferences. No two confirmation emails are alike. At the time of booking, IHG's online reservation system communicates with StrongView and Unica Interact to deliver a unique, targeted email to that individual in less than 2 seconds. Soon this real-time personalization will be extended to the web, providing a seamless customer experience between channels.

Brands are quickly realizing that the days of batch and blast are over. Not only are they becoming increasingly ineffective, they are also alienating customers who expect companies to send messages that reflect their relationship with the brand. Campaign management systems like Unica and SAP CRM are making real-time marketing possible, and tight integrations with email marketing, web, mobile and social media channels are necessary for delivering these unique experiences to the consumer.

Smart marketers know that one-to-one marketing is the best way to generate revenue and customer satisfaction, and StrongView works with leading campaign management vendors to put true one-to-one marketing within your reach. For more information on using email marketing and CRM together to deliver targeted, personalized messages, you can view our on-demand webinar "Email Marketing with SAP CRM: Achieving Relevance, Deliverability and Scale."

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 2:41 PM
Categories: email marketing, integration, intercontinental hotels group, mccm, multi-channel campaign management, real-time marketing, sap crm, unica

Event-Based Email Campaigns – So Many Messages, So Many Modules!

Recently, I participated in a discussion about event-based email marketing campaigns, and the best way to manage them. The question came down to whether it made sense to leverage enterprise marketing management systems (EMM) or technology from an on-premise or hosted email service provider.

First, based on what we are seeing in the market, there is certainly a healthy trend towards leveraging event-based email streams for marketing purposes. Not surprisingly, companies are working to improve the customer experience and the related value of their event-based email streams. When choosing the best solution to deliver these critical communications, the deciding factors usually boil down to these three:

Integration: Email solutions need to connect to core data sources in order to fully leverage significant investments in EMM and CRM systems. Email solutions also need to be able to write data back to these systems. While most leading ESP solutions have web services API’s that enable data transfer, the integration options are typically not flexible enough for an enterprise's IT department. This is the leading reason enterprises look to email modules within EMM solutions to handle email deployment.

Delivery Management and Transparency: If integration is the reason companies look to leverage an EMM or CRM solution for email campaign deployment, delivery management and transparency is the reason they look elsewhere. Most EMM solutions lack strong deliverability management solutions. Reporting of failed deliveries is often weak, and that information is critical, particularly with event-based messaging. I have seen some scary cost modules that outline how expensive it can be in the call center when 10% of an enterprise's purchase confirmations are blocked or end up in the junk folder. Furthermore, reputation is becoming the key driver for inbox penetration. EMM and CRM solutions simply have little depth in this area.

Features: Finally, companies that look to enhance event emails are typically already using the email channel for promotional and email campaign messaging. They require a level of features that enable flexible dynamic content, web-analytics integration and other advanced capabilities. Most EMM and CRM solutions have email “modules,” and these modules are not core parts of their applications, which can leave their capabilities “lacking” in a marketer's eyes. The result, EMM and CRM may be OK for some email streams, but will rarely meet an enterprise's broader requirements. Feature requirements are also the reason that enterprises are trashing their own home-grown applications and turning to technology providers for help.

The bottom line is that you want to verify that the solution you choose justifies the cost, meets your integration requirements and has the features you need. Regardless of how you decide to manage your event-based marketing streams, you'll also want to make sure you do it in a way that meets the recipient's expectations. Obviously, the email campaign needs to arrive at the right time and contain pertinent information about the event at hand. Any promotional messages should be seen as relevant and adding value. If you start overstepping your marketing bounds, you'll pay the price in customer dissatisfaction and attrition.

Posted by: Ryan Deutsch at 8:54 AM
Categories: CRM, enterprise marketing management, event-based email, transactional email