'Email Marketing'

Email Campaigns: In-house or Outsourced?

8 DEC 2010 1

When you only have a handful of subscribers, it obviously makes no sense to hire a third party to manage your email campaigns. You can easily mail out to a few dozen customers from Outlook at no extra cost. Even bandwidth comes cheap these days, so that shouldn’t be a concern either. However, when you start building the size of your list, you will find that your desktop application is no longer the best method to handle your mass email campaigns. Your ISP might become annoyed with the spam complaints and you will no longer be able to cope with managing subscribers manually. Once you decide it’s high time you moved to a professional solution, you will have to decide whether to run the campaigns on your own servers or hire an Email Service Provider (ESP) to handle the work for you. Here are some questions that will help you figure out what’s right for your company.

1. Are you already running an in-house marketing automation system?

Email marketing should be tightly integrated with your existing software. Outsourcing will only save you time and money if you can seamlessly integrate your ESP’s reports with your current applications. Don’t simply rely on the ability to download some metrics in CSV format: once you scale up your campaigns you won’t be able to treat them as a whole anymore. You can get so clogged up in reports that you might not be able to see the forest from the trees.

2. Can your staff handle the workload?

Once you build up on volume, you will need dedicated full-time employees to manage your mailing infrastructure. Maintaining good relationships with ISP’s and white-listing agencies is a must. You will get spam complaints and you will have your IPs blacklisted. You will need full-time employees to handle each request with diligence, or your emails will never reach the recipients’ mailboxes.

3. Are you reaping enough benefits from your email campaigns?

Email marketing is not cheap. With either in-house or outsourced campaigns, it is possible to spend thousands each month once you get a considerable number of subscribers. Do the Math before even thinking of scaling up, or you might end up with negative EBITDA’s. Re-think your strategy if the ROI seems too low. It is important to track your campaigns aggressively, so you know what type of return you are getting.

4. Are you looking for more control?

Let’s take the example of a double op-tin campaign. If you are doing it in-house, you may find that, out of the 10,000 leads who filled in their emails on your website, only 6,000 confirmed the address. If you are losing a whopping 40% of your leads you might want to have a look at the sales pitch on the site or the copy sent in the verification email. When running an outsourced campaign, the ESP might only report the 6,000 subscribers and not mention the rest.

There is no general truth, all marketers should evaluate their business needs and decide on how to host their email campaigns. However, you shouldn’t simply go with either one or the other without first doing an in-depth analysis.

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