Email Marketing – Should I Outsource Or Bring it In-house? – 4 Simple Issues to Consider
Introducing an email marketing strategy into an organisation inevitably produces the question about whether to use an in-house delivery mechanism or to outsource it instead. Like any application where this topic arises it can provoke some strong opinions and while the option to deploy email marketing internally may appear attractive it can potentially suffer from a number of drawbacks. So here are four reasons to consider before plumping for an in-house email marketing service.
Ignore the headline price. Like any other product or service offering the cost of the software is just the tip of the iceberg and you need to go beyond the attractive figures mentioned for an application that appears will ‘do the job’. A more in-depth look can reveal a lot of hidden extras that will quickly bloat the initial cost; check carefully for optional modules that in fact are rather essential for you. too many applications feature optional modules that in fact are rather essential. Add to this the need to find hardware for the email application to sit on, installation and configuration, connectivity to the outside world, ongoing licence fees and support and the costs shoot up considerably.
Do you have the time and resources? To have a fully functioning in-house system means having staff or contracted third parties to configure it, connect it to the outside world and test it. The leased line from the organisation will need to be reviewed – does it have the capacity for a significant increase in traffic, or will it have an impact on other applications or staff? Do the terms of the line from the provider allow the organisation to undertake email marketing? Some explicitly forbid this while others may charge extra. Someone will have to monitor the IP addresses of the firm to ensure they do not get blacklisted. Can you imagine the harm to your business if your ISP suspended your account for 7 days? It’s happened before.
An in-house solution will also require user training – and on that subject what is the knowledge level internally of creating html emails, copy writing and relevant legislation covering email marketing? If you are using an agency to create the templates then they may need access to the application – meaning more time and money spent on licencing costs and training someone who doesn’t even work for you and providing them with the means to access your infrastructure.
Finally, there is the risk of the system not working as intended, or demanding unacceptable levels of ongoing resources in order to make it work. Now you would hope that the suitability of any application would be determined before purchase, but in reality this is not always the case. Of course, you can change your plans and try to use it to the best of your abilities, go after the provider and try to get a refund, or you can dump it altogether and try again. All three options are expensive, time consuming and will impact on your business.
Now compare the points made above with an outsourced service.
Well, firstly the question surrounding resource and time largely vanishes. You have access to an infrastructure already created, tuned and ready to go. No worrying about whether your infrastructure can cope, no waiting for the technical function to install and configure the software. So getting started is a simple process – often it’s all done for you – in a matter of hours, not weeks.
An outsourced service also reduces the requirement to be proficient in html design and handling data. Good services provide help with such areas as part of the service, as well as giving advice on good practice and staying on the right side of the law. So you’re not on your own and you can get moving quickly and confidently.
And lastly there is the flexibility. If the out-sourced solution doesn’t work as well as you hoped then you can walk away and find another. Bed-hopping across email services is not recommended, as it disrupts your strategy and wastes time researching and working with new people. But it does mean that the service provider has to provide the best service possible – or you can go elsewhere if you’re not satisfied.
There is of course a very good case for opting to site email marketing in-house if your organisation has the resources, the infrastructure, the people and the knowledge in order to use the software correctly. But that’s a lot of ticks required in boxes, and even then you should hold accounts with services providers as part of your business continuity plan. Weighing up the options therefore shows outsourcing to have many compelling reasons when compared with equivalent in-house alternatives.