Tech Guest Viewpoint: Four Reasons to Keep Email Marketing On-Premise
Cloud computing has become nearly ubiquitous, but are retailers making the best use of cloud services when it comes to managing sensitive customer data? Deciding what customer data should be stored in the cloud and what data should be stored on-premises behind a company’s firewall is a question every retail company has to grapple with.
For high-volume, data-centric retailers that are managing large amounts of rapidly changing data, it may make sense to use a hybrid email marketing model that allows sensitive customer data to be stored in-house behind a company firewall, while still making use of cloud applications to handle resource-heavy tasks, such as message rendering and delivery. Below are four reasons you may want to use a hybrid email marketing model to manage your sensitive customer data.
1. Increased Collaboration
Retailers often face a common challenge of transitioning from disconnected customer interactions to a unified view of customer engagement. Years of fragmented marketing have resulted in companies having data silos that represent an incomplete view of customers. The high adoption of cloud software as a service (SaaS) platforms, whether for e-commerce, email, content management, or analytics has set businesses up to store and manage data in multiple locations.
With every new platform, a new database must be created that updates independently and allows little flexibility in the way data is structured. Overcoming these challenges means a shift not just in the way different departments coordinate, but also in the way they collect and store data.
2. Increased Security
Just because a retail company does not store sensitive customer data in the cloud, it doesn’t mean that they can’t use cloud applications for other functions. Allow cloud services to do the heavy lifting of tasks that don’t require data to be stored long-term, such as email deliverability and tracking. By being selective with how you use cloud services, you benefit from maintaining the core functionality of the cloud without replicating your data and sending it to multiple vendors.
3. Integrated Metrics
If you were to ask different retail marketing disciplines what metrics are important their answers would likely vary. The email marketer would likely say opens and clicks. The social media coordinator measures likes and follows, and the e-commerce manager looks at traffic and page views. While all these answers seem to share a common theme of “get my message seen by as many people as possible,” it often results in a customer experience that is less than desirable.
Retail organizations need to move away from fragmented departments that lack coordination. Those at the forefront have already begun this process by creating roles, such as a Customer Experience Officer or CRM Director, who are tasked with unifying departments and coordinating activities in a cohesive, calculated manner. Other retailers have gone one step further and moved their database in-house to create centralized database that can be shared across the organization.
4. Access to Up-to-Date Data
One of the biggest challenges in using big data for retail marketing is getting updated data to an email service provider and keeping it in sync and fresh. As soon as data is replicated and sent to the cloud, it is out of date. It takes time for data updates to sync between databases. In most scenarios, it takes hours for an email service provider to make updates. In worst-case scenarios, it can take days — an eternity in today’s fast-paced customer lifecycle. No matter how quickly an email service provider sends information back and forth (through FTP or APIs), it can never match the accuracy of using fresh data directly from your company’s internal systems.
By accessing data directly from the source, you no longer have to replicate data and send it to the cloud. Instead, you can create personalized, relevant, and immediate messaging using the freshest data available from all consumer touch points. The outcome is true real-time access (not “near” real-time) to any and all customer data. And the best part is, you can say goodbye to painful and complex Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) data integration, duplication, and synchronization processes required for transferring your sensitive customer data from your database to a third-party email service provider.
This new hybrid email marketing model, which allows for core functionality to be maintained in the cloud while accessing data from a centralized location, will play a crucial role in meeting the challenges ahead. With hybrid email marketing, retailers can have the best of both worlds by combining the security of in-house, on-premises technology and pairing it with the convenience of cloud computing to help retailers communicate with customers in a more meaningful way throughout the customer lifecycle journey.
Dan Roy is CEO and co-founder of MessageGears.
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