To some extent, marketing is guided by available technology. Before the advent of email, before the Internet and the WorldWideWeb, mail was the only vehicle for “direct” marketing. Print, radio and television were available, of course, but while your marketing message could be aimed at a particular geography, the message almost per force had to be general. Mail, on the other hand, could be addressed to a specific individual or title and could therefore bear a more targeted message. Advances in printing technology made it easier to personalize your message, not just in the greeting (Dear John) but throughout the body of the mail piece. It was a marketer’s delight.
Then along came the WorldWideWeb (also referred to as W3, WWW, or simply the Web), the Internet (the Net), and electronic mail (which we all call email today). The terms Internet and WorldWideWeb are often used in every-day speech without much distinction. However, the Internet and the WorldWideWeb are not one and the same. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. In contrast, the Web is one of the services that runs on the Internet. It is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. Electronic mail was a natural use of networked communication technology that developed along with the evolution of the Internet.
For many marketers, email has become the direct marketing vehicle of choice. But email is not without its challenges. Opt-in email lists are difficult to obtain and even more difficult to maintain. And as email marketing proliferated, so did the legislation regulating it. Let’s assume that you have an email database and you comply with the regulations governing the use of email. The next critical piece for you to consider is an email engine.
Introducing ExactTarget. It’s easy to configure and easy to use. ExactTarget integrates with a number of CRM systems, including my personal preference, which is Microsoft Dynamics CRM (which in turn integrates with our ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics GP, aka Great Plains). By deploying ExactTarget, my email does not overload our own Exchange server since it runs on ExactTarget’s server. It automatically handles “unsubscribes” which is a huge benefit. The tight integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM means that “campaign responses” are automatically captured in the corresponding CRM records as history, so you can see which campaigns your customers and prospects responded to. Personalization is a breeze. And best of all, it provides tracking metrics so that you know exactly how many emails were sent, delivered, opened, and clicked through, as well as how many AND which specific addresses bounced, separated by hard bounces (which are primarily addresses that are incorrect or no longer exist) and soft bounces (which refers mainly to temporary communication problems or mailboxes that are full).
Of course, there are other email engines out there and you can compare and contrast their costs and benefits. I’ve highlighted ExactTarget because it’s the engine I’m most familiar with, it integrates beautifully with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it provides great metrics, and it works!
To get started, download a free Microsoft Dynamics CRM 30-day trial.
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