Targeted Email: From Spam to Choice Part 4: Page 3
In the middle ground between the two are the ASPs. ASPs offer hosting and robust applications, but often do not provide the creative services and list management. Analytic reporting also tends to be much less detailed and customizable compared to the outsource service provider. An additional upside is that many are Web-based and can be connected to from anywhere there is Internet access, as no client needs to be installed.
Daniels states that Jupiter Research finds the ASP model very appealing for e-mail delivery. "Jupiter recommends that an ASP-based provider perform the last mile piece of e-mail marketing, specifically the sending of the campaign and response analysis data collection. It is far easier for a marketer to partner with an ASP-based provider that has these core competencies than it is to develop it over time. Similar to direct marketing in the offline world, where there are tremendous scale benefits for a catalog retailer to send their catalog to an outsourcer for printing and mailing, outsourcing e-mail delivery has the same merits."
Scott continues the analogy. "The ASP can be viewed as being similar to a print service bureau in that the company does the creative work and the ASP does the delivery, handles the bounce backs, and management of the campaign. The ASPs offer more options."
Like ASP offerings, some vendors are offering their products and services in different fashions to suit the customers. For those with infrastructure constraints, these offerings are worth of consideration as many offer hosting.
Allen notes, "Today, many of the leading pure-play e-mail companies have introduced a full range of solutions that couple technology with services (which can range from highly consultative handholding to the occasional 'heads up' about the latest in best practices)."
Allen continues, "Not all organizations need an enterprise-class solution. Many will continue to rely on full service suppliers, while others will embrace varying flavors of collaborative ASP e-mail marketing offerings. Some will experiment with licensing e-mail software, only to return to a more collaborative offering. Others will switch back and forth as the needs of their online campaigns dictate."
As the options increase with a greater variety of service flavors, enterprises must exercise due diligence in choosing wisely so as to be proactive and strategic as opposed to reactive and tactical. Permission-based e-mail is more than a viable marketing channel. Properly executed, the future is today.
Bruce McCracken is a business writer with specialization in outsourcing. His coverage areas are primarily in IT, eCommerce, CRM, HR, and supply chain/distribution with focus on small to mid-sized companies. He may be e-mailed at email@example.com.