Having gone through that process I thought it might be useful to share some of the issues that cropped up during the new ESP selection process. (All links go to Email Vendor Selection where this piece was originally posted)
Do your ESP research to save time later
When you start to consider your new ESP Partner the choice is pretty wide, so deciding up front what you need is very useful. In particular as this helps in deciding on how many ESPs you want to send an invitation to for a response to your requirements.
Your time is precious, so work backwards.
How many ESPs do you want? OK this may seem like a strange question to ask but working for a marketing agency might well result in you actually working with multiple ESPs.. after all your client might be wedded to one that you have work with, alongside the one you choose for your other clients as your preferred ESP. But let’s assume you are choosing one
So how many Email service providers do you want to come in and actually present to you, demo the email system to you, work with you to look more closely at costs and data integration – don’t forget that you are pulling on your internal resources of operations, finance, IT, client services etc. I would suggest that you limit this to 3 if you are confident. If you are new to this you might actually want 5 vendors to come in and present to give you a better understanding of what’s out there.
So let’s assume that everyone wants your business ( and if you have done your research in deciding what your future ESP partner should look like, they all will), that probably means sending out the invitation to 5 or 7 possibles.
Focus while selecting an ESP Partner
In 2 ways.
1 – Use a matrix to evaluate the responses based on the requirements you pulled together during the research phase. This helps at all the stages when selecting for the next stage of the process and allows a fair assessment from all internal parties. Don’t forget that elements of the criteria will be important than others to weight them accordingly
2 – Have a timetable and stick to it. ESP submissions should be back at a certain time, presentations within a short space of time, marking to be completed immediately. It’s easy to lose momentum especially when there are lots of people and departments involved.
Show me the money
It’s not just about the money of course (well except for the CFO) but it an important factor. But rather than think about just the CPM, think about Total Cost of Ownership in years 1, 2,,3.
There are lots of costs to be considered including CPM, Internal Resource Costs for any migration, set up costs, monthly fees, extra costs for product elements that come standard with one system but not with another, support fees..the list goes on.
One way of making sure you are comparing apples with apples, is to at some stage to get the ESPs to submit costs in a standard way that matches your requirements, not theirs!
Learn Along the Way
Each time you speak to an ESP you will learn something new so don’t be afraid to alter your requirements along the way, and go back to the other ESPs for clarification.
But also dig into what the ESP will give you ( free of charge of course) in terms of learning more about how to use the platform they are selling to actually meet your business objectives.
Are you just buying a tool ? Think again. The tool, platform is important but so are the people who will be working with you so make sure that you keep that front of mind as well as somewhere on your score matrix
So ..Go Beyond the Salesman
Meet who will be supporting you technically and from the client services team. Will you get on with them even if you hate the sales guy?
As I ended my last post I am not advocating that you stick with one ESP for life, but you might as well be prepared for it..just in case, and like the people you’re with.