As an agency, we assist our clients with creating and sending emails on their email sending platform (ESP) and Marketing Automation (MA) tools of choice. And we also receive a lot of feedback on how satisfied (or dissatisfied) our clients are with their marketing automation platforms and email sending platforms. In 2017 there was a LOT of DISSATISFACTION. This leads me to think there will be a shake-up in the 2018 email marketplace.
The dissatisfaction came in three major areas:
- Lack of customer/technical support.
- Complexity of the product for new team members to learn.
- And, a lack of adaptation to mobile/responsive email templates.
I’d like to explore all three of these complaint areas for a few minutes. But first a disclaimer that I will compare the complaints I’ve catalogued across all email sending platforms whether they be an ESP or an MA platform. I will not get into the differences between using an ESP vs. MA. That’s for another time.
Lack of customer/technical support was the major complaint of 2017
Many email sending platforms, like IBM Watson and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (which contains both ExactTarget and Pardot), have removed the option to call in to talk to a live customer or technical support person when you have a problem. You are asked to either fill out a support ticket or interact with a community. That puts the onus on you to frame your question just right, or you’ll get a bogus answer from either. The community usually responds within 24 hours, however you could be left hanging with a big problem for several hours until someone does answer. I predict that email sending platforms that do offer live, 24/7 customer/technical support, like the relative newcomer, Adestra, will begin to steal market share from the other ESPs.
The inability to quickly onboard new email marketing team members was the second major complaint of 2017
I noticed my clients taking a critical eye to the time/complexity it takes to train new email marketing automation team members. Training time is a real cost to the company and affects the ability to quickly replace or expand staff. Some Marketing Automation platforms are so sophisticated and complex, like Oracle Responsys, that you’re almost forced to outsource the usage of it, or at least recruit very specifically for talent with experience using it — which is a limited talent pool. I see clients opting for less complex marketing automation tools, such as Pardot or Hubspot, which have reasonably good training and on-boarding programs and seem to be easier for newbies to learn. They are also more economical for those who don’t need all of the Oracle-like sophisticated features, and who need more basic campaign setup, scoring and nurturing.
I also envision more outsourcing of email marketing operations to agencies, like Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc., because the labor market will become increasingly more constrained and finding talent (even worldwide) will become more difficult.
You’d think all email sending and marketing automation platforms would support mobile/responsive design. They don’t.
The third major complaint we heard was with platforms not supporting responsive design very well. We’ve re-designed most of our client’s emails to be mobile/responsive, however not all of their email systems have adapted perfectly well to the demands this places on the email sending platform. For instance for one client, their Constant Contact email system would not allow us to drop in a new two-column email template that would re-stack into one column on mobile. Constant Contact does have hard-coded templates that do re-stack, but the client didn’t like any of them. The inability to use your own email creative is very frustrating. We wound up moving the email template over to Vertical Response to test it, just to make sure it wasn’t our code. It worked perfectly there.
With 2018 there will be big changes to market share for email sending and marketing automation platforms. We envision Adestra will steal market share from IBM Watson and ExactTarget (part of IBM Marketing Cloud) because of their live 24/7 support. We project Pardot and Hubspot to supplant Marketo and Oracle for their easier training and staffing. And, tools like Constant Contact will need to up their game or be replaced by upper tier tools who fully support responsive design.
If you need helping choosing or running your Email Sending or Marketing Automation platforms, we can help. Contact us today.
Read about creating email templates here.