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Choosing the right email service for your company is a daunting task. There are a lot of elements that you need to consider before you can find the perfect brand-ESP fit for yourself. 

Today we make this process easy and straightforward. We provide you with all the tips and techniques you can use to find the best ESP for your personal needs.

Joining us in this podcast is Christopher Mariott, a 25 year veteran in the digital marketing space and the founder of Email Connect. He is a recognized expert in helping brands connect with the right marketing technology providers and platforms. 

They discuss

  • How ESPs are a close partner for your business?
  • Why is getting the right ESP the most critical thing that an email marketer can do?
  • Why merely adding more features won’t get you sales as an ESP?
  • How early detection of deliverability issues works in your favor, compared to only marketing higher email delivery rates?
  • Switching from one ESP to another smoothly, and what’s involved in these transitions?
  • Tips for doing your homework on choosing the right band-ESP fit for your business

Find this exciting episode and many more by subscribing to The Email Unplugged Podcast, powered by Netcore, on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website

Transcript

[00:00:07] Dennis Dayman: Well, hello and welcome, welcome, welcome to another new episode of, ForTheLoveOfEmail podcast by Netcore. Now, some of  I’m Dennis Dayman, your host of these podcasts and the Netcore team. We’ve been hard at work these last few months, bringing us great stories and advice from all different experts and friends of ours from around the world.

[00:00:26] And this week is no different for us. So in setting our context here this week, we have decided to go off on a different route in terms of what to do know about email. And one of those things that we hear from brands and other marketers is the issue around selecting the correct ESP.

[00:00:43] I know that for the time that I’ve been in the industry, selecting the ESP has been a big issue for some companies. And at times I’ve seen brands who completely changed almost every couple of weeks, months, sometimes even years, depending on a lot of different needs and features and pricing and stuff.

[00:00:58] And we all know that this is tough. And even now, today when you’re looking at an ESP and the change out into an ESP,  like choosing the right life partner, right. You don’t want to rush into it, but you also don’t want to regret later as a wrong decision. Right. And so,  we want the audience here to get a more in-depth view of what it takes to choose that right email service provider.

[00:01:22] And again, today choosing that sound, it was really easy. Like you just choose it, you just kind of move on. But again, the repercussions of selecting the wrong one is kind of depressing when you look at it. And the process for shifting from,  one email service provider to, or not is a tedious process today. Not just because of pricing or uploading an email list, but because of all sorts of the technical issues that are also a part of that changeover. And that cost aspect isn’t just also about money. But it’s also again in those resources. And really if you make the wrong choice as a marketer or as a brand, right that can also look bad upon you. 

So to help us out with this today, we’ve brought some really good expertise in this. We are welcoming a really good friend of ours, and mine,  Chris Marriott. For those who don’t know, Chris, Chris is a 25 year veteran of the digital marketing space, and he’s had a little bit over a decade with email marketing.

[00:02:18] He is a recognized expert in the process of connecting brands with the right marketing technology providers and the platforms. And the company that he is the president and founder of, is called Email Connect. And they are a consultancy that focuses exclusively on ESP vendor selection processes. Before Chris created his own company in this, he had served as a tenured executive at Acxiom. And for some of those who have been around long enough, you guys know that they’re leading and have been also building him as well. You know, this global digital and email agency services team and to what’s been one of the big top service providers that are out there.

[00:02:58] I personally, as I said, I’ve, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chris as a friend, but also as a, as a cohort in, in the email industry, he has been a part of a lot of the coalitions and associations. And a lot of us are a part of, and time after time, he has been a pleasure to have come in and spoken to us about these sorts of issues when it comes around to,  picking the right email service provider.

[00:03:18] So Chris, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for being a part of this today.

[00:03:20] Chris Mariott: Oh, thank you for having me, Dennis. It’s great. It’s great to be here. And, this topic is very near and dear to my heart. So, I’m looking forward to the next 30 minutes.

[00:03:29] Dennis Dayman: Great. Yeah, I wish that you and I were on some beaches. We normally are,  we’re usually Captiva or,  or somewhere having a really good time with a drink in hand, but unfortunately during this COVID pandemic and everything else, it’s changed our world. And, and so, missing these times with us. 

But in the podcast, we’ve also had an opportunity to talk to the brands and marketers about the just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic and because there’s a lot of changes that are happening in our world today doesn’t mean that emails changing a whole lot in some areas, maybe how you use it. But brands still have to keep bringing revenue right.

Their CFOs are expecting revenues to still be coming in. And,  like in 2008 that you and I saw when there was a small downturn in the market as well,  really where brands went was right back to look at the platforms that they were using to ensure that they were still bringing in major revenues. And I remember that very distinctively,  at the, at my employer at the time. but I’m curious,  just to begin with here, just folks who don’t know much about you tell us about your experience in this email space and, and some of that as well.

And, and that way we can kind of set that context here a little bit.

[00:04:35] Chris Mariott: Sure sure. You know, it, it, as you said it might, getting into emails started back in actually around 2004. When I joined a small ESP called the Digital Impact, which was one of the early, early ESPs, along with CheetahMail and Bigfoot Interactive. And, and four months after I joined them, they were snapped up by a company called Acxiom, which I’d never heard of before. 

[00:05:00] And like to bill itself as, as the biggest company you’ve never heard of. And it certainly meant that for me at the time. And, and as you said, I mean, my role there was really to grow their agency services team, to support their email product, on a global basis. And while I was there and doing that, I probably participated in, I dunno,  60, 70 RFPs from the vendor side. And, after I left there,  I got to thinking that,  well, I looked around, I saw that platforms were becoming tremendously more complex.

[00:05:37]They were also, there was a movement from, well, ironically at the same time they were becoming more complex in terms of what they could do. They were becoming easier to use by brands, in terms of campaign management. So I was seeing a shift from a full-service model where the ESPs pretty much did everything to a model that was more aware that brands were beginning to do some of the actual,  risks down work in platforms.

[00:06:07]And yeah, and relying on their ESPs, for any types of services. For more value-added services like analytics and, and creative. And, what I realized at that point was that it was probably becoming much more difficult for these brands to make a decision to look at the differences between the ESP now that they were using them.

It was less about what’s the CPM, I’ll just pick the cheapest CPM. And it was now much more about, well, what fits my brand, what fits my needs. And to be honest, I stole, something, that the advertising industry had long. And I, and at one point in my career, I was an ad guy and there were these search consultancies where brands would hire the search consultancy to help match them with the right ad agency.

And I thought,  this is something that is,  could be very useful for brands and email vendor selection. 

[00:07:00] And that’s how I got into that. And so for the last 10 years, nine years, I’ve been working with brands. I get, we get hired by brands and help them in the vendor selection process.

[00:07:13] So I’ve seen it really from both sides, which I think gives me also an interesting perspective. I’ve been pitching brands and I’ve been helping brands and, and,  I’ve probably seen and sat through more demos and RFP presentations than anybody alive. And I’m not sure that’s anything to be proud of but that’s where we are.

[00:07:34] Dennis Dayman: Or, for those that see you coming in as a consultant and they’re going, Oh, wait, here comes Chris Mariott to have a look at our platform. This could be a good thing, or this could be a bad thing, happens quite a bit. You know, it’s interesting that you’re talking about 2004  like a timeframe and I’m even kind of going back on my mind now trying to remember those periods.

But, I remember as you were talking about the change, I think Bill Park was the CEO. If I recall. Yeah. 

[00:08:00] And I remember when I had just, I was still working on the ISP side, blocking the spam and whatnot, but it was Bill that invited me up to New York and a bunch of other folks in the email industry on the ISP to come in and, and talk to,  the Acxiom about,  how to be, be a better player right in this.

And you were starting to see that come out from a lot of email service providers that will be another out there. And I, and I, and, and jokingly, but serious. I remember like us coming to New York, we were put up in a very posh hotel and we were told to beat answers for breakfast with Bill Park.

[00:08:30] And then all of a sudden we went to this conference room and, and Bill opens the door and shuns five of us from the ISP into this room of people. And it was all your clients. And they said, here are the folks, that are the ones that block email. And I went, oh my gosh, what’s going on. But he made, but he put, he made up for it,   throughout the week. It was an interesting time because that is when we saw in the marketplace, a lot of the email service providers changing like you just said, where they’re not just sending emails, but now they’re feature-based and deliverability and all of these new standards that were coming out, SPF, DKIM, and whatnot.

[00:09:04] Became a part of that thing. Right. And so now,  over that time, and still even now,  choosing using the right ESP,  can be the success of your program. Right. And, and for me, that was interesting because again, going from the ISP side from the receiver side, I should say to the sending side. I was able, like you, to bring a lot of that in. But yeah why do you think that choosing that right ESP is the most important thing in the success of email programs? Because again, I felt like back in 04, 05,06, maybe that was a really big thing. Is that still the case today? And if so, why is that?

[00:09:38] Chris Mariott: I think it’s a much bigger case. Again, I,  back in 2005, 2006, 2007, yeah.

[00:09:46] RFPs were, were off then decided on a basis of CPM alone, and because okay. As a brand, it didn’t. If you weren’t using the platform, if, if your ESP was doing all that, all of the campaign setup. It didn’t even make any sense as you were showing them what the platform did, but they were never going to do it.

[00:10:08]It really wouldn’t be when it became much more important to see how platforms work. We’re again, on that shift in time when more and more brands were going to do it themselves. And so,  fast forward to today, I think,  to your point about, how important it is to get the ESP, right.

[00:10:26]Again, I think, I think getting the ESP right is probably the most critical thing that an email marketer can do. I mean, if you, if you don’t get that with,  I like to say that,  picking the wrong vendor is like drinking too much the night before. The hangover is going to last a long time, but it’s going to make everything else worse.

[00:10:49] Chris Mariott: I mean, I’ve heard hangovers last a long time. The problem that brands face today from where I sit is that there are much greater differences between the various platforms than most people understand. Most — understand and part of that is driven by the fact that, like when, when a Forester does a wave,  they will lump all these different ESPs into the wave and declare who’s a contender, who’s a leader.

[00:11:18] And yet when I look at those ESPs, I often see ESPs that I wouldn’t put in the same RFP, depending on a particular client’s requirements. That to me, there’s an apples and oranges context to that. But so brands see, well, Forrester puts these all in the same wave and also the vendors themselves don’t help it.

I mean, there’s a salesperson who has never met a requirement yet that his platform couldn’t handle. And, and so if you listen to salespeople and listen to the analysts, you come away with the impression that they all are pretty much the same. And nothing could be further from the truth.

[00:11:57] There again, tremendous differences between the types of platforms that you could be looking at. And if you don’t understand that, you’re likely to end up, with a bad RFP result, right?

[00:12:10] Dennis Dayman: Yeah right, no, it’s, it’s funny that you just said, Forester. Cause I was having a conversation with a friend of mine.

[00:12:16] Who’s not in the email industry, but in a different one. And, we were talking about magic quadrants and then even some of the startup work that we’ve been doing here. As we talk about them creating their pitches. We’ve always asked them to do a feature by feature comparison to whoever that they’re competing against.

[00:12:32] So again, it’s funny, you’re talking about Forester because again, we were like magic quadrants and those sorts of things, really still a valid way of choosing. Because I remember,  like back in the day, again, like even with the providers that I was working with at the time, we hang our hat on those magic quadrants. And being close with,  like Dave, like when he was a part of Forrester and whatnot and criminals, magic quadrants, are those still valid?

[00:12:55] And if not, then what is that right framework that maybe,  you should be looking at. I  mean, it’s really hard today. Like you said like every sales guy is going to say, yes.

[00:13:06] Chris Mariott: Thank you.I’m going to.I love that you asked that question because what I like to say again, brands are very heavily involved in using these email platforms these days.

[00:13:19] And yet the analysts who write these reports, whether it’s a magic quadrant or a wave, they’re not users of those platforms that they’re ranking. They’re taking what they hear and analyzing it. And I like to use this analogy. It’s like, if you were reading motor trends or cars and drivers to decide what car to drive, reading,  comparisons of, or sports sedans.

And the writer who was making the comparisons hadn’t driven any of the cars that they were ranking. That is literally what’s happening in a lot of these analysts. They’re, they’re not driving the platforms. 

[00:14:00] They’re taking what is told to them and then comparing them. So,  on one hand, I don’t mean to say that they have no value because I certainly think, they do provide a lot of information, but nothing makes me, well, lots of things make me crazy. But one of the things that makes me crazy is when I hear about an RFP process, where they said, take the top six from so-and-so’s report and let’s invite them in. And as I said earlier,  those top six could be an Apple, an orange, and a banana. And if you’re not aware of that,  the risk that you’re going to pick the wrong vendor goes up astronomically. Because look at it this way.

[00:14:41] If let’s say you invited six vendors and two of them were very well suited to your requirements. Cause it all starts with you. The brand’s requirements,  there isn’t the best ESP. But there’s always the best ESP for the brand as long as they can arrive on that point.

[00:15:00] But let’s say you picked six ESPs. Two meet your requirements perfectly, two partially meet your requirements and two don’t meet your requirements at all. And another way to think about that is, if you want to go from New York to London, you could, depending on your requirements, let’s say you wanted to, get there as fast as possible.

[00:15:20] Well, you wouldn’t pick a boat, you wouldn’t pick a luxury cruise line. You pick an airliner. And so you’d look at airlines and you certainly wouldn’t pick a train because that wouldn’t get you there at all. And the same thing,  if you think about the RFP process, if you pick two there that are matching very well to that kind of imagine two, that don’t,  you have a 33% chance of arriving at two that don’t meet your requirements at all.

[00:15:44] So in other words, you’ve, you’ve lowered the odds tremendously of your ability to make a good selection at the end of the day. And that’s where I see, the RFP process is, there are so many things that can go wrong in an RFP, but, but if you start of the gate with the wrong list of vendors,  you’ve already gone off the rails,

[00:16:08] Dennis Dayman:  Yeah. Cause some people will choose a Titanic to go from the US too. And you’re like you know something about this thing, but all of a sudden you’re going to it. That doesn’t make any sense. Right. Well,  it’s interesting because you talk about the features of things between cars and whatnot. Yeah. I mean, a lot of us will go off and even in today’s informationally connected world, I know that years ago we always talked about that. Now we’re dealing with a more informed buyer, whether that’s a consumer or whether that’s a business, thanks to technology.

[00:16:41] Thanks to ratings. Thanks for asking friends on Facebook and all these social media platforms, it has become a little bit easier to ask people, “Hey, I’m thinking about buying this car. Should I get model a or model B or model C?”

And then, you start deciding then, from there, is it based on price and that stuff.

[00:16:57] But when you’re looking at an ESP, back in the day it was, how much more email can you deliver for me to then moving towards, Hey, do I get a dedicated IP to, Hey, it’s all about the analytics platform that you may already have built-in, or that,  maybe have a set of APIs that will plug into any analytics platform.

[00:17:16] What are those top features then, from brands or that brand should be considering, really today. I mean like,  is there three, five, 10,  is it a hundred or like you just said, it also can be very specific to what your needs are. If you’re a clothing industry versus I don’t know automobiles, right?

[00:17:33] I mean, they’re a little bit different. I mean, but are there any specific ones that kind of pop out for you?

[00:17:37] Chris Mariott: Well, I’ll get to that in a second. Cause I love, I love this auto analogy that, that, that you and I have been using. Asking other people,  cause another thing that, that I think it can and derail an RFP is, is when a brand says, ” well, what do you think of your ESP? What do you think ESP XYZ?”. 

[00:18:00]And, and,  imagine you’re searching for a sports car and the only people you ask their opinion on which car to buy are people driving minivans? Well, their requirements are entirely different. They’re going to tell you to get a minivan and forget the sports car, get the minivan.

[00:18:12] And again, that’s where, why relying even on other people,  do you likethe XYZ platform,  can get you in trouble. But going back to the question you asked, what I’ve seen is that what vendors think matter and what brands think matter are very, very different things.

[00:18:32] And, and, and that disconnect continues to this day. I give you an example,  most vendors, and I’ve seen this in RFP presentations all the time. Vendors are always eager to say we’ve got this great new feature or function. We’ve got these cutting edge things like display retargeting. You know, we’ve got,  all of this AI and stuff baked in and it’s gonna do great things.

[00:19:00] And when,  when push comes to shove, what matters is,  again, not even from a feature and function is. What platforms are easy to use, what platforms are intuitive, what platform makes my job, my job as the email team faster, better, easier. And again, there isn’t one answer to that question because it depends upon what those things are that the email team is doing.

[00:19:26] But, oftentimes I’ve seen where, where the decision often comes down to which, which platform does the email team itself, not the VP, not the head of, but which, which platform does the email team gravitate towards? And again, that often eases of use. Is it, how fast can I pull segments?

[00:19:47] How fast does it do that? How fast does it create waterfalls? How fast can they get that back? How easy, easy is it to sell, set up an AB test or ABCD test? And how is that automated or do I have to manually go back in? You know, it’s, it’s things that yeah, that again, the everyday tasks that make it easier. Is there an easy way for me to share and have people markup,  the email?

[00:20:15] Chris Mariott: Those are the things, but the vendors are all trying to come up with the next greatest new feature function that no one else has. And again, those fall incredibly flat, in meetings. And so,  well, there isn’t one,  ability to create segments,  just to go back over AB testing,  ease of customer reporting and creating custom reports and exporting data. These are the types of things that win RFPs today. Right.

[00:20:47] Dennis Dayman: And it’s the future of it too. Right. Cause back to the car analogy, like I drove to the very beginning of this that we,  usually you’re sitting in Captiva, Jacksonville with John and the rest of the crew from the email and cider summits.

[00:20:58] Right. And oddly enough,  a couple of years ago at the Jacksonville one, if you remember, we were staying at that nice Ritz Carlton. And that was, yeah, that the BMW group was having their driving experience there. And it was the same time that my wife had been driving a minivan for nine, 10 years for a specific purpose.

[00:21:15] As you said, it was true to bring our, our, our twin boys and their friends everywhere that they needed to be. And now they have also been getting ready to start driving and about a year or so. And it was that crazy BMW driving experience that you and I saw there that got my wife to buy a BMW.

[00:21:31] And at first she was hesitant behind doing something like that because she thought, well, wait a minute, “I’ve been used to the minivan being able to haul kids around”. And I looked at her and I said, ” in another year or so you look at the future of what’s happening here, you’re not only buying a platform for something that you want today, but you’re also buying it for later because the boys are about to get their car. And now, you are going to be out of mommy mode you might as well get yourself a nicer car and enjoy yourself”, which she did. Thank you, John. And,  email insider summit for driving this point.

[00:22:01] But, but at the same time, brands have to look at their platforms that way as well and saying, yeah, I have needs today, but I also need to kind of start thinking ahead. What’s going to be happening with our company, what we’re going to be bringing in, what marketing segmentation that we might be using, or who we could be partnering with in the future.

[00:22:17] I need to make sure that I’m future-proofing because again, these changes every six months, a year, two years just aren’t good because you’re almost starting over I think in a sense.

[00:22:26] Right

[00:22:26] Chris Mariott: Now, you’re exactly right. It’s a big distraction again,  you don’t, nobody wants to, I mean, nobody wants to ever do an RFP. Sometimes you have to, otherwise, I wouldn’t have a business.

[00:22:36] Dennis Dayman: Yeah, exactly. Right. Well, it’s interesting that we’re talking about this as well. Cause I said deliverability a second and I have to ask this question because you and I have spent so many times hearing people talk, talk about deliverability, deliverability, deliverability, deliverability.

[00:22:49] Right? Is that a factor anymore? I mean, are you still seeing the salespeople kind of going in and then talk to me about deliverability being the number one factor,  is that, is that important still today? Because I feel like I hear some times that some platforms are the same and it doesn’t matter.

[00:23:06] And another is I’m hearing that yeah, no, it does because it matters. About the people that are behind that platform and how they’re managing it and how they’re running their business and hiring, not hiring, but in getting the right customers to also be upon that. Do you see issues around that where some platforms just don’t care about what brands use it? Netcore has got a pretty big team here that monitors their platform but do you, is that still an issue at all for people to consider?

[00:23:32] Chris Mariott: Yeah. You know, that’s a good question. I think the perception. Well, the first answer is there isn’t a perception that there are dramatic differences between a platform’s ability to get an email in the inbox. I think everybody believes that they all get an email in the inbox where I think it becomes very, well, not where I think, I know it becomes very important to brands, to your point about the Netcore team monitoring. The great thing is, it is how quickly our deliverability issues are detected. 

Because everybody’s going to face a deliverability issue at some time or another, no matter how great your program is, you’re gonna, you’re going to have inboxing issues for one reason or another. And the speed with which the ESP detects that because God forbid that the ESP is not the first one telling the brand you’re having inboxing issues. You know, it’s a very bad thing when the brand is telling the ESP we’re having inboxing issues. But that does happen. But so from deliverability, the importance of deliverability is how quickly do you detect it? How quickly do you fix it? And those are what make a difference. And as you said, that’s depending upon the team, that stands behind the ESP platform rather than whether it’s not a technical thing, as much as it is a people thing.

[00:25:00] And so that’s what’s important,  And, it’s funny you and I go back far enough to talk about deliverability. You know, back in the day, your deliverability guy was the guy who had beers and pizza with all the gatekeepers at the ISP. 

[00:25:12] Chris Mariott: So that when you had an email block, you could call him up or her up, “please unblock my client”. Well, those days are long gone. And today, well, who are you going to call? You know, we’re blocked. Who are you going to call? It’s like, well, there’s no basement in the Alamo. There are algorithms now there’s nobody else at Gmail.

There’s no person. There’s no Dennis at Gmail saying block these guys. The machine has decided to block these guys, and you need to figure out what we did? And how do we stop it? And again, it’s not a phone call to Dennis, he’s bloody at Gmail. It’s,  figuring out.

[00:25:55] Dennis Dayman: Right. Exactly. Yeah, no. So, deliverability being the older, easier mentality that we’ve seen originally with, with ESPs, kind of pitching each other and we’ve had some great analogies here. But I kind of want to now maybe see if we can dive a little bit more into detail about some of the newer technologies that we’re seeing from email service providers. 

And what I’m hearing from brands and that’s about the term AI artificial intelligence. Now I would have told you may be back in 2008 and probably wrongly that what I was working on, maybe back then was artificial intelligence. 

And actually what it was, was just rule sets and stuff like that back then, but we’re here, but we’re hearing about AI and campaign management, but,  especially around segmentation and stuff. But,  are you hearing questions, and are you seeing these sorts of things now about platforms about AI?

[00:26:42] You know, in email delivery and as a must-have now, is it something that brands should be looking at? I think.

[00:26:50] Chris Mariott: AI is one of those things and again, this has led many, a vendor astray because certain things brand marketers know, they need to say yes, that’s important when they’re asked either in a survey or, in person or if they’re giving a talk. And, and AI is, is now one of those things where if you ask a brand, how important is AI?

[00:27:14] They’re going to tell you, Oh, it’s really important. Okay. But again, the answer, answer that more because they don’t want to be the guy that says or girl who says no AI is not important. 

The reality is, it is such a term that’s bandied about by every ESP these days, that it’s almost a blur,  I can see sometimes,  the brand’s eyes glaze over, when a vendor starts talking about AI, this and AI that. And, part of the reason is, the lack of, bringing it to life. What’s the use case? I mean, it’s not enough to say we have AI and it will do this or that. 

You know, not enough work is spent on bringing these types of things to life in a way that, that shows,  you even show us from the consumer’s perspective.

[00:28:03] I always tell them all vendors,  what is your technology? Show my clients, what AI means to their customers’ email experience because that brings it to life. And if you can do that, then, then again, you’re not just throwing out jargon, but you’re, but you’re saying because that’s the only reason to get AI, have an AI email campaign tool is to make that email recipient experience better.

[00:28:35] And if you can’t show that, it’s really hard to sell that and hard at the end of the day to make it compelling. Well, yeah.

[00:28:43] Dennis Dayman: And also to make it compelling for the brand itself. Right. Because we’ve always talked about like, in the early days of marketing automation, part of it was like our pitch was, “Hey, we’re trying to help you set it and forget it as well”.

Like, let our system help make decisions for you. Right. And it was always about segmentation and stuff like that. But it was never really about  like,  can technology help me build a better email template? Or can an AI now deliver email to the inbox or maybe even  change the delivery set up, right.

[00:29:12] You know, what I need to deliver to the first,  10 or 20% of this list or the one that we believe in, or the AI believes, I should say, these are the people that are buying right. You know, Dennis, his wife,  two years ago, right. Or,  at the time, all of a sudden, is moving to a different platform brand of car and whatnot.

[00:29:29] And that’s important to maybe BMW and whatnot, but yeah. That’s also, I think, that people have to consider is that yes, it’s about delivering the right email to the right person at the right time as you and I have said, but it’s also about the marketer having an easier time. Can the platform in AI do that?

[00:29:45] Right? I mean, I would, I would assume that you want them to pitch to them.

[00:29:48] Chris Mariott: Yeah. Well, I think you guys covered that. It was really interesting. You know, how you were talking about that in the velvet rope episode, that, that you, you put up, I’m going to say yesterday, but this won’t be next week that you put up last week.

[00:30:02] Folks yeah. This isn’t live!

[00:30:07] But,  and I thought that I thought that was very interesting. The idea of,  it’s not a new idea, but yeah. But, it’s an important idea to remember, which is how do you treat, how do you single, how do you identify single out and treat your best customers in the way they should be singled out, identified and treated.

[00:30:27] And I think that, but that’s something where you could show, from the email recipients perspective, what that velvet rope experience looks like. And I think that would very much then bring it to life, again, to the email marketer who you’re pitching the business. Right.

[00:30:45] Dennis Dayman: So, let me ask you this question because again, I think this is what probably the listeners are now going to do. Okay. Great. I’m hearing about,  how to choose an ESP, some of the things that you may not want to do. So like switching right then the big thing, the question of switching smoothly from one ESP to another seems to be not a big deal. It’s like, again, going from one car to another and maybe spending 10 minutes reading a manual or having them walk, walk you through that. But  is, is smooth. If you will, right. Switching one ESP to another, is it  just ignored and, and,  is it harder?

[00:31:20] What should people be thinking about when they’re going to make that decision? That they made that decision to switch, what are some of the things that they have to  think about in doing that switch?

[00:31:29] Chris Mariott: Yeah. And, and, and, well, let’s, let’s take a step back cause one of the things I find brands, one of the biggest mistakes brands make when doing an RFP, are they always underestimate the time it’s going to take.

[00:31:41] Right. And,  transitions and migrations also take a long time. And if you don’t leave yourself enough time to migrate to the new platform while you’re still on the old platform and under contract, that’s gonna be a huge headache. You’re going to be paying,  your, your existing ESP is going to give you a very, very high month to month, they will even do anything because they know you’re leaving.

[00:32:06] But, but the transitions to new platforms if managed correctly, take again, they’re going to take longer than you think. But they should be able to go smoothly if you have people dedicated whether on your side or the vendor side or even a third party dedicated to the success of that migration.

[00:32:28]So,  let me put it this way. I have countless stories of RFPs lowing up. I don’t have any stories of migrations blowing up. So once you’ve made that decision, the migration,  again, will take longer than you think, probably so always leave,  I say to brands, figure out how long your RFP is going to take and then double it.

[00:32:52] And that’s the time you should pay to do it because then you’ll get the migration in.

[00:32:57] Dennis Dayman: Right. Exactly. No, you’re right about that. I think people underestimate the technology move. Whether it’s the email list, the unsubscribe list, the suppression list, the email authentication pieces. I mean, all that stuff takes time.

[00:33:10] Chris Mariott: All the automation and all the triggers and warming up the IPS and yeah, there was an enormous number of things that need to be done.

[00:33:18] Dennis Dayman: Well, and like most, most marketers will say my IT guys aren’t giving me the time and they’re the ones that have to do the move. And that’s the other part of it too, is like a marketing group, don’t just make the decision on your own, but make sure that you’re involving everybody else in the company saying, “Hey, we’ve got to make a platform move”.

[00:33:32] And when you start having some meetings, because I’m gonna need you guys in the IT department to help me do the DNS entries for the authentication stuff or the MX record changes for this or that, or it’s massive. And I think people forget about that. So what, what is, when you look at those, like how do you then measure the success of onboarding an ESP?

[00:33:52] Is it all of a sudden that, “hey, my open rates have gone up or my click rates have gone up or I’m delivering more email to the inbox than I was before”. Is there, is there any way to measure that, that difference in success?

[00:34:03] Chris Mariott: I think one of the most important measurements of success, is, do I have more time to think about my email program because I’m spending less time just pulling the leavers to get the email out.

Because the more time you have to spend to think about the program, the better your program is going to evolve. Yeah. I think to expect instant, yeah,  instant ROI improvement  if your program doesn’t fundamentally change, is probably an unrealistic expectation right out of the gate.

[00:34:37]I think expecting better deliverability unless you’re with an awful ESP is, it shouldn’t be expected right out of the gate. But, but I’ll tell you this, Dennis, every single email program has pain points and,  going back to, how do you get an RFP off on the right foot. Getting it off means understanding your unique requirements and, and  whether that’s with use cases or whatnot, and finding the vendor that removes the majority of all of your pain points. 

Because again, once those are removed, your email program will go more smoothly and you should have more time to, again, do the things that make your program better. You know, the analytics and the, and the testing and those types of things.

Less time again, you’re spending pushing buttons and pulling levers, the better it is for your overall program.

[00:35:29] Dennis Dayman: Okay. That’s good. So I have to ask this interesting question because I see this a lot from my side as I do a lot of startup work and stuff here. So I’m always working with companies who are struggling, right to get the right platform at all at the very beginning of the other marketing stuff. And so,  they go, “Ooh, I need to go off and get a big platform”. 

Right. Some of the major brands that are out there and there’s what three or four major, major ones that are out there right now. But then there’s also the medium size and the smaller business ones.

[00:35:55] Yeah. You know, we sometimes see that people buy the wrong platform. Right. They paid massively for that big brand name thinking, “Oh, that’s a big brand and they’re going to give me everything”. But at the same time, What they’re yes, they’re getting everything, but they’re being oversold.

[00:36:09] It goes back to the car analogy. It’s like here in Texas, I don’t need the rustproof coating on the bottom of the car because I’m not living up North like the rest of everybody else is. So why would I buy that  feature for the car? But,  when some people are going off and getting these big brand names and whatnot, and these big ESPs loaded with every feature.

[00:36:28] But I ended up not even using half of those features that can hurt them. I would think in some cases, not only just monetarily, but not,  needing all those sorts of things. Is there any  viewpoint as to,  if people are going off and looking at platforms that. Yeah, maybe you don’t have to go off and buy the big guys just because it’s a big brand name.

[00:36:46] Right? I mean, you can jump into a trap if you’re not careful with that.

[00:36:50] Chris Mariott: But let’s keep this car analogy going up. Cause I see what I know exactly what you’re talking about and I call it shopping for Maserati and driving it like a Hugo. And, and yeah, and for those kids out, there Hugo was a car from Yugoslavia, which isn’t even a country anymore.

[00:37:08]And, and, was, was, was not a great car, but, and I see that all the time, Dennis. You’re exactly right. I mean, people go out and say, I want to go on the XYZ platform. And because that’s what, that’s what all the big brands are on. But as you say, they either don’t use everything, remotely use everything and, and, and hence,  it’s, it’s what they are using still is more complicated.

[00:37:28] Because it’s part of this, all of these moving parts where a smaller, simpler, point solution platform may have been everything they needed and everything,  for the, for the time being. And yeah, we also find when you, when you’re buying the Maserati,  is that,  when you want to use them,  it’s oftentimes to use the analogy again, it’s like, well, now I want to use the in-dashboard navigation.

[00:37:53] Oh, I got to pay more for that. That’s not part of the basic price. You know, and, and, and, that’s also what happens sometimes, they drive it like a god just because they find out after the fact, all of those great things cost a lot more money than what’s kind of implied during the pitch process.

[00:38:10] You know, they’re there, they’re there,  it’s like, well, it’s like a car to lease it all the time. The car commercial,  they have to put it at the end of it. Well, this is the load,  they say this is the price, but then the, in the small letters, but the car, we just showed you in the commercials, actually this price, because it has all this great stuff. Right. People are going, “stop the car analogies!”

[00:38:32] Dennis Dayman:  Yeah, exactly. And, I made a buying a car by the end of this weekend.

[00:38:36] Chris Mariott: They’re going to need to do a little shopping too. We won’t be fooled that we won’t be fooled.

[00:38:43] Dennis Dayman: Exactly. And I’m gonna have to call you and go, Hey, it’s a good deal now. this is great.

I love this. I love this podcast. Chris, I wanted to, I know you’d be shocked by this, but  I know that, when I, when people are always asking me for final thoughts, especially when I talk about privacy cause you know about privacy and privacy and privacy, but I always tell people,  don’t care about privacy, right. But embrace it.

[00:39:02] I kind of want to throw the final words that you actually on this one. I’ll leave you with anything that you think our listeners need to be hearing about in terms of,  choosing the right ESP. You know, whether it’s just a little bit of tidbit of stuff or,  don’t fear it or,  first, buy a car, then buy an ESP.

[00:39:18] I don’t know, like parting thoughts here for us on this.

[00:39:21] Chris Mariott: Yeah. You know, but don’t take it. Yeah. And thank you. I,  when you’re, again, let’s go back to what I said, starting when you’re doing an RFP with the right vendors to look at is, is, is critical to your success. If you get that right, everything else should flow. Which means, don’t take more emotional shortcuts.

[00:39:38] And I call those, shortcuts are either, as I said earlier, what are the analysts saying, who is the best? Or what are my friends saying who is the best? Or what do you know which sales guys or ladies do I like that I know are my buddies? And using those types of way things to say, here’s what I’m gonna invite to my RFP.

[00:39:57] Do you get, there’s no shortcut that you should be taking into developing that list. It starts with understanding what my requirements are, what do I need, and then understanding the vendor landscape and how they are different. And picking those vendors that are most likely to match the majority of or all of your requirements and use cases.

[00:40:18] And that doesn’t mean you can’t be a dark horse. You know, I always,  when, when I’m managing an RFP for a client,  I always obviously make sure that they do match the requirements to that list of vendors we invite. But always throw in a dark horse or two, because you never know, there might be somebody. I don’t know everything, even myself. I mean, there’s a ton of vendors out there and maybe there is a better way to do something. But,  do the homework, required to figure out who to invite and  you’re off to a good start with your RFP.

[00:40:53] Dennis Dayman:  Alright. I like that. And how can people get a hold of you?

Cause I’m sure they’re not going, “Hey, I need to maybe talk to this guy about a car. I mean, about an ESP”, how can they?

[00:41:01] Chris Mariott: Yeah. Car buying aside. Anyway, you can reach me at chris@email-connect.com. That’s Chris email-connect.com and I’m on LinkedIn. And, you can reach out to me there. But, as, I mean, that’s what we do.

[00:41:19] We’re the most niche business on the planet. We help connect, hence our name. We help connect its brands with the right ESPs. And the one last thing I’ll say is, in regards to our process is whenever we don’t tell our clients who to pick, we tell them who to look at, but our process is designed through scorecards for them to arrive at who’s the best fit.

[00:41:42] And I think that’s important as well. So,  don’t come to us hoping I’m going to tell you, this is your, this is the ESP you should work with, but we’ll help you get, we’ll help you to get to that point on your own.

[00:41:54] Dennis Dayman: I love that a little bit of honesty that there’s some integrity in the decision-making process, right?

[00:41:59] Yes. That’s awesome.

[00:42:00] Chris Mariott: We don’t have a dog in that hunt. As you Texans say. We don’t have it. We don’t, I don’t care who you pick as long as it’s the right vendor. We don’t have a dog in the hunt.

[00:42:09] Dennis Dayman: Exactly. No, I love that. That’s perfect. That’s a very perfect ending and all of this. Chris, I want to thank you for being a part of Netcore’s ForTheLoveOfEmail podcast on how to choose the right ESP.

[00:42:19] And I know that Chris and the rest of the staff at Netcore and myself hope that this has helped everyone listening to this, understand that while evaluating,  the process in what is choosing the right ESP. But you’re going to be taking back some actionable insights that, that you can bring into your team and maybe implement in your email program to acquire more customers.

[00:42:38] I would almost say that even today, during the pandemic and whatnot, this could be a good time for people to start looking at these processes right now, as things are happening. But if you guys need help with this as well,  feel free to check out Netcore, right? And you guys already know that Netcore is a global email engagement leader, with AI-powered, delivering campaign solutions.

[00:42:56] And they’d been doing this for about two decades now. But again, I also wouldn’t want to remind you that when we started these podcasts, especially,  back in March and April timeframe,  Netcore is still offering their email relief program and it’s applicable, until at least September of 2020.

[00:43:12]And if you guys remember right, you can send unlimited emails, you can use,  all the platforms here and it is a great opportunity to try something out new. So. Feel free to come to take a look at this as well. But at the same time, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast, right?

[00:43:28] We’re doing this weekly podcast. You can listen to it on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher. But if you visit netcore.co, you can, as Chris pointed out, he listened to last week’s podcast. Go check them out. Right. There’s some really good information. Yeah. We have a lot of great guests. A lot of our friends have been a part of this and have been giving us really good insights around this. Again, Chris, thank you for being a part of this. And I want to remind everybody,  please stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. Thank you again, Chris, for being here and to our listeners for being here.

[00:43:59] And we’ll be back again here next week. So everyone, take care of yourself and we’ll see you soon. Thanks.

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