Bridging the Gap: Marketing Versus IT

Last week, Jackie G. briefly touched on the age-old battle of Marketing versus Operations — a.k.a. Sales versus Production, Marketing versus IT, and… well, you get the picture. Most of us have fought this battle at some point in our careers. I know I have. And for those of you going through it now, I feel your pain.

As a marketer, you may feel your relationship with your IT department is strained, to say the least. And that when it comes to your email marketing efforts, your IT department — not your marketing department — may be at the helm.

Getting the things you need from members of your IT department to get your emails out the door may be a challenge. In many cases, the IT folks may feel threatened. Often, they believe that the electronic space and all things related to it are really a part of their territory and any interference with it will usurp their power in the organization. Moreover, they are usually incredibly busy, and it’s difficult to get them to consider your company’s email efforts as a priority. Consequently, you may be suffering from lackluster results from your email promotions.

If that is the case in your organization, how do you change the mindset of the IT department? What’s the best way to get your campaigns implemented in a strategic, effective, and efficient manner? The answer: Get your IT department on your side. And hey, if you play your cards right, you could even be perceived as a hero by your IT department.

And what better way for the people in the IT department themselves to be heroes than for you to have them recommend and bring the marketers the tools? Now that’s a win-win situation. As a marketer, you can suggest many things to make their lives easier… and make them the heroes yet again. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make friends with the folks in your IT department. Express your concern that they’re very busy, and communicate to them that you’d like to help ease their pain by bearing a portion of their burden.
  • Propose an email CRM solution that is virtually independent from what the IT department has to do. High-end solutions such as those from e2 Communications, Responsys, FloNetwork, MessageMedia, and Socketware could fit the bill. Each offers a robust solution and myriad capabilities that help you build and maintain long-lasting, profitable relationships with your customers and clients.

    These high-end solutions offer real-time access to campaign results, real-time reporting on critical email marketing metrics, referral marketing capabilities, dynamic content per recipient, dynamic on-the-fly messaging, and much more. All that without being dependent on your IT department. Hassles such as bounced mail, blacklist threats, blocking issues (mentioned in Jackie G.’s article last week), and scalability problems can be handled without the IT department’s intervention.

  • Investigate the option of using a full-service email marketing agency that offers hands-free (and stress-free) email marketing. Digital Impact, Netcentives, and e-Dialog offer full service in this space. (And, at the risk of sounding self-promotional, Inbox Interactive would be another recommendation.) The menu of services that these firms offer includes everything from strategy and offer development to creative brief, email copywriting, HTML design, and — for the benefit of your new IT pals — hands-free deployment solutions for regular, customized retention marketing communications through email.

    That’s a viable and attractive option to many companies that don’t have the time or resources to put together a comprehensive email marketing program on their own. Again, all this can be done with little or no intervention by the IT department.

  • Express the importance of marketing’s role in email marketing. OK, this may be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many marketers let the IT department take over the email marketing efforts… knowing full well that it’s not in the best interest of their company or brand.

    Things such as integrating offline and online efforts, communicating your company’s core brand values in the messaging, making your value proposition come alive in the communications, and understanding the target audience’s state of mind are all integral parts of an effective email marketing campaign. And it’s important that the messaging reflects the aforementioned — and drives the campaigns — as opposed to the technology driving them.

This may sound trite, but the bottom line is this: Making members of your IT department the company heroes, and your friends, can help make your email campaigns successful. Do it right, and you won’t have to pry those efforts from their hands. They’ll gladly relinquish them to you — the very astute and capable e-marketer… with an IT bent!

That’s it from me this week. So long until August 14.

–Lynne

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