Is it best to buy or build an e-mail marketing system?

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Answer: As a company that has made e-mail marketing an integral part of the marketing mix, you may have considered building your own proprietary e-mail marketing software. With a talented technical team and committed resources, this might be a feasible option; but before embarking on this long-term project, think twice. While your technical team is probably very talented, e-mail marketing isn't their only job. Creating e-mail marketing software takes time, patience and lots of experience. Before you decide to build your own, consider the following factors:

1) Resource allocation. When making the build-vs.-buy decision, consider the drain on resources and the impact on your day-to-day operations. Building e-mail marketing software can be a full-time job, especially when you include testing and support of the product. Be certain that your technical team is up to the challenge of making e-mail marketing a priority. If issues arise regarding your homegrown system, will you have someone to call and help resolve your questions? How long will it take to get the system built? Purchasing a product frees your technical team for other mission-critical projects.

2) Reliability. When you purchase a product from a reputable e-mail service provider, you can be sure it has been thoroughly tested and is capable of handling your requirements. Many e-mail service providers have hundreds of clients using their e-mail marketing technology, sending more than 100 million e-mails per day. This reliability is crucial to ensure the timely delivery of your messages.

3) Deliverability and marketing ROI. Deliverability is one of the most pressing concerns for e-mail marketers today. Spam filters, blacklists and changing ISP regulations can complicate basic mail delivery. A good e-mail marketing provider offers services that aid e-mail delivery. Best practice advice, as well as options such as spam filtering, ISP whitelisting and consulting services, can increase delivery rates and marketing ROI. With a proprietary system, you must research and manage deliverability issues on your own.

E-mail marketing is a vital part of your business; evaluate your own capabilities against the offerings of e-mail marketing providers and determine your resources and priorities.

Tricia Robinson is VP-marketing and strategy for Premiere Global Services (, an outsource provider of business process solutions.

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