Data Dysfunction: Brands Face Hurdles Integrating With ESPs

Email marketers suffer data-feed malfunctions at an alarming rate, partly as a result of problems integrating data with email service providers (ESPs), judging by The Hidden Costs Of Data Friction, a study by The Relevancy Group, sponsored by MessageGears.

Retail brands experience an average of 10.06 data mishaps per month. That may be because they “regularly synchronize large volumes of customer data to execute campaigns,” the study notes.

High-tech firms are second on this list, reporting 9.44 malfunctions per month. Travel & hospitality firms report 9.19 issues. On the low end, media/publishing companies have only 5.03 problems per month and education brands have 5.53 problems.

Broken data fees are a “driver of costs associated with managing and replicating data with email service providers,” the study says. They harm campaigns and ROI while causing negative customer experiences.

Moreover, The Relevancy Group has found in other research that many firms spend over $3 million per year to replicate their data at their ESP.



That’s important because most — but not all marketers — rely on ESPs.

For instance, 91% of education mailers use an ESP, as do 90% of manufacturing and media enterprises.

In contrast, only 78% of financial services employ an ESP, and 78% of travel & hospitality companies.

Businesses that do not use an ESP usually make that choice because of the cost of synchronizing customer data between internal systems and their provider. However, they often rely on “sub-optimal technology solutions as a result,” the study says.

Granted, it’s no small thing to integrate data with an ESP.

Retail/ecommerce brands have to synchronize an average of 14.7 million records with ESPS. Next are tech/high-tech deals with 12 million and travel & hospitality brands with 11.5 million. 

Media/publishing firms synchronize only 4.6 million records, and education firms synchronize 6 million.

This takes time — over four hours. And it must be done frequently. Only 9% exchange data monthly. On the high end, 36%, do so weekly, 24% every few days and 27% daily.

And when signing on to an ESP, it takes an average of more than nine months to integrate with a cloud. Travel firms take 10 months to do this, retailers take 9.44 months and the remaining verticals all take over eight months.

Here are the types of data being exchanged with email service providers:

  • Customer lists and segments (proile, demographic data)—56%
  • Purchase and transaction data—49%
  • Content assets, email templates, HTML snippets—48%
  • Inventory file—48%
  • Email deliverability data—41%
  • Event, behavioral (clickstream) data—38%
  • Algorithms for recommendation and/or analysis engines—23%

What are their priorities?

  • Improve personalization—49%
  • Improve segmentation—42%
  • Become more strategic—39%
  • Invest in other marketing channels (i.e., mobile, social)—38%
  • Do more testing—34%
  • Improve retargeting—33%
  • Optimize/implement customer journeys—25%
  • Do more QA—21%
  • Develop attribution and analytical models—15%
  • Implement AI and ML capabilities—9%

The Relevancy Group surveyed 400 executive marketers. The authors of the report are David Daniels and Nicholas Einstein of The Relevancy Group. 

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