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Which bulk email option is right for you, on-premise or outsource?

Jill Resnick, solution consultant at Message Systems | Aug. 23, 2013
Pros and cons of managing email using on-premise resources or outsourcing the duty to an email service provider (ESP).

Email is central to increasing customer and employee engagement, and it isn't uncommon for a company to send up to a billion messages in a month.  But you have the option to manage that email effort using on-premise resources or outsourcing the duty to an email service provider (ESP).  There are pros and cons with both approaches, so here's what you need to consider.

Simply put, the greatest benefit of an on-premise infrastructure is control over the sending infrastructure and visibility into every step of the process. Additional perks include superior scalability, a real-time view into deliverability, the ability to implement immediate changes and, of course, integration with all of the data points.

On the flip side, you might not have the resources to build and manage a successful on-premise solution. In order to succeed, you must have adequate resources in place or utilize a Rackspace-type service for building and maintaining servers. Your company must also have the knowledge in house for campaign authoring and list segregation, etc. Depending on the size of the company, this can be too costly and time consuming.

If you don't have an in-house creative team or a data center/database of knowledge, you're better off leveraging an ESP. Campaign creation interfaces have come a long way from basic WYSIWYG editors.  It is now easier than ever to create campaigns, both marketing and transactional, as well as monitor their effectiveness, through the cloud.  It may come at the cost of making changes on the fly or having access to all of your data in real-time. But if real-time visibility and flexible responsiveness aren't critical to your business a rather significant "if" then an ESP could be the wise way to go.  

No one solution is better than the other. The question is, which solution is a better fit for your company. Factors such as available resources and volume of outbound messages will come into play when you're deciding which solution is best.

More often than not, a small to medium sized business will succeed with an ESP as it requires fewer creative resources, and the business processes and data requirements are not complex. There is no need for an advanced knowledge of the infrastructure behind an email system. Reporting and analytics can be as simple as a click of a button.   

A larger organization that sends several hundred thousand to millions, or even billions of emails per day will likely want to choose an on-premise solution. One or several teams of folks will need to be responsible for the creative, as well as server builds and monitoring, etc.  

Effectiveness has a clearer delineation.  During the receiving process, a mail server will complete a reverse DNS lookup to ensure the message is coming from the IP address it says it's coming from.  If the lookup returns with a different IP address, there is a considerably higher chance of that message being tagged as spam. There are safeguards that can be put in place, but they require more collaboration between networking and marketing teams from both the company and the outsourced option.  


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