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Email Marketing – Hosted or On-premise Software?

Evaluating your Email Marketing System Options
Email marketing software can add tremendous value to your outreach and communication programs. But, before you begin evaluating solutions, you’ll need to decide whether a hosted application or an on-premise package is the right choice for your business.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. Whether you are thinking about outsourcing to a third-party service provider, or leaning towards installing an email marketing software solution at your own site, there is much to consider.

Hosted Email Marketing Software
Hosted solutions offer a simpler, more cost-effective way to leverage the benefits of email marketing software.

All system components, including hardware and software, are purchased, installed, and maintained by a third-party provider at a remote location. Users need nothing more than a standard Web browser, and can simply log via the Internet to access and utilize the application.

The key benefits of hosted email marketing software include:

  • Accelerated deployment – in most cases, the solution is already up and running at the provider’s site. Access can be granted almost immediately once the contract is finalized.
  • Reduced burden on IT staff – hosted software eliminates the need to dedicate internal resources to implementing and administering the environment.
  • Faster return on investment – hosted solutions require little or no upfront costs. Clients “pay as they go”, so ROI is more rapidly achieved.
  • Short-term commitment – since shorter contracts can be negotiated, a company has the option to switch solutions or providers if their needs are not being met, or if something better becomes available.

While the advantages of an outsourced model are clear, there are also some drawbacks. The primary concern for most businesses is security. With hosted email marketing software, customer and prospect contact information is housed on the provider’s servers. Some control over that sensitive data must be relinquished, and you must be confident that the appropriate measures are in place to protect information from theft, breaches, corruption, or loss.

Application performance is another key issue. Are the right mechanisms in place to guarantee maximum system uptime? Be sure to choose a provider who offers a redundant environment and around-the-clock monitoring, so you know the solution will be available whenever you need it.

On-Premise Email Marketing Software
Many companies choose to install their email marketing software at their own site. The primary benefit of this approach is control. The company maintains complete charge of all confidential customer and prospect data, as well as the environment itself. Security, disaster recovery, troubleshooting, and other support and protection measures can be put into place based on the company’s own policies and guidelines. This minimizes the risks caused by hackers, viruses, hardware failures, or natural disasters.

The “cons” of on-site email marketing software solutions include the need to dedicate IT staff to related maintenance and support activities, large upfront expenditures, and the potential for a long, costly implementation.

But, perhaps the biggest drawback of on-premise email marketing software is lack of flexibility. Once a large investment has been made, a company is in it for the long haul. They must continue to use that solution for a considerable amount of time in order to realize ROI. If a better system becomes available, the company

may be “stuck” with what it has, or risk losing money if it chooses to switch.

There is no “right” or “wrong” choice when it comes to email marketing software. The pros and cons of each approach should be carefully considered, to determine which is right for you.