Making Connections Through Exact Target

I just spent the first part of the week at the Exact Target Connections Event. What a top-notch conference. 

  • 3,000 attendees
  • Assiduous attention to detail
  • Inspiring and fun speakers including a presentation from Aron Ralston whose survival story was retold in the movie 127 Hours
  • And terrific industry content – I’ll post the lessons I learned at the event in my next few posts. 

This event was good timing for me as I just kicked off Forrester’s 2011 Email Marketing Service Provider Wave — a vendor evaluation of email marketing vendors (see our 2009 one here).  Although it is expanding to provide other capabilities, email marketing is Exact Target’s sweet spot. What should you notice about Exact Target besides its events? We like its: 

  • 50% annual revenue growth, striking considering email marketing spend overall is pacing at a 10% compound annual growth rate.
  • International expansion — new offices in the UK, Melbourne, and just announced Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Multiple automated security protection including a functionality it calls “watch dog,” which trolls for anomalies in your email program data, access, delivery, responses.
  • In-house research — it has a dedicated research function putting out studies on the value of mobile and social programs.
  • Midwestern work ethic and approach to relationships. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Nebraska, but I find this Indianapolis-based firm chock-full of some of the nicest people in the marketing technology space. And since most clients I talk to are looking to switch email vendors because of poor customer service, I think how a vendor handles its people relationships — with clients, with analyst, with employees — matters as much as its software. 

Comments

Exact Target Disappointment

Just wondering if you've ever used ExactTarget before you recommended it. Can't believe you would say that "ExactTarget brings the strongest current offering this year" if you actually tried to use the product for business and email campaigns. Terrible performance.

Agreed with David

We signed on with Exact Target with high hopes based on this Forrester Report. Seems likely author has ever actually been a client, and more likely that ET snowed her with good conference. Despite a six-figure contract, we've been handed off to a 3rd party consulting group for account management. There's be very little sensitivity to our needs, poor responsiveness with myriad technical bugs and near zero follow up from sales folks after you sign.

They'll sell you on deliverability and flexibility of reporting, but you're entirely up to yourself navigating their backoffice. If you're looking for a guide through the world of email marketing, please look elsewhere.

Shar, you've done a serious disservice to my company, and I presume any number of others.

Interested in your experiences

Gentlemen -- I am always interested in real life experiences with the vendors I study. So I'd love to hear more about what it was about ET that disappointed you. What kinds of companies do you work for? Was it primarily the professional services that fell short or particular features of the platform? Did you make the decision to switch to ET this Q1 and they are already slagging? I'd certainly encourage you (if you haven't already) to review the detailed scorecards behind the wave report (they can be found by downloading the excel spreadsheets behind figure 4 of this report: http://www.forrester.com/home#/The+Forrester+Wave+Email+Marketing+Vendor...).

Might be more detail than you are really after, but it will at least give you some insight into the details on which I based my scores and also the ability to do a side by side comparison of the other vendors we evaluated.

Best,
SHAR

Follow up

Shar-

Thanks for the prompt response. I'd be happy to provide you with more insight into our business and the ways in which I feel that ET has oversold and underdelivered on their promises. If you'd like to drop me an email directly we can take it on there, or otherwise a 10 minute phone call is pretty easy.

For the sake of the public dialogue--because I normally give relatively weight to loons that post on messages boards--I run the marketing wing of a pharma JV between a large publicly traded company in the Healthcare space and a private investor group in New York. We're not a small business or account by any means, nor are we unsophisticated with regard to technology and marketing.

Ed