“Marc have you got a minute?” It always starts that way, I take my headphones out of my ears slowly to try and emphasise my disdain at being interrupted from whatever I am doing...

Plucky Account Manager: “So I’ve got this big client and integration is high on their priorities...”

Me: “And?”

PAM “They want a meeting to find out what we can do for them...”

Me: “Right.”

PAM: “Can you come? They have their technical lead there and I don’t want to be out-teched.”

Me: “Why?”

PAM: “Why what?"

Me: “Why do they want to integrate their email marketing software?”

PAM “?” (this indicates bemusement)

And herein lies the problem, people want to integrate their email marketing software with their customer database, but a lot of the time they don’t know why. What are they going to do when all of this data is at their fingertips? 

Now I am not saying that people shouldn’t get all their data in one place because your database marketing effects will be far more effective if you do, but I believe that you need to have the following in mind before you start the (potentially painful let’s be realistic) process.

Have clearly defined business objectives

Yes, you will be able to cut your email marketing data in a 100 different ways, but what are the effects on the business going to be? And I mean measurable effects, by what factor would you expect conversions to increase by if you were able to query at this level? And when you apply this factor how much more money would sales generate?

All too often the concept gets ahead of the reality. I recently got called into an internal meeting with the technical director, the financial controller, two sales managers and the support manager. A large meeting on the billing of just three clients, now each client is important to us but the resource we had pointed at the problem was completely disproportionate to the potential return.

So have a very clear idea of your integration objectives before you start.


Out of the ten things you need, which ones are essential to deliver the above? Know which bits you will give up to achieve the others (because there will be some). I personally would keep this priority to yourself, in my experience technical people, no matter how brilliant, will always want to minimise the scope, so get an estimate for everything then knock a few bits off to get what you really want within the timeline you need it in.

Look for quick wins

What could you do without software integration? Most of the time you could compare your email marketing data from different databases, but it requires you spend some time de-duping. Spend this time trying out your theories, this way you will have some proof to back up the additional revenue/sales/leads you will generate.

Alternatively split the project into phases and identify what value you will get from each stage.

It all comes down to identifying the benefits you will get from this development and referring back to these at all stages.

I hope you find this advice helpful and that is helps you slay the IT crowd (yes there will be a future post about that particular topic in the offing shortly: keep your eyes peeled).

Marc Munier

Published 14 September, 2009 by Marc Munier

Marc Munier is commercial director at Pure360, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can hook up with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (8)

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Sean Duffy

Integration really is not a big issue nowadays. The biggest amount of time is for a marketer to work out what they need in terms of fields and tables - setting up the ability to write some simple SQL to extract this out is childs play for any IT department.

And here are some of the benefits:

  • No more CSV import / export - saves hours and hours
  • Data always up-to-date
  • Triggered emails can be fully automated by your ESP if they have a stream of data coming into them
  • Easy set-up of dynamic content if all the data is always there

And integration should be 2 way - data from your ESP back into your database makes it possible to do some proper analysis.

Of course the benefits I have listed are for the more advanced in thinking email marketer - those sending one size fits all emails to their entire database won't realise them, but those seeking to move towards relevant, triggered email marketing won't be able to achieve their goal without integration.

almost 9 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

This is precisely the point of this post. It isn't about the technology or cookie cutter benefits, it's about understanding the business value added by the integration. Although it's great to have a view from the other side.

almost 9 years ago


Anne (time tracking startup)

I used to work for a major retailer with a very sophisticated integrated email marketing/customer DB. The downside was that it required huge amounts of manpower to actually keeping cutting and segmenting to get effective use from it. 

I always recall the day when we accidentally sent our women's email to our men's segment and our men's email to our women's segment. Oddly enough, it actually did better than sending them to the correct segments ;-)

almost 9 years ago



I found this very interesting as I am currently working on a project to integrate our email system with our central database.

The reason we are doing it is so that our data in the system is always up to date so we can make use of the filters and triggered message functionality of our email system. After all, there is no point investing in a system which allows you to do this if you are not going to use it. It also helps with the issue of people emailing data around, storing data on their machines and using out of date data.

So far, it has been easier then first expected, well easier then our data manager would have had us believe. Once you got around the politics the hardest part as a marketer is trying to understand what the data guys are telling you and make decisions for the future of the system based on what you have understood them to say as most of the time we are speaking different languages!

It’s not due to go live until the end of November so not sure whether it has been worth the effort as yet, I will let you know!

almost 9 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

Anne thats great to hear, this is just the kind of thing I'm talking about, I think you'll enjoy "how to slay the IT crowd" coming up soon!

almost 9 years ago

Tim Watson

Tim Watson, Email Marketing Consultant at Zettasphere

Have to agree with Marc, I've had quite a few conversations just like that. "We want integration" but what should be integrated, why it should be integrated and first of all what is the business benefit being sought, are often not considered.

Our email marketing solution has an integration capability that goes beyond data, but allows full campaign automation and content import/export. So the possibilites are considerable and many clients make use. I have been through this many times and can agree with the points made.

I think the issue lies in that integration just sounds like it should be a good thing. After all if someone said do you want an integrated or non-integrated solution the answer is clear.

I often advise that where more than simple integration is requested run a manual process initially to prototype, understand what you want from integration and whether it is likely to meet the business objectives.

As Sean said, basic data integration is so simple that it may be cheaper to just do it than spend time proving why it should be done.

almost 9 years ago


Mark Ellaway

I find the main problem is many companies have a CRM system and then try to bolt on an email marketing system afterwards. Many CRM systems now include email marketing which is great but the key is planning across everything at the beginning.

almost 9 years ago



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about 6 years ago

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