“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.

Prioritise

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).