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Analysis

Epsilon; aiming to deliver a total marketing solution
David Norris By: David Norris, Practice Leader - Analytics, Bloor Research
Published: 5th March 2007
Copyright Bloor Research © 2007
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We live in a world of strange paradoxes: on the one hand companies bemoan that it is increasingly difficult to make a decent profit because everything is becoming a commodity in a global market, then in the next breath they tell you they are unique and need a tailored solution. Equally customers tell you the whole time they hate the intrusion of being marketed to, but if they miss out on the latest and greatest as soon as it is available it is the end of the world as they know it! So how do you support such a market? Epsilon believe the only way is to become capable of providing in-depth tailored support which is industry specific, across all channels, recognising that technology is just the enabler to the solution and not an end in itself. Now some of you might say this is a bit grandiose for a company who is really only known for email marketing, but not only does Epsilon have the vision it has the plan and the means to attain it.

Marketing is, in my opinion, becoming the most vital of corporate skills and as yet it is still in its infancy in terms of moving from being a group of people with a very arty view of their place in corporate culture, to becoming a hard-nosed profit driven engine for corporate survival. Epsilon strikes me as being part of the journey that enterprises need to take to stop seeing the global economy as a threat and start to see it as unbounded opportunity.

The Epsilon approach is to recognise the scale and complexity of what is required, and to then provide a customer-centric, profit driven approach to tackling the issues. They are building away from a core competence, which is email marketing. Epsilon has an engine that is capable of creating personalised messages and then transmitting them at rates that are staggering—it can handle twenty million messages an hour. But recognising that technology is merely the enabler, Epsilon supports the technology with professional services. The services teams are aligned to the vertical markets so that they understand the needs of the industry, and their role is to help embed the technology with the very best practices to ensure that the opportunity is maximised. Epsilon focuses not only on doing better than people are used to with traditional mass marketing but on really maximising what is on offer and not leaving behind profit, which is there to be had for very little extra effort. The other element of the services offering that is refreshing to see in a US-based company is that it has not fallen into the trap of viewing the European market as being one big homogenous entity, it recognises that each country has very different requirements which need to be met if a message is to hit home, so it provides local support that recognises the cultural aspects that need to be included in any campaign.

Epsilon recognises that over the next few years it is essential to become capable of supporting all channels, not just email, that it needs to broaden and deepen the ability to support vertical market segments, and it needs to offer the breadth of expertise to become a trusted advisor and not just a technology provider. The organisation is developing along these lines; it has a core data base services capability offering customers the technology and skills to build a repository about the market and the customers on which everything is based, it then has a data business which provides vital augmentation to the basic customer data to enable the customer and market data warehouse to reflect more than just past transactional information from existing customers. Epsilon then offers agency services, which can undertake the direct marketing activities and also the interactive marketing activities in support of the customers' in-house capability.

I am genuinely impressed by the depth and breadth of vision that underpins what Epsilon is doing. From my discussions with them I was left with an impression of a deep understanding of what is required and how to set about tackling it. For Epsilon words like "customer centric" are not just another empty marketing phrase, but something it really understands and wants to do something about. For instance we discussed the relationship between customer satisfaction and profitability, and Epsilon quite rightly see that most people fail to grasp that satisfaction does not guarantee profitability, but a lack of satisfaction is likely to lie at the heart of a failure to maximise profit. So it is embarking on the journey of helping its client base to recognise that maximising life time value of customers has to be holistic and embraces all that we drop into Sales, Marketing and Customer Care today.

I think that if you have a need for excellent email marketing support and a genuine desire to embrace your customers on a long term basis to maximise the value of your relationship with them then Epsilon will be a great partner to help you. With Epsilon's support I believe that the goal of ensuring we get the right message to the right people, at the right time is achieved, so customers will not even realise that they are being marketed to.

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