Can't Really Fail Using Cheetahmail
Updated July 07, 2015
Can't Really Fail Using Cheetahmail
Score 8 out of 10
Most recent (re: 2014)
- ESP web platform, including preference centers and other customer UI toolsets
- Cheetahmail data integration services
Overall Satisfaction with CheetahMail
CheetahMail is being utilized across the entire organization, supplying email management for each specific product brand / website. Its main integration is with the OMS / fulfillment warehouse to facilitate the ongoing transactional communications (confirmations, notifications). The integration then extends into automated marketing email deliveries for each brand's overall customer relationship management strategy. This implementation and data-driven workflow allows for more in-depth focus on results and ongoing improvements of the program, as baseline segmentation and product advertising mixes are based on customer data, rather than ongoing manual segmentation/list pulls for day to day email marketing efforts. The efficiency of people's time to really maximize the program is the biggest win, and also allows for a very small team to manage the entire program for all lines of business in the organization.
- CheetahMail's core strength is its data expertise and services. Without their vast knowledge working with so many clients, it would be much more difficult to integrate and create these automated programs. Their development teams for these types of projects are well versed in data set needs per client and mapping to CheetahMail-specific formats.
- Their client services team (especially if you are contracted in a higher plan) is quite good. They are quite responsive and always try to make sure that the client is doing well. This would include the senior manager (initial contracts / reviews); day to day manager (campaign assistance/troubleshooting) and the other specialty teams I mentioned previously.
- Investigations. The teams there are fantastic at answering issues and/or doing analysis to help their clients. For instance, a critical issue with delivery of emails required extensive analysis by all sides, and the CheetahMail team's work was critical in finding the issue with the data sets we were providing the system.
- Although my personal preference is for a bit "older" styled web UI because of my experience, I can see that the CheetahMail main UI system could be improved for better user experience, incorporating more of the recent web standards for code. It can come across a bit "clunky" at first and only after using it for time is it easier to navigate.
- Their online support / guide to use the tool needs updating. This may be more impactful for folks trying to utilize more of their advanced functionality (custom preference center form coding, subscriber report management). Although their client teams are welcome to answer questions, sometimes the need is for self-service, and the user guide isn't the best.
- I mentioned that if you're on one of the higher, dedicated-account manager contracts, your support is quite full. However, if you're on a lower priced tier / essentially a self-service model, it's a bit difficult to get a hold of the general support team (you have more of a "pool") than is desired. I should say that these things are up/down depending on what's happening to their other clients (so basically this isn't really different than most 3rd-party vendors.)
- CheetahMail needs to incorporate / help clients with newer responsive email design capabilities for non-technical users, ie. similar to my first comment regarding overall UI improvements.
- Positive -- From a process efficiency point of view, we were able to scale down the number of individuals managing the entire program (effectively 3), yet adding 5+ new lines of business. This efficiency cannot be stated enough -- I'd estimate at least a 100 man hours on standard campaigns alone saved per year, and the time to market for new product email programs/transactional messaging was literally weeks instead of months. This saved (based on standard project fees) at least 10-15K.
- Positive -- after our installing the platform and all the integrations we implemented, we saw a 10% lift just on our standard campaign returns due to having the ability to better manage and segment our audience (for better personalization), as well as an improved ISP and deliverability score because of their ISP relations team.
- Negative -- some of the later stage integrations we needed (enhancements to existing to extend our segmentation and tracking capabilities) started to become cost prohibitive. This was mainly due to our needing to move our contract tier to a lower level (due to overall company cost saving needs beyond the email channel) and thus, we have to hold on certain desired projects. This has caused some issues as far as attempts to make our revenue targets. So pricing has caused some issues.
- ExactTarget,Epsilon DREAM,Epsilon DREAMmail,Yesmail,StrongMail Message Studio
To be honest, all ESPs at a core level offer the same features to manage an email program effectively. The true decision making then is based on what their specialty service(s) may be. ExactTarget is a wonderful UI and integrations across many channels, but it is quite expensive and really for large enterprise organizations. Yesmail does have a great creative-services department. Strongmail, although good, does not offer any significant difference in the market, but price is slightly less so aren't bad solutions. DREAM is probably the "middle" between a Cheetahmail and ExactTarget from a UI look-and-feel and functionality perspective, and their data access is quite good. Cheetahmail was selected in the end because it offered more than a smaller ESP for functionality for larger enterprises, but was still within a cost range that was affordable for my company. (In fairness, there was also an existing relationship with Experian on non-email data services which also made extending the relationship make sense.)
I think CheetahMail, being one of the main ESPs in the market, is a quality choice. However, I would suggest that it's really only valuable for a bit larger of an organization, generally having staff of 100+ and revenues in tens of millions -- this is mainly to justify the amount of investment required, so may be cost-prohibitive to some. You also need to make sure that you understand the entire "level of support" you will gain through your specific contract.... the key is understanding what types of resources are within your organization (who's doing the coding? who comes up with the next campaign? What's the overall strategy?) Depending on these questions and resources, may help determine your final needs from a services point of view. CheetahMail can provide a wealth of various services specific to needs (and changes over time as your business changes), but a clear understanding of what you have before you bring them on will really help getting up and running quickly. Also be sure to truly understand the costs for the initial integrations, setups, IP senders, etc.
Cheetah Messaging Feature Ratings
It would be purely based on costs and whether my organization can afford to continue using the service. The organization is in the middle of product and service transitions from older models, so overall performance beyond the email channel will ultimately decide. If money is affordable, there is no reason we'd leave the Cheetahmail platform.