Are “shared-platform” services really better?

It's brand planning season again for myself and our team. That means we take stock of the last year, study the heck out of the competition, and think think think.

And one thing I see  is the "shared platform", or an enterprise-wide solution, being touted by some while disdained by others. One such service in particular is email.

Whenever I study a category and the patient communications in it these days I start with getting into their database. So, with ersatz email accounts and personas, we collect creative and glean from that what the strategies were. And we apply email best practices.

I spent some time recently with Alistair Gillet of the Ryan Companies (our parent company) and boy, does he know interactive. He was sharing best practices for email, and two things became clear about to making truly effective patient/caregiver emails: 1) you have to innovate as you measure and 2) you must be flexible.

An enterprise-wide email solution solution by definition is not flexible. Every brand has the same choice of a few templates, colors, call-outs — it really is appalling in this day and age to send such rigid work to such an important audience. The entire ability of a designer to create something striking and effective is pretty completely  negated when they're required to use the one template everyone else has available.

The answer? The client must have as many different agencies doing their email. Internally, it then becomes up to each client/brand to create its own best practices. The client must own their own Best Practices for email. They must share internally. What did you learn about subject lines? Or use or rich media? Or customization (using what data you gathered)?

This is the Age of Customization, the direct fallout of consumerism.  People no longer want you to be as relevant as you can to what they need –they now expect it. Seen an Amazon email lately? How about from Oprah? Or Or JetBlue? They all are about getting me to engage. Clients worry about increasing registrations, increasing open rates, on and on…but that enterprise solution is more about limitations not optimization.

As Iclose, I want to share what Allistair declared to be the Ryan email Best Practices (but I am not sharing the details, one because it is too long; and two, it really is somewhat proprietary information):

nPlan and Strategize
nPatient Registration: what you ask, how you use it
nCreative Design, copy, formatting testing
nImprove conversion
nSegment, Target & Personalize
nPrivacy and Regulatory Compliance
nTest, Measure, Benchmark


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