Do You Know the True Cost of Your Campaign Management Software (Even if it is “Free”)?

July 25, 2017 Greg Hennessy

Determining the ongoing costs of any software application can be a challenge. This holds true for your organization’s investment in campaign management marketing solutions as well. After you have deployed a campaign management solution, rarely is it re-evaluated to determine its total cost. Usually, when an analysis is done, it will likely only include the license or maintenance fees and maybe some IT infrastructure costs. That is it! You are very likely missing hidden and just accepted costs that you should add into your cost estimate. I highlight a few of these hidden costs below.

Maintenance and Licensing Costs

It is simple math to determine your annual license fee or maintenance charges for campaign management. However, do not forget to add up the supporting software costs and any open source services. There are possible opportunities here to sharpen the costs on the core license and supporting software, but usually nothing too significant. 

What can really tip the scales to greatly reduce your campaign management costs is consolidation. Consider you may be overinvested in campaign management when you add all the systems up. It is quite common within enterprises to have multiple campaign management solutions for different business units, brands, regions, or departments with their own customer data sources. I know this because a few Aprimo customers have multiple campaign management solutions, and are considering consolidating to fewer systems.  The reasons for redundant systems can vary: regional privacy laws, legacy systems that have been acquired and perpetuated, multiple, separate marketing data sources, and one division is focused on B-to-B and another on B-to-C marketing.

A single campaign management solution can support multiple business units, account teams, user groups, and data sources, which offers significant cost savings when you consolidate systems.

Infrastructure and IT Costs

Another factor to consider are the IT and infrastructure costs. Traditionally, campaign management applications had to be on premise, close to the database, and required an array of sizable application, integration, and web servers. These hardware costs, data center rack space costs, and IT support and maintenance charge backs can add up to many 10s of thousands of dollars annually.

Rethink some of your assumptions here. The main assumption is that all campaign management software must be on premise if your data is on premise. Today there are campaign management solutions available that perform targeting and segmentation directly against your on-premise data – where it sits – while operating from the cloud or hosted. Consider a new, cloud-based, operating model for campaign management that will eliminate the internal IT and infrastructure costs while improving overall service levels and system reliability.

Personnel and Marketing Efficiency

Another cost that you might not be tracking is differential staffing costs caused by the campaign management solution you choose. That is a mouthful and sounds impressive. All it means is that some campaign management solutions require the ability to write SQL, code, or perform other very complicated logic and pathing. Or worse, maybe you are still relying on the vendor’s consultants to operate the solution, or IT or BI department staff to write SQL, or data scientists to submit statistical application code for your marketing targeting and segmentation.

There are much higher costs associated with using very specialized consultants, staff, developers, and statisticians for your marketing targeting. Also, this reliance can create bottlenecks and marketing delays waiting for a small number of specialized staff members to manage a growing queue of promotions and marketing channels. Marketing is a very dynamic operation and needs a responsive system.

With the right campaign management solution, more general marketing users and data analysts can perform 80% of what is needed to support your automated marketing with less queuing, on an ad hoc basis, and without multiple iterations and reviews of counts. The specialized staff can then be assigned to perform higher value modeling, research, analysis, development projects, and solving the remaining tough 20% of marketing selects to add more to the bottom line. It is all about the right application with the power to manage your marketing complexity, but still make it easily consumable for all skill levels.

Service and Upgrade Costs

Many campaign management solutions require significant administrative work and development effort, often for seemingly simple changes, like adding a new attribute to your offer metadata or exposing a new customer attribute from the underlying marketing database. This often means engaging with professional services, external consultants, or internal IT resources to perform this work. There is extra effort, costs, and lost time with each change, and marketing departments are constantly changing – adding channels, data, promotions, and products.

In addition to the costs of supporting normal operational changes in marketing, consuming and deploying upgrades cost significantly more. Upgrade costs include upgrade license fees, plus the professional services or consulting needed to deploy the upgrade along with corresponding outages and work delays. Don’t forget to add all these costs into your calculations. Consider new, SaaS-based campaign management options that offer easy, web-based system administration and can deliver new innovations and upgrades automatically without additional costs or big, costly services projects.

These are the major ongoing costs for marketing systems that came to mind. You may have identified more yourself or will discover more in the future. For example, one cost area that I avoided was opportunity costs. The opportunity costs or losses caused by not being able to quickly adapt or change to market changes would be another significant cost to quantify, but something that would be very specific to each organization.

In summary, all it takes is to start thinking about and re-evaluating your current marketing system investments. Change your thinking that your current system only costs the license fee or is a sunk and unchangeable cost. And even if it is positioned as “free,” it still could be costing you a fortune in redundant systems, infrastructure, personnel, and services alone.

Check out our Aprimo Campaign page and see how our SaaS-based campaign management solution can reduce your costs while supporting your entire enterprise’s marketing targeting needs.

About the Author

Greg Hennessy

Greg has over 20 years of experience working in the marketing automation software industry in product development, marketing, and consulting roles holding positions at various companies including Aprimo, Acxiom, Alterian, Quaero, IBM, Protagona, and Marketo. He has designed and delivered marketing automation solutions for large enterprises in the financial services, insurance, healthcare, travel and hospitality, high tech, retail, and media and entertainment industries. He is currently Director of Product Strategy for Aprimo Campaign and looks forward to sharing some of his personal insights, best practices and love of marketing automation, especially Aprimo Campaign. Contact Greg at or @gvhennessycrm.

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