Reviewing Email Service Providers: Responsys

Responsys was one of the vendors we considered in 2011 that I did not consider in 2013. The reason was simple, they are overpriced and, frankly, full of themselves. I researched them thoroughly in 2011 and while they do provide a quality system, great friendly user interface, and, I suspect, good customer service, there was nothing that justified the premium they were demanding. When I choose e-Dialog and informed them of that, they got very pissy, even to the point of insisting I had made the wrong decision for many months after it was made.

In constrast, vendors like Bronto, who also didn’t get the contract, were civil and helpful even when they knew they were out of the running. Their helpfulness after not winning the contract helped them build a long lasting relationship that serves them well this time around. Responsible email program managers owe it to their employer to re-evaluate ESPs every time a contract comes due. Sales managers should know that, and make sure sales people don’t burn bridges if they lose a contract.

I mention all this because I just had an interesting interaction with Responsys on October 11. They heard from a peer of mine that I was looking and sought me out. I replied I wasn’t considering them unless they would be competitive with their price and told them the range I was looking at. They responnded, “OK, let’s talk”.  I seriously doubted they would be competitive, but I thought it was worth 15 minutes to find out.

The conversation happened as scheduled, and the sales person mentioned early on that I should expect them to be more expensive than the other vendors I was looking at. I thought to myself, “then why did you waste your time”, since I was clear beforehand that price was an issue. He tried to argue that retailers like us saw huge increases in revenue when they switched to Responsys and that I must not consider value important. I replied, in a very matter-of-fact tone, that I did consider value important, but that I didn’t believe Responsys could provide any significant value that the other vendors I was considering couldn’t provide. That really set him off and he essentially hung up on me, after rattling off a list of their clients that saw up to 25% growth. So even though I wasted 10 minutes of my time, I was amused by the whole sequence and can confirm that the people at Responsys are still full of themselves and get pissy when they realize they aren’t going to get the business.

For the record, we experienced double the growth that Responsys says some of their new clients experienced in the year after we joined e-Dialog. But I wouldn’t credit too much of that increase to e-Dialog, and I’m not sure any of it is due to any unique capability e-Dialog provides. Instead, it was due to focus and a dedication to accelerate our email program, an effort e-Dialog certainly enabled but didn’t drive. I don’t believe we would have seen less of an increase with any of the other major vendors we considered, and I don’t think it would have been any greater if we had chosen Responsys.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: We got a rather interesting follow-up email from Responsys, which I’ll share soon.

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