What To Expect When Using Responsys

The first thing that a business should expect when switching to Responsys is setting up an SFTP connection to import/export data.  The connection is needed to import/export any records into your lists with greater than 500 rows. This can make record changes timely as data needs to be passed through a download manager. Sometimes the files do not import/export immediately as wanted, which makes data management slower when working with large amounts of records.

After customer records are in place, creating basic e-mail campaigns is not difficult. As long as the HTML documents are already designed, they can be uploaded locally and placed into folders within Responsys. Once the HTML documents are in Responsys, creating text only versions of the HTML, and link tables for link tracking can be done in a few mouse clicks. External tracking strings are generated automatically once a unique tracking ID is entered in a space provided.

Filter creation is done in a click and drag design setting. Many filtering options are available, and can be extremely useful for segmenting lists based on profile attributes.  Responsys allows filtering for interaction attributes, such as filtering out contacts that have not opened any e-mails in the past 180 days. This can improve open rates, and decrease monthly sending costs. Preventing multiple e-mail sends to contacts when multiple campaigns are being launched in the same day can also be easily avoided with simple filter design.


Additional filtering on data fields that are not default within Responsys can be done by creating profile extensions. Profile extensions are used to add data with a one to one relationship to each contact. For example, we may want to add a field called “Total Monthly Purchases” which stores the number of total monthly purchases for each contact. We could then filter off this field monthly and send out a special coupon for all who have made 5 or more total purchases in the past month.

Convenient e-mail sending programs can also be designed in a click and drag design setting. E-mail programs are useful when running split tests, or sending out multiple campaigns to different portions of your contacts list. Programs are great for automated sends such welcome programs and confirmation e-mails. Programs also allow time delays in between campaign sends. Time delays are useful for splitting your list and sending out campaigns to specific groups on different days/times.


Third party integration is a necessity if you plan to send out e-mails based on a customer’s on-site behavior (page/product views, number of visits, time on site.). I would recommend having a precise process defined for exactly what data fields you want to trigger off, and exactly what information needs to be sent to Responsys before any integration set-up begins.

Integration with Omniture is available, and it is fairly easy to set up daily/nightly CSV feeds with no help from a developer. Third party data sources can populate supplemental data tables within Responsys . Supplemental data tables can be used to store data where there is not a one to one relationship between the user and the data. For example, one customer may make 3 purchases in one month. Then there will be three purchases associated with the user. However, we would not want the user to be listed three times in the main sending list as they are likely to receive multiple emails. This is eliminated by keeping a supplemental data table.

Supplemental data is linked to sending lists by a common field value(most likely e-mail address, or a unique number appended to each user). Once linked, supplemental data can be used to populate e-mail content. For example, we could use the supplemental data to send out a purchase confirmation email listing all products bought.  If you are familiar with SQL, many things can be done using supplemental data.

The following shows a supplemental data table which is used to send out an offer for a recently viewed product page. In the table, VISITOR_ID is matched to an e-mail address identification number in Responsys. Then a relevant link is placed in the e-mail HTML using PRODUCT_ID.


Enabling dynamic content will take the use of API integration which will need to be done by a developer. This can take some time to get set up and be properly tested.  Once enabled, e-mail content can be populated dynamically with relevant, live, changing offers. Automated sending can then be set up in a program.

Reporting within Responsys is very slow, and sometimes does not even work properly. Plan on slow page loading times and delays pulling campaign metrics. Sometimes reporting in Responsys makes you feel like you’re back to the 56k modem days. Reports for all account campaigns can take up to 36 hours to get an update. Live campaign reports can be accessed individually, but are not beneficial for campaign trend reporting.

All in all Responsys has the capability to do anything you want with e-mails. Friendly drag and drop filter and program design makes segmentation and split sends easy. However, plan for slow reporting.


Posted under Responsys by andrew on 12th June, 2012

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6 comments + Add a comment

Greg Sobiech
June 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Great summary Andrew – thanks!

June 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

Great insight. Responsys seems to be a very powerfull tool.

June 21, 2012 at 10:56 am

Has Responsys offered any explanations regarding timeliness and accuracy of their reporting? We feel waiting two days for campaign metrics is too long.

May 18, 2013 at 7:32 am

Good summary. We are evaluating this solution now. It appears that there are limitations to the data available to users when building multiwave campaigns in Program – can you not access the supplemental tables from this tool?

    Jeffrey James
    May 31, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Hey Bob, yeah definitely make sure there’s a solid plan or resource in-house to build a high quality data model to support the tool, otherwise it’ll be a difficult uphill ride.

July 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm

we are currently building supplemental tables to be able to use product feeds and purchase feed and are looking for guidance of fields needed for supplemental table. Ideas?

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