The Evolution from Email Service Provider to Experience Service Provider

March 26, 2018 Jeffrey L. Cohen

Marketers are human. We like to be comforted that we are making the right decisions. Even though you can find online reviews of many consumer products, their pedigree can be suspect. But when selecting marketing technology tools, analyst reports provide extensive guidance for decision making.

The Relevancy Group has just released the latest version of The Relevancy Ring, ESP Buyer’s Guide 2018, Enterprise Guide. This fifth annual guide reviews the functionality and satisfaction of six enterprise email service providers, including Cheetah Digital. The report honed in on three key functional areas that were most important to marketers: automation, analysis/attribution and real-time.

The report begins with an evolution of the space occupied by the tools reviewed. From the earliest days of email vendors, they were called email service providers. If you ever sent manual batches of customer emails by copying and pasting email addresses into the BCC line of a text-based email (full disclosure: I’ve done that), it was a revelation when these tools appeared on the marketing landscape.

This first stage of email marketing tools focused on building and sending simple emails, with varying degrees of focus on reporting, deliverability, services and managing data. As adoption of these tools grew, demand for functionality grew.

The authors of the report define a very short period from 2015 to 2017 in which they refer to the tools as everychannel service providers. Email was still the primary communication channel, but enterprise marketers wanted tools that could manage coordinated campaigns including email, mobile, app push, social, display, digital variable print, video and addressable TV. Data services and analysis played a much more central role in both the needs of marketers and the functionality of the tools.

And now that brings us to the new era of experience service providers. The Relevancy Group considers that the basic enterprise toolset has changed because the essential requirements of the enterprise marketers have changed. Every marketer is focused on creating experiences for their customers. Marketing is no longer about just sending a series of messages on a variety of channels. We are looking to engage with customers across more than just marketing, but sales and service too.

Another element of the new era is the expansion of the everychannel approach. Marketing teams now rely on automated journeys across channels that can be triggered by things like preference, location and specific behaviors. Tools now adapt to change more easily by the addition of seamlessly-integrated, partner solutions. And finally, the expansion of functions is driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as leveraging strategic and tactical services.

Before we provide the download link to the report, our marketing team has encouraged me to let you know how Cheetah Digital fared in the report. I tried to tell them if we provided valuable information from the report, but didn’t reveal all the details, it would cause more people to download the report. Guess who won that one?

The Relevancy Ring Client Satisfaction Awards are given to ESPs based on client satisfaction across a variety of factors. Cheetah Digital received Gold awards in: Campaign Execution, Account Management, Strategic Services, Overall Value; and Silver awards based on: Infrastructure/Stability, Deliverability Support, Educational Resources, Usability, Industry Expertise.

Download the full report today to get a deeper dive on The Relevancy Group’s take on the email marketing landscape and outlook, to review what other enterprise marketers use as criteria to select an ESP and to see how Cheetah Digital compares with other enterprise ESPs.

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Cohen

Jeffrey L. Cohen is the director of content strategy at Cheetah Digital, where he creates entertaining and educational thought leadership content to grow the brand. He’s an award-winning marketer, strategist, and author (The B2B Social Media Book) with a 25-plus year marketing career.

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