Report: Forrester lists top email marketing platforms

Latest report reveals research firm’s top 13 email marketing service providers

The 13 most significant email marketing providers have been identified by the Forrester Wave: Email Marketing Service Providers Q2 2020 report.

The latest report nominates Acoustic, Adobe, Bluecore, Braze, Cheetah Digital, Cordial, Dotdigital, Epsilon, Exponea, Iterable, Oracle, Salesforce and Zeta Global as significant using a 23-criterion evaluation to score them for their B2C marketing offering. 

Looking closer at the platforms and how they rated, the report put Zeta Global, Epsilon, Oracle and Cheetah Digital as leaders of the pack, while Salesforce, Dotdigital, Cordial, Acoustic, Adobe and Iterable are strong performers and Braze, Bluecore and Exponea are still found to be contenders. 

The report identified three key criteria - data integration, artificial intelligence (AI) and professional services - which differentiate the email marketing solutions. Summing up the relevance of the three email marketing planks, the report said that marketers care about “how immediately they can segment off of myriad data types, if AI helps optimise processes, not just creative, and if the vendor provides a level of professional services that suits their needs”.

According to Forrester, the stakes around selecting a vendor partner are higher now than in years past. Email marketing providers have upped their game, meaning marketers have an improved selection of providers to choose between and useful tools on offer. It has a number of topline insights on the state of email marketing providers.

The report found new players, such as Bluecore, Braze, Cordial, Exponea and Iterable (all born after 2011) challenges incumbents’ data management speed and scale. While being created in a European location has given Dotdigital and Exponea some of the best practices for multi-language, multi-currency support. 

Overall, there is more to choose between when considering an email marketing platform and this gives marketers the ability to shop for specific products, services and pricing models. For instance, Acoustic offers licenses based on volume of customer records or messages. Bluecore works on a pay-for-performance basis and Epsilon offers all-in pricing, including technology, data and services.

Forrester said large marketing platforms and smaller providers alike will have specific solutions as well as all-purpose functionality. Looking at the providers and their tools in more details, the report found Zeta Global provides vertical-specific customer data and models, while Cheetah Digital’s cheetah experiences includes a library of widgets to collect zero-party data.

Dotdigital’s commerce intelligence integrates retail and customer dashboards and Bluecore dynamically personalises retail email content, offers and layout based on user behavior and business and environmental context. Cordial offers self-service data transformations so that marketers can use non-marketing data, like inventory or supply chain status, to personalise emails.

When it comes to professional service models, the report noted how the different platforms can accommodate different customer types. It said vendors in this market go back and forth on how much to emphasise operational, strategy and creative services as they manage their margins and for-market demand.

Looking at the group of 13, Cheetah Digital, Epsilon, Oracle and Zeta Global can function as full-service email agencies, even though they also offer standalone technology. Adobe and Dotdigital are classed as tech-first options that have capable services if needed, while all of the other platforms have limited agency services and offer templates, tutorials, workflow or partner access instead.

Email marketing has always been your most vital tool for driving sales and retention, and now in the current health and economic crisis, it is playing its most essential role yet: communicating sanitation protocols; location-specific, real-time responses to changing legislative guidance; and new products or efforts to meet urgent needs,” the report said.

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