Email Service Providers (ESP) and Lead Generation

An email service provider (ESP) inherently has less functionality than marketing automation. What's more important, ESPs do not provide functionality for lead management (lead nurturing and lead scoring), and they do not provide the depth of metrics that marketing automation platforms can provide.

The main function of an ESP is to send emails. Mostly batch-and-blast, ESPs are good if your business is highly focused on email communications. They also provide basic metrics attached to your email efforts.

If you are a small business or on a budget, an ESP could be a good choice because many low-cost providers are available to fit all levels of need. ESPs are also a popular choice amongst business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses who aren't looking for the depth of functionality that a marketing automation system can provide, and who are primarily focused on large email sends.

  • ExactTarget: ExactTarget is one of the largest ESPs on the market today. Founded in December 2000, ExactTarget is the ESP of choice for many of today's top consumer brands. In June 2013, it was purchased by Salesforce to form the core of its new marketing cloud. ExactTarget provides functionality to connect with customers through email, integrated text messaging, voice messaging, and social channels.

  • Responsys: Responsys uses customer demographics and behavior to tailor messages to individual audiences. Like ExactTarget, Responsys helps users manage email campaigns with calendars and automated scheduling. Responsys is recommended mostly for enterprise companies.

  • MailChimp: Praised for its user-friendly interface and easy setup, MailChimp offers both monthly pricing plans and pay-as-you-go, which is unique in the ESP space and is ideal for smaller companies. For parties and events, MailChimp provides mobile signup forms, which can be used in conjunction with event planning apps. MailChimp also integrates with Google Analytics so that email campaigns can be monitored against real-time sales.

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