ESP Disconnect: C-Level Execs Are OK With Service, End Users Aren't

Mass emailers are unhappy with their email service providers (ESPs). But it depends on their corporate title. Those at the top seem blissfully unaware that there are problems, judging by a study conducted by MessageGears that will be out in January.

Among the C-level executives polled, 50% are very satisfied with their ESP, compared with 17% of the managers, senior managers, directors and VPs.

What’s more, 80% of the C-suite types are “very satisfied” with the speed and accuracy of real-time data access, compared with 19% of the rest of the team — “those in the trenches,” as Roger Barnette, CEO of MessageGears, put it.

Why aren’t C-level execs paying closer attention? It could be that they view email as a tactical tool only, Barnette speculates.

MessageGears worked with Survata, a research firm, to survey 101 marketers at companies that send at least 10 million emails per month.

“Our hypothesis going into this poll was that very large senders have complaints and frustrations about their vendors that we don’t see in the mid-market, B2B or SMB spaces,” Barnette says.



Despite that apparent unhappiness, most companies are staying with their current vendors. Of the firms that send 100 million emails per month, 40% have been with their ESP for five years 

So have 36% of the businesses that send 10 million to 50 million emails a month. Finally, 6% of companies with $1 billion or more in annual revenue are planning to switch, compared to 26% of the other firms 

Barnette says this is “relatively unhealthy. If people aren’t happy with their current vendors but are but staying five-plus years, which is an eternity in software and technology, there’s something structurally wrong with the industry, looking at the macro situation.”

Why are companies reluctant to switch (beyond C-level satisfaction with the vendors? 

“It’s difficult to switch ESPs for a variety of reasons,” Barnette says.

One problem is that large emails tend to have their data in in-house databases: This doesn’t work with SaaS-based marketing cloud software.  Because of the complexity of the data, it’s not cost-efficient to put it into the cloud.

“The switching costs are high,” Barnette says.

MessageGears also found that 75% of companies with on-premise ESPs don’t expect to switch in the next year, and only 38% of the commercial SaaS/Hybrid users expect to switch their ESP.

However, this may signify intent only — not actual change.

“Other channels do a very purposeful job of one-to-one messaging,” Barnette says. “Email is not keeping up with the other channels, including websites—marketers need better access to data.”

MessageGears, the provider of  a hybrid database-cloud solution, serves numerous enterprise-level clients.


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