The Inertia Factor: Why Big Emailers Stay With Their ESPs

If there’s one thing big email marketers hate to do, it’s switch ESPs — even when they are unhappy with them. That’s the main finding of a study released today by MessageGears.  

The company found that 40% of firms that send more than 100 million emails a month have been with their current primary ESP for more than five years. In contrast, only 10% of the firms that send 10 to 50 million emails a month say the same thing.

High revenue also signals a low propensity for change: Only 6% of companies that pull in $1 billion expect to change their ESP in the next 12 months, compared to 26% of everyone else.

Yet 18% of the $1 billion companies are unsatisfied — and none of these expect to make a move. And a mere 14% of the firms that send 50 million emails per month are “very satisfied” with their ESPs, compared with 29% of respondents who send less than that.

But organizations are turned off by the challenge of changing, and skeptical that things will improve if they do. Among their reasons for staying put:

  • We are an Oracle shop. We use Oracle and our ESP is Oracle. For us to change in the next 12 months, we would have started to research other options at this point
  • “Very siloed company; any changes take much longer than 12 months”
  •  Too high of a learning curve equates to expensive



MessageGears also identified these objections:

  • Systems integration 
  • Buying cycle plus transition takes up time
  • All ESPs sound the same
  • Aversion to risk

Firms with in-house ESPs or commercial on-premise ESPs are also unlikely to change — 75% don’t anticipate moving within the next 12 months 

At the same time, those wit Saas/Hybrid email services were open to a shift, compared with 14% of in-house/commercial on-premise users.

Their thinking? 

  • Cost too high and our data is very unstable. It isn’t the right time to change ESPs
  • We are currently experiencing a lot of budget issues right now. I’m not sure whether we can reach the budget to change our ESP soon
  • For now, a higher authority is standing in the way

The study also found a split in opinion between C-level executives and the people in the trenches — the managers, senior managers, directors and vice presidents.

Half of the C-suite honchos said they were “very satisfied” with their provider. But less than a fifth of the actual workers agree.   

What makes the C-level types happy? For 50% it’s ease of use, but only 27% of the underlings agree. And 30% of the top dogs hail their real-time data access.

Yet in an apparent contradiction, C-suite execs are more likely to want to change ESPs — 70%, say they expect to do so or aren’t sure, compared with 43% of marketing team members. 

What’s more, 50% expect to have a different ESP in 12 months, compared to 17% of the staffers.

What accounts for these different outlooks? MessageGears concludes that the C-suite knows only what it’s told, and that the C suite is open to change because the work is not theirs.

Email Insider reported the preliminary findings of this study last month. In an interview, MessageGears CEO Roger Barnette called this reluctance to change providers “relatively unhealthy.”

If people are staying with their vendors for over five years -- an eternity in technology -- “there’s something structurally wrong with the industry,” he added.

MessageGears worked with Survata, a research firm, to survey 101 marketers at companies that send at least 10 million emails per month. MessageGears, the provider of  a hybrid database-cloud solution, serves numerous enterprise-level clients.




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