How Legacy ESPs Have Failed Enterprise Email Marketers

It was because of you, the enterprise marketer, that we were inspired to push forward with our recent webinar, “How Legacy ESPs Have Failed Enterprise Marketers.” We’ve heard so many stories on the phone and the road over the past several years, talking to marketers who are endlessly frustrated as they find that not only does their ESP seem not to be built around how they need to reach their customers, but that they’re essentially stuck with that albatross around their neck. It’s too hard to change, and there’s no way they’ll get the buy-in they need from the key stakeholders to migrate to a new solution. And, furthermore, even if they did, everybody thinks they’re all the same anyway, so what would really change?

We know these frustrations well. It’s why we felt like it needed to be said that ESPs haven’t been as innovative or flexible as they should be, and that enterprise marketers — along with their often-beleaguered I.T. teams — have borne the brunt of that. If you didn’t get a chance to tune into the webinar, here’s a quick recap of the main topics we touched on:

ESPs have stagnated

Partly because they know the vast majority of companies won’t change vendors — and partly because their cloud-based nature makes being nimble with data very difficult — the legacy cloud ESPs haven’t made many efforts to innovate and stay ahead of end-user expectations when it comes to email and multi-channel messaging. As consumer expectations for personalization and customer experience continue to rise, too many enterprise organizations aren’t able to lift their efforts to match those expectations because their tech stack isn’t set up to do so.

But with little risk of clients leaving, these ESPs haven’t had much motivation to change what they do. The nuts and bolts of their solution haven’t changed appreciably in years. And it’s the enterprise marketer that suffers, alongside their disappointed subscribers. In the end, everyone loses except the ESP.

Marketers think this is as good as it gets

Plenty of companies have jumped on the CRM cloud ESP bandwagon, to the point that it’s hard for many marketers to differentiate from one to another. Talk to other email marketers, and you hear the same complaints. Nobody’s all that happy, but what choice do you have? You can’t change, and there’s no better option out there anyway. This is just part of the challenge of sending email at this level. Maybe one day, it’ll change, but that day isn’t today.

This attitude is exceedingly common, and it’s exacerbated by the typical RFP process, wherein enterprise companies do the cattle call of the usual suspects, then lament that they all answer the questions the same way. That’s all they need to continue thinking this is just as good as it gets right now. So, instead of trying something different, they stick with what they have. Nobody gets fired for keeping the status quo.

The largest companies are held captive

If you’re at a smaller company, you may have the flexibility and the access up the approval chain to migrate to a new ESP solution if you can find one. But, at the biggest organizations, it seems too daunting. Who would want to go through that? The ESPs have no incentive to make it easy, so it’s not.

And then these captive clients settle into a sort of lukewarm relationship. They’d like it to be better, but they learn to accept that it’s not going to be. The ESP encourages them to personalize customer messages, but then doesn’t deliver the tech to allow it. You have to wonder, why aren’t they delivering the same customer experience they tell you is so important?

Get tech that enables

The answer is to develop and sign on with a tech stack that enables you to execute your strategy, rather than allowing the tech stack you have to define how you can reach your customers. Too many companies have allowed a set of limiting tech to determine what they can and can’t do with email marketing, but it should always be the other way around.

Build your emails where your data lives, instead of copying it in chunks to the cloud. Figure out the strategy you want to employ, then go out and find a solution that will support that strategy. It’s out there. It may not be one of the traditional marketing clouds. You may not even know it’s out there today, but it most certainly is. Finding it will help you delight your customers, and stay ahead of the competition.

To download the full webinar, click here.