Forrester rates Strongview the best in email marketing, ahead of Oracle and Salesforce

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Oracle and Salesforce may have dominated the headlines over the last few months, but when it comes to email marketing, Forrester says StrongView is the best.

In its most recent Wave Report for Email Marketing Vendors, Forrester rated Strongview ahead of everybody else, including big name players such as Oracle's Responsys, Salesforce's ExactTarget and IBM's Silverpop. Dallas-based platform Epsilon was the only other vendor who's ratings came close to StrongView's.

StrongView CEO Bill Wagner believes his firm had been able to come out on top due to the fact that many of its competitors have been acquired by bigger companies, slowing their rate of innovation. "It's definitely cleared the way for us, catapulting us from a contender to a leader." says Wagner. "We see the big enterprise firms as eventually atrophying and getting slower, and I think the next wave of competition is going to come from new independent companies that are leaner and more agile."

Althought StrongView bested both Oracle Responsys and Salesforce ExactTarget in its evaluation, it's worth noting that the latter two companies still have a larger market share, in a highly competitive market. The only reason they didn't score higher is the amount of time it's taking to integrate these recently acquired platforms into the parent company's management. Writing in the report, Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk notes: 

Salesforce ExactTarget earns better marks for its analysis and reporting, data model, and storage and global support. But Oracle Responsys bests its rival for professional services. Each vendor's position dips slightly in the Leader band due to dampened strategy scores while it realigns management teams and visions with new parent companies.

Forrester commended StrongView on its "strong functionality, scalable technology platform, and capable professional services." But the real recognition came for its capabilities in storing customer interaction data through its Interaction Store product. This is a dynamic database which can be tapped into for more relevant, targeted emails. VanBoskirk writes: "StrongView also articulated the most visionary strategy of the evaluation, one where email plays a role beyond driving transactions to establish and enable a series of context-based customer interactions."

Oracle recently introduced a similar capability for its Eloqua and Responsys platforms, integrating them with BlueKai, its customer data storage solution. While it was declared to be highly competitive, (getting a Leader rating for the fifth time) Responsys lost marks for its sometimes prohibitive pricing. "Client references remind us that Oracle Responsys is best for big, self-directed marketers that can spar with ambitious account staff and stay on top of the firm's highly itemized pricing," writes VanBoskirk in the report.

Salesforce's ExactTarget received marks for its easy functionality (very much on display in the latest version of its Journey Builder tool) and overall mass-market appeal. "Even with some management turnover and culture shock brought about by joining parent company Salesforce.com, this firm is still the best fit for the most types of 
marketers, including multinational enterprises, local or dealer-based firms, do-it-yourselfers, or 
those seeking outsourced support,"
 writes VanBoskirk.

Although it also came out with its own customer interaction data store, Experian Marketing Services finds itself in the Contenders category. While it was recognized as having potential, Forrester believes it has a long way to go."Its new platform has potential, and Experian's global footprint and account support are unrivaled," writes VanBoskirk in the report. "But right now, its current offering is neither scalable enough for enterprise senders nor easy enough to use for midmarket firms."

To download the entire Forrester Wave Report for Email Marketing Q3 2014, click here (registration required.)

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