Inbox Insider: Forrester Wave report rates top ESPs

E-mail marketing is alive and well, according to Forrester Research’s fourth-quarter 2009 Email Wave report, released last week. The report found that the recession and the maturation of the e-mail marketer helped the industry in 2009.

“While there is still a vast need for improvement, the sophistication of e-mail marketers is increasing,” Forrester said in the report.

It noted that brands are beginning to demand more from their e-mail service providers than in the past for two reasons: it can be highly targeted because it is so data-driven, and its low cost help it fit into budgets. Essentially, e-mail is cheap and efficient, and it is helping marketers get through this recession with lower budgets and smaller staffs.

The report measured 15 e-mail vendors against 69 criteria. Responsys and ExactTarget came out on top as industry “leaders,” followed by e-Dialog, Acxiom, Yesmail, Experian Marketing Services, Epsilon and Zeta Interactive. The firms reached the leader podium because of attributes including client satisfaction, emerging channel (social and mobile) capabilities and application usability.

Datran Media, Silverpop and ClickSquared placed in the second tier of the Wave report. According to Forrester, these vendors are strong performers but less comprehensive, often focusing on niche marketplaces. These firms are also most appropriate for specific verticals, such as travel or acquisition or partner channel development, according to the research group.

Forrester also listed a final group, including Lyris, BlueHornet, Alterian and Emailvision, which the report voted as “safe bets.” The report criticized these ESPs for lacking features such as advanced segmentation and analysis. Their common strength is that they specialize in one area, such as service message or mobile message delivery.

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