Email service providers (ESPs) like MailChimp and Constant Contact help many businesses realize short-term marketing goals by pushing out blanket marketing messages to a single mass audience. And that’s a great place to start! Marketers who are solely focused on email can get some really good use out of these traditional email marketing platforms.
For those organizations that are ready to take that next step in their marketing journey, however, it might be time to delve into the world of marketing automation, which will allow you to consolidate and coordinate your omnichannel marketing campaigns into a single platform that seamlessly integrates with your CRM — simultaneously improving your marketing velocity and aligning marketing and sales teams into one cohesive and powerful unit.
If the limitations of your ESP platform are starting to hold you back from achieving your full marketing potential, it’s time to consider investing in a marketing automation platform like Act-On.
Keep reading to learn key differentiators between ESPs and MAPs and how to move from an ESP to marketing automation.
What’s the Difference Between an Email Service Provider and Marketing Automation?
There’s a common misconception that ESPs and marketing automation platforms are more similar than they are different. And while it’s true that both software applications are capable of sending marketing and sales emails en masse, that’s where the similarities end.
Email service providers, also commonly referred to as “email marketing software platforms,” can be defined as a solution that allows marketers to create and send emails to prospects and existing customers. The more advanced platforms have some list segmenting capabilities, but their main function is to fire off those emails — usually without a great deal of behavioral tracking or audience targeting.
Conversely, marketing automation platforms are more robust software applications that empower marketers to perform an array of marketing tasks within a single platform, including:
The Advantages of Marketing Automation
As you can see, marketing automation platforms can serve as extremely powerful email service providers with dozens of additional marketing features that allow you to create, launch, track, test, and optimize personalized marketing campaigns and workflows in a cohesive and coordinated way.
Further, when you integrate your CRM with your new marketing automation software, you can seamlessly transfer qualified leads to your sales team the instant they’re captured, providing a comprehensive view of their entire buying journey. And when those leads aren’t quite sales-ready, you can place them in an automated lead nurturing program to keep engaging your prospects and customers throughout the entire lifecycle.
In addition to the awesome capabilities of a marketing automation platform, one of its other principal benefits is how it allows marketers to conserve and reallocate valuable time and resources. By creating repurposable campaign elements and dynamically changing content and messaging to match specific prospects, you can develop and launch effective campaigns faster, cheaper, and at greater scale. This allows your marketing team to focus on improving the quality, depth, and breadth of their marketing efforts rather than executing the same or similar tasks over and over again. This keeps costs low and puts your staff in the best position to let their talent and creativity shine.
Making Marketing Automation a Reality
As a result of how the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the digital revolution, many industries and companies that previously used an ESP (or, in many cases, no marketing software at all) are now aggressively researching marketing automation solutions. Not every business (and certainly not every marketer) moves at the same pace, and companies need to do what’s best for them with the resources available.
Still, it’s a little surprising that, according to The State of Marketing Automation Report we recently conducted with London Research, only 55% of respondents were using marketing automation. And while virtually all respondents agreed that effective marketing automation is critical to long-term business success, less than 10% felt their business was using their platform to its full capacity.
This is due to the challenges marketers often face when implementing their marketing automation platform and aligning it with their overall strategies, tactics, objectives, and goals. The first set of challenges involve marketing automation implementation best practices, including:
- Successful integrations (Web, CRM, webinar, etc.)
- Marketing data compliance (GDPR, CCPA, etc.)
- Data syncing and cleansing
- Thorough onboarding and training
The second set of challenges are related to common pitfalls after implementation, such as:
- Focusing on the short-term rather than giving the program time to produce the anticipated results
- A lack of inbound and outbound engagement and behavior tracking
- Neglecting to A/B test and optimize marketing programs
- Honing in on only one or two channels (namely, email)
Move From an ESP to Marketing Automation With Act-On
At Act-On, we believe that every company’s relationship with its prospects and customers is unique. The best marketing comes from an organization paving their own path and delivering engaging experiences to extend the customer lifecycle. We also believe in the convenience, power, and scalability of our platform, which is why we use it to execute all of our marketing campaigns and workflows.
For some companies, an ESP might be the right fit. But if you’ve been evaluating your marketing efforts and feel it might be time to take a closer look at marketing automation, please reach out today to book a demo. Or, if you’d rather be in charge of your own journey, you can click here to take our interactive product tour.
Just kicking the tires? Download our free eBook “Making Marketing Automation a Reality” by clicking on the link below. This helpful resource lays out everything you need to know about marketing automation and provides critical information about whether to proceed with the investment.