What’s the Difference Between Marketing Automation and an Email Service Provider (ESP)?

When comparing technologies of any kind, whether it’s hardware or software, businesses need to assess any technology based on how it fits their business model and what goals they’re hoping to achieve by using the given technology.

Two technologies that are often compared are marketing automation suites and email service providers (ESP). While being compared, they’re often misinterpreted as achieving the same functions and goals. In reality, marketing automation and email service providers don’t accomplish the same things. But in exactly what ways are they different?

The main difference between email service providers and marketing automation is that email service providers (like MailChimp or Constant Contact) can send mass emails, track open rates and clicks, and integrate into your company’s CRM, while marketing automation can achieve all of that, and much more. Let’s dig a little deeper into the feature’s of both.

Comparatively, Marketing Automation Takes the Cake

At first glance, it’s easy to see that when comparing marketing automation and email service providers, marketing automation has a much more robust set of features. In addition to accomplishing what email service providers do with email and CRM integration, marketing automation allows you to capture and analyze specific lead information, nurture leads through sales processes and segmentation, monitor website activity and provide anonymous visitor information, and create targeted inbound and outbound marketing campaigns.

How Do I Know Whether to Use an ESP or Marketing Automation?

All of these features, and more, add up to create a pretty convincing case that if you’re looking to do more than just send emails, receive open and click through rates, and integrate a CRM, marketing automation software might be the right tool for your business.

If you’re currently using an email service provider and are thinking about making the switch to marketing automation, you’ll need to carefully consider your company’s overall goals when it comes to digital marketing, including:

  • Is the purpose of your email marketing to generate leads and ultimately drive sales?
  • Is your buying process longer than a week?
  • Are you looking to streamline and automate your marketing processes based on limited bandwidth?
  • Do you want to segment your potential buyers into different industries and demographics?
  • Is your marketing strategy or department providing your sales team with quality leads?
  • Do you want to know what marketing campaigns you’re running are most effective?
  • Do you want to know the ROI of your marketing budget?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, and/or you don’t know the answers to some of these questions (what your marketing ROI is, what campaigns are effective, etc.), you should seriously consider retiring your email service provider and making the switch to marketing automation. Based on your company’s budget and marketing resources, you’ll have to conduct further research into what marketing automation platform best fits your organization (there are many to choose from). At Kaufer DMC, we use Sharpspring marketing automation for many reasons, one being its cost effectiveness. Price-wise, it’s on the lower end of marketing automation platforms, but with it’s robust set of features, ease-of-use, and solid support, it feels like one of the more expensive marketing automation platforms currently on the market.

If you’re ready to make the switch, contact us using the form below or give us a call at 206-455-2929 to get more information about marketing automation and how we can help your company generate more leads, drive sales, and prove ROI.

Written by Luke Severn

Luke is a marketing coordinator at Kaufer DMC. He loves the Arctic Monkeys, David Fincher movies, and the Portland Trail Blazers.


Published June 18, 2015 by Luke Severn.
Categories: Marketing Automation