Why in the (Digital) World Would We Need Another Email Service Provider?

A great deal of innovation has happened in our humble and quietly thriving industry, especially over the last few years. There is a fascinating history of the email service providers (ESPs) and that itself is worthy of a column. The ESP market was quite interesting 15 years ago and since I was on the buy side I can say it looks really different now on all fronts. Progress is a good thing and typical of any industry.

The email technology platform/ESP side is very mature and has clear leaders. Most RFPs I see and hear about have the same cast of characters almost every time, at least in the enterprise market. There are an enormous amount of ESPs that cover all niches and frankly I don’t know how many are still around.

So to answer the title of this article I went right to the source. Jeremy Swift of brand-new messaging platform Cordial and Dan Roy of relatively new email hybrid platform MessageGears were apt to answer my question and their responses show promise and continued evolution in the email tech world – not stagnation as many have complained about for the past few years. Speed and data were the two key themes, plus one company is betting big that the Internet of Things presents a new opportunity for email marketers.

The obvious first question is: Why in the world do we need another email technology company?

Dan Roy, chief executive (CEO) of MessageGears, told me email technology providers have become complacent. Jeremy Swift, CEO of Cordial, echoed the same sentiment, saying there hasn’t been real innovation by the industry leaders in a long time. Swift said, “With the recent acquisitions and their visions of a perfect marketing stack, we knew that the next real innovations would come from modern platforms using progressive approaches to managing data, content, and user experiences.”

That’s a lot of jargon, but I agree that the consolidation of the big three – ExactTarget/Salesforce, Responsys/Oracle, and Silverpop/IBM – potentially creates a vacuum for some nimble, market-savvy, and battle-tested entrepreneurs to fill. These consolidations make sense on many fronts and many an enterprise buyer will be attracted to these big cloud providers that happen to have an email product but the synergies and dollars are obviously much bigger than the email revenue.

So will these companies build a better mouse trap? Well, that is up to you the marketer to decide, but there are some cool new angles that seem to be emerging in the usually staid ESP market. Swift of Cordial aspires to tap into the Internet of Things, which he says would require new platforms to connect data, devices, and experiences at a pace many aren’t set up for. I don’t think I have heard one email vendor talk about that opportunity and I don’t know if email marketers care (yet), but clearly there is some new thinking, and long term at that.

I asked both CEOs to provide a buzzword-free sentence that tells me why their company is needed in the marketplace. I am not sure if we accomplished the buzzword-free mission, but here’s what they said:

Swift/Cordial: To provide CMOs and CTOs with a technology experience they’ll love – one that involves less friction and more opportunity to execute on their shared vision for delivering a killer customer experience.

Roy/MessageGears: MessageGears’ software gives marketers direct, real-time, and secure access to their marketing data while leveraging the MessageGears Cloud for expertly managed email delivery and tracking.


Will these companies be able to compete and thrive? Time will tell, but I for one am continually encouraged by our industry’s innovation across all sectors and it will be interesting to see David vs. Goliath shake out in the email platform side of the email world. See here for my complete interview with Roy and Swift.

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