Read Time: 6 min

The Trends Transforming the Email Service Provider Landscape: Webinar Recording + Q&A


ESPs are the technological foundation of the email industry—and the biggest line item in email marketing budgets. With so much on the line, it’s no surprise that frustrations with ESPs run high.

In this webinar, Litmus Research Director Chad S. White and Community & Product Evangelist Jason Rodriguez share findings from our first-ever State of Email Service Providers report, along with insights from other research we’ve done. You’ll learn…

  • What’s driving—and likely to keep driving—consolidation in the ESP industry
  • Which ESPs are the most popular among brands in different industries, geographies, and more
  • What’s involved with switching ESPs
  • How to get more out of your current ESP

Watch the recording above, and download the slides and read the Q&A below:


We didn’t have time to get to all of the questions during the live webinar, but we’ve answered them here on our blog. Have any additional questions about email service providers? Please leave them in the comments.

Many on our marketing team want to switch away from our current ESP (which is in the top 10) to a much less popular ESP because they think the current platform is too complicated. How would you convince them to stay with what we’ve got?

Chad S. White: There’s a reason that the top 10 ESPs are in the top 10, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit for your brand and email marketing team. Usability is certainly an important issue, and is a frequent complaint about some of the more popular ESPs.

The two questions I’d ask are: (1) Can your team do some training to better understand your current ESP and increase ease of use? And (2) while they may not appreciate your ESP’s complexity now, might they in a few years as your brand’s needs change?

Switching ESPs is hard and can be a big distraction. We would encourage all brands to seriously weigh the pros and cons of changing their ESP.

Is there a way to know what an ESPs strengths/weaknesses are? For instance, how can I quickly know if it has features I need, or leans toward B2B?

Chad: An ESP’s website can give you a general feel for their strengths. What features are they highlighting? What customers are they highlighting and how similar to you are those customers? Do they emphasize a particular industry or set of industries?

In regards to whether an ESP leans B2C or B2B, look at the language they use. If they talk about “marketing automation,” “sales,” and “customers,” then they lean toward serving B2B companies. “Consumers” is the big keyword indicating a focus on B2C companies.

Jason Rodriguez: Crowdsourcing ESP opinions can also be helpful. Talking to friends in the industry is a great way to feel out ESP features and—more importantly—to get real people’s takes on the usability and services of ESPs. What ESPs advertise and what they deliver (pun intended) can sometimes be very different, so talking to people that use, or have used, a particular ESP is a great way to learn more before starting the RFP process.

Outside of the top 10, what other ESPs are gaining traction in the marketplace? Any surprises?

Chad: We haven’t analyzed the changes in market share from year to year, so we can’t point to particular ESPs that have more market momentum than others. However, in our Snapshot of the Email Service Provider Landscape, we do highlight the top 20 ESPs—those that have at least 1% market share. In that same post, we highlight more than 220 other ESPs that are also worthy of consideration.

What was surprising in looking at each of the ESPs was what incredible diversity there was. Some ESPs are focused on cross-channel marketing, while others are focused exclusively on email. Some ESPs are part of a CRM suite, while others are focused on working with third-party CRM suites. Some ESPs are focused on serving a particular industry vertical, while others offer broad appeal. Some ESPs emphasized affordability, while others stressed their rich feature sets.

For every brand, there are at least several great ESPs to choose from. It’s just a matter of figuring out what your brand’s needs and wants are and then finding the ESP that best meets them.

Have you done research into which brands are satisfied with their ESP?

Chad: The data that we have on ESP dissatisfaction is from a poll that was run separately from our State of Email Survey (which is the same survey for which our State of Email Service Providers report is based). So we don’t currently have the ability to link up those two data points.

That said, we’d prefer not to take a public position on naming the “best” or “worst” ESPs. We’re simply trying to provide industry-level trends and to help people understand the marketplace better. For more detailed analysis, we’d refer you to Forrester, Gartner, and the other sources mentioned by the experts we consulted for our Doing an ESP RFP blog post.

Does Litmus work with Marketo to help expand on analytics?

Justine Jordan: Litmus Email Analytics works with any ESP, including Marketo, to give you more insights beyond opens and clicks. Email Analytics from Litmus allow you to see where your subscribers open and if they read, skimmed, or deleted your email. You can also track forwards and prints, compare engagement by device, and more.

How can I get access to Email Analytics?

Justine: To get access to Email Analytics, we recommend subscribing to our Plus or Premium plan. Depending on the volume of emails you’d like to track, access to Litmus Email Analytics can be less than $2k per year or $199/month. Learn more about our pricing.

Additional Resources

During the webinar, we referred to a number of reports, blog posts, and other resources. Here’s a full list: