What’s the Difference Between an ESP, CRM and Email Testing Platform?
In the world of email marketing, there are countless tools available to make a marketer’s job easier. There are email service providers (ESPs), customer relationship management systems (CRMs), email testing services, and marketing automation platforms, to name a few.
Yes, it’s a lot of acronyms, and yes, it can all get a bit confusing. So, we’d like to help explain what these platforms can provide, and how they can work together with an email testing platform like Email on Acid.
What Is an ESP?
Marketers use email service providers (ESPs) for email marketing and communication – think MailChimp, Emma, AWeber, or Campaign Monitor. Email marketers use these tools to send email campaigns, whether it’s a one-off promotion, an onboarding series for your product, or a monthly newsletter.
As the email marketing industry has evolved, ESPs have developed into robust platforms and are becoming very affordable. There are many cheap email marketing platforms available that have a useful set of basic features. Some even include a simple CRM (more on those in a bit), so you have the freedom to dig a bit deeper and improve ROI with more sophisticated tools.
The key factor for ESPs is that they’re built with server capacity to send large numbers of emails. In addition to this power, ESPs can also help with overall deliverability (making sure your email doesn’t land in subscribers’ spam folders).
Many ESPs also offer email templates or an editing tool to help you design your email campaign.
However, Email on Acid is a tool you can easily use alongside your ESP. For example, you can send a test email directly to Email on Acid from your ESP and it will render that email in more than 70 different clients and devices, so you can spot design issues that may pop up in certain platforms (we’re looking at you, Outlook).
Email on Acid’s Email Editor also allows you to edit your email code and see changes in real time, so you don’t have to keep re-sending test emails from your ESP.
Most ESPs also offer email analytics, which you can use to track engagement and subscriber data. Email on Acid has a robust set of analytics, as well. The Email on Acid analytics can provide information that some ESPs may not have, such as read/skim/delete percentages and usage stats for devices and clients. This added data can bring extra context to the stats you pull from your ESP, allowing you to optimize your campaigns to fit your audience’s needs and interests.
What Is a CRM?
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is a tool used to keep track of all aspects of the customer journey. This can include managing leads, tracking purchases, or recording service requests. The CRM tracks every moment of the customer lifecycle, which allows companies to communicate with customers effectively and drive growth.
CRMs (like Salesforce) can also help companies build marketing campaigns; with the wealth of customer data a CRM provides, marketers can better understand customer needs, interests and pain points. Marketers can also use a CRM with other marketing tools, like ESPs. Sometimes, CRMs and ESPs can integrate, which can help streamline your workflow.
We recommend using some of the analytics Email on Acid provides and combining that information with the data in your CRM, so you can pinpoint exactly who your customers are and what kind of services they need.
Are Other Marketing Platforms Out There?
Aside from ESPs and CRMs, there are a slew of other tools out there in the marketing world, including hybrid platforms that combine the capabilities of ESPs and CRMs.
There are also tools available that allow for “omni-channel marketing.” As the name implies, an omni-channel marketing tool is a platform that allows marketers to communicate to customers (or potential customers) through multiple channels. These platforms can schedule and post content via email as well as social media or blog platforms, which saves marketers from having to hop between different tools.
Platforms like HubSpot or IBM Marketing Cloud have these omni-channel capabilities, in addition to other marketing services. These tools are also sometimes referred to as marketing automation software. One of the key ideas around these services is that marketers can provide a consistent message across all their platforms. This consistency can help improve brand awareness and the overall customer experience.
Along with ESPs and CRMs, you can often integrate automation software with your existing marketing platforms. Depending on the tool, there may be integrations already available. Or, you can use a service like Zapier to get them to work together.
With Email on Acid, you can use your email preview tool to make sure your email design and messaging is consistent with what you are sending out on your other content channels, creating a more seamless customer experience.
Which Tool Is Best for Me?
The type of marketing tool you use will depend on several factors, including your company’s budget, goals, and size. Most companies use at least one of these or a mix of a few different tools. In some cases, you may be able to find a platform that combines the services of an ESP, CRM and omni-channel marketing.
Remember: these tools may not always offer a robust email testing service. Sending emails that render properly is crucial to your customer engagement and overall ROI. After all, how will your subscribers be able to understand your message if your email doesn’t display correctly?
Luckily, Email on Acid plays nice with most ESPs and can be white-labeled into many platforms and apps through our API integration. Interested in seeing how we can improve your email campaigns? Try us free for seven days and see for yourself.
Author: Melanie Graham
Born and raised in New England, Melanie has a background as a writer, editor and journalist. After roaming the U.S. as an expert vagabond, she’s landed in Denver as Email on Acid’s content manager. She’s a music nerd at heart who loves spending time at the piano.