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Almost one-quarter (24%) of marketers report having changed their email service provider (ESP) or adding a new dedicated IP address in the past 2 years, according to a study [download page] from Return Path and Demand Metric. Was cost the main reason? Hardly.

Instead, technical limitations (50%) emerged as the top reason given by respondents for having changed their ESP or added a new dedicated IP address. This makes sense: brands are looking for robust solutions to support them as they innovate with email through the use of advanced features such as behavioral triggers, dynamic elements and automation for 1-to-1 communication.

The second-most common reason given for changing ESPs is due to email deliverability, cited by 41% of respondents who had done so. Considering that one-quarter of US marketing emails fail to reach the inbox, marketers may move to new providers in order to correct issues with deliverability.

In further analyzing the results, the analysts notes that companies with below-average open rates are far more likely than those with above-average open rates to cite a number of reasons for changing an ESP. This also seems quite logical: those enjoying strong engagement rates are less apt to see the need to change providers.

Not surprisingly then, the biggest gap between these groups of marketers relates to diminishing email results. For those with below-average open rates, this ranked as the joint second-largest reason for switching ESPs, with 41% citing it as a motivation.

By contrast, only 6% of respondents with above-average open rates changed their ESP due to diminishing email results, making it their least influential reason for doing so.

Instead, many of those with above-average open rates cited the need for a fresh start (33%) as being behind their change of ESP or creation of a new dedicated IP address. This ranked as their third-leading reason for doing so, behind only technical limitations and email deliverability.

Marketers with below-average open rates, as one might expect, were more concerned with a range of other issues, including substandard user experiences, cost and lack of customer support.

In a separate report [download page] released at the beginning of this year, MessageGears found in a survey of 101 marketers that 26% expected to change their current primary ESP within the following 12 months. However, larger companies (those with at least $1 billion in revenues) were far less likely to expect such a change, with only 6% projecting one, and there appeared to be a correlation between company size and hesitancy to switch ESPs. Notably, the desire to change ESPs among the largest companies was not tied to satisfaction levels, as risk aversion, concerns surrounding systems integration, and the perceived similarity of various ESPs all were seen to contribute to the hesitance.

About the Data: The Return Path and Demand Metric results are based on 428 responses collected, of which 290 were complete enough for inclusion in the analysis. Half of the respondents come from mostly or entirely B2B-focused companies, compared to 20% at mostly or entirely B2C companies and 23% at those targeting a blend of B2B and B2C.

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