Email marketing solutions – the difference between small, mid-market and enterprise


If you’re searching for a right-fit email marketing solution, it is good to know what area of the market you need to look.

The earlier you know where to look, the better. Dividing the market is a great way to quickly go from a long to a short list of potential email marketing solutions. It will enable you to search way more efficiently.

So how can we divide the market? What are the differences between email vendors? And how to quickly assess in what segment an email vendor is in?

Small market email marketing solutions

The small market email marketing solutions are perfectly fit for the organisations that have little (feature) requirements. You are basically looking for a way to send your simple emails, no fuss. The companies that use these email marketing solution don’t have a big need for personal service or consultancy from their ESP.

While some of the email tools in this market are only fit for sending small amounts of email, don’t be fooled, other simple solutions are perfectly capable of handling the largest amounts of email.

How to spot a small market email marketing solution

A small market email marketing solution has some of the following characteristics:

  • Usually put pricing on their website, might offer a forever free email marketing plan or a free trial
  • Most user support is self-service
  • The end user support staff is much bigger than the implementation and consulting staff
  • One size fits all contracts (if any)
  • Reporting is usually very basic
  • They don’t offer a campaigner for planning event driven mailings, at most an auto responder
  • Openly offering affiliate programs is a much used sales tactic

Mid-market email marketing solutions

The mid market is the most blurred piece of the market. ESPs have specific strong points, but might lack in others, so it is very important to know what your requirements are and what you are expecting them to deliver. Things get a bit more serious in the mid-market.

It is a good fit for businesses that are more ambitious and are in need for a more extensive email program. Some of the email vendors here will offer full service email marketing. Others will not, but will help you get set-up.

How to spot a mid-market email marketing solution

In the mid market, email marketing solution often have the following characteristics:

  • They can handle large amounts of email
  • Can present a client case of a sophisticated email program
  • Have at least a couple of big brand brand clients
  • Have staff looking over your account or a fixed account manager

Enterprise market email marketing solutions

The enterprise market is where companies go when they need a sophisticated or high level solution. Data, integration, deliverability and automation are key when things get serious. Of course pricing is even so serious and these suppliers as a rule of the thumb will not take on small clients.
It is a good fit for businesses with scale (either in size or depth) that that are in need of a sparring partner od that is on the same level. Enterprise market email marketing solutions will still have their strong points, but have all the basics covered.

How to spot an enterprise market email marketing solution

In the enterprise segment, email marketing solution often have the following characteristics:

  • Have many clients that do email marketing globally
  • Often have high profile CEO and consultants on board
  • Will offer a dedicated ‘success team’ if needed
  • Will be able to complete the most complex data, automation and integration projects

Let us know

So what are your experiences? What kind of email marketing solutions do you use? And does a first impression always match the market segment of the email vendor?

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and Analyst. He is the Founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. Named on of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016 " by Entrepreneur magazine.

  • MarketingXD

    Jordie asked for my take on this post…

    I think there is increasing overlap between these market sectors, because the rate of technological change has been quite slow recently and “feature poor” vendors have been catching up. Good companies in all the sectors can send the volume of emails needed by typical customers, and do scheduling, and reporting, and provide an API for integration.

    Where they differ significantly, in terms of features, is with multi-channel (social), optimization and advanced scheduling.


    As a potential client, you need to think about cost, lock-in and support, deliverability, multi-channel, full-service and optimization…

    If you are a small client, you want a simple email vendor, so chose one that allows purchase by credit card – either pre-pay, or with a 1 month contract period. If you are a big client, you want deep discounts (cpm rates are falling ever closer to zero) and should accept a lock-in of 1-3 years.

    If you are a small client, and your data is very clean, you probably don’t care about deliverability. If you’re a bit spammy, or you’re a big client, you should care a lot. This is a very complex field, so check that your ESP has a dedicated team, and try to negotiate a SLA for reaching the in box.

    If you are a small client, you either don’t care about social – use a cheap ESP – or else it’s the core of your business and no ESP will be good enough – so check out specialist tools. If you are a big client and care about social, go for one of the big, multi-channel vendors and pay a correspondingly large price.

    Full-service. Decide whether you want to design your own email, or let the ESP do it. This is a straightforward business decision, based on whether you see design as a core competence. Many ESPs will offer full-service options.

    Finally, optimization. If your list is big enough for testing (more than about 5000) then testing can really boost the effectiveness of your emails. Small clients can do manual A:B testing of any template change and some email subjects – to get an idea what subscribers like. Big clients should do a huge amount of automated multivariate testing – if this is you, this issue might swing your decision towards full service or partial outsourcing, because keeping track of tests can be a lot of work.