Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2014 – everything you need to know


The Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors Q3 2014 Research report is meant to give an overview of how Enterprise email service providers rank in relation to each other.

The Wave itself places the email service providers in 4 categories based on their current Offering and Strategy.

This is our review of the 2014 edition. To our analysis of the latest version of the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors go here:
Everything you need to know about the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2016

Research method

In April 2014 Forrester inspected the email marketing service providers through a product evaluation against 34 criteria. They also interviewed 27 email marketers and did an online survey of 89 email marketers to gain client feedback on their vendors and the market.

They interviewed ten vendor companies: Salesforce ExactTarget, Oracale Responsys, StrongView, now a part of Selligent, Epsilon, Yesmail Interactive, Silverpop, Acxiom, Experian Marketing services and Zeta Interactive. All the interviewed and surveyed email marketers were provided by the vendors themselves.

The first part of the report goes into the survey, with questions about the most important goals in email marketing, which email innovation are applied and for how long, and what these marketers think is the most important part of the vendor offering.

Email innovations used by marketers

The email vendor report shows a table with applied email tactics, split up by duration: more than three years, one to three years and “don’t use but would like to”. It gives a roundup of what Forrester thinks are innovative tactics that an email marketer could consider when selecting an Email Service Provider.

The longest employed email innovations of enterprise email marketers:
1. Triggers (45% more than 3 years, 39% 1 – 3 years)
2. Personalization (45% more than 3 years, 38% 1 – 3 years)
3. Triggered transactional email (44% more than 3 years, 26% 1 – 3 years)
4. Dynamic content (29% more than 3 years, 34% 1 – 3 years)

The most anticipated email marketing innovations
Anticipated email marketing innovations are those that aren’t employed by enterprise email marketers yet, but they would like to.
1. Microsegment targeting (66%)
2. Open time personalization (61%)
3. In-email transactions (58%)
4. Email-enabled video (43%)

Responsive design is currently used by 72% of the interviewed enterprise email marketers.

Most important email marketing vendor offerings

The senders surveyed could rank the vendor features functions and services from one to thirteen. One being the most important. This paints the picture that the enterprise client references care about vendor data security most, followed by good account management, ease of use, and database / integrations.


These enterprise email marketers don’t care whether the vendor is part of a broader marketing “cloud”. And many would not need or rank international support and local offices as important in this list.

Email marketing vendors in the Forrester report

The second part of the Forrester email marketing vendor report is the actual email marketing vendor wave chart, combined with a table with the wave scores. Forrester included 9 vendors in the report and only looked at enterprise-level email marketing vendors.

Forrester Wave email marketing vendors 2014The Forrester wave scores the email marketing software providers based on current offering and strategy and then plots them in the Wave graph. The final ranking labels the vendors as either “leader,” “strong performer”, “contender” or “Risky Bet”. You can see 2014 Wave in full size by clicking on it on the right.

Risky Bet
This year there is a vendor is ranked “Risky Bet”, namely Zetta Interactive. That is a raw deal for Zeta, because they just recently released a new platform called Zeta Hub to replace the reviewed email platform Zetamail 7.0.

The report can be downloaded here.

Number of Email vendors included
Instead of the 6 vendors in the 2012 edition, this time 9 (We list more than 300 email service providers) were included, which can be explained by the loosening up of the selection criteria. The chapter – “The email marketing vendor evaluation explained” lists the selection criteria.

The criteria for inclusion in the 2014 report are:

  • Offer a proprietary email marketing platform
  • The vendor has revenues of at least $60 million
  • at least 35% of their total clients are enterprise firms with more than 1000 employees

For comparison, the criteria for exclusion the 2012 report:

  • Email service providers that were labelled “niche providers” were omitted for several reasons, including a B2B focus or because they have lead management integration as their main product proposition
  • Email service providers operating mostly from Europe
  • Email service providers with less than 25% enterprise clients
  • Email service providers with less than $100 million in email revenues for 2010
  • Email service providers that earned limited Forrester client inquiries

Several ESPs that were not included were listed by name:
Crown Partners and DEG (manage client email programs using partner technology)
Gold Lasso, Listrak, and Sailthru (smaller revenues)
Infor and Pitney Bowes (not offering email services seperate from their CRM)
BlueHornet and Lyris (less than 35% enterprise clients)

Press releases

These vendors issued a press release about the Forrester email marketing vendors report:
StrongView Named a Leader in Email Marketing by Independent Research Firm
Epsilon Cited as a Leader In Email Marketing by Independent Research Firm

Comparing the Forrester Wave email marketing vendors report

Here are the two Forrester Waves (2012 and 2014) side by side:

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.

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  • Luella

    So glad you summarised this! A lot of respect for Forrester, I am glad they did decide to do this wave again, but I struggle with the criteria “the vendor has revenues of at least $60 million”. Do you think this is actually a valuable criteria to have? Also “risky bet” itself is a risky bet – I do hope they elaborate…find out when I read the full report, I guess!

    • Jordie van Rijn

      Hi Luella,

      Thanks for your comment. The revenue criteria is one that is certainly been subject to change. In 2014 it is $60 million. In the 2012 edition they said $100 million. In the 2009 edition $10 million.

      Certainly there are plenty of Enterprise ESPs that are not included in the report but do appear on many long or shortlists.

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