Everything you need to know about the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2012

In Q1 2012, Forrester Research released their Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors report. This report is created to show the email service providers that serve the enterprise market in relation to each other and how they measure up.

But, as it turns out, only a few enterprise-level email marketers will truly get the value from this report.

This is our review of the 2020 edition. For our analysis of the latest version of the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors (that is 2022) go here: Forrester Wave Email Service Providers 2022

History of the Forrester Wave email marketing service providers report

The history of the Forrester Wave report dates back to the days of Jupiter Research, which used to publish the “Email Marketing Buyer’s Guide” annual report. Forrester announced the acquisition of New York City-based JupiterResearch in July 2008 and then went on to release “The Forrester Wave: Email Marketing Service Providers” in December 2009. The latest installment is called “Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors” – notice the name change –  and was released in Q1 2012.

The Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2012

The email marketing vendors report can be split into two segments. The first part shows three graphs based on a survey conducted with 74 email marketers, all of whom are customers of the six vendors included in the Email Marketing Forrester Wave report.

Research method

At the end of 2011 Forrester conducted product evaluations, interviewed 18 email marketers and did an online survey of 74 email marketers to gain client feedback on their vendors and the market. They interviewed six vendor companies: EpsilonExactTargetExperian CheetahMailResponsysStrongMail, and Yesmail 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 biggest challenges in email marketing, which email tactics are often applied, and what these marketers think is the most important part of the vendor offering.

Largest challenges in email marketing
The largest email challenges for the surveyed group of email marketers are:
1. Integrating email with other channels (57%)
2. Leveraging dynamic content (50%)
3. Leveraging segmentation (43%)

Often-applied email marketing tactics
The email vendor report also includes a table with the most-applied email tactics, split up in daily vs. once a month or more. There might be some ambiguity in the interpretation of these questions. What is considered a “welcome email program” and what does “coordination of email with mobile” entail? It does give a nice roundup of what Forrester thinks are the future tactics that an email marketer could consider when selecting an Email Service Provider.

Most often-applied email tactics
1. Run welcome email programs (93% at least monthly)
2. Coordinate email with site promotions (85%)
3. Segment users based on site behavior (73%)

The least-applied email tactic in the list is the coordination of email with mobile (43%)

Most important email marketing vendor offerings


It becomes more interesting when the marketers rank the different vendor offerings by importance. Good account management is at the top of the list for these enterprise email marketers. Second is the integration with other online tools, and third is the automation of next-best action. Proprietary offices around the world is deemed least important, but not all email marketers surveyed work for an international company.

Email marketing vendors in the report

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

The Forrester wave scores the email marketing vendors based on current offering and strategy, and then plots them in a graph. The final ranking labels the vendors as either “leader,” “strong preformer” or “contender.” You can see the chart by clicking on it on the right.

Instead of 15 vendors as in the 2009 edition, only six were included. (We list more than 300 email service providers here.) Two chapters – “The email marketing vendor evaluation explained” and “What changed from our 2009 Forrester wave” – attempt to explain why these six vendors were selected.

Email service providers that were not included

  • Email service providers that were labeled “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

For comparison, the criteria from the 2009 report were:

  • Does the vendor provide software as a service?
  • Does the vendor have revenues of at least $10 million from email?
  • Does the vendor send volumes of at least 200 million/month?
  • Does the vendor have at least 35 enterprise-level customers?

The truth is that some of the criteria in the 2012 report (like percentage of enterprise clients or main focus market) aren’t shared by marketers that are selecting an Email Service Provider. Therefore, the true value of the report will be less for these marketers. Even if they are among the select fortune 1000 companies that Forrester is aiming at, the last selection criteria, “prominence in client conversations,” seems a bit out of place for an industry report.

Press releases

Five out of the six vendors included in the report sent out press releases:
StrongMail Identified as One of Six Top Email Marketing Vendors for Enterprises
Responsys Named a Leader in Email Marketing by Independent Research Firm for Fourth Time
ExactTarget Named a Consistent Leader in Email Marketing by Independent Research Firm

It might be interesting to note that we could not find a dedicated press release by Epsilon Interactive, but Golden Lasso, although just mentioned in one line in the report, did seize the opportunity to inform the world about it.

Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2012

Forrester has made the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Vendors 2012 into a report that is usable (but certainly not complete) for American email marketers looking for an enterprise-level solutions. After a break of two years, the report was highly anticipated. Too bad it does not carry its value over to other segments or countries.

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, online marketing strategy, software selection, campaign management, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. He tested, reviewed, and wrote about 100+ business software including email marketing services, CRMs, ecommerce platforms, and online course creators. Published in-depth email marketing guides for financial service, ecommerce, travel, restaurant, and fashion industries.
Named one of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. Companies like Scania, KLM, Unilever, AEGON, CZ, FNV, NRC Media have asked me for advice.

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