Forrester Wave Email Service Providers 2020 – our analysis

Forrester Research just released the latest Forrester Wave Email Service Providers report, Q2 2020. The Email Wave splashes its review on email marketing service providers in the Enterprise B2C marketing segment.

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

Email service providers are billed, interrogated, surveyed, demo-ed scored, ranked, and strip-searched before being placed into the final Wave by Forrester. The report has a Wave graph but also a paragraph dedicated to each vendor included.

Forrester Wave Email Marketing Service Providers 2020

Forrester Wave email service providers  2020The final ranking labels the vendors as “Leaders,” “Strong Performers”, “Contenders” or “Challengers”.

There are no vendors marked Challengers the 2020 wave report, so again all participants can be at least somewhat happy.

The outcomes of the ESP scorecard in the Forrester email marketing service providers report 2020 are charted onto the Wave graph.

The Forrester Wave scores the email marketing software providers based on Current Offering, Strategy and Size as high-level categories. There are 23 criteria that go with them.

  • Features / Current offering. How high a vendor is on the Forrester Wave graphic is based on the ESPs current offering. This includes: campaign management, dynamic content, analytics, data integration, privacy and security, distributed business model support, artificial intelligence, services, and vertical capabilities.
  • Strategy / vison. On the horizontal slider, we find Forrester’s evaluation of the vendors’ vision, innovation roadmap, past performance, and commercial model.
  • Market presence. The size of the markers circle is to scale on their Market size. Email marketing revenue, globalization, and employees (that are dedicated to the email product).

Here is the 2020 Email Wave graph in full size.

Email Service Providers included in the Forrester Wave

Forrester included 13 email marketing software solutions vendors in the report – looking at enterprise-level email marketing vendors only.

  • Acoustic, sounds good through Acoustic Marketing Cloud
  • Adobe, setting the Adobe Campaign Standard
  • Bluecore, tell me your solution name? Bluecore Communicate
  • Braze = Braze
  • Cheetah Digital, Cheetah Customer Engagement Suite
  • Cordial, welcomes you by being Cordial
  • Dotdigital, loves a relationship through their Engagement Cloud
  • Epsilon, because people: Epsilon PeopleCloud
  • Exponea, with Messaging Exponea, it’s a CDXP, trust us.
  • Iterable, has a solution that is Iterable
  • Oracle, with the Oracle Responsys solution
  • Salesforce, Salesforce Marketing Cloud (not Sales or Service clouds)
  • Zeta Global, with their ZMP: Zeta Marketing Platform

Notable changes in included email providers
This specific Wave report comes out every 2 years or so, of course there are other reports in adjacent areas like Cross Channel Campaign Management, or Enterprise Marketing Software Suites. If we look at changes in between, some notes:

  • It is a big increase in number compared to the previous version, growing from 8 to the 13 Providers that we see in here now. Newcomers to this report are: Bluecore, Braze, Cordial, Dotdigital, Exponea, and Iterable
  • IBM Watson Campaign was sold by IBM and relaunched as the independent platform we now know as Acoustic.
  • The Epsilon platform solution is now “Epsilon PeopleCloud”.
  • Zeta Global is now evaluated on its Zeta Marketing Platform versus the ZetaHub in 2018
  • No longer included in the report is Yes Lifecycle Marketing with Yesmail360i.

Enterprise Email marketing growth

According to Forrester; “the accessibility, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of email will grow the investment in email marketing in the enterprise segment. This while budgets for other media and services are being cut.” Yes, brands will stay investing in email marketing solutions, with the latest kicker (as of May 2020) being the Covid-19 pandemic pushing for efficient channels.

The stakes of selecting a vendor partner are higher now than before. But vendors have upped their game, making it that Email service provider buyers will “enjoy” improved selection this year.

Enterprise Email Marketing Offers diversified
There is a best email vendor for everyone, there is just not one best for everyone. Mainly because wishes and needs are different. That is why a diverse ecosystem of vendors is beneficial. Forrester sees the following developments / trends:

  • A diverse landscape drives innovation, especially from new entrants who are improving the data management speed and scale, multi-language options and different service, product and pricing models.
  • Vendors specialize, either in verticals or functionality that differentiates them
  • Professional services versus tech only offers. Cheetah Digital, Epsilon, Oracle, and Zeta Global are full service email agencies, even though they also offer standalone technology. While Adobe and Dotdigital are tech first, but also offer services.

Comparing the Forrester Wave email marketing vendors reports

Here are the three last Forrester Waves Email Marketing Service Providers reports from 2020, 2018, 2016 for your side-by-side viewing pleasure:

forrester wave email vendors 2020 2018 2016 compared

Download the Forrester Wave Email Marketing Report 2020
If you want to see and download the full pdf Forrester Wave Email Marketing report for yourself, 2020 is no longer available. But the newest version can be downloaded here: Forrester Wave Email Service Providers 2022

PS: Shar VanBoskirk, (Hi Shar 👋!), head analyst on this report, has enough nice things to say for each vendor but also puts the finger on some weaker points. Extra points for the Forrester team for using the word “braggadocio” to describe one of the vendors’ corporate positioning. That must have hurt them right in the board room. There are a few more of those nuggets in there if you read closely, well done.

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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