What’s the difference between an ESP and a CRM?

What's the difference between an ESP and a CRM

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you probably know the importance of having key systems in your business.  Systems that help to make your business more effective and efficient.

Two key systems that can help with the communication efforts for the customers and potential customers of your business, are an Email Service Provider (ESP) and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, but people often confuse the two systems.

They are different tools that accomplish different tasks.  One system helps with your marketing effort and the other helps with your sales effort.  However, you do have software that offer the features of both an ESP and a CRM, but let’s take a look at each one individually.

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Email Service Provider

An Email Service Provider (ESP) is used for the purpose of communicating marketing messages to your database via email.  An ESP provides an easy and efficient system to use to communicate with your email list.  This is a one-to-many technique and helps you to easily send mass emails to your entire list or segments of you list.

Some popular ESP’s are MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Aweber. Most of these systems allow you to send three types of emails-  announcements, autoresponders, and automations.

  1. Announcement Emails–  Are emails sent to the entire list or a segment of a list.  This is usually one email that is scheduled to go out one time only.
  2. Autoresponder Emails–  Are usually a series of emails that are automatically sent when a person responds to something.  Hence the name Autoresponder.   You see this all the time when you opt-in to receive a free download and then receive a series of emails after you have downloaded the item.
  3. Automation Emails–  Are more advanced than simple announcement emails or autoresponder series.  Automation emails allow you to set up a flow for your emails based on many different factors and doesn’t have to be based on someone responding to something like downloading a report.  An email automation can be initiated by the owner of the database and it maps out what happens when someone opens the email, can include different responses based on what someone clicks in the email, can prompt other activities based on the actions of the email recipient, so automation is the most advanced email marketing strategy of all three options.

Customer Relationship Management 

A Customer Relationship Management System is a system that is used to manage all of your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.  The system helps with contact managment, sales management, workflow processes, productivity and more.

Some popular CRMs for small businesses are Nimble, Contactually and Insightly.  Most, if not all, of the CRMs act as a:

  1.  Contact Management–  Have all your contacts in one place so you can manage your relationships in one place.  With contact management you are able to track emails you sent, calls you’ve made, task, and events associated with each contact.
  2.   Lead Management–  Have all your prospects in one place so you can manage and follow-up with all your leads.  Most systems even offer a lead scoring system enabling you to easily identify your top/hot leads.
  3.   Opportunity Management–  manage your sales opportunities in one place.  Identify what sales are in the works and how much outstanding potential deals  are available for your company.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some software companies that combine both the features of an ESP and a CRM into one all-inclusive system like Infusionsoft and Ontraport. The advantage of using an all in one system is everything is in one place for both your marketing and your sales.  However, all-inclusive system tend to be more expensive and some of the features my be stronger than others.

So as you can see, an ESP is different than a CRM and are used for different reasons.  Are you using an ESP or CRM, or both in your business?  If so, what system are you using for your ESP and/or CRM?


Posted by Nadine Mullings  |  Comments Off on What’s the difference between an ESP and a CRM?  |  in Email Marketing

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