ESP crossed out and CRM circled

The main differences between ESPs and CRMs

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Okay, to start let me explain what ESP stands for. In this case we’re not talking about extra sensory perception, but instead an email service provider. A few email service providers that come to mind are AWeber and MailChimp. They normally offer a free service to get you started (pay peanuts get monkeys, quite literally in MailChimp’s case) and their main aim is to allow you to collect names, emails, some other custom info and to send basic emails. That’s about it.

Now a CRM is a customer relationship manager. Two that spring to mind for me are ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft. These systems are extremely powerful bits of kit. Rather than just giving you a form and allowing you to send emails, these fellas actually provide tools to help generate and identify leads, push for sales, automate admin processes that may currently be manual, add and remove contacts from Facebook Ads audiences, collect sales data from your online store, track your contacts on your website, connect into other services like Xero and others to create an enterprise level infrastructure. POWERFUL stuff!

It’s pretty hard to do an article on ESPs vs CRMs because they don’t compare to one another, for me the decision is simple. If you want to use a system that’s going to actually provide an ROI and grow your business use ActiveCampaign, if you want to miss out on leads, keep doing a ton of work yourself, use more systems than you need and send out a bog standard newsletter use an ESP like MailChimp or AWeber.

It’s a no brainer.

Do you think Amazon became the giant they are using puny little ESPs? No of course not! They used CRMs, big and powerful systems. Sure, maybe not ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft but you can replicate Amazons marketing using ActiveCampaign for certain – Infusionsoft, maybe with a little work, but definitely on ActiveCampaign. Try it on MailChimp and you wouldn’t get very far! After all, all MailChimp and AWeber do is send emails. Useless to any business that wants to grow.

The whole reason for this article right here is that I’ve just tested a new system that’s coming to market. It’s an ESP and, I don’t want to name it because it’s new and it’s a small company who are going to be developing it over the coming years but, it just reminded me of the major limitations that you get with an ESP.

The email builder is okay but you can’t add tags or make actions happen when a user clicks a link, you can’t show content to the user based on conditions, then there’s the badly named ‘automations’ (which MailChimp is also guilty of). These ‘Automations’ simply allow you to line up emails and send them out based on some pretty lax conditions.

I’d love to be able to suggest systems like AWeber and MailChimp or other ESPs but I just can’t! It wouldn’t be right for me to do that, after all I want to see your business grow and I need the right tools in place to make that happen for you. ActiveCampaign is the system, the tool, that will grow your business and the only one that I’d suggest to an SME.

Questions about moving from an ESP like MailChimp or AWeber to ActiveCampaign? Get in touch in the comments or drop me a line on

Don’t forget you can also watch the video in my Facebook Group!

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