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Post: tech, email, senders | Apr 9, 2024

The role of email infrastructure in ESPs, martech platforms, and CDPs

As the customer retention landscape continues to evolve, with Email Service Providers (ESPs), Marketing Technology (Martech) platforms, and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) leveraging email as a core channel, a crucial piece of technology comes into play to ensure successful email delivery and campaign performance. This crucial piece is email infrastructure.

The evolving retention landscape

In the early 2000s, we witnessed the rise of the first generation of marketing platforms, primarily Email Service Providers (ESPs). Companies such as Adobe, Oracle, Netcore, and Mailchimp emerged, offering solutions focused on bulk email sending, subscriber list management, and basic campaign analytics.

As marketing strategies matured and the concept of omnichannel engagement gained traction, a new generation of platforms emerged. These platforms adopted a modular approach, leveraging external providers for specific channels while focusing on their core application layer.

  • SMS integration: Platforms could connect with external providers like Twilio (cloud-based SMS provider) or directly integrate with telecom SMS services.
  • Social media: Integration with social media APIs allowed for scheduling and publishing content across various platforms.
  • Email: While email remained crucial, these platforms started relying on external email sending services like SendGrid or SparkPost, enabling them to:

    • Focus on core functionalities: Invest resources in developing advanced marketing automation tools and campaign management features.
    • Benefit from scalability: External providers handle the heavy lifting of email infrastructure, ensuring efficient handling of large email volumes.
    • Reduce operational burden: Eliminate the need to manage and maintain their own email infrastructure.

Traditional ESPs, however, continued to maintain their own email infrastructure. This approach offered them:

  • Greater control over their sender reputation: Direct management of email sending allows for fine-tuning practices to maintain a positive sender score
  • Customization: The ability to tailor email sending strategies to specific campaign needs.
Therefore, the Martech landscape today consists of two distinct categories of senders:

  1. Self-managed infrastructure: Established email service providers (ESPs) often manage their own email infrastructure using dedicated solutions like Halon.
  2. Cloud-based APIs: Newer martech platforms typically leverage cloud-based email sending services offered by third-party providers.

Revamping email infrastructure

While traditional approaches like on-premise solutions (PowerMTA, Momentum) and cloud APIs (SendGrid, Sparkpost) have served brands well previously, several factors necessitate a reevaluation of their current email infrastructure.

1. Stagnation and lack of updates

Vendor focus shift: Key players in the email delivery space are increasingly prioritizing their own Martech platforms over the continuous development of their core offerings.

  • Companies like Bird (formerly MessageBird) are building their own platform, essentially becoming competitors to their existing customer base using solutions like PowerMTA and Momentum.
  • Twilio, the owner of SendGrid, is prioritizing its retention platform (Segment) over continual innovation in the SendGrid email sending API.

This shift in focus results in a concerning lack of crucial updates and diminishes the overall value proposition of these legacy solutions.

2. Scalability and control limitations

On-premise solutions earlier had limitations in terms of horizontal scalability and high availability, hindering their ability to handle the ever-growing demands of modern email marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, utilizing cloud APIs restricts the level of control and support Martech platforms have over email delivery. For example: When an email campaign encounters temporary ISP blocks or throttling, platforms using cloud APIs have limited options to shape traffic or divert it to ensure safe delivery. They are heavily reliant on the often-limited support provided by cloud API companies.

3. The need for in-house expertise

Many Martech and CDP platforms establish their own deliverability teams despite using cloud APIs. This creates a redundancy as these teams essentially perform tasks that a robust email infrastructure could handle.

Investing in a modern email infrastructure

Beyond the limitations of current solutions, here's a compelling case for Martech and CDP providers to invest in their own email infrastructure:

1. Unlocking superior deliverability and customer experience

Owning the email infrastructure empowers Martech and CDP platforms to proactively address potential deliverability issues. Real-time monitoring capabilities enable immediate adjustments to sending strategies, minimizing the reliance on external support.

In-house expertise allows for the identification of potential bottlenecks and implementation of preventative measures before they impact deliverability. This proactive approach significantly reduces the likelihood of customer frustration due to delayed or undelivered emails.

2. Fostering a collaborative partnership

An ideal email infrastructure partner prioritizes Martech and CDP platforms' success in delivering exceptional customer email experiences through collaborative optimization and transparent communication. This fosters innovation and continuous improvement in email marketing.

3. Addressing the needs of the evolving email landscape

Legacy infrastructure often struggles to handle the ever-increasing demands of modern email marketing, particularly during peak periods like flash sales or Black Friday campaigns.

A robust email infrastructure empowers Martech platforms to confidently meet the email delivery Service Level Agreements (SLAs) they establish with their customers. This translates to a higher level of trust and satisfaction among Martech platform users.

4. Cost optimization

Transitioning away from cloud-based email APIs can offer significant cost savings in the long run, especially for high-volume email senders.

5. Streamlined feature development and innovation

Direct control over the infrastructure enables Martech and CDP platforms to collaborate for faster development of new features and functionalities specifically designed to enhance the email experience.
A dedicated partner, free from competing interests, can work closely with Martech and CDP platforms to prioritize the development of features that directly address the evolving needs of their customers.

6. Enhanced security and compliance

Owning the email infrastructure grants Martech and CDP platforms complete control over their customer data, ensuring adherence to stringent data privacy regulations like GDPR. This eliminates the potential risks associated with relying on third-party vendors for data security.

How Halon can empower your retention platform

Martech and CDP providers seeking to take control of their email service require a reliable and strategic partner. This is where Halon helps by offering a robust email infrastructure solution built specifically to empower your platform's success. Here's how Halon sets itself apart:

  • Unwavering focus on your success: Unlike other vendors who compete in the Martech space, Halon remains solely dedicated to providing best-in-class email infrastructure. This ensures a truly aligned partnership where our sole objective is to unlock the full potential of your email channel and drive continuous improvement.
  • Seamless onboarding and integration: Halon integrates seamlessly with your existing setup, regardless of platform (bare metal, AWS, Azure, etc.). Our solution adapts to your current system's email injection, reporting, and logging processes, minimizing development needs. A dedicated technical team simplifies the integration and transition with semi-automation, ensuring a smooth onboarding experience for your engineering and deliverability teams.
  • Real-time support when you need it most: Our support channel provides a direct line of communication with our team so you can receive prompt support if needed. 
  • Scalability: a non-issue: Halon's Ultra IO technology guarantees the exceptional speed you require to deliver even the most voluminous email campaigns efficiently.
  • Unparalleled visibility with command and control: Gain comprehensive real-time insights into your email delivery performance. Your team can effortlessly monitor deliveries, identify potential issues as they arise, and expedite problem resolution.Halon empowers your team to shape email traffic strategically at any stage of the delivery process, optimizing the overall experience.
  • Extendibility for future-proof innovation: Halon's lean and modular design, coupled with our domain-specific Halon Scripting Language (HSL), allows you to rapidly meet client demand and leads to 10x faster development that any other email platform.

    • Extension System: Similar to browser extensions, small code snippets can be added to expand functionalities. Imagine building pre-defined warmup plans for different customer segments based on their reputation.
    • HSL for Rapid Development: HSL significantly accelerates the development of new features, boosting the productivity of both your engineering and deliverability teams. This allows you to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving email landscape.

Ready to take your email marketing to the next level? Contact Halon today to learn more about our solutions and how we can help you achieve your email marketing goals. Click here for more information about Halon Engage or schedule a demo to see Halon in action.