The Emarsys alternative for innovative marketers

Some marketers have the same blessing/curse as their customers: they have an awful lot of choice to pick from when looking for a product that meets their needs. We find ourselves often on the same shopping list as Emarsys when a company is looking for a customer activation platform. Both Europe-based companies have an impressive 20 years' experience behind them, growing fast through acquisition: Emarsys was purchased by SAP in 2020, a year after Actito's founders acquired email service provider Smartfocus.

There’s little point in Actito knocking a competitor that has proved a worthy adversary, but it is worth pointing out some important differences to help you chose between these two powerful contenders.

The Emarsys alternative for innovative marketers

The perks and perils of a sector-specific solution

There's no denying that Emarsys is a market leader with a strong customer base, focused on retailers, e-commerce players and travel companies. The Emarsys solution was built specifically with these customers in mind, with both assets and limitations based upon their respective use cases.

Assets because of their experience in the field. With AI insights gained from a considerable amount of data and predefined customer journeys, Emarsys can definitely help you to start fast with some best practices in their target sectors.

Limitations because no two retailers are the same. With so much things fixed in place, it can be difficult to differentiate your proposition in these highly competitive, dynamic marketplaces, because you are all tied to the same restrictions.

The perks and perils of a sector-specific solution

If you don't belong to any of these sectors, Emarsys would require significant customization to be a good fit. Actito, however, can be deployed in a wide variety of sectors, with many opportunities to develop personalised customer journeys and adapt rapidly to market dynamics.

Active in Retail? Take a look at Actito for retailers and e-commerce players.

How much do you want to decide for yourself?

Both Actito and Emarsys feature an advanced data model that centralises your customer data. While they would tick off the same box in a feature list, there is still a fundamental difference. Since Emarsys aims for specific sectors, data models are pre-configured, with a defined set of data points you can work with.

Any customization beyond this would require setting up your own separate database, accessible only using SQL queries. While developers are very familiar with SQL, the typical marketer isn't.

With Actito, however, you decide what your data model should look like, without having to build extra databases on the side. You can adapt it as you go, so that each new opportunity can be seized the moment it presents itself. All the data is there to use thanks to the no-code targeting module, available to all Actito users, with or without technical knowledge.

We believe technology should empower you to test and capitalise bold new ideas, rather than narrow your options to a set of generalised, tried and tested approaches. Actito’s flexibility is perfect for testing new data sources and exploring innovative personalisation – in a matter of days, with minimal need for interventions from IT.

How much do you want to decide for yourself?
The data model is very powerful (relational model) and very simple to create and maintain. The audience targeting tool is quite fantastic. Simple to use and fast to calculate. You can play with many OR and AND blocks, on different types of data. You can combine several dynamic targets and/or several segments already calculated.
Jean-Philippe Godement - CRM Manager

The cost of evolution

As a marketer you're adding or switching to new tools on a regular basis. Both Actito and Emarsys have a central platform to bring everything together, providing a solid foundation for you to manage incoming customer data and transform it into personalised messages across different channels.

Expanding your marketing automation capabilities with both these solutions can be done in one of three ways:

  • Opting for an add-on offered by the platform itself

  • Choosing software from a recommended partner

  • Picking an independent tool and link it through API

  • Emarsys only: upgrade the entire platform

The cost of evolution

Keep in mind that adding or replacing marketing tools might require you to alter your data model in order to store your collected data for segmentation and/or personalisation. When going for the third option, you will also have to set up the APIs between your marketing automation software and the new tool by yourself. Actito makes that accessible for non-technical marketers through third-party integration software like Zapier.

Make sure you know what you need as a foundation, because both platforms come with a different set of standard features (we compared the starter formulas Emarsys Essential and Actito Pro). Here's a summary, based on Emarsys' online documentation. It shows us two things:

One. We have gone way beyond "Hello $firstName"

Personalization in Emarsys' Essential formula is limited to basic customer data, while Actito Pro (our standard solution) allows you to immediately leverage all the data you have on customers, including purchases, abandoned baskets and other interactions that are vital for customer relationships.

That said, Emarsys does offer a relational data model in its advanced plan or as an add-on, but the implementation will require more IT-resources than Actito would. Plus, even after the setup you'll still be dependent on IT for advanced segmentations.

Relational data goes beyond using the name of the product someone has just bought. It allows you to define very specific trigger events for customer journeys, build segments on consumer behavior and more. We believe in order to keep up with customer expectations, today’s mid-size to large B2C companies need their relational model in place from day one.

One. We have gone way beyond "Hello $firstName"

Two. Total cost of ownership

Emarsys' pricing is more modular compared to Actito's. Actito offers the platform itself with numerous of features already on board, with add-ons to increase functionality if required. Emarsys, on the other hand, has three different levels for the platform itself, next to a set of available add-ons.

This matters a great deal when comparing prices or estimating Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). If you need a specific feature, will you have to upgrade your entire platform or just take an add-on? Since Actito has only one price point for the platform, it's easier add new features bit by bit, with a predictable view of what they will cost to implement.

Two. Total cost of ownership
Actito is very useful and offers many features to help us grow in our marketing automation journey. Once you feel comfortable with the tool, you can do so much to reach your audience. At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities, but the team is charming, and they helped us go step by step.
Solenn Bouw - Head of Digital

Stand out from or follow the crowd. The choice is yours

While both solutions have more than proved their worth, you can only push the boundaries of Emarsys if you have an IT team to help with things like external databases and SQL queries during and after implementation. You meet the sector's expectations fast, but it can be hard to exceed them.

Actito gives you full control of your customer data right from the start, with unseen flexibility to tailor your marketing database to your specific needs and those of your customers. You get a complete package that forms a solid base on which to build unique customer journeys and leverage revenue opportunities that competitors would miss. And it's just perfect for non-technical users who want to test and explore without having to make large investments up front.

See it for yourself