Wednesday Marketing Series

11 things to keep in mind before choosing an Email Service Provider

An email marketing platform is a cost effective way to launch an acquisition and retention campaign. In the previous posts, we have seen how email marketing is advantageous and the reasons why it is still so popular today. If you have decided to go ahead and build an email marketing platform, you would need an Email Service Provider (ESP) to help with the bulk mailings.

Whether you are a new business setup that wants to launch their first campaign or an existing business that wants to move to a different service provider, here are the most important points you should consider before taking the final call –

  1. Choose the right type of ESP Model.

There are three kinds of ESP models that you can choose from depending on your business needs and goals –

  • Fully Managed – This type is fully managed by the vendor i.e. they develop the solution and also send emails.
  • Hosted – This type requires you to take control of the data and provide them the data, while they just take care of the mailings.
  • In-House – This type allows you to purchase their software and install it on the hardware owned by you. Here you need to take care of developing the marketing solution as well as the mailings. It is completely owned by you. The vendor/service provider in this case will provide limited support that can be decided while signing the contract.
  1. The Email Service Provider should support scalability.
  1. Your ESP should support CAN SPAM Compliance. They should automatically include an unsubscribe link in every email sent and also verify if the opt-in email addresses are valid.
  1. The solution provided by the Email Service Provider should have a high delivery rate (around 98%).
  1. Email Service Providers/Vendors should meet your requirements and choose the pricing plan that fits into your budget. Most of them offer either monthly plans or pay-as-you-go plans. Choose the one that’s most cost effective.
  1. Email Service Provider should have an excellent support team to help you with your queries.
  1. They should be able to generate and offer reports for open rates, click-through rates, deliverability rates, spam rates, unsubscribe rates etc.
  1. Email Service Providers should be able to offer automated solutions. If you have several campaigns running, they should be able to automate them and schedule them as needed.
  1. They should support A/B Testing. Sometimes, you may want to check two-to-three different versions of emails before the launching the campaign. You may want to test different subject lines, or you may want to test with different templates. Your ESP should be able to support this functionality.
  1. They should provide basic features like email templates and social media integration. Or, if you have your own creative, then the ESP should support customization as per your needs.
  1. The solution provided by the Email Service Provider should be optimized for all kinds of devices whether it’s a PC, laptop, tablets or any kind of mobile device.

Every business is different with different needs and goals. Take your time to investigate your options. Draw a comparison chart between different vendors/email service providers based on the points mentioned above. Narrow down your list and choose the best one that meets your requirements and strategic goals. To help you get started, here are a few big names in the business – Experian CheetahmailStrongViewEpsilonResponsysExactTargetYesmail and Vertical Response.

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