The number of Email Service Providers (ESP) has been steadily increasing for the last few years to incorporate the rising demand for email marketing. With so many ESPs, it can become difficult for a newer brand to select the one that benefits them the most. Naturally, some ESPs will be better than others at providing service. For example, Pardot templates provided by the platform are easy to create and optimise for your email campaigns, but other ESPs might struggle with it. Here are 5 things that you should consider before choosing an ESP.
What is the deliverability rate of the email service provider?
Checking the deliverability rates of your potential email service provider is a must. The ESP should have decent relationships with famous email clients like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo. This relationship will dictate how many of your emails are landing in the inbox of your subscribers. An ESP is considered to be good if it has a deliverability rate of 98% or more.
However, if you are not using the service of the ESP judiciously, you will not get those high deliverability rates. You need to optimise your email templates and run a few test campaigns to ensure they are not spammy. You can always consult your ESP to help you optimise your email campaigns.
What are the features you want to prioritise in an email service provider?
When creating your email strategy, you should outline the features that you will be prioritising. While all the ESPs provide the same tools to create your campaigns, some ESPs are better at handling certain tasks compared to others. For example, if your priority is using the ESP to create attractive templates, you can choose Pardot as their templates editor is simple and can create highly engaging templates. Let’s take a look at what are some of the basic features and how to prioritise them.
Templates are the soul of email marketing. You need to select an ESP that provides advanced tools to easily create simple email templates. The ESP should also have a massive library that hosts tested and optimised email templates for you to use. As mentioned earlier, custom pardot templates offer flexible tools to mold the templates according to your brand aesthetics and brand voice.
- Segmentation and personalization
Creating beautiful email templates does not automatically guarantee success. You need to be able to create an email copy that resonates with the subscribers’ choices and pushes them to click on the CTA button. This is only possible with segmentation and personalization strategies. The ESP you select should have the infrastructure to identify particular customer interactions and segregate them into different segments. Then, you can use personalization tactics to include content in your emails that is relevant to a segment of your subscriber. This will drastically increase your open rates and generate sales.
- Data analytics
Data analytics is also an essential part of creating successful email marketing campaigns. Tracking the metrics like open rates, click-through rates, delivery rates, etc., is crucial for creating an effective email marketing strategy. You should select an ESP that consolidates all these metrics in an easily accessible dashboard. The dashboard should also generate reports and automated suggestions based on the data. This feature will help you stay on top of things if you are prioritising data analytics over other functionalities.
Is the pricing of the email service provider within your budget?
Email marketing is more cost-effective than other channels of marketing. But, being cost-effective does not mean that it comes cheap. If you want the best templates and analytics tools for your campaigns, you will need to pay a premium to access those features.
If you have subscribed to the best package of the ESP but are not using all the features, then you are hampering your ROI. You can select an ESP that provides tons of functionalities for free. The price gradually increases as you start using the more advanced features. Or, you can select an ESP that has multiple plans to incorporate your needs while being reasonably priced.
How responsive is the customer service of the email service provider?
After you finalise the ESP, it will eventually become an extension of your email marketing department. They should be able to navigate around the intricacies of the ESP without trouble. However, there might be occasions where your email marketing team finds themselves short-handed. For such scenarios, it is essential that your ESP has a customer service helpline that is reliable.
Before committing to an email service provider, you should check a few things. One of them is the response time of the customer service department after you have reached out to them. Following this, you should check their knowledge base. You can even ask the customer service helpline to help you with creating segments or importing lists.
How safe is the email provider?
Collecting data from your subscribers to create targeted emails is one thing and protecting it is another. Your ESP should be well-equipped to prevent data breaches and protect the sensitive information of your subscribers. Even if a breach occurs, the data should be well encrypted to prevent the hackers from obtaining details like the email IDs and passwords of your subscribers.
Your brand reputation and revenue will depend on the type of ESP you are choosing. Before you decide on an ESP, you should weigh the pros and cons of the provider. Paying lower fees for using a subpar ESP can massively affect your sales. Therefore, you also should be flexible with your budget while searching for an ESP.
Author: Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing custom email design and coding companies, and specialises in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.