Choosing the Right Email Service Provider (ESP)

Your email service provider (ESP) can make a huge impact on the success of your email campaigns (for email newsletters or promotional email). Over the years, I have spoken with many prospects and clients who just didn’t know how much better they could do with the right toolset. As you evaluate your current email service provider (ESP) – and possibly search for a new one – here are some important questions you should be asking:

  • Email Deliverability – Is your email service provider reliably getting your emails into the inboxes of intended recipients? Do they have a team that is dedicated to ensuring the emails sent from your system are getting through the major ISPs like Google and Yahoo? Does your email service provider have a good reputation?
  • Email Customization – Does your email service provider enable you to customize subject lines, from lines, and content within emails? For example, if you have a team of 25 sales reps, can you dynamically control from lines to include the appropriate sales rep to a targeted section of your list?
  • Email Branding – Does your email service provider force you to include their logo at the bottom of your emails? (I personally feel if you’re paying for the service, it should be your branding, not theirs.)
  • Email Design – Templates are great; however, does your email service provider allow you to customize areas in the emails that are important to you, such as header and footer graphics, as well as the wording for the unsubscribe, refer-to-friend and update profile links?
  • Email Unsubscribes – Does your email service provider automatically remove people who unsubscribe from your list upon request? If your unsubscribe process is manual, there’s a good chance it may not get done within 10 days, violating CAN-SPAM.
  • Email Bounces – Does your email service provider allow different ways to handle different types of bounces? For example, do they differentiate between bounces due to a full inbox versus an invalid address? If not, your provider may be unnecessarily removing people from your list.
  • Email Metrics – Does your email service provider offer metrics that go beyond measuring opens and click-throughs? For example, active user reports provide information that is essential to evaluating email programs. Without access to important metric data, your success is limited by the inability to accurately measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Keep in mind that if you’re sending emails using your own internal system, you’re not only hurting deliverability, but also not generating the metrics needed to improve your email program.

I’ve analyzed many providers over the past several years while building my own company. The email delivery tool we provide for FulcrumTech clients is the Lyris HQ (formerly EmailLabs) suite of products. As a prominent distributor of this consistently top-performing email system, we’re able to offer superior functionality at competitive prices for our clients, both large and small. Click here if you’re interested in learning more about choosing the right email service provider (ESP).

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