Choosing an email service provider: Focus on the trees or the forest?

Email Service treeIn email marketing it is very easy to get into a fixed pattern of daily activities for our email messages, content creation, sending. It’s day-to-day business and most of the time there seems to be no reason to change the way things work. It actually makes working more efficient, but there also is a danger in having such a comfortable cadence.

Overview of real impact

One of the dangers is that everyone might lose the overview every now and again. Priorities are given not to the most important items, but the most (seemingly) urgent. Practical day to day details can definitely distract you from the elements that really move the needle. And we are all limited in resources…

Forcing your hand

But every once and a while there comes a project that should force your hand into thinking big. Like when you are evaluating your current ESP or choosing a new email service provider. “Are you happy with your current supplier?”, might not be the right question. It might have to be “Are you happy with your current email program and will you be in coming years.”

Setting email tool requirements needs a different view

ESP selection requirements overview

One of the often made mistakes is that the list of requirements is based on the current situation. With the current organisation, irritations and processes and having a large influence on what the organisation is looking for. Although many of these practical concerns are very valid, setting requirements asks for a different view. During the selection we have to look at it from one level higher. Making a clear distinction between the small and practical issues and the real needle moving, dramatic issues.  It is a long term decision.

Further down the road

But it seemed so easy to pick an email tool and a supplier. They all do the same trick, right? Wrong. As with picking any tool, you first need to know what you want to do with it. It might be a bit difficult to fasten screws with a hammer, so to speak. So it is definitely important to have a good notion of what you expect for an email agency.

As we look a bit further down the road, some of the urgent issues don’t seem so important as they did. Also the latest shiny features and even price might end up to be less important. But the things we could work around, park for a moment and unspoken requirements get to become large issues.

Choosing an email service provider

Make sure you have the focus on the right issues, be able to distinguish a single tree from the forest. It is the key to value the potential email service providers in the context of your own organisation. If you do that you might just say I am  happy with my current email marketing program and will you be in coming years.

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and Analyst. He is the Founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. Named on of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016 " by Entrepreneur magazine.