What is an Email Service Provider (ESP)?
To the general public, it’s extrasensory perception. To email marketers, an email service provider (ESP) is a company that offers email services. Because email (marketing) services come in all shapes and sizes, this is a pretty broad definition. Luckily, we can break this down into several categories.
Email marketing platform
An ESP is a company that helps you send email marketing messages by offering an email marketing platform or email tool. Many companies offer self-service email marketing platforms.
Basic functionalities include:
- Create email templates and/or use pre-made templates
- Maintain a subscriber list, uploaded by the user for distributing messages
- Send email, allowing users to distribute their messages to subscribers
- See statistics and reports of email campaigns and individual emails to measure success
Agency-style email service providers
In addition to offering email marketing platforms, some email service providers also offer email creation, consultancy, training and other email related services. These agencies are known as full-service ESPs. There are many online marketing agencies of course, but not all specializing in email marketing. We listed a selection of email marketing agencies. Some only work with their own or one specific platform, while others will work with multiple platforms or on the client’s own email marketing platform. Many allow their clients to pick the services they want “a la carte” and do the rest in-house or with help of another company.
Additional email marketing services
The following services also fall under the label “ESP”:
- Deliverability services
- List broking
- Mail transfer agents (MTA)
- Rendering test platforms
- Whitelisting services
- (Inbox) monitoring
- CRM and survey tools
- Campaign management software