Glossary: Email service provider (ESP)

What is an 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, many agency-style email service providers also offer email creation, consultancy, training and other services. These agencies are known as full-service ESPs. 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

About Jordie van Rijn


Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant at www.emailmonday.com. He specializes in smart email marketing, event-driven campaigns and vendor selection. As a consultant, Jordie will help you get the most out of your email marketing efforts.

  • Shawmac_80

    i am having problems receiving emails from facebook…wht should i do???

  • Jon

    Can you give an example of an ESP then? So like AWeber is an ESP?