What all Email Service Providers (ESPs) have in common is that they deliver email. Wonderful, I can choose any ESP and get the same result. Wrong!
Email marketing has been the online marketing workhorse for a while, but with the ever expanding digital channels you need to make sure your ESP is staying ahead of the technology and services curve.
If ESPs are not all the same, how do they differ?
There are big difference between ESPs, even if we are just looking at their functions, features and services. Some e-mail marketers might start out and try to find a very basic email marketing software, while their needs actually reach beyond that. However selecting the right email marketing software and partner from the start makes more sense; That way you don’t find yourself restricted in your communications later on.
To know that, we need to answer the following question: Are you just using the ESP for sending email or do you need more from your Email service provider?
Four categories of Email service providers
I’ve tried to simplify the difference between the ESPs by grouping them into 4 categories:
1. Send only – The SMTP service to send email
2. Packages services – Standards templates, tracking and deliverability but no real personalised services
3. Comprehensive eMarketing – A fully featured service that focuses mainly on eMarketing type messages only – not able to expand into other message types
4. Solutions Partner – A product that offers all the possible technical features plus the professional services to support the use of the technology
Quick Email requirements Checklist
The definition of “Service” in Email service provider is pretty broad. We all send emails for different reasons. From the very basic newsletters to more advanced secure electronic documents with transpromo marketing included.
Use this checklist to determine if your requirements are simply sending email or if you require advanced email strategy and solutions.
Send eMarketing messages as well as one of the following:
o Triggered emails
o Transactional messages
o Time critical messages
o Secure documents
Require strategic marketing and professional services:
o Usability design skills
o Template creation
o Industry best practice knowledge
o Deliverability expertise
Require email marketing consultancy:
o ROI or revenue focus
o Assistance in email adoption strategies & growing your list
o A/B testing & evaluation of results
o Insight into reporting results
o Require constant innovations to keep up with competitors
Require marketing automation and advanced features:
o Send cross-channel communications
o Require automation
o Dynamic segmentation and content
If you have checked more than two items above, then consider moving to an ESP that has a more robust and diverse offering.
Which ESP is right for me?
1. Send only (The SMTP service to send email)
Best suited to: Companies that really just need the technology (Bulk MTA) because they have all the expertise in-house (Strategy, industry best practice, creative, deliverability etc.)
2. Packages services (Standards features and services)
Best suited to: Companies that require basic email messaging and don’t need to have customized templates, branding or services.
3. Comprehensive eMarketing (Full customized feature set for Marketing type messages)
Best suited to: Companies that require specialized email messaging services that meet their individual needs. Message types are limited to Marketing activities and are seen as a Marketing expenditure.
4. Solutions Partner (Feature set for all message types and professional services)
Best suited to: Companies that have embraced “paperless” and electronic communications across multiple channels, including Mobile. They send (or plan to send) a range of electronic messages and would like one view of all communications. Sending email is not just for Marketing, it is a customer service, it saves the company money and ROI is important.
Discovering what you require
If you are just looking for an engine to effectively distribute your email and you have all the other skills in-house, then a “send only” ESP is good enough. If your requirements go beyond the basic newsletters, then be sure to select a relevant ESP.
It seems pretty simple: There is no wrong ESP; you just need to select one that suits your needs. That can be a digital partner that will help grow your email strategies. You might even discover that there are more email possibilities you are missing out on.