Signs Your ESP Is Having Performance Issues

You know how it is… Things are going along smoothly in your ESP relationship, but little by little, it’s getting a tad bit bumpy. A small glitch here, a tiny hang up here, and soon enough, the tactical side of your email marketing program is harder than it used to be.

The ESP platform has seemingly grown clunky, or maybe your team has. And that might leave you asking yourself, “What’s changed? Does the new guy not know the interface the way he should? Is my team slacking off? Are we doing something wrong?”

I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you it might not be you. That’s because email service providers (ESPs) are not immune to performance issues. The little bumps and hiccups you’re experiencing might have everything to do with ESP issues and nothing to do with your team at all.

If you’re starting to wonder why things aren’t as fast or easy as they used to be, here are three ways to recognize that your ESP is going through a decline in performance…

One: Issues with platform availability

Platform availability means exactly that: the platform is available to users. When an email service provider starts to suffer from performance issues, logging in will be one of the one of the first problems you’ll notice. And if you can’t log in to the system, how are you supposed to use it? It probably won’t be so extreme that you can’t log in at all, but if logging in means waiting a few minutes (or longer) to get in and get your work done, you have an issue.

It might also mean people can’t subscribe to your email marketing at the front end of this setup, so you might want to look into that… Unlike you and your team members who have to get into the ESP, a potential subscriber who becomes a thwarted subscriber probably won’t be back. Ever.

It could also be that you’re logging into the system just fine, but then getting booted out while working within the platform. That’s also an availability issue!

Two: Issues with platform response times

So maybe getting (and staying) in isn’t a problem. That’s good. But once you’re in, you might find things go a little slooooower thaaaan theeeeey ussssssed tooooooo.

Indications of poor performance issues around platform response times include:

• Slow page load times
• Slow page response times
• Taking longer than normal to load files
• Timeouts when trying to refresh pages or lists
• Failed API calls
• And beyond slow performance, outright failures

Three: Issues with the time it takes to send out emails

Maybe you’re logging in just fine, and maybe the platform is as speedy and reliable as it ever was, but the actual sending is now taking longer. A decline in ESP performance might be an issue if you’re experiencing:

• Email send delays
• Failed sends
• Automation failures
• Or delays in triggered email sends

If any of these three kinds of performance issues are occurring, it’s definitely time to take up the topic with the ESP (maybe have a look at your Service Level Agreement, if you have one.) Every email service provider can have downtime, and we’re not talking about the rare occasion when that happens. We’re talking about a degrading in performance. You don’t have the time to wait around while you’re staring at a non-responsive screen.

Make sure the issues are originating with the ESP and not internally at your organization, then communicate your dissatisfaction to the ESP. Give them time to fix any performance problems.

But let’s also acknowledge not every issue is a technical one…

Four: Issues with service that sucks

There are also the customer service performance issues. I’ve yet to find actual numbers despite searching several times, but anecdotally, most organizations switch email service providers because of customer service issues.

Yes, customer service performance can decline just as technical performance can. Just as a new romance starts out with both parties on their best behavior, eager to please, it’s easy to be sucked into thinking an ESP’s customer service team will be a joy to work with—especially when all you’ve experienced is the sales side of things. Sales people are always nice and accommodating, remember. It might even be the migration and implementation stages go well, and the service you receive is prompt, practical and friendly.

But then things change… sometimes it’s not that the customer service is poor but that the relationship between the client and the ESP is. Our ESP therapy approach offers some ways to repair and improve these kinds of malfunctioning relationships.

However, there are those times when the customer service is bad. Some examples of a decline in customer service performance might include:

• Calls aren’t returned in a timely manner.
• Issues aren’t resolved quickly, or they’re not resolved at all.
• Account managers don’t reach out, aren’t proactive in engaging the client.
• You’re not informed about upgrades or changes until after the fact.
• Unexpected downtimes aren’t explained.

Marketing moves at a rapid pace these days. You don’t have time for performance issues that slow down your email marketing program. If things are slowing down, use this information above to determine if the issue is your ESP or not. If it is, take the steps you can to get them to shape up, but be willing to switch ESPs if necessary. And if the issues are actually internal, do what you can to improve, bringing in outside help if necessary to get your team up to speed.

Marco Marini

About Marco Marini


Marco Marini is the CEO of ClickMail Marketing, a vendor-agnostic reseller of email marketing solutions. Marco is an acknowledged expert in e-marketing with over 15 years of experience in the field. Before taking over as CEO at ClickMail, he was the VP of Marketing & Operations. Marco has also held key marketing positions with CyberSource, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada.

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