Thinking Beyond the Platform: Why Services Matter in Your Hunt For an ESP

When selecting an ESP, many brands get excited about the latest features that a vendor has to offer. But brands should not just consider the supplier’s platform.

Examining an ESP’s services is really important because having a good service provider can help you achieve your specific strategic goals.

The latest features and new tools

When shopping for an email service provider, many brands get excited about the latest ESP features that they have to offer. By the same token, suppliers are happy to show off their new bells and whistles because everyone in a pitch meeting is wowed by how that new mobile tool works.

While new features are definitely exciting to observe, it’s important not to let an impressive demo of a fancy new tool overwhelm an important decision for your company. Yes, features are important, but it is imperative for brands to keep focused on what their goals are and how a partner can help them achieve those goals and not get sidetracked by shiny new tools.

Considering ESP servcies

With a new ESP, brands should not just consider the supplier’s platform, but also their services. Examining an ESP’s services is really important because having a good service provider can help you achieve your specific strategic goals. After all, a cool new mobile feature is only beneficial if it makes sense for your company’s marketing agenda and if you have guidance on how to use it strategically. Enter the need for a sound services offering.

According to the most recent Forrester Wave on Email Marketing Vendors, marketers rank good account managers as the second most important aspect to a vendor’s offering. The focus on email marketing services, specifically, allows for brands to specialize and increase email related results.

While most ESPs offer standard features on their platform, the level of service available in the market can vary wildly. It’s important to ask questions about services during an RFP because you might find yourself needing help working with the platform.

Reasons to engage with ESP services

There are a number of reasons that you might engage with an ESP’s services. Many marketers, for example, have a lack of resources and simply don’t have the bandwidth for campaign management. These brands will use an ESP’s services division to help with things like design, copy and campaign management.

Launching large scope email marketing programs

Another reason that you might consider using an ESP’s services is to help guide you through big new campaigns or programs. If you are going to launch a new effort that has a large scope, then you really need to go with an ESP with services. For instance, if you want to launch a multichannel complex automated email marketing campaign or a triggered marketing program, then you might need guidance on how to optimize these processes.

Not only can an ESP’s services division build out the effort within a platform, but they can also share insights and expertise from their experience working across clients. Service providers can also help you understand and apply best practices to your campaigns so that you are maximizing your program’s potential.

The ESP Roadmap

Another thing to consider when shopping for an ESP is the company’s roadmap. While it is important to know what features are available through a potential partner’s platform, it is also useful to ask what features have come out in the last year and what new features they have on their roadmap. These kinds of questions will give you insight into what type of company you might be working with and can give you perspective into how your strategic vision is aligned with the ESP.

Looking at strategy, services and technology

When shopping for a technology partner, you should be thinking about the big picture and not just about your business goals for this month. Just because a company can help you with time zone targeting that you desperately need for your email campaign next week, doesn’t mean that they are the strategic partner that you need to achieve your roadmap over the next year.

As a marketer, it is important that you don’t just think about what is happening in your business today, but consider your future needs and choose a partner accordingly.

About Tony D'Anna

For the past 5 years, Tony has led the PostUp and UnsubCentral businesses. Tony holds 20 years of management experience in the software, technology and direct marketing arena with some of the world's top global companies and technology innovators. Prior to PostUp, Tony served as Vice President of the Unicast division at Enliven Marketing Technologies. Following Enliven's merger with DG FastChannel, he remained with the company and managed the re-launch efforts for its SaaS based - rich media ad solution into the Agency Channel. Earlier in his career, Tony held senior management roles at Dell and Sony Electronics. Notably, Tony oversaw Dell's retail sales organization of more 150 locations nationally. He also was a key player as Director of Sales and Operations in the launch of Sony's first Direct Sales and Marketing business: Sony Style.

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