You’ve Selected an Email Service Provider—Now What?

There’s no question that selecting the right email service provider (ESP) for your company is a major decision. But finding the Email service provider is only the first step in launching successful email marketing campaigns. In fact, the questions you ask—or don’t ask—your vendor after signing on the dotted line can determine how successful your email efforts will be.

The power of email marketing is more prevalent than ever. Ascend2 reported 82% of B2B and B2C companies are using email marketing technology, and for good reason. Email marketing campaigns can provide a higher return on investment than any other marketing tactic at 3800 percent according to The Direct Marketing Association (UK), which is a $38 return for every $1 spent.

Here are topics to be critical about and the questions to ask while setting up your new ESP:

How can I best manage my email list?

List quality and the way your list is managed is a mayor influence for the success of your email campaigns. During implementation your ESP, should also focus on the list beyond just importing them.

If you are pulling names out of your contact data base, your email marketing vendor should recommend an effective Welcome message. Sending emails to people who didn’t consciously sign up to receive your emails, can immediately affect your email deliverability. A subscriber list of individuals who did not electively sign up for is a bad list.

If your vendor suggests a purchased list of a certain demographic to obtain names and email addresses, it should be a red flag. This is not a best practice, they should instruct you on how to grow your list instead. This can be through a subscription form on your website and encouragement of email forwarding, a strong inbound marketing strategy, among many other creative ways. The key is to grow your subscriber list organically.

How do I keep my subscribers engaged?

Starting with a quality email list, the question is, how will you keep your subscribers engaged? The key to creating loyal, long-term subscribers is showing interest in their opinions and emotions. Your ESP should have tailored advice to help you do this.

Finding out more about your customers can be done by sending a short survey to ask customers or even more directly ask them to rate certain aspects of your newsletter.

It is important to track Email analytics as well, next to general feel for the engagement and trends, the engagement metrics can steer you towards the right topics. It can also give hint regarding when subscribers are opening your emails because you may need to adjust your timing. Your ESP can help you with A/B testing to determine the best send time and engaging content.

Outside of software, what service offerings are available and are they beneficial to me?

In addition to the software itself, what types of other services does your new email marketing company offer? Some ESPs provide a suite of customer support services including strategic planning, design and copywriting.

While these services will bring additional costs, remember that you are gaining the experience and expertise of digital marketing experts throughout all areas of your email marketing deployment.I have written before and in greater detail about the question “When Should You Outsource Your Email Marketing?” it is definitely something to consider.

If your marketing team is small or workloads are maxed out in core business areas, a package of services may be your best option. This kind of partnership allows your ESP to become an extension of your own marketing team. Outsourcing is a decision, to think about.

Often, marketing teams may be proficient in one or two areas of email but require assistance in another. For example, your team may have a strategic plan in place and be able to produce impactful email content, but design of the email is another story. Find out if your vendor allows you to go above tech support and use additional account services.

What kinds of training is available?

In addition to traditional onboarding, be sure to ask about ongoing training. If your ESP rolls out a new email marketing tool or service within their platform, can your team participate in online webinars to learn the functionality, use and implementation? Or if you want to become more proficient in coding and design, does the vendor offer one-on-one or group training sessions?

How will I measure success?

How will you know if your brand’s email marketing campaign is successful? If previous email marketing efforts have registered an open rate of X and want to grow it to Y, or you want to grow your subscriber list or sales by a certain percentage, it’s important to explain your goals to your new ESP.

They can decipher which metrics will best gauge the success of new email marketing campaigns (i.e. open rates, website views, etc.) and allows them to monitor what matters and help move you closer towards your goals. It’s also important to decide how often you will meet or have conference calls with your ESP representative. This is a great opportunity to go over your email analytics, determine what’s working and what’s not and set goals.

It’s all about communication

Whether you’re using email marketing to enhance your sales process, raise brand awareness or increase digital marketing efforts, a third party email marketing company can be integral in the achievement of your goals. The key to a successful email campaign is keeping an open line of communication with your vendor and ensuring they have a strong understanding of what equates to success for your brand.

These are just a few questions to get you started. Never hesitate to ask your vendor for help or clarification on data, and remember there is no such thing as a dumb question — especially in the ever-changing landscape of email marketing.

About Neil Berman

Neil Berman is the founder and CEO of Delivra, an email marketing service provider and strategic consultancy. With nearly 20 years in the software industry, Berman continues to be driven by a passion to find innovative solutions that help clients win in their industries.

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