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Choosing the right Email Service Provider can be a daunting task.

With the ESP selection and finalization; there are two possibilities – Fly or Die!

While the right ESP provides wings to fly high with roaring ROI;

a bad choice that doesn’t match up to your expectations leads to an unfortunate and inescapable outcome.

Although there is some information available on the internet;

it still becomes difficult to choose the right ESP that best fits the bill.

The importance of
choosing the right ESP

Email marketing is one of the most preferred and
cost-effective channels of marketing.
To execute email marketing well,
you need to have a right ESP support.

A right ESP helps:

Increasing your deliverability rate & ROI

Eliminating a future cost of switching to the other ESP

Integrating your technology and automation systems with it

Preventing the unsubscribe on account of poor testing or rendering

Scaling the automation to the next level with targeted & relevant communication

Authenticate mail server

Collaborate people and processes across the organization

Evaluating the ESPs
It’s no more a hobson’s choice!

Self Analysis - Are you considering space
as your limit or want to restrict
it to a few meters from the ground?

Before selecting the ESP, ask a few questions:

Are you able to track the success of your email programs?

Does migrating to a new ESP impact your revenue ?

Are your needs realistic?

Are you evaluating ESPs keeping in mind the budget?

Would you require a dedicated account manager, robust deliverability and reporting?

Platform
There are crows and
there are cuckoos!

After having a self-examination
about the kind of requirements,
start your divine search of the
right platform matching your needs.

Is it a Usability rockstar?

Usability of the platform is quintessential. If the platform isn’t user friendly your staff might not be able to use it quite well. Consider the speed of training your staff.

Watchwords
  • Ease of navigation.
  • Profile settings and account configuration or syncing.
  • The nature of workflow.
  • Optional interfaces.
  • Pre-loaded templates and WYSIWYG editor
  • Error recognition capabilities.
  • HTML validation tools within the platform.
  • Customized permission setup possibilities.
  • Third party and in-built deliverability tools, if any
  • Testing and demo.
How divine is the deliverability?

Deliverability is the key concern for most marketers. Without emails being delivered, marketers will not be able to track the ROI from the campaigns.

Watchwords
  • Analysts’ rating on Forrester, Jupiter or member of Email Service Provider Coalition (ESPC).
  • Flexibility to allow third party deliverability audit.
  • Monitoring of deliverability.
  • Possibility of having a dedicated IP and associated costs, if any.
  • Team that interacts with ISP.
  • Reputation support such as white listing, feedback loops etc.
  • Authentication support - SPF, SenderID, DomainKeys, DKIM and DMARC.
Are your wings reliable? The ESP we mean!

Well, if your wings aren’t reliable, you won’t really be able to fly well. Same goes with the ESP! Make sure it is reliable to be able to count on the system and not losing on the ROI.

Watchwords
  • Consider the uptime and downtime including the patterns of downtime.
  • Customer viewpoints about downtime.
  • Unplanned downtime in last two years.
  • Crisis management plan.
  • Number of releases about temporary service suspension in the past.
How scalable in the ESP?

Remember, migrating ESP is tougher than selecting ESP ab initio. That said; it is now mission critical to choose a platform that is easily scalable with your growing needs.

Watchwords
  • Understand the scalability claims as this could be email volume, speed, lists and anything wide.
  • Size of customers served.
  • MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) used.
  • Delivery capacities of informative and promotional emails.
  • Integration and partnership ecosystem.
  • Long-term growth plans of the ESP and scalability business cases.
  • Competitors scalability.
Is the ESP big data enthusiast?

With marketers shifting from marketing to data science, it is much required that your ESP is a data lover.

Watchwords
  • Full or partial relational database support.
  • Data integration with CRM, e-commerce and other automated systems.
  • Ability of providing custom integration and complete documentation.
  • Internal integration and third party integration facilities.
  • Understand the type of API the platform offers: XML-based, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), REST, Synchronous or Asynchronous. Easier the better.
How divine is the deliverability?

Reporting and analytics is crucial part of any ESP’s feature list. With marketers now tracking more than just email open, click through rate and unsubscribe complaints, it is essential that the ESP provides more logical matrices than just open and click rates.

Watchwords
  • Custom reporting ability.
  • Reporting for bounce emails.
  • Ability to report programmable post click-through such as clickstream behavior.
  • Ease of exporting data.
  • Team that interacts with ISP.
  • Tools for conversion tracking and subscriber engagement.

Pricing
Fly high reasonably!

Having a pricing term that fits your budgets and sending pattern matters. Analyze pricing plans from various vendors before selecting an ESP.

Watchwords

Yearly usage or commitment to revenue

Termination terms

Optional and fixed costs

Complimentary services, if any

Payment terms: Contracts, Full service payment or Minimum monthly pay as you go

Set up fee, if any

Modes of payment

Customer Service,
Security and Compliance
They are your eagle eyes!

The other kind of question to probe while choosing an ESP is about the customer
service, security and compliance. Check whether there will be consulting, training,
24/7 support, data security, trial accounts etc.

Watchwords

24/7 support and the ticketing system

Complaint escalation procedure

Staff training and consulting on deployment, design and coding, if any

For data security is the ESP SOX and HIPAA compliant, if applicable

Do they have network intrusion detection, such as firewalls, employee screening,
monitored access, and/or security cameras? Are they insured, licensed and bonded?

Types of audit trials available

Types of security tools in place

Monitoring and alerts, if any

Compliance requirements of ESP

Knowledge with regards to the new regulations

Recourse if there is a violation of one of these laws or policies

Ask if there are trial accounts available

So now when you know the miles you can fly (aka. ESP), will you still consider
the same wings? If yes, make sure those wings help you fly high!

Email Monks design and code heavenly emails, newsletter templates and landing pages.
To know more email us on hello@emailmonks.com or visit www.emailmonks.com

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