Choosing the right email service provider (ESP) has never been easy. Now, it is becoming increasingly difficult. More and more email service providers are cropping up, and CRMs are also entering the market with bolt on email facilities. I speak with many prospects daily who all are in a muddle with whom they have had a demo or trial with.
You cannot have everything in life!
It seems this saying is very true of off the shelf applications too…
Yes, I may sound like your grandparents, but it’s true in. “Off the Shelf” platforms are built, and developed, by people. People all have different views of what is important in a product. Developers and Designers all must make decisions based on priority. Certain “Bells and Whistles” are not system critical and may not be developed into a piece of software as they are non-essential. Some of the most well marketed systems in the world have problems and are missing the simplest features – believe me!
TOP TIP! As you’re starting out with a new provider. It’s always worth checking how easy it is to export data that you might need in the future. Statistics, email campaigns, contact activity and unsubscribed data will be useful if you have to migrate to a more advanced platform in the future!
Be Content, be happy, there is a solution!
Choosing the right piece of software is always going to be a compromise. You may not even know until further down the line whether you require certain facilities. So, the first job is to map out exactly what you require in the first place. Have this drawn out on a piece of paper – like a workflow. Get setup with the basics in mind first.
Make the Call!
It is imperative to first identify three potential ESPs to compare. Think carefully about all the reasons important to you. Consider certain demographics, like where are they based? Have they got certain accreditations from approved bodies?
You don’t want to be using an overseas provider if you can help it, as their laws maybe different as well as business working hours. So, it’s best to choose suppliers that are within the same country as your business. They will also need to abide by law regulated in your country.
TOP TIP! Check to see whether the provider is based in your location as well as the costs for phoning the service.
Reading the Signs
One obstacle you may come across with certain software platforms is the complexity of the software. Most software uses friendly marketing terms to suck you in to their “Easy-To-Use” software – but the reality is that it’s still a piece of software and needs to be piloted by a human. It’s definitely worth choosing a provider which have a pro-active support team.
A good sign that you are dealing with a good pro-active company is that you get an almost immediate follow up call when signing up for a free trial. The benefit of choosing a company with excellent support is that in the long run, you will be able to optimise your email marketing to get the best ROI.
There may be certain instances where an email address in your database does not receive an email. So, it is always good to have a reactive and proactive support team behind you.
Some providers will also assign you a dedicated support manager (very much like us here at www.mailingmanager.co.uk), this can be particularly good, as your support manager can also offer you additional services like managed campaigns (if you too busy to produce one).
It’s always worth checking how long a business has been in business also. Businesses can crop up overnight – do you want to be a guinea pig for a new software that has not had proper BETA testing completed before launched?
TOP TIP! Look past the bells and whistles, look at core functionality!
You get the ESP you pay for?
This is usually the case in life but is this the case with email marketing platforms and other software. I would personally argue against this.
A highly developed platform usually demands a higher price due to the amount of features that it may have. These types of platforms are usually very bloated – but can also be good if you’re looking for a particular feature.
The downside of these types of platforms for certain users are that they contain too many features that will never be used. Maybe a less developed platform would do the job fine? This is a consideration which many people overlook and usually are brought in by the bells and whistles that do not matter.
I have seen this a lot. With that said, there are going to be businesses that do require more sophisticated products – but are you one of those businesses?
Most ESP’s want their users to be compliant with applicable laws. With email marketing there are different laws across in different reguions. Be sure to read up on email marketing laws within your location to ensure your data is compliant with the law.
Here in the EU, a recent regulation called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Read more about what GDPR has meant for Email Marketing in our article: .
An email marketing company that has an anti-spam policy will more than likely be policing the data that is being used to send via their servers. Do not look at this as a negative, this is a positive. An ESP that is strict with the type of data on their servers is likely to have better server reputation and therefore will be much better for deliverability.
Sourcing the right email provider checklist
Don’t get sucked in if you can help it.
Email marketing providers do have what is known as a churn rate, this is the annual percentage of customers who cancel compared to new signups. To reduce their churn some will try a combination of two things: either an extended minimum contract term (usually 12 months), or a whopping initial setup charge (can be up to £1500). Don’t be fooled by these prices, you are not getting £1500’s worth of training – but you are paying a hefty amount which makes you feel like you cannot move elsewhere because of the large investment already made into the software.
Look Past Marketing
Your email marketing provider will inevitably influence how your customers receive your emails. Everything from their templates, to their deliverability will affect your customer interactions. It is important to give some consideration to all the above.
Take your time with the decision, it is possible to get it wrong and be stuck for a considerable time.