Email marketing platforms tend to stack up to be one of the best tools you can invest in. With an average ROI of $44 for every $1 you spend, it seems to make sense for any marketer at any level.
But your email marketing campaign is only as good as the email service provider (ESP) powering it.
That’s why you should take your time when looking for an ESP. As great as they all look on paper, not all will be suitable for your business or your email marketing strategy, even as your business deserves the best email marketing service it can get.
Before you start your search
Before you start looking at the best email service providers in the market, there are a few things you need to determine.
Define your goals.
You need to know what you’re hoping to achieve with your email marketing before you even start shopping for an ESP.
Email service providers aren’t the same. Each has its strengths and flaws. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you eliminate those that aren’t capable of bringing your goals to pass.
What’s your budget?
Another important factor to deal with from the onset is your budget. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for in an email service.
This is why you should never opt for a free email service provider for your business. These free services have many limitations in analytics and security, restricting ultimate revenue.
Your budget will help you determine the kind of email service provider you should start looking for. Use it to strike a balance between the features that will help you achieve your goals and sustainability.
9 things to look for in the best email service provider
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for your search, let’s look at what you need to look out for as you shop around.
Probably the first place to start in looking for an email service provider is the features.
You’ll want an ESP that has as features that line up with your goals and are within your budget. You’ll need to carefully look at the features of each ESP, and, if possible, take it for a test drive. A free trial will give you a taste of what to expect from your ESP of choice.
When it comes to features, make sure to look not only for the features you need now, but features you’ll need as your business grows. In other words, you need to look for scalability in your ESP of choice.
2. Ease of use
Let’s face it. Email marketing, particularly automation, is quite a complicated affair. That’s why one major facet you need to consider in your search for an email service is ease of use.
Some of the basic features you’ll need in an email service provider are responsive templates for mobile. Advanced features include advanced personalization and segmentation options, dynamic content, and automation among others.
If the ESP you’re looking at ticks the features box, move on to the next factor that will determine if it’s the best ESP for you.
Some features that contribute to an ESP being easy to use include a drag and drop builder, a user-friendly interface, and ready-made templates among others.
Although these easy-to-use features may make the email service provider a bit more costly, you recoup your costs in the fact that you won’t need to invest a lot of time and money in familiarizing yourself with it.
With the recent spike in data breaches, security is now a core element you should look for in an ESP. After all, it’s not only your sensitive data that is vulnerable, but your customers’ as well. Ensure that you maintain trust with your clients by getting an email service that has a robust multilayered security protocol.
When looking for an email service provider, security definitely has to feature at the top of the list of things to look for.
Email marketing is a sensitive marketing tool. If one small thing goes wrong, the entire campaign is in danger of being a flop.
This is where customer support comes in.
An email service provider with good customer support will always be there to help ensure that your email marketing campaign runs smoothly. Make sure you test their response rate by email, phone, or live chat before you make your final purchase.
We’re living in an age where there is an app for everything. And quite frankly, many of them are quite helpful. When it comes to marketing, a study revealed marketers use an average of 5 apps to power their marketing. This is from analytics to automation and everything in between.
It’s crucial to have top integrations available so you can use data to create intricate segments, and send extremely personalized and relevant campaigns to your subscribers. Data is at the core of these possibilities. And data is what helps you form deep relationships with your audience.
An email marketing campaign without data tracking (no matter how successful it may seem) is a waste of time. Tracking the progress of your emails is not just for the sake of feeling good (or bad) about the metrics. It’s all about improving your strategy and systems.
So tracking must be a part of your ESP.
Tracking will help you understand what your customers want and help you craft more personalized emails. It’ll also make it easy for you to segment your list and create the kind of journeys they’ll love and appreciate.
Apart from excellent data-gathering abilities, you should make sure your ESP of choice compiles the data in an easy to understand fashion.
Marketing automation is very popular for many good reasons. Sure, it ideally lightens your workload. But one of the greatest benefits is that it also increases the open rates and click-through-rates of your emails. (You can see our infographic on the latest email stats.)
In essence, automation increases revenue. Because of the data it helps you gather and track, your email marketing becomes more targeted. This helps you have a lead nurturing system that will work for you and power more conversions.
8. Scrutinize the delivery rates.
Many well-intentioned emails sadly find themselves in the spam box. An important fact to realize is that just because you press the send the button, your email won’t necessarily reach its destination. It’s not that simple.
Email delivery is a bit of a tricky element. Just as you need to have a good relationship with your subscribers in order for your emails to be whitelisted, so too do ESPs need to be in good standing with the giants running the internet—like Google and Yahoo.
Before you sign the dotted line, inquire about your potential email service provider’s delivery rate. A good service provider will guarantee you delivery rates in the 98% region. Don’t just settle for the delivery rate—find out how they plan to keep it that way or improve on it.
Deciding to use an email service provider starts a long-term relationship. You wouldn’t want to get into it without at least knowing their plans for ensuring your happiness.
9. A proven track record
They do say the proof is in the pudding. For an email marketing service provider, the proof is in its ability to adjust with the times.
An ESP with a good track record proves that it has mastered the art and science of sustainability. Remember, most of your data will be hosted by the ESP, meaning if it were to sink, your business would be in danger of sinking along with it.
That’s why ESPs like Emma are at the top of the list when it comes to the best email service providers. With a history that can be traced to as far back as the year 2002, Emma has weathered many storms to be a strong contender in a very fierce marketplace.
Choosing an email service provider that suits your business is no easy task. It requires that you do a lot of research. So take these notes, ask a lot of questions, and find out what you can. There are a lot of basics that may be covered in all ESPs, but you can start to find huge differences when you dig past the surface.
If you’re ready to ask some of these questions to us, we’d love to answer them! Sign up for a demo to learn more about Emma and see if we stack up to what you need.
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