Choosing an email service provider to help with email marketing and bulk email services can seem overwhelming. You can narrow down the options by first considering how you will use the service, what your budget is, and how much tech support you will need. Once you determine your needs, you can choose a company that provides the right capabilities.
What are email service providers?
Email service providers are platforms which allow users to send mass marketing emails, mass transactional emails and other types of emails to specific lists of recipients (subscribers). With that being said, let’s analyze which are the questions you need to ask when choosing your email service provider.
1. Set goals for using the service.
Consider your goals for using an email marketing service. Do you just want to achieve a bit of basic email marketing? Or are you planning to send out massive email campaigns to thousands of email list subscribers? Determining your goals wil help you make an informed decision about selecting an email service provider
2. Find out the costs
Planning your budget is a must-have step before you decide on an ESP. Ask for a consultation on the plans according to the volume of your email database and sending patterns. Have in mind that some ESP offer free plans with basic features which might or might not be good for you. Ask for such and then upgrade to paid plans.
3. Make sure the company offers adequate tech support.
When you are choosing an email service provider, you need to consider how much tech support you will expect from the service. Some services will offer around the clock support. Others may only provide clients with limited ticket support
4. Make sure you understand all additional costs, fees, payment methods, and termination terms
These are all factors you need to clear up when considering different ESPs. It’s important not to make rash decisions. At first, a vendor may seem more affordable but there may be additional costs that will impact your budget. In result, the scales may turn in favor of the other. Everything related to costs and payment needs to be cleared up in advance.
4. Check if the interface is user-friendly
As a user, you would love to set up new campaigns and monitor results as quickly as possible. Your ESP should provide an easy-to-understand, intuitive and functional interface that will help you do your job seamlessly.
5. Make sure an email builder and an email template library are included in the package
Not everyone wants to integrate custom HTML emails and even if you do, for some campaign you would just want to use the ESP’s email builder. How easy is it to work with? Is there a diversity of pre-made templates that can be edited?
6. Check if API integration is available
If you want to connect your own platform and CRM tools to the ESP in order to sync data and manage your systems from a single interface, then you need to ask in advance if this option is provided.
7. See if you’re getting a dedicated IP
A dedicated IP allows you to control and maintain your reputation as an email sender, as well as have better control on your deliverability. If you are going to share ID with other senders, you need to ask the provider how they are going to manage the shared ID reputation, e.g. will they suspend accounts which harm the IP? Moreover, if you send emails to huge databases, ask if you can use several dedicated IPs and how much would that cost.
8. Select a provider that offers efficient subscriber management
Managing your subscribers is one of the most important services an email service provider provides. Research how the provider manages subscription forms unsubscribe centers and subscriber content preferences. These are all key to acquiring and personalizing email services for your subscribers.
9. Learn about the segmentation options and A/B testing possibilities
When asking about segmentation options and A/B testings, we recommend that you ask if the ESP supports exactly the segmentation options you need and how easy would that be to handle? Would you have to create separate versions of the same template and separate email lists even if you want to change only the subject line? Or would the template update automatically? What are the possibilities for segmentation?
10. Inquire about deliverability rates
Before you decide on an email service provider, ask the company about email deliverability rates. You want to make sure the emails you are sending end up in subscribers’ inboxes instead of getting marooned in cyberspace or spam filters.[
11. How will the migration to the ESP go?
You are looking for a smooth migration process without impacting your revenue or other essential metrics.
12. How will you track your success?
Ask about what kind of analysis and reports the vendor provides. The basic metrics you need to follow are sent emails, delivered emails, bounces, opens, clicks.
13. Choose a provider that provides detailed reporting
An email service provider provides detailed reporting on your email campaigns. This reporting should include the rates at which subscribers open emails, daily delivery success rates, and the rate at which subscribers click links included in the emails. You should be able to view which of your subscribers completed each of these actions. This will help you measure how effective your email campaigns are.
14. Make sure the ESP is secure and complies with privacy regulations
For you, it’s very important to know that the email service provider uses reliable security tools and if their policy is compliant with the regulations. Sending emails to different audiences may require different levels of regulation. Also, ask about how they collect emails and how they manage the unsubscribe process.
15. Take multiple free trials
Even you think you’ve found the perfect match for your business needs, you can never be completely sure unless you’ve tested out the platform for some time.
To sum up,
Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you finally choose an ESP that corresponds to your needs best. If you believe even more questions are important in order to help you choose an ESP that’s right for your business, feel free to share with us in the comments below.