Choosing the right email service provider (ESP) for your business is crucial to sending effective email campaigns. ESP’s make it easier for businesses’ to build email lists and send emails. Since email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels with a high ROI, there are lots of email softwares to evaluate when choosing an email service provider for your business. The basic services an email service provider needs to offer are safely storing email addresses and sending emails. But, what else should you consider when choosing an email service provider?
Shared or Dedicated IP?
First, you need to address the important topic of sending your emails through a shared IP or a dedicated IP. It is just as it sounds, either an address shared by a variety of senders, or one dedicated IP address used only by a single domain. The IP address is how the mailbox providers determine your sender reputation. This is important because it decides whether your email makes it into your desired inboxes. When you research ESP’s, this is an important deciding factor. If your list is just starting out, we do not suggest taking on the extra expense of a dedicated IP. Instead, we suggest only businesses with 100,000 subscribers or above get a dedicated IP. For those who stay on a shared IP, work with your ESP support team to understand who else might be sharing the IP in case it impacts your brand’s deliverability.
The volume of your list is also important when deciding which ESP to choose. You need to understand if your email service provider can support your email list. You need to be aware of the sending limits of the ESP you choose. They may have limits on emails sent daily, hourly or even by the minute. This is important to know the limits because you do not want to get your email account blocked. Having your email account blocked will then affect your deliverability.
Deliverability is one of the most important items to consider when selecting an email service provider. Deliverability is different from delivery. Deliverability refers to an email leaving the ESP’s gateway and successfully arriving in the recipient’s inbox. Monitoring deliverability is important because without successful deliverability, you will run into issues such as throttling, bounces, spam issues and bulking. You should also be aware of what hurts deliverability such as sending without custom authentication, using single opt-in, sending from a free domain email address, making it difficult to unsubscribe, using URL shorteners, and lack of engagement. When you’re tracking metrics that impact email deliverability rates, remember benchmarks such as: 95% or higher is considered to be a good delivery rate, and your bounce rate should not be higher than 3%.
Another important functionality your ESP should provide is tracking analytics and creating reports to monitor key metrics such as the above deliverability rates. Most ESP’s offer a basic set of metrics to track the progress of your emails such as open, click-through, bounce rates and unsubscribe rates. This is just the surface of what reports are available, because some ESPs also allow you to acquire information for your brand activity as well, such as how fast you respond to emails, efficient times, etc. You need to decide what kind of information you want from your email campaigns and ensure you choose the right provider that can supply you with information to improve your email marketing.
Automations and Workflows
Next, make sure you are aware of available automations and workflows. Email automations are set up to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time. This will allow you to not have to do it manually every day because you can use the automation tools to do that for you. Building off of that, email workflows give you the ability to send automated emails based on the subscribers contact information, behavior and interests. These two pieces are crucial to think about when choosing an ESP as you want to be as efficient as possible.
Ease of Use
The ability to use your ESP as easily and efficiently as possible should also be something to contemplate. The ability to custom code if needed, use drag and drop templates, and the ability to build journeys or automations without the support of an IT team gives your team more power and flexibility to adapt the system to your needs. You should be able to easily navigate and perform your tasks through your ESP. Research which providers have the best reviews being user friendly and narrow down your list that way.
Be aware of your integration options. This refers to being able to join systems, tools and softwares for smooth email marketing. Being able to link your ESP with systems you use will help you create more meaningful, personalized, and efficient messages. Integrations might include your ecommerce store, social media pages, or other platforms where you want to connect the customer journey and enhance data. Ensure that your ESP can integrate with your systems and platforms so you can easily understand and appeal to your customers.
When it comes to cost, many people don’t want to spend a ton of money up front until they see a return on their investment. Starting your search for an ESP with a reasonable budget is understandable, and there are plenty of affordable and amazing ESP’s out there. Make sure they offer everything you need and compare prices to other providers. Also consider the support you are getting from this provider, do you feel like you have what you need to create, deliver and report on a successful email marketing campaign? Do you feel like you have guidance from your ESP when you are unsure how to continue with a certain issue?
Ability to Scale
Lastly, the longevity and scalability of your ESP is essential. Will your software be able to meet your needs both now and in the future? Pay attention to the providers that are evolving their services to better fit people’s needs versus those that are staying the same. Note which providers include more services to better equip their customers, proving they want you to succeed.
Overall, there is a lot to consider when choosing an ESP. We want you to be as prepared as possible when choosing and have access to everything you’ll need to review before you make a decision. An ESP is indispensable when it comes to email marketing and we want you to make the right choice for you and your business. Reach out to our email geeks today for a consultation by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.