Following on from our last blog topic: Ideas to build your email database, let’s cover of some quick tips on choosing a reliable Email Service Provider to manage your all-important list building campaign and newsletter database.

Firstly, what is an ESP?

An ESP is a service that hosts email marketing services on their servers and allows business to execute professional, organised email marketing campaigns. You are able to control your email marketing account and send out emails using a Web browser interface, whilst the ESP’s servers and internet connections do all the behind the scenes work. A regular Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not set up with the capabilities of an ESP.

Choosing a suitable Email Service Provider (ESP) for your business can be a daunting task as there is no shortage of choices, but knowing what to look for can make this process simpler. Here are a few factors to consider:

Usability

The usability can only be determined by the user so test drive to see if the service meets your needs.

Customisation

Ensure the ESP offers the ability to personalise templates to your unique business branding including signup form, email template, autorepsonder and more.

Pricing and Contracts

Make sure the ESP offers a free trial or do not sign up for a service that requires anything beyond a month commitment. If you are unhappy with the usability or other factors, you should be able to cancel and switch services simply.

Customer Service & Training

A reliable ESP should offer both online and phone customer support and training. Another factor to consider is how long does it take customer service to respond to your queries?

Compliance

ESPs should require customers to comply with the CAN SPAM Act and make it very easy to do so. Services should automatically include an unsubscribe link on every email you send via their service and automatically remove these addresses from your lists, as well as verify that all emails are sent from a valid, working email address.

List Management

This could be considered part of the usability criteria, however it is a little more complicated than that.  Your chosen ESP should enable you to easily upload your database list, target subsets of your list with relevant content, segment lists by demographic and other criteria to ensure a more successful email marketing campaigns.

Reporting

Good reporting is an invaluable feature as it helps you measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. An ESP should provide detailed reporting, delivery success rates, email open-rates and link click-through rates. You should even be able to see which of your subscribers performed these actions.

Generally speaking, it’s good to have options.

PRO TIP: We recommend MailChimp.

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