Selecting an Email Service
Permission-based email marketing is an
effective way for your business or organization to sell to
known prospects, send out an email newsletter, and build
An ESP is a service that hosts email
marketing services on their servers, which are specifically
optimized for this purpose. While you control your email
marketing account and send out emails using a Web browser
interface, the ESP’s servers and Internet connections do the
heavy lifting. If you tried to send bulk emails through your
regular Internet Service Provider (ISP), your campaign could
be blocked, as regular ISPs are not set up for—and sometimes
An ESP also provides detailed reporting on
the results of your email campaign: 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. Good reporting is an invaluable feature as it
helps you measure the effectiveness of your email marketing
Most ESPs also make it very easy for you
to comply with the CAN SPAM Act regulations. For example, an
ESP should automatically include an unsubscribe link in
every email sent through 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. Most ESPs also require you to send only to lists of
subscribers that have opted-in to receive emails from you.
ESPs allow you to execute professional,
organized email marketing campaigns. Now, what should you
look for in an ESP to make sure you choose the right one?
Here are some criteria to consider:
1. Private IP address (best) or
Shared IP with very few users. The IP address from
which an email is sent is like a phone number; it
indicates the origin of an email. Just like you would
not share a phone number with a large group of
strangers, you do not want to share an IP address with
other customers at your ESP. If your ESP makes you share
an IP address with other customers, too many spam
complaints against another customer could get your
shared IP address blacklisted by a major ISP. This would
prevent your emails from being delivered, and it can
take time for your ESP to get the IP off the blacklist.
Be sure your ESP can provide you with a private IP
2. Customer support and training. Your ESP should
offer both online and phone customer support and
3. Robust infrastructure. Make sure your ESP has
multiple, high-speed connections to the Internet through
more than one source and hardware redundancy. This
ensures reliability if one of the Internet connections
fails or there is a hardware failure. Ask prospective
ESPs about their infrastructure. This is important
because a lot of ESPs will offer “click-tracking” tools.
The click tracking will require that the links go to the
ESP first, and then it is redirected to your web site
(that’s how it can track the click). There would be
nothing worst than sending to your valuable prospects
and customers and having the ESPs servers go down. The
people reading your emails won’t be able to click
4. Good reporting. The ESP should offer a variety
of user-friendly reports: deliverability success,
open-rates, and click-through rates.
5. CAN SPAM compliance. Your ESP should require
customers to comply with the CAN SPAM Act and make it
very easy to do so.
6. List Segmenting. Your ESP should enable you to
segment lists by demographic and other criteria,
Targeting subsets of your list with content relevant to
them leads to more successful email marketing campaigns.
7. A/B testing. It is important to have the
ability to test different versions of your email to find
what works. A/B testing is a way to test your email
content, subject line, etc., to see which version gets
the best results. Often this involves randomly splitting
up the list and comparing results, and your ESP should
be able to provide this functionality.
8. Free trial. Most ESPs offer a free trial. Do a
test drive to see if the service meets your needs.
9. No term contract. Do not sign up for a service
that requires anything beyond a month commitment. If you
are unhappy with your service, you should be able to
cancel and switch services at will.
10. Pricing Plans. ESPs host your email list on
their servers. Some charge a monthly fee based on the
number of emails on your list, while others charge a
monthly fee you based on the maximum number of emails
you think you will send per month. Be sure to choose a
pricing structure that fits your needs.
About the author: Neil Anuskiewicz is
the Sales Director of EZ Publishing, Inc., the creator of
StreamSend Email Marketing Service
Email Vendor Selection
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A site designed to assist with evaluating and selecting an email service provider. Email Vendor Selection provides articles, an extensive vendor list, a glossary of industry terms and other resources designed to assist in choosing an email service.