Home > Email Service Provider > Choosing the right email service provider

Choosing the right email service provider

Find the right fitOnce you’ve decided to begin an email marketing campaign the first step is to pick an email service provider, right? Wrong. Think of selecting an ESP like buying a car. Before you show up at a dealership, you have to decide what you’ll be using it for. Will you be driving it every day? What’s your budget? Do you plan to use it to transport bulky or heavy loads? Answering these questions will help you to quickly narrow down your options and eventually find the best fit for your needs.

Before you begin shopping, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Frequency: How often will I deliver messages?
2. Size: How many subscribers do I want or think I can acquire?
3. Tools: Do I need special customization and graphics?
4. Resources: What level of customer support am I looking for?
5. Cost: What’s my budget?

Once you’ve answered these questions to the best of your abilities, you’ll be able to whittle down your choices. Just like the process of buying a car, most email marketing services will allow you to take their product for a test drive, some for up to two months. This gives you time to use the tools, ask questions, even send out a few real campaigns completely for free.

Here’s a list of criteria you can use to judge the services while you’re testing them out.

1. Ease of Use: Is the dashboard intuitive, especially when it comes to adding, deleting, and editing recipient addresses?
2. Feature set: Do the available templates work for you? Does it matter to you if readers recognize the same format from other newsletters? Does the service offer forward-to-a-friend, segmentation, and other abilities your campaign will require?
3. Email Campaign Creation: How easy is it to actually create and format the newsletter?
4. Campaign Reporting: Is the data the reporting tools provide valuable to you?
5. Help & Support: How easy is it to access customer support and have your questions answered? Is there a customer forum?

When choosing a provider, small business owners must determine the feature set and pricing model that works best for their business. In the past, most small businesses “blasted” the same message to their entire list. Most email service providers offer the basics to enable this type of communication. But businesses and consumers have become more sophisticated and more demanding. They want only specific types of information and offers and promotions at specific times. This is where the more advanced features such as segmentation and email automation play a role. Small businesses who want to ensure their email gets delivered and opened should look for more advanced features to help them improve overall campaign performance.

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