Why Email Marketing?
Email is consistently rated as the world’s most popular and most widely used application on the internet and is now by far the leading means of business communication. It is second only to search in online marketing budgets with 97% of consumers and 94% of marketers using, piloting or planning email marketing programmes with 88% of people anticipating the effectiveness of email to increase in the next 3 years. In short, promoting your organization and its services via email is one of the most powerful, flexible and cost-efficient means of direct marketing and therefore it’s imperative that when choosing an Email Service Provider (ESP) that you select the right one who will match your needs perfectly.
What are the Different Types of ESP’s?
If you’re new to email marketing then embarking on your research can seem extremely daunting as initially there appears to be lots of organizations to choose from. One of the fundamental decisions you need to make is whether to outsource your email marketing or keep it in-house, and making this decision could have far-reaching consequences. There are a number of ESP’s on the market who provide a wide range of products, services and functionalities, so it’s imperative to understand the different types of ESP’s and their different areas of focus. To make things easier for you, we have analyzed the market and segmented it into four key categories as the following diagram shows:
Whilst each option has its merits, for the majority of organizations, an outsourced solution – whether a fully managed or ASP (Application Service Provider) solution – can be the most sensible option. ASP solutions are always up to date concerning any email marketing legalities and you automatically benefit from any system upgrades and new versions. Outsourcing will allow you to concentrate on your marketing strategy, letting your ESP take away some of the workload from you.
Solutions and Services Offered by ESP’s
Now you have seen a snapshot of the four different segments of the email market (Managed, ASP, Software License and In-House as seen in picture) you are now in a better position to take a look at the different solutions and services that each sector and ESP offer. These vary considerably from supplier to supplier so as always you need to make a hotlist of the most important services and solutions you are looking for. To point you in the right direction, take a look at the following guidelines, taking note of the solutions and services mentioned below which you feel are relevant to your organization:
- Types of solution offered: Look at whether the ESP offers one product or a range of services such as end-to-end services, a technology, media campaigns, lead generation campaigns and market research.
- Types of services offered: What types of services does the ESP offer. These can vary massively and can include some of the following: List provision; data management; data cleansing; best practice consultancy; broadcast, personalization and segmentation; real-time reporting; full campaign management; creative design and copywriting services; dynamic content solutions; hosting services; event triggered messaging and sequence messaging; integration with web analytics; if multicountry/ language campaigns can ESP support this – and so on!!
- Email Deliverability: Does the ESP have an ongoing commitment to deliverability? Are they able to set up email platform on your own domain? Are they able to provide a dedicated IPs? Are their email infrastructure compliant with ISP's authentication requirements? Are their platform can receive spam or complaint feedback loops from ISPs? How do they ensure that they don’t appear on blacklists and do they have a relationship with all the major ISP’s for white listing? Do they have a dedicated deliverability team?
- Product Features: What features are important to you? E.g. rich media content capability, videomail, audio, integration, multi-channel capabilities, split testing, digital signatures to avoid phishing emails, management structure within the system, email receipts on online transactions etc. Build a list of all ESP’s who have these features as part of their solutions to aid your decision-making process.
- Product Flexibility: Can the ESP be your partner today and in the future providing you with advice on market trends and new product capabilities?
- Functionality: How comprehensive is the ESP’s functionality for planning, designing, executing and measuring email campaigns, compliance functionality.
- Technology Platform: How easy to use is the technology? Can someone with no HTML training or know-how use the technology easily?
- Email Data Security: Has your ESP taken all measures to secure your customer's email data? Is the technology infrastructure of your ESP has been hosted in a tier 4 data center? and policies are put in place for data security? and being audited by third parties? Is your ESP certified for Data security like DMA's Data Seal?
- Reporting Capabilities: Does the ESP provide you with reports in your desired format allowing you to measure the success of the campaign? Whether you’re opting for an ASP or in-house solution you should be able to get comprehensive reports including open rates, click rates and bounces as well as advanced functionalities such as complex real time reports and the ability to link revenues generated from a specific campaign to individual email addresses etc.
- Integration with Other Applications: Does the ESP easily integrate with your other applications like Web Analytics, CRM, E-Commerce, ERP and databases?
- Training: Will the ESP provide you with full training and support on their product or service which you will be adopting? Does the ESP has a dedicated trainer? Can they offer onsite comprehensive training on the platform and best practices?
Now you have had the chance to do some research into the different types of ESP’s on the market and the solutions and services they offer, you are now in the position where you can make an informed selection.