Guidelines on Selecting Top Email Service Providers

As the email continues to grow in terms of capability and complexity, so does the potential for email marketing. Technological progress has meant that the mail can be automated to re-engage the disengaged and nurture prospects linked to the buying process. Analytics related to the email can be deep, rich and actionable. However, the growing complexity also means that choosing from the many email service providers is also increasingly more complicated. As a marketer, since your email program goes beyond mere email, it is important that the email service provider (ESP) you choose must fit the needs of your company now and in the future. This article is intended to offer a baseline of information on ESPs, which we feel represent the best in the industry, regardless of the size. Once you have determined the needs of your company, this article will help you determine the feature to look out for in choosing a reliable ESP.

Considerations when Choosing Providers of Email Services

The first important consideration when looking for a reliable ESP is determining the right-sized ESP for the needs of your company. Even before you commence the ESP selection process, it is prudent for you to conduct a reality check to determine your email service needs. Some marketers end up attracted to top-tier enterprise ESPs due to the whistles and bells as well as brand recognition, without putting much effort to conducting an internal operational insight, or considering whether the company budget can support such an investment for a mass email service. We recommend that your email program choice needs to be approached as a clear driver of ROI, meaning that you must have significant operational needs to justify the costs associated with the choice of email service provider.

The next recommendation is to conduct an analysis of the differentiators between the providers of e-mail services. Most ESP features follow a version of the 80/20 rule, in the sense that they perform the same 80 percent function while differing on the other 20 percent. While you need to make sure that the 80 percent is done well, the issue of choice boils down to the differing 20 percent. Before you get caught up on the extra features of the email services, please confirm which extra features you will actually need, those of mid-level importance, and those you are likely not to need. Avoid the temptation of getting sucked into a ‘cool’ functionality that you don’t need, and may never use. Other considerations include the deliverability, industry experience, reliability, and analytics.  Vendor experience in the industry of the client is particularly important as you want a vendor who has learned the ropes and understand the dynamics and challenges of your industry.

Attributes of the Best Email Service

As you will soon realize, navigating the complex landscape of ESPs can be a daunting undertaking, since there are many providers to choose from, and a wide range of costs and features connected to those providers. In addition, only a few providers offer demo accounts for you to assess their services. In addition, it can be challenging to uncover all the intricacies of the email service until you begin to actually use it. Nevertheless, to end up with the best email service, we recommend that you match the following attributes to the needs of your organization:

  • The size of ESP, whether small, mid-level, or enterprise level
  • Usability of the platform
  • Scalability
  • Reliability
  • Testing
  • Security and compliance
  • Customer service
  • Encryption

Testing, for instance, will help you decide what is effective and what is not. As the provider about the ease of conducting an A/B split test on the platform.

Legal and Secure Email Service

            As previously indicated, security and compliance are critical elements to consider when choosing an ESP, especially given the ever-increasing threat of online theft of personally identifiable information. There is also the risk to your sender reputation in the event that your email list gets hacked or stolen. As such, the capacity of your ESP to provide data security, as well as legal compliance, is critical during the selection process. Questions to ask to determine the security capacity of the provider include:

  • The types of security tools implemented
  • Available audit trials
  • Whether the provider offers alerts and monitoring
  • And whether the ESP has had a data breach in the past, and the steps implemented to prevent a recurrence

One example of a provider of secure email service is MessageGears, whose hybrid email marketing solution has been touted as the answer to clients concerned with data security amid the vast amounts of ever-changing data. The hybrid solution operated by MessageGears permits clients to keep their data behind a robust firewall and behind their control by simply connecting the on-premise application to a cloud solution. The only drawback is that MessageGears is a still a small firm, which may give the client the feeling of a big fish in a small pond. Some clients have also indicated that the company could improve on their service consistency, especially with account management teams.

Consider Customer Service Email Aspects

Poor customer service is one of the main reasons why companies seek the services of a new ESP. As such, to get the best customer service email service provider, it is prudent to know from the onset the kind of customer support and service you will require. You should also determine whether your organization will need collaborative services, self-service, or full services, as well as the kind of training to be expected.

Emma (www.myemma.com) is one company that prides itself on the quality and extent of customer care provided. The company has email, live chat, and phone support, as well as a website that is very clear about how to get started. Furthermore, the tone of the company website is very conversational and personal, something that is a departure from the buzzword-laden direct marketing tone of most ESP websites. The company is certainly at the top of our list of favorites.

Data Obscurity Offered by an Encrypted Email Service

Email marketers are increasingly sensitive to the security and uptime of the email service they receive. Despite the significant effort made to protect data, even the biggest ESPs can be vulnerable to attacks. For this reason, your company may need to seek ways of keeping proprietary data secure, while still using the data from the purposes of email marketing. Two possibilities you should talk to your provider about include tokenizing sending and encrypted fields. Reliable encrypted email service allows you to store data as clear text. One company that provides encrypted fields is PredictiveResponse, which is also emerging as a reliable provider of Salesforce integrated mass email. The company has been praised by reviewers for making all the right decisions in terms of user interface, data storage, and feature set, giving its clients 100 percent security and privacy.

In summary, as the complexity of email marketing continues to evolve, so does the process of getting reliable ESPs. To get the best email service for business choose a company that meets your current needs and caters for your growth prospects. If you need more information on ESPs or have questions regarding your company email marketing needs, please contact us.