Is your email provider keeping pace with your email objectives? Maybe not: When your business becomes more complex, customization of your ESP becomes essential, but not all ESPs can offer it.
This is the situation many marketers find themselves in as they start to realize they are outgrowing their current email service provider—or they’re about to. They begin to realize their requirements can no longer be met by their current ESP, and it’s time to find a new one.
If any of the following are on your wishlist, it might be time to assess your current ESP’s capabilities against your needs and possibly look for a new solution:
- Advanced segmentation
- Integration with business systems such as ecommerce or CRM
- Automated email
- Advanced real-time email reporting
Email service providers come in a variety of sizes and flavors, and not all ESPs are created equal. You could be at the place where you realize your mid-level ESP can’t cut it any more, and maybe it’s time for an enterprise-level ESP like ExactTarget, one that can offer the sophisticated marketer more tools, more functionality…and more results. If so, it’s time to take stock of your requirements.
What are the requirements to consider?
There are the usual—and expected—requirements to consider when doing an email service provider comparison, including:
- Mobile marketing
- Email reporting
Where you start to find real differentiators, however, is when your requirements include email customization, because email customization quite often means email integration: integrating your email service provider’s platform with other business systems such as web analytics, ecommerce, or your CMS or CRM system. In addition, it means being able to integrate in such a way that data can be efficiently drawn into and pulled out of various business systems. When you need functionality your ESP can’t support, that only leads to extra work for you and your team…sometimes a lot of extra work.
Switching ESPs in search of the best email service provider can be a challenge. Choosing well when you do switch can be a decision with priceless value because it saves you time and money in the long run, plus enables you to do much more sophisticated and targeted email marketing…which will generate more ROI. Don’t get stuck with an ESP that doesn’t have the capabilities and bandwidth you need. Be crystal clear about your requirements, and be vigilant in finding an ESP that can meet them.
Below are just a few of the requirements to consider to get you started…
Consider: Email integration capabilities
Make sure that your new ESP has the email integration functionality you know you need now, as well as functionality you might need in the future. Your new ESP needs to include a robust API that allows the ESP to work as hard as it can for you. In addition, you want to know about any volume limitations. Ask about:
- Number of emails that can be sent
- Number of API calls per second
Consider: Ability to import data
You want to know about how the ESP imports data but also any bandwidth limitations around doing so. Find out how much data can be processed to:
- Get data out of the system
- Execute queries
- Merge data together
Consider: Data refresh options
How often is data refreshed? At time of event? Once a day? At multiple times throughout the day? Be sure that every message you send is completely relevant and reflects the most accurate, up-to-date customer data. Also be sure you aren’t creating huge batch files that will take forever to load.
Consider: Automated email
Delve into the integration capabilities around automated email. What’s possible? What kind of data can be drawn in to inform triggered emails, and from where?
These are only a few of the requirements you might consider if you’re outgrowing your current ESP. For other considerations, use the Espinator (the free online ESP selection tool), or contact an email technology expert at ClickMail for help.
One additional point to remember as you start your search for a more sophisticated ESP: When you try to put a lot of these things together, you have to do it properly or you can end up with a “hairball.” And as cute (and popular) as cats are in social media, a “hairball” is not what you want as your email marketing solution. That’s why you need to make sure that your ESP is robust enough to handle everything you throw at it…without coughing anything back up.