Comparing ESPs: When It Comes to Email Integrations, Avoid Hasty Assumptions!

crisis in businessLast month when we took a deep dive into data provided by the ESPinator, our free online tool for comparing email service providers, we discovered that six of the top 10 questions by answer belonged to the Reporting and Analysis section. That in and of itself wasn’t much of a surprise, given the increasing importance of email analytics to a successful email marketing program.

On the other hand, however, the least important questions were around integrations, and that did surprise me…and concerned me.

I suspect marketers aren’t ranking email integration as high on their priority lists because they are assuming one of two things (or both):

  1. They only need (or will need) basic integrations, such as Google Analytics or social media.
  2. Any other integrations they might need will be easy to accomplish no matter the email service provider they choose, and so that ability (on the part of the ESP) isn’t a high priority when considering different ESPs.

The reality is, the more sophisticated your email marketing program grows, the more likely you are to need integrations, and these integrations can be hindered by many factors. We’ve learned this lesson at ClickMail the hard way, and we are here to tell you not all integrations are created equal!

I also wonder if marketers are making email integration capability a low priority as a criteria because the IT department hasn’t been brought to the table yet as the process of choosing a new email service provider begins. Although it might seem like it makes sense to narrow down the list to a short one first before talking to IT, it doesn’t if there’s any chance you’ll be doing integrations in the next 12 to 24 months.

So here’s my advice to marketers who are at the beginning stage of the ESP selection process: Talk to IT. Get them to the table and let them weigh in (and buy in) on the criteria you’re setting out as important in your next email service provider. It’s a case of better safe than sorry, perhaps, but I can guarantee you’ll be sorry if you have to ask the IT department to do an email integration when they never even got a chance to evaluate the API they’ll be forced to work with!

And let’s make integration capability a priority when doing an email service provider comparison, because you’d rather have it and not need it than the other way around.

(If you want to take the ESPinator for a test drive to see how it performs as an ESP selection tool, try it here.)