Customer Portfolios' Blog

5 Tips for Finding the Right ESP

ESP overview.jpgNew year, new marketing technology. At least that’s what we’re seeing from some of our clients here at CP. Within the last 4 months, six of our retail clients have migrated, or have plans to migrate to new Email Service Providers. They have been migrating away from large ESPs to ones that are somewhat smaller, nimbler, and have better customer service.

We’re seeing more and more retailers who are unhappy with the business model of large enterprise solutions pave the way for other ESPs. Clients don’t need a solution with lots of bells and whistles; they need a solution that is easy to create targeted segments and deploy campaigns. An ESP that can work with any CRM and database, take data without manipulating it, and can execute cross-channel campaigns properly, will succeed in working with busy marketers.

Our position as database partner for our clients has given us the unique viewpoint of seeing what works and what doesn’t from an email service provider. Over the last 16 years, we’ve seen a lot of movement between ESPs with our clients, and based on our experiences, the 5 top considerations for ESPs are: 

  1. Ease of integration – You want to make it easy for marketers to connect your ESP with any CRM solution or campaign management tool. With the growing number of solutions out there, you want to make it easy for a marketer to integrate your ESP with their current technology.   
  2. Ease of use – Your solution is there to deploy campaigns, as well as provide tracking and deliverability metrics. Marketers don’t want to have to jump through hoops to get a targeted campaign out the door. Test your user experience, and avoid fancy bells and whistles – they often turn out to be nothing but noise.  
  3. Simple pricing strategy – We have seen many marketers that thought they understood the pricing of their ESP, but then got caught up with hidden fees. Be as transparent and simple as possible when creating and communicating your plans and packages. Not only will this make it easier on the marketer, it starts the relationship out on a better foot, increasing chances for a long-term partnership.  
  4. Cross-channel ability – Customers are increasingly interacting with brands across multiple channels, and those brands want to create a consistent cross-channel experience. If an ESP had the ability to execute a message through email, direct mail, SMS, push, and more, having consistent messaging will definitely be a bonus that will put them above other competing platforms.

The last and most important consideration is having great customer service. We have seen ESPs make a lot of promises about customer service and priority service, but once the contract is signed, marketers have to open tickets and get in a queue. We go through that support process for our clients, and sometimes it can take several days for us to hear a response. Smaller-structured ESPs can create dedicated support teams that can provide assistance on a simple question, troubleshooting, or even providing email creation services. There are many different ways that solutions can go about this, but the most important thing is providing friendly, helpful, easily accessible service to all clients, no matter what service package they pay for. 

Email marketing is still seen by marketers as the channel with the highest return on investment. For ESP solutions, providing an easy to use platform with great customer service will be the way to develop long-term relationships with more marketers. For marketers, finding an ESP that fits in with your MarTech stack will be the key to exceeding your 2018 marketing goals.

Photo from: Email Vendor Selection

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