Start by understanding the different types of service provided by email marketing service suppliers and then decide which service is most appropriate for your business:
- Bureau/managed services
Similar to a marketing agency, these companies manage all aspects of the email production process from campaign creative through to post-broadcast reporting.
These companies are best suited to clients without email marketing skills in house, who intend to send a low number of campaigns a year and can afford to pay a premium.
- In-house software solutions
You can install this software either on your desktop or on your own email server.
Although inexpensive they typically require significant maintenance and additional investment to ensure high deliverability rates, plus have limited reporting facilities.
- Outsourced self-service ESPs
This is the most popular option. Accessed online from anywhere, users are able to manage all aspects of their campaign through a web interface.
Users can also broadcast (send) using the email marketing partner’s servers, allowing a high degree of deliverability with no technical investment by the client. It means that deployment is very quick and easy.
How can an email service provider help with your email marketing strategy?
- Even with limited or no design experience, you can create custom, professional HTML templates that leverage your company’s logo and branding.
- Quickly and easily send as many or as few personalized emails as you want, using contact lists that you upload.
- Comprehensive reports allow you to track each email campaign’s success so you can continue to improve your efforts and increase response rates.
- Credible email service providers make it easy to comply with best practices and increase your deliverability rates.
Things to consider when choosing an email service provider
- Make sure the provider’s application is intuitive and easy to use.
- Can you personalise each email you send out to the recipient?
- Prices are generally determined by the number of emails you send; know your numbers beforehand so you can accurately estimate your costs.
- Can you keep your send lists organized and maintained through your account?
- Will they manage responses, remove opt-outs from future lists, and provide tracking reports?
- Do they have tools to make it easy to integrate your email marketing efforts with your CRM solution?
- What type of lead nurturing software do they offer so that you can manage contacts as they move through your email marketing and into your sales cycle?
Switching email providers? Here's a checklist
There are many reasons why you might decide to move to a new email service provider, but whatever the reason, a switch can also be an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your current sending processes and improve your deliverability.
If you’re thinking about switching email service providers, here is a useful checklist to make the transition as smooth as possible so you can spend less time stressing about the migration and more time on email marketing.
- When you create an account with a new email service provider, make sure you continue to use the same sender name and address so your existing customers can recognise you.
- On the new platform, ensure that Authentication Keys (DKIM SPF) are set up with your new email IP address so that recipients know that emails are from you and are not spam. This will ensure high deliverability, especially if you’re looking to send emails through SMTP. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and in this context means sending emails through an email service provider using a platform such as Outlook or WordPress.
- Migrate your contacts. You can do this manually by downloading them as a CSV file or if your email provider is supported, you can automate this process by using an integration service such as elastic.io. One important thing to remember here is to make sure you also migrate your bounced and unsubscribe contacts – this ensures you don’t spam anyone by accident and risk having your new account blocked.
- You’ll need to protect your reputation if you’re moving IP address and domain, especially if you send high volumes of emails. This means, as a rule of thumb, that for the first couple of weeks after migrating to your new provider, you should segment your contact list and email smaller batches of recipients over the first few weeks. This way, you should avoid triggering spam alerts.
- Also, remember to migrate the HTML email templates that you worked so hard to create. Your customers are used to receiving a certain look and feel from your emails; it's important to maintain that identity. Again this can be an easy process as you will be able to copy and paste the HTML codes from your previous dashboard on to your new email provider.
- With the new email templates migrated, make sure you check that all your links still work and amend those that don’t. Don’t forget to check the unsubscribe button.
- Finally give your customers a heads up about the changes – ask them to add your email address to their address book to help deliverability and ensure they continue to receive your messages. In case you haven’t contacted your customers for a while, you may want to consider opting them in once more to make sure they still want to receive your emails.