5 Tips for Choosing the Right Email Service Provider For Your Business

For the last several years, the vast majority of businesses have relied on email marketing to grow your business and drive their revenue.

Email marketing has an ROI of 4,400%. For every dollar businesses spend on email marketing, they see $44 in return. Data also indicates that email is the biggest source of conversions with a conversion rate of 4.38%.

To compare, businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on paid advertising. Meanwhile, social media ROI can be extremely difficult to measure. In fact, 52% of marketers admit they experience challenges when reviewing their revenue on social media.

The numbers don’t lie. Email marketing is a reliable and proven driver of revenue for brands of any size, from small family businesses or global eCommerce stores.

While it’s true that email marketing’s effectiveness depends on a variety of factors, one of the most important is choosing the right email service provider (ESP), which is often a lot easier said than done.

Do a Google search for the term “email marketing” and you’ll see countless email marketing tools that you can use—each with their own features, target users, and price points. This can make choosing the best ESP for your business a very difficult decision.

In this post, we’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take to choose the right email service provider your business, whether you’re trying out email marketing for the first time or you’re looking for better alternatives to your current email service provider.

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Tips to Choose the Right Email Service Provider

1. Outline your strategy

The first step in choosing the right ESP is figuring out how it will fit into your overall email marketing strategy. You can outline your strategy by asking yourself questions that include (but are not limited to):

  • What goals do I want to achieve with email marketing?
  • How am I going to use my chosen ESP to achieve these goals?
  • Will I be sending newsletters? Promotional emails? Event invitations?
  • Do I want to create emails using mobile-optimized customizable templates? Or do I want to create emails from scratch and code them myself?
  • Which email metrics are crucial for me to measure?
  • What types of functionalities will make it easier for me to achieve my goal? Is it automation? Segmentation? Or some other functionality?

There are tons of email marketing tools available to you. Each of these tools has its own unique features, pricing plans, integrations, and target users. Asking yourself questions like those listed above will enable you to narrow down your list of options and make it much easier for you to decide.

2. Consider which features you need

This is an essential aspect of choosing an ESP. Businesses will prioritize different features depending on their objectives, but these are the features that email marketers use most often.

Templates

This is a key feature for many email marketers. Templates help email marketers create professional-quality emails in minutes. If being able to create emails quickly is a priority, then you should look for an ESP that has a wide range of designs that can be customized to suit your email requirements, whether it’s a newsletter, a welcome email, or a transactional email.

Source: Really Good Emails

Mobile optimization

Today, about 53% of all email opens occur on mobile. As such, it’s important for email marketers to send emails that display perfectly on both desktop and mobile devices. Using an ESP with templates that are mobile-responsive right off the bat will prevent you from alienating a significant portion of your audience and missing out on valuable conversions.

Analytics

The only way to accurately measure your email marketing performance is through analytics. Look for an ESP that has an analytics dashboard that displays all the email marketing metrics you need to monitor such as email opens, clicks, unsubscribers, engagement, and of course ROI. This way, you can track your overall performance as well as the performance of specific campaigns.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Automation

Like any digital marketer, you probably have a lot on your plate. You’re a busy person who can’t afford to spend a huge amount of time each day just sending emails. This is why choosing an ESP with robust automation capabilities is crucial. You can set up workflows once and your ESP will take care of the rest. For example, you can set up all your holiday emails at the beginning of the year and then just wait for the conversions to come in.

For an effective email marketing strategy, having the right combination of features in your ESP is paramount.

3. Determine your budget

The great thing about ESPs is that there is an ESP available for just about any budget and business size. There are free tools that offer barebones features and there are more expensive, enterprise-level ESPs with more sophisticated functions.

You have ESPs that cater to small businesses with limited budgets, medium-sized businesses that have slightly bigger budgets, and Fortune 500 companies that have no problem spending tens of thousands of dollars each month on an ESP.

If you’re an email marketer for a small brick-and-mortar store, it wouldn’t be practical for you to use an ESP that costs an outrageous amount of money.

You need to remember that email marketing is not about big spending. Rather, it’s about getting the functionalities that you actually need and keeping your costs relatively low. The most expensive ESP may not necessarily be the best for your business and your specific set of goals.

While you might be tempted to use and pay for an enterprise-level ESP, you’ll end up wasting valuable resources if you aren’t taking advantage of the additional features.

Brand Starting price For 2,000 contacts Best for Company website
Campaign Monitor $9/month $29/month Blogs, small to large businesses and agencies. Visit online
GetResponse $15/month $25/month Small and large businesses Visit online
Constant Contact $20/month $45/month Small to large businesses and companies with niche requirements such as event management Visit online
MailChimp $9.99/month $29.99/month Blogs, Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses Visit online
AWeber $19/month $29/month Blogs, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Visit online
Sendinblue $81/month Doesn't charge per contact Blogs, Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses Visit online

When deciding on an ESP, the key is to thoroughly review their pricing schemes. Most ESPs today have tiered monthly plans where the price increase is directly proportional to the features and inclusions you get. If you don’t send emails on a regular basis, you can opt for an ESP that offers prepaid plans or “pay-per-campaign” plans.

Some ESPs even offer custom pricing depending on your unique requirements. So, if you find that your needs don’t fit into any preset plan, then you’re better off looking for these types of providers.

4. Check out customer support

Customer service should never be an afterthought. There will be instances when you’ll need a little guidance—And in such cases, it’s critical that you’re able to easily reach out to knowledgeable and helpful customer support representatives who can assist you on any issues you might have.

Here are a few ways to test the quality of an ESP’s customer support.

  • Visit the ESP’s website and check if the provider offers 24/7 worldwide support.
  • Call the customer support number or send them an email and see how long it takes for you to get a response.
  • Browse the ESP’s website and see if they have guides or other resources that detail how features of the ESP work. Plenty of ESPs upload tutorial videos, so look for those as well.
  • Check if the ESP’s website has a dedicated FAQ section.

More often than not, the difference between a free tool and a paid ESP lies in customer support. Yes, you’re saving money by using a free ESP. The caveat here is that you won’t get support in the event that something goes wrong. On the other hand, if you pay to use an ESP, one thing that is always included in your plan is customer support.

Wrap up

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what exactly you need out of your ESP. Just keep in mind that there is no such thing as “the best ESP”. Every ESP has its advantages and disadvantages. You can only choose the ESP that is best for you, your goals, and your budget.


Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital. Connect with Campaign Monitor on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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