Thursday, April 09, 2015

Comparing Email Marketing Service Providers (ESP)

Comparing Email Marketing Service Providers

This week I came across an article from We Rock Your Web about ESPs (Email Service Providers), and wanted to share their comprehensive (yet scannable) comparison chart of services. I especially like the glossary of email marketing terms they include at the end likeWYSIWYG and Double Opt-In – important to know if you want to understand how to manage email campaigns well. Take a look at their chart and let me know in the comments section which ESP you use and how you like it!
Email Marketing Service Provider Features Compared: Updated September 20, 2012. Click the image below to see full chart on

Useful Comments to Guide Your Choice of ESP:
Really, the determining factor is going to be how comfortable you are with using the programs they have at your disposal for editing and managing your emails to clients.  Managing your email list is important too and you generally want to weed out any non-responsive or unwilling participants in your email list as soon as possible as you will eventually pay for them.
The chart listed here is a good way to start and see what kinds of options you have before you, but honestly speaking you will learn very little about a service or application until you get an opportunity to actually get in and play with it a bit and use it for a few small campaigns.  That way you can see what fits best for your needs and your style.  So get in and try some free trials!
It should provide a steady and easily implemented stream of data about what your customers are doing and how they are reacting to your email marketing campaign.  Constant Contact would tell us exactly what people were clicking on and how many people were actually spending time on our email and subsequently our webpage.
Email Marketing Glossary:
  • Surveys - email marketing surveys help you capture visitor data. Typically, surveys will let you:
    • Create public (anyone can answer) or private (only a specified subset of your subscribers can answer) surveys.
    • Choose different answer formats – text boxes, radio buttons, drop-downs, etc.
    • Redirect visitors to a custom thank you page upon completion of your  survey.
    • Export survey results to a file or spreadsheet for analysis (ie. by sorting columns you can gauge responses based on different variables).
  • WYSIWYG What You See IWhat You Get. This is used to describe a web editor interface that lets you design newsletter templates using buttons similar to those found in a word processor such as Microsoft Word. Examples of buttons include bold, italic, using headings, a button to insert images, and more.
  • Autoresponder – An autoresponder fires off an email to a subscriber automatically. A single autoresponder is most common – this typically just replies to a subscriber when they sign up. A sequential autoresponder is a little more advanced and allows you to schedule a series of predefined emails to be sent out on a specified schedule.
  • A/B Testing (Split Testing) – an Internet marketing technique that lets you test and see which elements of your email newsletter: subject line, text, graphics, design or layout, can be improved to increase your newsletter’s success rate.
  • Trigger-based messaging – lets you send messages based on your subscriber’s actions. They offer a more personalized interaction with your subscribers. Examples of trigger-based messages include a welcome email, a “happy birthday” message, a reminder to renew a subscription, a note that a new version of a product is available, a “we miss you ” note to a subscriber that hasn’t opened a newsletter in a while, etc.
  • List Segmentation – send messages to subsets of your subscriber base to help establish a stronger connection via more relevant newsletters. Customer segmentation marketing is becoming increasingly important as the consumer looks for more one-to-one communication in the Facebook age. You can use split testing mentioned above with list segmentation to test the efficacy of different subject lineslayouts, and content. You have the option of resending messages to subscribers who didn’t open or respond the first time. Finally, you can target subsets of your subscriber base and mail out promotions and offers based on demographics, purchasing history, geographic location, and more.
  • Attachments – most Email Marketing Service Providers (EMSPdo not allow attachments for a simple reason – they increase the probability of a given message being viewed as spam (as a result, the EMSP (and your) delivery rates may be affected. Attachments can also be flagged as computer virus files. You’re better off using inline links in your newsletter email, which you can then link to a hosted file. When the user clicks the link, they are given the option to download the file. Not as streamlined as an email attachment, but much more likely to allow the email to reach its full audience.
  • Spam Score/Checking – finding out whether your subscribers actually got your email is important. If they didn’t, why not? Some EMSP’s offerspam score utilities that help you determine the likelihood of your newsletter ending up in a spam box before you hit send.
  • Newsletter Archiving – the ability to save, or archive, your old newsletters. EMSP’s differ in the way they handle this feature. Some offer you to backup a certain quantity or volume of newsletters on their servers. Others offer export options that convert your newsletters into PDF or HTML files so you can download them and/or store them on your website. We point out that there is an SEO advantage to archiving your own newsletters (DIY).
  • Opt-In or Unconfirmed Opt-In: When an e-mail service provider requires a “opt-in” process, this means that e-mail recipients have agreed to receive e-mail advertising, e-mail marketing or e-mail communication specifically from the company or individual sending e-mails.
  • Double Opt-In or Confirmed Opt-In: When an e-mail service provider requires a “double opt-in” process that means that e-mail recipients have signed up to receive e-mail advertising, marketing or communications specifically from the company or individual sending e-mails. In addition, these individuals have confirmed (usually by clicking a link) that they did indeed, sign up to receive such e-mail communication.
  • No Opt-In Requirements: Very few e-mail service providers these days allow for e-mail addresses to be imported without any opt-in requirements. Opt-in requirements have been established to reduce SPAM mail and e-mail abuse.