3 Tips on choosing an email service provider (ESP)

Email marketing is one of the oldest marketing channels available and it is still as effective as ever. It provides you with a direct and personalised way to reach your audience, allowing you to nurture relationships, promote your brand, and drive conversions. With the ability to segment your audience, track performance, and automate campaigns, email marketing remains a powerful tool for engaging customers and generating revenue.

The wide variety of email service providers or ‘ESPs’ is bigger than ever so choosing the right one is the foundation of a good email marketing strategy. It can be overwhelming with the number of features and platforms to choose from so we’ve broken down our 3 top tips to take into onboard when choosing the right email service for your campaign. 

First, what is an ESP?

Email service providers are digital platforms that provide tools for managing, sending, and optimising mass emails to help you with your email marketing strategy. These platforms offer features such as customisable templates, audience segmentation, analytics, and integrations with other marketing tools that aim to enhance communication and marketing efforts.

While there are many options to choose from, it is important to research ESPs before committing to one. That's where the following three tips come in handy!

Email Marketing Goals

1. Your goals and your audience

When choosing an email service provider (ESP), the first consideration should be your goals and the size of your audience. This is a crucial determining factor, as it will influence the type of ESP you need and the account tier required. Additionally, keep your budget in mind, as a larger audience typically means you'll need more features, which generally comes with a higher cost.

Clearly defining your goals is essential, as this will help you outline your plan and find an ESP that provides the necessary tools and capabilities. By understanding your objectives upfront, you can more effectively evaluate different ESP options and select the one that best aligns with your email marketing strategy.

Email Automation Flowchart

2. Determine your email marketing functionality needs

Your email marketing goals and strategy will influence the required functionality. For a simple weekly newsletter, basic features like email templates and customisation may be enough. However, for more complex customer journeys, you may need automated campaigns and advanced capabilities.

Integration and compatibility are also key considerations. The ideal ESP should seamlessly integrate with your other essential business tools, such as CRM systems, e-commerce platforms, analytics tools, and social media channels. This compatibility is crucial for automating workflows, ensuring data consistency, and enhancing the overall efficiency of your marketing efforts.

As your audience and campaigns grow, you may want to expand your ESP's functionality. Therefore, choose a provider that allows you to easily upgrade or change plans in the future. Frequently switching between email services can cause data transfer issues, so selecting a scalable solution upfront is recommended.

Most ESPs offer multiple account tiers with varying feature sets. Look for an option that not only meets your current needs but also provides the flexibility to grow your email marketing approach over time.

Email Tracking and Reporting

3. Analytics and reporting

Tracking and measuring the performance of your email marketing campaigns is crucial. The ability to assess campaign effectiveness, identify optimisation opportunities, and gain audience insights is essential for success. Therefore, having an ESP with robust tracking and reporting capabilities is an important factor to consider.

Nearly all ESP account levels, including free options, provide some level of tracking and reporting features. However, the depth and sophistication of these analytics will vary based on the account tier and provider. Your specific campaign goals and data needs should guide the level of tracking and reporting you require from your ESP.

By selecting an ESP that offers comprehensive analytics and reporting, you can make data-driven decisions to optimise your email marketing efforts and demonstrate the impact of your campaigns. This visibility is key to measuring success and driving continuous improvement.

Our favourite email service providers

ESP for Small Audience

Small audiences

For smaller audiences (around 1000-2000) and small businesses, there are several free options that offer basic key features to get you started. This includes; templates, an email builder, limited tracking and basic landing pages. Usually, some of the top email providers have a free plan account with a limited number of monthly sends.

Although limited, free plans can be a great way to kick off your email marketing journey for your smaller audience and get you started building customer relationships.

Here are some of our top platform picks for free email service providers: 

ESP for Medium Audiences

Medium audiences

For those who have a medium-sized audience and want more advanced campaigns. You want to start looking for a reasonable paid plan with advanced features such as; audience segmentation, automation, and advanced tracking. We suggest looking at an email provider that can offer a professional level of service. 

Here are some of our top email marketing platforms that are great for medium-sized audiences: 

ESP for Larger Audiences

Large audiences

This usually ends up being the more expensive enterprise-level of accounts but has the most in-depth features for your large audience.

Here are some of our top platform picks that are great for large-sized audiences: 

Choosing the best ESP for you

Selecting the right ESP is vital for the success of your email marketing strategy. Each ESP has its strengths, so matching those strengths with your needs is key to finding the right provider.

If you need further assistance in selecting and maximising the benefits of your chosen ESP, don't hesitate to get in touch!

GetResponce implementation case study

Our client Freedom Boat Club needed a way to manage incoming leads and communications with their members. We helped by onboarding them with a new ESP - GetResponse.

Read the full case study here.