8 Reasons Why YOU Need an Email Marketing Service Provider

EmailEmail marketing has been around for over ten years now, so I wouldn’t consider it a relatively “new medium” for marketing. However, with all the technology available in today’s Web 2.0 online world, there are many new techniques and strategies you can apply to email in order to achieve an even higher ROI and conversion rate than was attainable in the past. In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do for your email marketing campaign is to invest in an ESP, or email marketing service provider, also known as an email marketing campaign management tool. At the basic level:

Email Marketing Service Providers (ESPs): are services providing users with tools and facilities forEmail Marketing Gets Results distributing high volumes of email and managing a list of email addresses. Examples include Constant Contact, SubscriberMail, Listrak, and emailbrain.

All email marketers should be using an ESP to handle their campaigns, even if their list is small, initially. This way, when the list grows to a few hundred or more recipients, you have the technology already in place to automatically handle subscribes, unsubscribes, bounces, and deliverability issues.

Bounces: Email returned to the server that originally sent the email.

  • Hard bounce: a bounce indicating a permanent failure due to a non-existent address or a blocking condition by the receiver.
  • Soft bounce: a bounce indicating that there is a temporary failure due to a full mailbox or unavailable server. Soft bounces should be sent a second time.

Deliverability: the degree to which emails successfully reach the recipients’ inboxes, or the number of valid email addresses that accepted the complete message.

I could come up with one hundred reasons why you should use an ESP instead of your Outlook or Eudora email client. Instead, I’ll highlight and explain what I feel are eight important reasons to use an ESP.

1. High Deliverability: because your email client is not built for email marketing, the messages you send out may end up labeled as spam by ISPs, not even arriving into your recipients’ spam folders, much less their inboxes. Most ESPs are whitelisted, or approved by ISPs as a legitimate, CAN SPAM compliant, permission based email delivery service. ESPs also offer easy methods to authenticate your email, which will prove to ISPs that you are who you say you are, a legitimate non spammer sending emails to those who want to receive the information.

2. Comprehensive Tracking and Analytics: Most ESPs provide clients with comprehensive tracking of all their emails. The number of people who opened, read, and clicked through your email, the links that were clicked, along with the actions of each individual who received your email will all be provided to you by your ESP.

Some services, such as Listrak and emailBrain, will provide you with Google Analytics Integration so that you can track your email campaign’s progress in Google Analytics.

3. List management: ESPs will automatically handle your subscribes and unsubscribes for you. This way, you will not have to manually insert those who request to be a recipient of your list. Instead, subscribes will be automatically entered. This will be especially useful if and when your list is growing quickly.

ESPs will also automatically unsubscribe those who request to no longer receive communications from you. This step is extremely important, as the CAN SPAM law requires you to honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days.

Some ESPs, such as Listrak, will even correct some commonly misspelled domains, otherwise known as maintaining List Hygiene. For example, @alo.com becomes @aol.com automatically.

Bounce management is also included with most ESPs, automatically removing hard bounces (after a specified number of unsuccessful sends), and automatically resending soft bounces. The point to remember here is that all of this is done automatically, saving you valuable time and resources.

4. Easily create and send HTML messages: With WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editors, creating a colorful and dynamic HTML message is as easy as composing an email message with clients such as Gmail or Hotmail. There’s no need for HTML knowledge, as the coding is automatically created for you after customizing your message in the WYSIWYG editor. Most ESPs include several well designed HTML templates for you to customize and use for your own email campaigns. You can also save your own template to use over and over again with each promotional message or e-newsletter you send out.

5. Create Segmented Lists and Implement Personalization: ESPs allow you to create segmented list so you can target the individuals who would find your message most relevant to them. This will increase your click through and conversion rates, therefore increasing your ROI. Creating customized emails is made easy with ESPs so that you can insert your recipients’ name, company name, past purchase history and other information directly into the message or subject line.

6. Automatic CAN SPAM Compliance: ESPs make CAN SPAM compliance easy by automatically inserting your physical address and unsubscribe information in the footer of the email, as well as automatically removing unsubscribes immediately so that you are in compliance with the 10 day rule.

7. Disguise your subscriber list: Recipients receiving an email sent through Outlook or other email clients will most likely be able to see every one of your subscribers. This violates the privacy policy you have with your subscribers, which says that you will keep their email address private. When you use an ESP, this information will automatically be shielded from recipients.

8. Extra Features: ESPs provide clients with extra features that will make your email marketing campaign more successful for them, and convenient for clients. For example, many ESPs have an option to include a viral aspect to the campaign by adding a “Send this to a friend” link. This link will be unique to each recipient so that it is trackable by your ESP. Many ESPs also now have an RSS feature, enabling subscribers to receive the communications via an RSS feed.

To learn the basics of email marketing, visit my Squidoo page, Email Marketing for Beginners.

Email Marketing for Dummies

These are just a few reasons why your email campaign needs an email marketing service provider. For some more on the basics of email marketing, check out E-mail Marketing for Dummies. Rated 5 /5 stars on Amazon.com, this book is perfect for the individual just starting to get his or her feet wet into the email marketing world. Learn how to build your first list, keep your message free of spammer techniques, and how to implement your email marketing campaign to complement your overall online campaign. Published in November of 2007, E-mail Marketing for Dummies is an up to date resource for beginner level email marketing. To learn more, check out this excellent resource now!

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9 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why YOU Need an Email Marketing Service Provider

  1. We use Bronto and have been using it successfully since around May 2007. It has really enabled us to engage our very constituents very effectively. E-mail marketing is such a powerful marketing tool if used correctly.

  2. The one I see most often is Aweber. In the markets I am in, it’s hard for me to justify the cost of an email marketing service provider. What is your favorite provider, what do they charge, and what are their limitations (list size, emails per day/month, etc)?

  3. @Kyle- Bronto is another very good ESP. I’m glad you had success with it!

    @Kevin- If you’re not yet an avid email marketer, I can understand skepticism, as using Outlook or a related email client is free to use. Why should you use an ESP? Mainly: advanced tools and professionalism. When I get an “email newsletter” from a marketer who has obviously used Outlook (you can tell-all of the recipients are available for view in the “To” field, which is illegal to provide, by the way.)

    ESPs also make sure you are following the law, so you can’t get nailed with the thousands of dollars of fines, and even jail time which can result from not following the CAN SPAM law. When you factor in this potential cost to your campaign, ESPs are well worth it.

    In response to your question, I use Listrak. You have to contact them to get a quote for your price. But, I get 10,000 free emails per month for a price of $99 per month. After that, emails cost $0.0035 each. So, you can send four emails for one cent. You can see that this is more than affordable.

    As far as limitations, I haven’t run into any problems yet with list size, or emails sent. I am unaware that their our any limitations. I’m pretty sure everything is unlimited, for further inquiries and to find specific answers to your questions, contact a Listrak expert.

  4. I’m aware of the issues using email clients like Outlook. I haven’t done anything like that. My dad has done some mass emailing from Gmail (staying within their outgoing email limits, of course) using the “BCC” for his subscriber list instead of the “To” field. I’ve been using a custom script to do my emailing, and I’ve done some light tinkering with some pre-made mailing list managers. The trouble both of us have had is emails getting caught in spam/bulk folders of our subscribers, and server limitations on emailing. Formatting emails is also a huge pain in the ass and I usually end up sticking to plain text.

    I currently have two lists with about 3k people in each, and I’d like to email them more than once a month so Listrak and other similar providers sound pretty expensive. I’ve been looking into Aweber – they offer unlimited lists and emails, but restrict the number of total subscribers you can have (you can upgrade the base amount, though). They also don’t charge near as much. The only drawback I see is a lack of API.

  5. It seems like you have been doing a rather good job without using an ESP so far. However, I would still highly recommend using one, as it will almost surely eliminate your deliverability issues, as well as enable you to create rich HTML messages very easily without fearing undeliverable messages.

    As far as the cost goes, I do feel like Listrak is a rather inexpensive option with many features that I believe you would like very much. I would recommend picking a few email service providers and using their free trials to see what I’m talking about. Contact a Listrak professional to look into this option. Other ESPs I would recommend include emailbrain, MailChimp, and ConstantContact. If you’re looking for inexpensive providers, ConstantContact might be something you can try out, although I’m unfamiliar with any limitations they have. Sign up for their free trial to check them out.

    I hope I’m helping! And good luck!

  6. Great article… I recently started using iContact for my email marketing needs, and have been extremely satisfied with all of the features they provide, and the deliverability of my newsletters. They also have a really cool community/archive for your newsletters.

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