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Selecting the Best Email Service Provider for Your Needs – Three Keys to Consider
By Julie Graham / January 5, 2016

Deciding to switch email service providers (ESPs) is never an easy task. Sometimes, it seems easier to delay making a switch because the risks may outweigh the potential reward.

If your sending practices or campaign strategy need a bit of a tune up, simply changing platforms isn’t going to move the needle in a favorable direction; however, a good email service provider that can help you improve in these areas can absolutely drive better program results.

How do you know that the email service provider you’ll move to is better than the one you’re leaving? There’s not a universal roadmap for migration, and there are certainly no guarantees, but here are some considerations that may help ease your concerns about transition:

1. What level of support do you need?
Lack of adequate support is one of the leading reasons why brands switch email service providers. In a 2012 BlueHornet survey of retail marketers, we learned that the majority do not find high value in the service that they currently receive from their email service provider.

  •  Look to your new email service provider to provide comprehensive guidance during this phase.
  • Choose a partner who dedicates an internal team to helping you move your email program. This level of service should be provided in addition to 24 hour technical support, which you may be more likely to need in the early days of a new relationship.
  • Once your transition is complete, make sure you maintain a high degree of partnership with the account management team at your new email service provider.
  • Consider shifting your thinking – rather than limiting yourself to a monthly check in with your rep, look for ways to maximize the relationship and extract the most value from your email marketing program.  For example,the best email service providers have an account manager who can connect you with their strategic services team or marshal other professional service resources to ensure that your program is meeting your goals.

2. What’s the ESP’s policy on ensuring email deliverability as you ramp up?
It is important to be proactive about deliverability all the time, and especially when you switch email service providers. Make sure your new provider understands the importance of creating a customized ramp plan to get you up and running quickly and into the customers’ inbox consistently, without affecting your hard-earned email reputation:

  •  If your new email service provider doesn’t offer a “warmed up” IP address, you’ll want to take a phased migration approach by sending from the new IP gradually while you’re still using your current provider. This will allow you to maintain the deliverability you have on your old IP while you build your sending reputation on the new IP.
  • Don’t forget to migrate your entire list of opt outs and prior invalid addresses from your old provider to your new system

3. What’s more important to your organization: product depth or product breadth?
Email’s role in the success of digital marketing campaigns is critical. So to ensure a long term, mutually beneficial relationship, it is important for you to be comfortable with your new email service provider’s product vision.  A well-crafted RFP is critical in the early stages of evaluating your vendor.

It can be helpful to look at a prospective product vision in terms of how likely you are to use the solutions:

  • Are you interested in dabbling in many types of programs? If so, several providers offer very broad solution sets for marketers who have the time and resources to test and apply them.
  • Do you prefer to “go deep” in the places where email most effectively converges with social and mobile? Pick an ESP that emphasizes product depth.

But remember, your new email service provider’s broad feature set and visionary roadmap won’t help improve the performance of your email campaigns if you don’t use the features on a regular basis.

In email marketing, change can happen rapidly. And in email as in life, change is often good. But when selecting the best email service provider to switch to for your needs, make sure you do it for the right reasons.

Could BlueHornet be the best email service provider for you? Contact us today to learn more.

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