Without a doubt, using an Email Service Provider can maximize the efficiency and productivity of an email marketer. However, many SMBs still use their own email clients, such as Gmail or Yahoo, to send mail, even though these are not specifically designed for creating and executing email marketing campaigns.
This article will provide the advantages and benefits of using an ESP over using your regular email client. But first, for those that are new in email marketing, what is an ESP exactly?
An ESP is an online service that is specialized in sending bulk email to a list of subscribers, ideal for email marketing. In a few words, they help email marketers create and send email, manage subscriber lists, and help evaluate the success of their email campaigns.
There are many benefits to using an Email Service Provider. Listed below are the ones I find to be most important:
1. An ESP can prevent you from being blacklisted.
What does this mean? When you send bulk email from your regular mail client, you’re in danger of being identified as a spammer. Such activity is not expected from a regular email client, and can be regarded as suspicious. Once you get identified as a spammer, all major ISPs will block your entire company domain from sending ANY email whatsoever - be it single email messages or bulk email. That could be the end of your marketing campaign and can be an issue that’s very hard to correct!
If you’re sending marketing campaigns from an ESP, on the other hand, all of this is avoided. ESPs specialize in sending bulk email and they are recognized by ISPs as good senders. You can safely send your email marketing campaign through an ESP to significantly reduce the risk of being blacklisted. I’d consider this to be the biggest advantage of using an ESP.
2. Compliance with email legislation.
Since all major ESPs are in compliance with email legislation -namely the CAN-SPAM Act - this means you, as an email sender, will be required to stay within compliance boundaries as well. For example, whatever the CAN-SPAM Act requires of email senders, the ESP will require of you. Examples include properly obtaining permission from your subscribers, disclosing your identity as the sender, adding an opt-out feature to your emails, and many others. So by complying with your ESPs requirements, you are guaranteed legal compliance. Some ESPs are more strict than others, but this is a good thing! Keeping bad addresses off your email list, ensuring you have up-to-date permission, and following email best practices is something every marketer should strive for.
3. List Management
Subscribing and unsubscribing people from your mailing list manually is a huge task; mistakes are often inevitable and can cost you big time. Email vendors provide great tools for managing email lists automatically. MailChimp, for example, can help you create a sign-up form and will generate the HTML code you need to embed the form to your website, so that every new subscriber to your newsletter will be added to your list automatically. Unsubscribes are handled just as easily. When a subscriber clicks on the unsubscribe link in your email, they are automatically unsubscribed from your mailing list. Generally, an ESP will offer the ability to create segments based on campaign engagement, properties of subscribers, and much more!
4. Tracking and Analytics
Executing an email marketing plan without properly tracking and analyzing the results, is like flying a plane with a blindfold on. The only way you can make sure email marketing techniques are efficient is by analyzing campaign results! An ESP will help you do this thorough tracking and analytics tools. Not only will you be able to see the percentage of your subscribers that opened the messages, forwarded them, or clicked on the links, but you’ll also see which subscribers who engaged (or did not engage, for that matter) with your emails, what links they clicked on most, and which links they clicked on the least. ESPs will also provide you subscribes, unsubscribes and bounce rates, and many more stats on each campaign you send!
5. Campaign Creation Tools
Most ESPs will provide for you tools enabling to make creative, visually appealing email campaigns that will stand out in your subscriber's inbox. Most of them provide templates you can use, and many have drag-and-drop editors to make it super simple for email marketers. Email templates and editors will save you a lot of work and it will enable to you create expertly crafted content that maybe you wouldn't have been able to create by using your regular mail client. You can also create your own templates, save them and apply them to your emails. Once you created an email design in the online editor, they automatically generate the code for you.
There are many other advantages and awesome features that an ESP will offer you as an email marketer. The advantages listed above are the ones I find to be the most important and helpful. Other advantages would include: the ability to do A/B testing with your campaigns, segment your subscriber list based on multiple criteria, send more personalized content, enjoy awesome deliverability, and much more.
If you think about it, all the features described above will eventually bring in more money if used properly and wisely! A great set of tools paired with an awesome email strategy is a sure-fire win-win! So if you thought using an ESP wasn’t necessarily a good investment, you might want to reconsider.
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Share with us in the comments section below about your experiences with using an ESP. Are there other benefits you think we should have mentioned? What ESP are you using and what do you love about it? Let us know!