Getting to grips with email marketing (opens in new tab) can be a daunting challenge, and knowing whether you need to invest in additional tools can be a huge stumbling block. Boundaries blur as marketing companies begin to offer similar services, but finding the right tool that fulfills all of your marketing needs will not only prove easier and more streamlined, but can also save your business hundreds of pounds that would have been unnecessarily spent on multiple, repeating services.
What is an Email Service Provider (ESP)?
Most businesses will have a basic Email Service Provider already, though the type of provider can vary depending on the size of the business and, crucially, the amount of money you are willing to invest.
While it’s common for a large business to hold its domain separately, a comprehensive email service (opens in new tab) provider may be able to host your domain in-house which can prove beneficial for small businesses and self-employed ventures, helping to keep fuss and complexity to a minimum.
The best ESPs hold the details of your subscribers in order to send them marketing emails easily, allowing you to push your business’ services or products to a wider audience. Though email marketing is one of the oldest methods of digital marketing, some studies have shown that email click-through rates can be significantly higher than on social media (opens in new tab) platforms. This is likely because users interact with emails more actively, while social media is often used more passively.
As well as this, even the most basic Email Service Providers will allow you to build and save templates to use frequently, as well as dip in and out of pre-made templates. Being able to use the same formatting each time you send a marketing email not only saves time and effort, but also helps to maintain consistency, further upholding your brand’s image.
A marketing email should stand out, so choosing your ESP carefully will ensure that you have access to all of the features you will require in the coming months and years. There are certain things you should look for, like built-in dynamic content and tools to gather insight, such as lead capturing and click-through analytics.
What is an Email Marketing Service?
An email marketing service builds on what a typical ESP establishes, and is better suited to larger businesses. It can be a more expensive option, however it requires less human input resulting in a potentially cheaper overall cost.
Part of the reduced costs comes from extensive automation. Businesses can evolve from using a small handful of standardized marketing (opens in new tab) templates to a more dynamic approach specific to each user’s experience. If you have ever left something in your online shopping basket, you may have received a follow-up email reminding you of your incomplete purchase, sometimes offering a small discount to motivate you to complete the purchase. This was possible thanks to an email marketing service tool.
Similarly, a lack of activity on an e-commerce (opens in new tab) site could result in an email with your store’s latest offers, and maybe some deals, coupons, or discount codes to entice buyers to spend money. This is again the result of an email marketing service tool that was entirely automated.
What are the benefits of ESPs and Email Marketing Services?
1. Reaching your customers
If you’re taking the time to carefully curate the right content to drive sales, you will want your email marketing to reach the intended readers. Not only is sending mass emails from your own email client (opens in new tab) a clunky and time-consuming process, but it’s likely to be regarded as suspicious activity by numerous recipient mailboxes. This can often result in your emails being moved to spam or junk folders, losing you a large proportion of your intended customer base.
The damage created by this can be long lasting, and once your domain is recognized as a potential spammer, all future emails are likely to be categorized as such. ESPs counteract this in a way that means subscribers are less likely to see your emails as spam.
2. Compliance with regulations
Various legislation has been put in place around the world in order to primarily protect consumers, though effects are likely to be felt among developers too. In the United States, for example, the CAN-SPAM Act aims to protect recipients by giving them the right to stop communications (a clear route to do so is key). Identifying and highlighting advertisements, giving the recipient information about your business, and using accurate information are among some of the many other requirements set out under this piece of legislation.
Similar regulations apply in the UK and Europe, where the GDPR places a similar focus on transparency, along with the storage and collection of data. Using a dedicated marketing service provider will help you to abide by these rules, though never take it for granted that any service that you use will conform to the latest rules in every area.
3. Data management
A good email service provider or marketing service tool should act as a hub for all things marketing. Records should be kept of active subscribers, and being able to filter these according to automations set out in advanced marketing service providers can help you to understand where you are generating the most leads.
Equally, you will want to be able to store newsletters and other marketing material in the form of templates. This saves you from having to build from scratch, as well as ensures consistency across your brand.
Data will be collected on your users’ habits, characteristics, their likelihood to interact with your brand, and so much more. Finding an ESP or marketing service tool that can present all of this data can mean fewer hours spent trying to analyze data. This is a great opportunity to understand why customers return to your site, or why they do not. Spotting trends and patterns will allow you to implement effective changes that are easy to make with a few tweaks to your existing template, for example.
Check out our feature on the best secure email providers (opens in new tab).