So this isn’t an original thing here, I’m lifting it from Chief Marketer, an industry publication for the online marketing world. It was written on January 6th by Jordie van Rijn, a very well respected email marketer. I read this article and thought it especially poignant since I constantly run into people who are looking for, or thinking about switching to, a new ESP. I kind of liken it to how we sometimes approach other service providers: cell phones, cable companies etc. I know people who constantly switch service providers either to get the best deal or to be forking their money over to the “lesser of the evils” as one of my friends put it. I know that personally, I have used 4 cell phone companies. Same with cable (or internet)? if someone else if offering a better deal, why not switch? The issue with switching ESPs is that when you do, you lose all click-stream data. That is the history of opens, closes, clicks? It’s all reset back to zero. Thus, it is important to choose one with the right features, the right price, and the ability to help you grow your company and your list size, not limit it. Like with everything else, you get what you pay for.
Plan on making a long-term commitment
This is key for the reason I mentioned above. Moving data, templates, auto-responders and even data integration or data feeds can really put a burden on you, your email marketer, and your budget. Like when you buy a house, it’s likely not for just a few months. It’s for the long-haul so make sure you’re committed.
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Know what you want
There is no shortage of selection out there when it comes to ESPs just like there’s no shortage of houses on the market. But you can’t walk in blind, you need to know what you’re looking for. Number of bedrooms? Bathrooms? Venetian-style grotto with bird-baths? With email, the questions may be more like how big is your list, how much do you see it growing, do you need a product feed and how is the deliverability?
ESP salespeople, like real estate agents, are trying to close the deal Do you think that you are the first prospect for your real estate agent? Probably not. And like the agent, ESPs are always quoting out their service and making it look as attractive as possible to you. They’ll show you the shiny new paint job, marble countertops, wide-pine hardwood floors from reclaimed wood off of a 17th century French Naval warship. But what about the plumbing? And the structure? Email providers will often not show you the parts of their service that they are not as enthusiastic about so make sure to take this into account when looking. As Jordie says, “Ask for examples and verified information, and have them put their promises into a service level agreement (SLA).”
Ask about the neighborhood
Does the ESP service companies the same size as yours or would you be their largest client? Ask for some references, just like if you’re going to hire a general contractor or house inspector. Make sure that your neighbors or, in this case, other companies haven’t been burned by the ESP who didn’t deliver on promises or were hiding something big like the cracked and crumbling foundation that is hidden behind the snazzy new basement finishing system.
Consider whether you need a broker
When wading through the plethora of choices, sometimes going it alone is not the best strategy. Sure, not using a real estate agent can save you some big bucks on commission but it can also make it REALLY confusing when trying to sort out the details, look at the contracts and even find the right house in the first place. So when choosing an ESP, consider using a broker to wade through the choices and help you define exactly what it is you need from an ESP.
*Jordie van Rijn is an email marketing consultant and chief editor of www.emailvendorselection.com