In our great planet, there are approximately 5,320 email marketing companies. Alright, alright: I'm exaggerating a bit, because I have no idea how many there truly are.
What I do know is that via a Web search you can find a slew of companies that tout the virtues of this email service and that email service and that other service over there in the corner. And here you are: a corporate marketer who has the sole purpose of finding the right company to assist you in providing software and service to get your email marketing campaigns off the ground.
(No wonder so many of us in the marketing biz have gray hairs at an early age.)
Thankfully, yours truly is here to give you an email service provider (ESP) checklist, a handy-dandy guide that you can use whether you're venturing into email for the first time or shopping around for a new provider.
1. Who can you talk to?
One of the nice byproducts of the technological revolution is the ability to connect businesses with their customers in all kinds of different ways: phone, email, SMS, "contact us" form, live chat, etc. The old "operators are standing by" has never been more appropriate.
So something I'd want to know is how the ESP offers support or assistance. Are there varying service levels based on a monthly package? Depending on your level of expertise, you might need more assistance or less, so be upfront with your expectations. As a general rule, most self-service variety ESPs offer the software and a detailed help center for you to answer your own questions.
Realistically, expect to get help during traditional business hours and within an hour of reporting a claim or question, depending on the size of the provider. Sometimes, email groups with smaller client bases can provide a quicker-level of service, while larger firms may have more people to talk with (though they may not necessarily be fully in tune with your account).