For enterprises trying to enhance their marketing campaigns, choosing the right email service provider (ESP) could be the difference between adequate results and extraordinary results.

But the email marketing space is crowded, causing confusion, at the least, and decision paralysis, in the most severe cases.

Choosing a new ESP requires thorough preparation and evaluation of each prospect and its capabilities. But beyond capabilities, it's essential to determine whether their values align with your organization's goals, requirements, and mission.

Before selecting an ESP, consider these six must-haves for any genuine, mutually beneficial partnership.

1. Functionalities

One of the most important questions to ask when choosing an ESP is what functionalities make this provider stand out from the crowd.

Ideally, the best ESP will have four major components. They will know the basics, and they will also have sophisticated list and data management, customization, and integration capabilities:

  • Core functionalities: Think of the core functionalities as the foundation of a house. These core services support and enable a successful marketing campaign. Generally, they range from email to social media and display ads within one single platform. Testing capabilities, the level of adaptability for email creation, and triggered and automated messages are functionalities that your enterprise should expect in an ESP. Without the core functionalities, a marketing program may fracture and quickly crumble.
  • List/data management: Your ESP should offer flexible data management options, such as the ability to serve and coordinate as a database of record (DBOR). For ESPs with extensive client data, collecting and storing metrics successfully is essential. Your ESP should handle, store, and allow you access to email, purchase, browsing, tenure and demographic data at any point in time.
  • Customization: A great ESP/enterprise relationship requires a unique framework for each marketing program rather than copy-and-paste templates. Your ESP should align their program with your resources, technology, and goals.
  • Integration: For multifaceted, data-driven programs that use more than one technology solution, the ability to integrate is essential. Look for an ESP that is flexible with its technology and can integrate easily with your current services.

2. Reporting Capabilities

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image of Ed Kuderna

Ed Kuderna is managing director at Yesmail, responsible for the Yesmail Interactive division of Yes LifeCycle Marketing.

LinkedIn: Ed Kuderna