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Advantages of ESP's
Normally, as a company moving into email marketing you have to make a choice. Do you choose to have your own in-house system or do you go with an ESP (Email Service Provider)?
There are advantages for each option, but you really have to look at your company's specific requirements to see which option is best suited to your requirements. This article will talk you through the advantages of choosing an ESP and dispel some of the apparent disadvantages of choosing an ESP.
As a small company starting out in email marketing you have to straight away consider a lot of factors to get underway. The "buzz" issue in email marketing at the moment is reputation. Now in all fairness, you may very well be in a good position to start off by having your own dedicated IP address to send out from. What the webmail providers like to see in email reputation is a consistent email history whilst steadily rising in size. If you are going to go down the route of an in-house system you will have to put a lot of time and man hours into making this work. You will be personally responsible for setting up and managing your own reputation. This means that you will have to learn the ins and outs of email deliverability. Proper maintenance of your feedback loops, measuring complaint rates and having the relevant authentication coding in place is all essential in making your campaign grow successfully. As you can see, this can end up being very labour intensive and unless you can dedicate a serious amount of time to setting up and maintaining your email reputation, you may find that your campaigns are no way near as good as they could be.
On the other hand, if you were to move onto an ESP, you would be moving onto an IP address that already had a well maintained sender reputation. ESP's are always concerned with the reputation of their sending IP's and meticulously check it to ensure that they can provide a high level of deliverability. All worthwhile ESP's will also give you guidance on how to set up the rest of the information you need and even provide you with links so you don't need to put in the man hours to establishing your campaigns reputation.
As a small company, you are more than likely not going to know the ins and outs of email marketing. There are several different factors that effect your marketing campaign that are unique to email marketing. When you first start out, this can be somewhat of a daunting task bringing yourself up to date with all of this. With any good ESP though, you should receive a high level of customer support. I know that we personally offer to assist our customers in setting up a campaign which exceeds email marketing best practices to ensure that they can get a good level of open rates whilst also offer advice on how to healthily grow their mailing list.
So as a large company you're in a completely different situation to a small company when it comes to choosing between a dedicated IP and an ESP. The question that you have to ask yourself is - Does your campaign have time to wait whilst you slowly build up your campaigns reputation? Hotmail recommends that on a ne IP address with no previous mailing history that no more than 5000 emails are sent from it a day. If you send more than this, you will risk an email throttle which will severely damage your deliverability.
With ESP's, you're moving your campaign onto an IP that already has an existing emailing reputation that should have been looked after by the provider. This means it will be consistent and without high complaint rates and therefore you will be able to start sending high frequencies of emails automatically. There is always this doubt cast by people in the email marketing community that when a company is on a shared IP with other companies, you have the worry of one of the companies letting the whole IP down by sending dodgy emails and getting the reputation of the IP damaged. What they don't seem to remember is that the ESP's themselves don't want this to happen and if you're signed up to a decent ESP you should know that they will monitor each customers emailing activity. If the ESP doesn't actually do this then they will lose their decent customers which will adversely effect the ESP's personal growth and success. This of course would be against an ESP's best interest. We're not just here to take your money and leave you to it!
You may or may not know this but the ROI on email marketing has decreased over the past couple of years (see article here). This of course has several factors that effect it; the introduction of Bacn could possibly be one of the biggest factors in this by watering down results. The other major factor is that email marketing is getting very popular and more and more companies are starting their own campaigns. This of course means that your campaign is going into the recipients inboxes with a lot of other emails; each one vying to be opened AND actually read. This means your campaign has to stand out from your competitors. Not only that but the email marketing world is changing rapidly. It wasn't long ago that the main issue in the email marketing world was wording and html to text ratios, now it's reputation and deliverability, and undoubtedly it'll be something else in a couple of months. Unless your company has a dedicated member of staff to email marketing there is a good chance that you will slip behind the times and end up having an ineffectual campaign. ESP's are only interested in Email Marketing and dedicate their whole day to reading about (*and writing about*) Email Marketing.
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