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Selecting An Email Marketing Partner

Since I am in the email marketing field I regularly read “MediaPost’s”: “Email Insider”: (free registration required).
I really liked the October 17 issue titled “How to Evaluate Email Vendors”: David Baker, Vice President of Email Marketing and Analytical Solutions at “”: provides a great overview on what you should look for when selecting an email marketing vendor.
His list of what to look for is pretty good but I had someone ask me to validate his opinions.
Here’s my personal list of things to review when choosing an Email Service Provider:

* *Product Ease-of-Use* – Can a true beginner with no HTML experience use the application “out of the box”? Can you easily do dynamic content without requiring IT or programming assistance? Can an advanced user work with HTML code inside and outside the application?
* *Email Deliverability* – Does the ESP have an ongoing commitment to deliverability, including a documented deliverability methodology and a full-time deliverability team? What is their deliverability claim? What do third-party deliverability companies say about the company? DO they track deliverability in real-time including reputation and blacklists? In Canada, how do they deal with Canadian ISPs?
* *Integration with Other Applications* – Does the ESP easily integrate with your other applications like Web Analytics, CRM, E-Commerce, ERP and databases? How many integrations have they done? Can the ESP document other similar requirements to your integration needs (whether today or planned for the future).
* *Product Flexibility* – Can the ESP be your partner today, next year and five years from now? Can they do what you need today, what you plan on doing and what you haven’t even thought of yet? Are they a leader in adding technology and capabilities as the industry changes?
* *Customer Service* – This is where many technology providers fall down. Will your ESP answer your phone call? Do they have a dedicated customer service or help line? What are the typical resolution times?
Checking with the ESP’s deliverability team is crucial when making a decision on an email partner. In a recent study released by eMarketer it is the ability to get email messages through to the inbox that concerns email marketers more than anything else. I know of many so-called leaders that still don’t get “deliverability”. What’s the use of having the best content or offer if many people don’t ever get to see it?
If you have any more detailed questions please post a comment or “contact me”:

One Comment

  1. David Baker
    David Baker October 25, 2005

    Well Put. Deliverability is HUGE and I absolutely agree with these bits. It’s not an easy question to answer in 700 words. I’ve found that most ESPs have this covered, at least in presentation mode.. but again, I usually balance the discussion with the vendor’s deliverability manager, that of their client’s knowledge and then that of third party insight from the likes of Pivotal Veracity, Return Path etc..etc… and other services that know the real deal about the ESPs..

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