When it comes to email marketing, the tech behind email service providers (ESPs) can significantly impact your ability to reach the right subscribers with relevant content. For you, that could mean the difference between more engagement—and thus more return on your investment—and lackluster performance and missed opportunities.
Not all email service providers are the same. As a marketer, it’s your job to understand your goals as well as your audience’s, shop around, and decide which provider can help accomplish those goals.
Knowing the technology that email service providers offer and what you can do with it will help you narrow down your search.
Here are some of the most important pieces of technology you should look for in an email service provider.
But first, why should you care about the tech behind email service providers?
The technology an email service provider offers will dictate how much you can accomplish with your email marketing campaigns.
According to research, email campaigns boast an open rate of about 20% along with a click-through rate of 3.3%.
Keep in mind these figures are general and understanding ESPs and email marketing best practices that affect deliverability and avoiding spam filters can give you even better results, especially when paired with stellar email marketing campaigns.
An email service provider with plenty of features for segmenting your audience and interpreting metrics, for instance, can help you boost that 20% up to 30% or more.
What kind of cutting-edge technology is behind email service providers?
Email marketing and digital marketing, in general, always change and evolve with trends and the emergence of new technology and platforms. Every day, companies develop new research, methods, and tools for better understanding and reaching your target audience.
This is where your email service provider comes in. They’ve done the research and developed the tools that allow you to connect with your subscribers.
High-quality IP addresses for ultimate deliverability
When you send a marketing campaign through your email service provider, your subscribers’ email client will read and judge that campaign based on the IP address it came from.
ESPs have dedicated private or minimally used IP addresses to ensure that your emails won’t get flagged by spam filters since spam filters look at the number of emails sent from one IP to help determine the sender’s reputation.
A bad sender reputation—which can result from a multitude of things, such as sending too many emails or too few—means you’re far more likely to get flagged as spam and filtered straight into your subscribers’ spam folder.
At best, setting off spam filters can earn you a swipe into the trash bin or spam folder. At worst, it can put you in violation of regulations, which means you can get banned from sending email campaigns in the future.
Your ESP should dedicate time to researching the best hardware, software, and strategies for keeping you in your subscribers’ inboxes and out of the spam folder.
Spam protection and compliance with regulations
Avoiding spam filters in your subscribers’ inboxes is one thing. Staying in compliance with ever-changing international spam laws and regulations is a whole different game. As rules and regulations shift, it can be a lot for email marketers to keep up with.
Especially when the person in charge of email marketing at your company also has several other tasks as opposed to working solely as a dedicated email marketing specialist.
Your email marketing service provider should stay up-to-date on these laws and regulations in different countries around the world and prioritize compliance. A good ESP will also provide educational opportunities so that you know why they’re making certain suggestions.
In the spring of 2018, the European Union released a detailed reform of data collection guidelines that directly impacted email marketing in several ways. This left marketers scrambling to develop new privacy policies and ensure that their email marketing strategies were compliant with the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Email marketing service providers can’t skimp on or neglect this effort as failure to comply with these laws can result in hefty fines and, at worse, criminal charges.
Simple batch sending and communication
The technology behind email service providers makes it easy to send the same email to dozens, hundreds, and even of subscribers with relative ease. And no, you’ll never have to worry about anyone hitting the “reply all” button.
You might, however, have to stress about how you’ll manage replies, subscriber feedback, and other communication. The whole point of using email marketing is to develop a trusting relationship with your audience.
And what’s the most important factor in any trustworthy relationship? Communication. Email’s best feature is that it opens a dialogue with your prospects and fans, not a monologue.
Not only does this email from Anthropologie encourage communication, but it offers a discount for completing a survey, showing your customers you encourage their feedback.
Source: Really Good Emails
List segmentation for hyper-relevant content
This revolutionary capability allows you to send different emails to different subscribers. But not just different emails, better emails since segmentation allows you to send only the most relevant content to the right customers and prospects.
If you sent the same email to 1,000 people, the content would only be relevant for a small fraction of them, sending your engagement down the tubes. Worse, you’d have to create a general email that’s irrelevant to everyone, meaning no one would care enough to click-through.
In fact, you’d probably wind up with more unsubscribes than opens. You probably know, as someone with an email address, that getting pointless emails that say nothing of interest will inspire people to unsubscribe and check out.
Segmenting your subscriber list based on different characteristics and demographics means you can send specific and precise emails to exactly the audience that wants to read it.
There’s a good reason 77% of people across all age groups prefer email marketing for permission-based advertisements: The technology allows you to send hyper-relevant emails.
This email from CyanVariable360 Solutions was segmented for subscribers who haven’t signed up to their weekly newsletter.
Source: Really Good Emails
Automated email campaigns
Email service providers also provide marketers with the technology to send automated email campaigns, saving you time and energy, and ultimately revenue.
When a subscriber signs up, for instance, you probably want to send them a welcome message to introduce yourself. After they’ve made a purchase, you can send an email asking for their honest feedback.
Customers sign up for your email list because they want to hear from you and when you ask for their feedback, you prove that you want to hear from them, too, building trust and loyalty between you and your customers.
But sending an email to every single prospect and customer would be a waste of your time and resources if you send each one individually.
Your ESP will enable you to send emails based on triggered events like browsing specific products, signing up, and even inactivity to encourage re-engagement.
You can also send automated emails with specials or deals to specific people at different times of the day. After all, an email for a deal on pizza probably wouldn’t bring in great results—maybe not even mediocre results—at 10 AM, just as your subscribers arrive at work.
This email from American Airlines was triggered at a specific time to let the subscriber know her miles would expire soon.
Source: Really Good Emails
Highly customizable templates
You want to wow your subscribers with your emails. You want them to be amazed with your brand and delighted with the content you send. ESPs provide marketers with highly customizable templates for creating amazing emails that make an impact with your subscribers. These templates mean you don’t have to be a graphic designer or well-versed in code to craft effective emails.
As a marketer, this allows you to create emails with color schemes that fit with your brand’s aesthetic or the emotion you’re trying to portray. You can add different links and features to promote new products, allow subscribers to easily purchase from their inbox, leave reviews, and much more.
Plus, you can incorporate high-quality graphics and videos to make a strong impact.
And you can do it all without spending hours and hours stressing over the details of how things will render.
Email is a personal method of communication so why wouldn’t you address your subscribers like human beings? Likewise, why wouldn’t you want them to know the human being behind the email campaigns?
ESPs provide technology that allows you to include your subscriber’s name in the subject line without sending individual messages. You can also customize the “from” field with different names instead of your company or organization name in order to optimize your open and click-through rates.
Personalizing your emails with real names can boost your open rates by 14% and click-through rates by 10%.
This thank you email from Classic Specs is personalized for a more conversational vibe.
Source: Really Good Emails
Integration with several other platforms
The best email service providers have developed professional relationships with many other platforms like Google Analytics, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more.
But this isn’t just about bragging rights: You and your clients benefit from integrated technology. You can level-up your email marketing when you compare data between say, Google Analytics and your ESP. You can figure out what content gets the most click-throughs and what leads to the most conversions. You can also learn what content or subject lines don’t work.
Having all this information readily available to inform the design and set up for your future email marketing campaigns means you’ll always be improving, and thus your revenue from email marketing will keep growing.
Responsiveness across multiple devices
People generally spend the equivalent of an entire day on their smartphones each week. As you can see, your emails need to render well across multiple devices if you’re going to maximize the potential of your email marketing efforts.
Why would you bother spending time creating high-quality graphics and hard-hitting text if your subscribers can’t see it on their smartphones? Studies show that they won’t wait to read it on their desktop computers. They’ll delete it instead.
Luckily, email service providers make it easy for you to optimize your emails for viewing on mobile devices. Most will also make it simple to test and preview your email across devices and across email clients so you can rest assured that your efforts designing a functional and optimized email won’t get disrupted by the device your subscriber uses.
Detailed analytics and monitoring
Your email service provider has access to technology that allows you to intricately track open and click-through rates, demographics, devices, activity, and several other factors that will help you fine-tune your email marketing efforts for maximum results.
Using this information, you can hone your email marketing tactics and integrate them with the rest of your broader digital marketing strategy.
You can also use these metrics to A/B test different email marketing campaigns with small percentages of your subscribers before sending out the winner to your entire list (or to a segment of your list).
Email is already one of the best digital marketing methods for delivering amazing ROI and boosting your clients’ bottom lines. You’ve probably heard that before.
Not only does it give you the opportunity to connect with your audience without the hassle of algorithms, but your subscribers actually want to hear from you because they voluntarily gave you their email address.
The technology behind email service providers allows you to reach the right people with the right content. Once you have a good grasp of your client’s goals, you can use this technology to your advantage in different ways to develop a hard-hitting strategy with content that’s ultra-relevant to your subscribers.
Because the better you know your ESP and your audience, the better results you’ll see.