What is Email Service Provider (ESP) and Why is it Important?

It is not an exaggeration to say that email is one of the most powerful tools to connect with other human beings. It is often seen as a traditional method to reach out to customers. However, email marketing is also evolving and in recent years, has become an important part of successful marketing campaigns. In this article, we will mainly discuss about the introduction of an email service provider (ESP), the importance of ESP, and the famous ESPs in recent years. 

What is Email Service Provider (ESP)?

A basic definition of email service is a platform that allows users to simply send emails to their audience. We are sure you have used some of the famous email services such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, and others. Nonetheless, in this article, we will talk about ESP which is defined as a technology to send emails to subscribers using automation, tracking, dynamic content, and other features as well. Using its well-developed software, we can send emails not only effectively, but also efficiently to reach out to potential customers and keep customer loyalty.

What are the common features of ESP?

Common features of ESP include simple email creation (design and content as well), signup forms, and subscribers list maintenance.

Creating an email might seems simple, but it needs to be professional, especially for commercial purposes. A business will need a wide variety of email templates with unique designs which will be sent at different times depending on the customer’s needs. In regard to this, not only making the templates, automation of the emails is essential as well. ESP allows users to create an email template quickly even without coding skills using easy customization. With the addition of automation, sending emails to a large audience has become easier.

Signup form is also a common feature of ESP. Before you start sending emails, you need subscribers, and a signup form is important to get more of them. Signup form could be put into the website (either WordPress, Shopify, or other software) or sent as a content of an email. Having subscribers means we need to list and manage them. Businesses have a large audience and therefore, subscribers list maintenance is also important. ESP could manage subscribers easier with its personalization features.

How to emphasize on customer journey using ESP?

One of the basics in marketing is to be able to understand the customer journey. Customer journey is different steps taken by customers from noticing the products until purchase and even beyond. Customer journey includes awareness (ads), consideration (reviews & blogs), purchase (store), and retention (loyalty programs & communication).

What makes marketing email incredible is that the ability to keep customers in the journey. First, personalized email automation using ESP allows companies to reach out to potential customers and this brings customers to the start of the journey at the awareness level. Reminder emails will keep them in the journey and even after purchase, emails consisting of loyalty programs will remind customers of the products and retain them in the journey which is beneficial for the long term.

In addition to this, ESP allows businesses to track the customer journey and send emails based on the journey of each individual.

What are the common ESPs used in businesses?

1. MailChimp

Email marketing has always been one of the basic methods to reach out to customers. However, managing email was extremely difficult in the past and it cost a lot of money. Even the email software in the early years was relatively expensive.

MailChimp was created in 2003 to solve this problem by having a more manageable email management system with automation and a simple interface when writing emails. MailChimp is an email marketing platform that offers different functions such as automation, email creation (templates and design without coding), customer journey tracking, localized email campaigns, and tools to see the engagement of the campaigns. Their recent features also allow users to buy their domain names and build a website using MailChimp. MailChimp was a game-changer since it combines the effectiveness of traditional email marketing with its efficiency.

2. SendInBlue

Just like MailChimp, SendInBlue allows email automation, as well as email creation to reach out and interact with different subscribers. While MailChimp is known better for its automation and simplicity when building email templates, SendInBlue offers two additional functions which are live chat software and SMS marketing. Live chat software increases customer satisfaction and helps with customer engagement. On the other hand, SMS marketing, even though it is not used that much anymore, when used efficiently could become a powerful tool to attract more customers. SendInBlue plans are also relatively cheaper in comparison with other ESP.

3. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is similar to the above ESPs in a way that it could create professional email templates using a drag-drop system. Moreover, Constant Contact is also excellent at subscriber list management by using personalization to track the customer journey and CRM tool. Of course, it has automation as well. Its distinctive features include richer tools when writing an email (survey, poll, donation interface), and one of the best customer support using live chat, community support, and sources.

Things to know: What is CAN-SPAM Act?

Discussing email marketing, we need to understand the importance of understanding Can-Spam Act. While email marketing is convenient especially with ESP, there are rules that are made to protect customers known as The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (Can-Spam Act).

In general, the purpose of this is to protect customers against spam emails, and other forms of unsolicited emails. Few points that can be taken from the rule are no misleading header, honest subject lines, write it as an advertisement, put the location of the writer, and use the opt-out option. Commercial emails that do not follow the above-written points are against the law and the company will receive penalties.

In this article, we have discussed ESP and how it helps to understand the customer journey better. Moreover, MailChimp and other software such as SendInBlue and Constant Contact are also explained briefly. Last but not least, Can-Spam Act acts as a rule to protect customers.

We hope you have a better understanding of email service providers after reading this article.