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When it’s not your ESP’s fault

October 27, 2015

One of email marketing’s best features is the quality and immediacy of its statistics. But it can become a stick for your stakeholders to beat you with if the results are poor.  

At this point, you need some answers for them so it’s helpful if you can deflect the disappointment onto the supplier: Your ESP. If only it were that simple. But in reality it’s like blaming the print house for your direct mail campaign going badly or the TV station for your advert failing. Yes, they’re part of the picture, but they’re not the whole story.

Below are the campaign areas typically blamed on the ESP and what you should really know about them.

Low open rates

If only open rates were as simple as having the right subject line. In fact low deliverability can be a result of many factors including the quality of the data, the message, the amount of goodwill your brand has, the frequency of the emails, the domain used or your ESP’s reputation. There is no ESP out there who has a silver bullet to guarantee you land in every inbox and this area changes on a daily basis. However they often have a wealth of knowledge in this area and can work with you to help improve things. By working with them rather than against them they can help suggest changes and then run tests with you to establish the cause or causes. 

The appearance of the email

Writing HTML for email is a tricky business. Things that work well on a web page won’t be good in emails.  Javascript and Div based layouts are out whereas tables are in. To run a successful email campaign your email needs to be coded to look good in all Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, all versions of Outlook as well as on mobiles AND tablets! If your email looks terrible in your inbox then it may not be your email provider's fault. If you’ve had the code created for you then you need to go back to the designer and get them to fix it rather than the ESP. Otherwise it’s like going to a Bring Your Own restaurant and complaining about the wine. If you’re using the ESP’s editor make sure it’s a good drag and drop editor built for email or if it’s a WYSIWYG editor then ask them to design you a bullet proof, well coded template that you can re-use. Most good systems will have a testing tool like Litmus to help you test across multiple email clients before deploying. 

The overall results

Maybe your much planned campaign just didn’t fly at all. You were looking to drive up event attendance, sales, website hits or generate replies but it just didn't happen. Now it’s time to examine your copy, offering, data and overall email strategy and, let’s face it, your ESP was probably not involved in these stages of planning. It’s easy to write them off as the root cause here but step back and look at the whole picture – maybe with your ESP’s help.

When it is your ESP's fault

If results start to dip it’s easy to blame your email provider and move on. But moving suppliers can be a big disruption to your business. 

So what would be a reason to blame the provider and look elsewhere? Well there are a few red flags that could mean it’s time to move: an absence of technical and account manager support is never acceptable. Also, while all ESPs suffer technical glitches; the overall reliability and security of the system should be high. If they're helpful and reliable then resist the urge to make them a scapegoat and work with them rather than against them for the best outcome. Their expertise could help you achieve the results you're looking for.      

Posted by Jenni Malley

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