When it comes to sending e-mail newsletters, autoresponders, or even transactional emails, professional email delivery services play a pivotal role. They ensure that all your emails get sent, and delivered to the intended inboxes, doing their best to avoid any ISP restrictions or spam filters.
Not just that, good email delivery service providers are dedicated to giving their clients fast and dependable email delivery, so naturally, they greatly enhance the email marketing efforts of a business.
The short answer is yes you can, but for the most part, these professionals can do it better! We have all heard that managing one’s email server gives greater control and flexibility than using a third-party mail service. And in the long run, if you do it correctly, it can be more cost-effective. But there’s other factors to consider.
Yes, owning your own email server makes you the master and hence gives you greater control, but it is not without its problems.
Handling one’s own email delivery is not a job that is suited to the faint hearted. It can be quite complicated to setup the software, filter out the spam, and then keep the whole system running smooth. You basically need to be an expert with server configuration as well as email deliverability techniques like SPF, DKIM, and Feedback Loops. And let’s not forget the IP warmup process, which if done wrong could get you blacklisted all over the place.
Following are some of the most common drawbacks associated with hosting one’s own email server:
Probably the biggest disadvantage of a self-hosted email system is that you’re responsible for everything related to your emails; it is solely your responsibility to maintain, upgrade, and troubleshoot your server. It is a tremendous commitment, and one that’s not without complications.
These are just the few main problems that I have highlighted above, there’s a lot more you’ll have to deal with once you start building your system, so why not just outsource your email delivery to people who are dedicated to this field?
By outsourcing your email delivery service, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time that can be invested in better opportunities.
Email delivery services make the whole process of email marketing a lot easier and simpler. If an email delivery company is hosting your emails, then dealing with spam, management and software is their headache; you can relax, and work on other important aspects of your business.
Following are some key benefits associated with email delivery companies:
Let’s face it; most of us are not really familiar with the detailed terms and conditions of the CAN-SPAM law (as well as other emerging laws, like CASL), and this can be quite troublesome if we have to operate on our own. The good news is that if we’re using an ESP (Email Service Provider) then we don’t need to understand the legal jargon.
The email delivery service providers are familiar with the ins and outs of email laws, and they ensure that their customers follow them.
Have you ever noticed an unsubscribe button at the end of all your emails? That button is a part of CAN-SPAM law, and it’s common for ESPs to automatically add it for you in all your emails.
When you’re working with an email delivery service, then they’ll ensure that your email delivery rates are high.
Since these companies maintain their own spam protections, they have high quality email reputation. This reputation gets passed on to you when you send emails through them. Many of them are also whitelisted at various ISPs, so the chances of your emails ending up in a spam folder are greatly reduced.
As your emails are depending on the ESPs, you will be able to send bulk emails over most ISP spam filters even when you are emailing from a newly created account.
Furthermore, these ESPs have in-built systems that track your emails and determine which are being delivered and which are not. If your emails are not being delivered then they’ll try to resolve the issue by using their ties with other internet service providers...thus increasing your deliverability.
Your ESP will also have some neat tools that you can use to manage your lists. Some service providers may even provide you with tools for collecting emails legitimately.
Email delivery service providers make sure that your subscribers receive the email in the best possible format. They use a multi-part email format, and this is quite handy because most of us only produce a plain HTML or text email, which is not ideal.
A plain text email may be rendered unreadable on applications that can’t read HTML. Even the apps that can read plain HTML generate ¼ lesser responses than properly formatted emails.
So you see, email delivery services will not just make your email marketing easier for you, they’ll take it to the next step!
If you have decided that outsourcing your email delivery is the best option, then probably the next question on your mind must be how can you choose a good email delivery service?
If you know what you are looking for then finding a good email delivery service won’t be a problem for you.
The following criteria will help you to find a good email delivery service:
The first thing that you should see when selecting a service provider should be the IP address. The IP address provided to you by your company will be either shared or private.
Try to get a private IP address, but if you can’t then settle for an IP address that is shared among very few customers. Your IP address is just like your phone number, just as you wouldn’t like to share your phone number with a large group of people, you shouldn’t like to share your IP address either.
A shared IP address can lead to many problems; For instance, if you are sharing an IP with another person, and he gets a lot of spam complaints, then your shared IP may get banned by an ISP. This can cause many deliverability issues for not just him, but you as well.
Since prevention is always better than a cure, you shouldn’t risk it. Try to get a private IP if you can.
The company you select should have good customer support. They should be available 24/7 via email, and telephone help services should also be available whenever required.
A good email delivery service will provide you transparent and reliable reports of your email activities. This includes delivery rates, click-through rates, and opens rates. Since this information is very important for marketing purposes, be very demanding of these features.
The service provider that you select should force its customers to follow the CAN-SPAM act and it should have built-in features that make compliance mandatory.
List segmentation means that your service provider should allow you to group your list based on geography, demographics, and other criteria. This can be extremely useful when you want to target a particular group of people in your marketing campaign.
While selecting a company, make sure that you don’t sign up for a company that requires you to make a long term contract. Start with a monthly contract, and if things go well then you can think about long-term.
You should have an exit strategy available, in case things don’t work out...so don’t let any company bind you in a contract that lasts longer than thirty days.
Different service providers have different pricing plans. Some charge you monthly according to your list size; others charge you for the number of emails that you send in the month. Select the price plan that fits your requirements the best.
If you can get a free trial, then I recommend that you get it. A free trial will give you a good idea about how the software/service works, and if it is suitable to meet your needs.
Take some time doing research before you select a company. Compare different companies, their service and their rates, and then make a decision. A good email delivery service can do wonders for your company, and so you should invest a good deal of time to make sure that the company you select is a perfect match.
Once you have your criteria set, you’ll need a pool of potential candidates to start your search for a reliable email delivery service. The following companies are some of the best options out there.
iContact is an efficient email delivery service that allows you to generate an exquisite email campaign packed with surveys, autoresponder, and many other cool features.
The whole purpose behind email marketing is keep your customers connected and informed. iContact contains just the right tools for establishing and strengthening this connection in the simplest way possible.
The beauty of iContact is that it simplifies the tasks of managing different marketing campaigns for you. Its packages come with HTML coding options, and marketing templates, so you can choose how involved you'd like to be in your campaign.
iContact has understood, and adapted to the growing trend of social media. It has integrated features that are geared towards Facebook and Twitter. In other words, with iContact you can harness the combined power of email marketing along with social media.
With iContact, you can create aliases and then send emails based on different demographics and filters. This can be very useful in marketing to different consumer groups who may have varying tastes.
iContact doesn’t just give you innovative features and a user-friendly interface; it also allows you to test all its great features with a free 1-month trial. The trials are completely free “with no commitments, and no strings attached!” You can’t go wrong with that.
So give it a try, and see if it meets your criteria or not.
They must have known what they were building when they named their email delivery service ‘Benchmark Email’. Benchmark Email has really set a benchmark for the kind of performance one would expect from an email delivery service.
Benchmark Email is composed of many innovative features. It allows you to create surveys, newsletters, coupons, and even information quickly and effectively. It really enhances your marketing efforts because you can include images, videos, your color scheme and your logo too. Imagine what you can do with that kind of flexibility!
With Benchmark Email, a professional email campaign doesn’t remain challenging anymore. It gives you everything that you need to target your audience. It’s not just good for targeting; it’s great for monitoring the results as well.
It has an advanced system for keeping track of all the reports. This includes click-through rates, survey results, deliverability, email abuse, and contact statistics. It displays all its results on graphs and based by campaigns so that you can track the success of your surveys and marketing campaigns.
Benchmark hasn’t lagged behind regarding social media either. It allows you to monitor the success of your social media campaigns too by tracking the Likes and engagements of Facebook and Tweets on Twitter.
It has integration options for Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Wordpress and several others as well. So you can see that Benchmark Email is a powerful tool, and if you decide on it then it will add greater reach and power to your marketing efforts.
I am impressed with the company’s easy-to-use interface, awesome help and support, and its innovative feature list. If you’re interested to try this service, then a free-trial is available for you to try it as well.
MailChimp is one of my personal favorites. It doesn’t just give you all the features that you need to run an effective marketing campaign, it adds a touch of refreshing humor into the whole process too! On every page of MailChimp, you’ll find a link to a funny YouTube video.
It has a pretty powerful relationship with social media too. With just one click, you’ll not only be able to send out your email campaign, but you’ll also be able to update your social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. It allows you to market on both social media and email in conjunction.
Humor isn’t the only thing that draws me to MailChimp, it’s the ease and flexibility offered by it that never ceases to amaze me.
When it comes to designing, MailChimp has thought of everything. There are hundreds of professional and cool-looking email templates for you to choose from, and if you’re not satisfied with those then you can upload your own HTML designs too. Not just that, but you can include images in the design to customize it as per your taste. These templates you design can be saved for use later as well. The best part of it all is that once your design is complete, MailChimp will send it to the Delivery Doctor.
The Delivery Doctor will test your campaign methodologically to see if it has any elements that can raise red flags. It will even test the HTML code to see if there are any errors in it. In other words, MailChimp will ensure that your emails land right into your subscriber’s inboxes.
The reporting features of MailChimp are actually one of its strongest points. All the data regarding your email campaigns is displayed on well-defined charts. You can see social stats, subscriber activity, click performance and other advanced reports collected during a specific period. You can zoom in and examine a particular time period as well.
By looking at the reports you can determine who opened your email and when they opened it. It also shows the emails that weren’t opened or the emails that bounced. If you have some emails that bounced then MailChimp automatically determines which customers the emails should be sent to again, and which customers should be eliminated from the list completely.
Customer support for MailChimp is readily available, and they have a forum too so you can share your problems with other members. The also publish a weekly webinar that covers a wide variety of topics related to emails and emails marketing.
Overall Mailchimp is an excellent email service that has some great reporting features. The touch of humor it adds to its services makes the whole process of email marketing a lot lighter. It is a user-friendly service suitable for both beginner and advanced level marketers.
When it comes to managing your subscriber list effectively, then Pinpointe is the best email delivery service for the job.
Because of its split testing, triggers, and autoresponders that assist you in presenting customers with customized messages based on their needs and interests, Pinpointe excels in tracking the results and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
With Pinpointe, you can target specific groups within your contact list, and let Pinpointe take care of the list management for you. For instance, you may design a campaign and set it to get sent to only those people who have opened your previous emails.
Furthermore, you don’t need any special skills to create a professional looking email as it is full of user-friendly templates that help its clients in making great emails to complement their marketing campaigns.
Just like the two services mentioned above, Pinpointe has excellent reporting features. It lets you measure your deliverability, click-through rates, bounce rates, auto responder statistics and more. The data is displayed in a graphical format that can easily be interpreted.
They offer excellent help and support services to help you get the most out of their product.
All in all, Pinpointe is great for email marketing, especially if you’re marketing business-to-business consumers. It offers a lengthy list of features that let you organize and implement professional email marketing campaigns. They manage all your lists, and allow you to send out automatic responses every time a subscriber clicks on a particular link. Their tools and templates are easy to use, and help is right around the corner.
If you’re somebody who wants to create not just a professional campaign, but one that is fashionable as well, then Mad Mimi is the service provider for you. Mad Mimi is an email delivery service that is continuously adding new features, and the best part is that they don’t charge you extra for the new stuff :)
It’s very easy to create an eye-catching email campaign with Mad Mimi because it has some simplified design tools. You don’t need to be a professional designer to make a decent looking email if you’re using Mad Mimi; however, you can’t be too creative with it either as it offers limited options. While you can create good emails in Mad Mimi, you may not always be able to create exactly what you envision.
The best part about Mad Mimi is that it allows you to integrate as many as 39 social media buttons in your emails. This includes pin, like, retweet, and so many other such buttons. It also offers 21 add-on options such as a webform, Facebook campaign, and drip campaigns.
On the negative side though, Mad Miami lacks some very basic features like A/B testing so it can be hard to determine what type of campaign will work best for your target market. But they also have one of the most competitive pricing models, so you can’t really go wrong there.
When it comes to reporting, Mad Mimi knows what its doing. It shows you how many people have opened your emails, how many links have been clicked and who clicked on them. It also shows you how many times your content has been shared on social media.
As Mad Mimi works with Google Analytics, it provides in-depth statistics and click tracking.
Since Mad Mimi is slightly more difficult to learn as compared to its competitors, they have provided some great tutorials, guides and demos to help their customers. They provide both online, and telephone support to their clients. Their instant chat support is frankly the best I’ve ever seen...from any company! They answer nearly instantly and their support team is always personable and knowledgeable.
Overall, Mad Mimi is a very good email service provider. It has some great designs, excellent reporting features, and helpful customer support. The only thing that holds it back is the lack of A/B testing, but I think we can forgive this small deficiency as it has many other great features that more than make up for it!
If you’re looking to get some good value at a low cost, then GetResponse is the best option for you. It’s an email delivery service that will help you in greatly enhancing the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
GetResponse allows you to create your marketing emails with embedded videos, social networking buttons, links and more. Importing lists in GetResponse is a piece of cake, and you can do it in the blink of an eye.
It has a good monitoring system; GetResponse displays the data on deliverability rates, customer-click rates, and email open rates in clearly defined graphs. They even tell you the time the emails are being opened. This feature can be particularly useful for timing your marketing campaigns.
You can also send surveys to your customers through GetResponse, and see how your customers respond. Comparing the results of surveys is very easy in this service.
They have some great webinars, tips, and tutorials that can help you grasp not just the working of their software, but email marketing itself too. I love the fact that their tech chat is highly responsive. You don’t have to wait ages to get a reply if you need support.
GetResponse offers great value for money. It has good templates, innovative features, and excellent reporting. If it only had some automatic response features it would have made it to the top of our list.
The last (but not the least) service on our list is Constant Contact. Constant Contact is an email delivery service suited to people of all skill levels.
It is very easy to design a marketing campaign using Constant Contact. It offers professional templates, and you can edit and customize all your designs easily in the editor, no matter what your skill level may be. However...it lacks one key feature that may displease some of its user...you cannot preview how your email would look to your customers after you’re finished making it.
This email delivery service provides all the necessary reporting features required for monitoring email campaigns. This includes recording the complaints, deliverability, opt-outs, click-throughs, forwards, and bounce rates.
It allows you to add a social-share toolbar to your emails that enables customers to share your ads on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This can boost traffic to your website if the customer decides to use those buttons.
The social stat reporting tool integrated in Constant Contact clearly illustrates the Likes, shares, Tweets and the number of messages you receive.
Overall Constant Contact has a user-friendly interface and it is great for small businesses. While it does lack some basic features that you may find in the options above, it is still pretty effective because it is suitable for people of all skill levels.
Memuna Umber from Winning.Email
Memuna is an MBA student who loves learning about marketing, specifically email marketing. She brings a lot of great experience to the Winning Email team and her passion for technology and communicating with people makes her a perfect fit.