ESP is the abbreviation for Email Service Provider. This is the software that you run your email program through, doing everything from hosting images and storing contacts to sending emails and producing reports.
Not all ESPs are created equal! While some differences like price, email volume, and number of contacts are easy ways to differentiate ESPs, other important factors should be considered, such as list acquisition tools, automation capabilities, segmentation, and Ecommerce integration.
2. Why is choosing the right ESP important?
ESP contracts are typically done on an annual basis. If you fail to estimate your growth you could have saved money by staying with a smaller-scale ESP, or be stuck trying to migrate to a more robust ESP after you outgrow your current platform.
3. How to select the right ESP:
What’s your budget? ESP fees range from free (based on very small lists with limited volume) to six-digit figures for annual contracts.
What Ecommerce platform do you use? Some ESPs integrate seamlessly with platforms like Magento and Shopify, and some make it easy to integrate with smaller or homegrown platforms.
Think about what you want to accomplish with email. Are you a small business looking to send weekly newsletters to your entire list? Or do you want to use infinite automated triggers to send targeted messages to the right people at the right time?
Do you use a CRM? Many ESPs can store data on your customers and act as a CRM if you do not have one. Additionally, if you are using a CRM, some ESPs will integrate seamlessly with your database.
1. What is deliverability?
Deliverability is defined as the ability of an email message or campaign to land in the intended subscriber’s inbox. It’s affected by external factors like spam filters, bounces, IP reputation, and throttling, as well as internal factors like list hygiene and email content.
2. Why is deliverability important?
Poor deliverability means that your email subscribers aren’t receiving all of your email messages. Really poor deliverability can land you on a blacklist, which tells ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that your emails are spam and should be blocked.
3. Metrics to know:
Deliverability rate: The percent of emails sent that were actually delivered.
Bounce rate: The percent of emails that don’t end up in an inbox. Hard bounces are due to something permanent (i.e. the email address does not exist) and soft bounces are due to something temporary (full inbox, unavailable ISP server)
Unsubscribe rate: The percent of people who unsubscribe from your emails. The lower the better, and it’s important to monitor these rates continuously.
Complaint rate: The percent of people that mark your email as spam or junk. This rate shouldn’t be higher than .1%. If you have a high complaint rate, consider moving your unsubscribe link to the header of the email.
4. How to maintain good deliverability:
Warm up your IP address: When you first begin sending emails, do so in small batches. This can be done in some ESPs by throttling the send over multiple hours, or manually by segmenting your list. This allows your IP to build trust with the ISP as your emails are received and opened.
Create a subdomain that is used for sending emails: An example is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
Check your sender reputation: If your sender score falls below a certain threshold, your emails will be automatically rejected from ISPs. You can check your sender score here: senderscore.org.
Utilize a double opt-in for new email subscribers: This involves sending an automated email after someone joins your list that requires someone to click a link to confirm subscription to your list.
Maintain a clean list: Create a re-engagement campaign with an incentive or targeted messaging that is sent to (or set to automate to) subscribers who haven’t opened an email in the past 6 months. If subscribers still do not open, unsubscribe them from your list. Another great way to clean your list is to remove hard bounces, which are email addresses that do not exist (ie. Contains a typo or is a fake email address) Only send to addresses that have opted in to your email, never send to rented or purchased lists.
Don’t spam: Avoid spam traps by only sending to email addresses that have opted in to receive your messages, only use high-quality code, and avoid spammy content.
Use engaging content: When users open and click your emails, it signals that you are trustworthy to ISPs.
1. What is an email campaign?
Any marketing or transactional message sent to the inbox of your prospects or customers in order to accomplish an overall marketing goal.
2. How to design a successful email campaign:
Keep it short at under 50 characters.
Should be descriptive and provide the reader with more reason to open the message to learn more.
Keep header less than 150px high to avoid pushing the main message and CTA below the fold.
Include a preheader/snippet text.
Include an option to view the email in a web browser.
Include top navigation links that mirror the website links.
Should convey benefits and features succinctly; remember, less is more. Less text brings readers to the CTA faster.
A strong CTA will stand out. It tells the recipient what you want them to do. Ideally, the CTA should be located above the fold.
Use personalization/targeted messaging when possible.
Links to social media sites, contact info or links to customer service or FAQ, and an ability for the subscriber to manage preferences.
Abide by CAN/SPAM:
Include company mailing address, ability to unsubscribe, links to main site or key services/products, and a link to company’s web pages describing their privacy policies.
Date and time: Send date and time should depend on the nature of your business and your customers. Look at data like Google Analytics and reports from previous email campaigns to predict the days and times most people open your emails and visit your site.
Audience: The more segmented you can make your send, the better. This means only sending the message to people it is relevant to, which can be accomplished by asking customers to manage their email preferences and using that information to add or suppress people from your sends.
Every audience is different. It’s important to always test messaging, design, and send times to optimize your campaigns based on the results of your database.
Mobile Responsive Design
1. What is mobile responsive design?
An email design that self-adjusts its layout based on the width of the screen that is being used to view the email. It looks different when viewed on a web browser than it when it is viewed on a mobile device, ensuring optimal viewing at all times.
2. Why is mobile responsive design important?
The trend in digital is moving toward mobile. More and more people are viewing emails on mobile devices, and not using a responsive design results in a poor user experience, especially when text gets very small and buttons are difficult to click with a finger.
3. How to successfully implement mobile responsive design:
In many mobile inbox providers, the sender’s name is given precedence over subject line. So it’s best to select a name that will be familiar to the recipient so they aren’t left guessing who the message is from.
Keep subject lines short at around 42 characters specifically for a mobile subject line, and simply short in general to be optimized for all inbox providers. Adhere to best practice of the most effective subject line being 50 characters or less.
Keep them concise, conveying one idea to pique the reader’s interest.
Create a sense of urgency, as attention spans of mobile users are short — people often use their smartphone to filter their emails before dealing with the most important messages on their desktop.
Buttons should be sized large and compelling enough to click on mobile device. The average adult finger size is 45 pixels when pressed on a mobile screen, so make sure to have your CTAs at least that size. Ensure that there is sufficient space in between CTAs so that choosing the right link is easy.
Text should be live text when possible. When text is used in a jpeg, it scales down on mobile devices and becomes small and difficult to read.
When designing in a grid, consider coding blocks to stack on top of each other when the width falls below a certain point.
1. What are triggered emails?
They are automated emails based on transactional or lifecycle triggers.
Transactional triggers include abandoning a shopping cart, completing a purchase, etc.
Lifecycle triggers include signing up for email, falling into the unengaged segment (haven’t opened an email in 6 months), haven’t completed a purchase in 180 days, etc.
3. Why are triggered emails important?
Triggered emails (also referred to as automations, automated emails, or ‘set and forget’ emails) are the best way to send the right message to the right person at the right time. Once these emails are set up, they run in the background. Examples include:
Welcome series: You set up a series of emails that educate a new subscriber about your brand, answering any questions they may have up front and giving them the confidence they need to make a purchase.
Abandon cart series: This happens when a customer adds items to their basket/cart, browses the site, but then does not go through with their purchase. Email is an incredibly effective way to regain some of that lost revenue.
Post-purchase series: The first touch a post-purchase customer gets is a message with order and shipping confirmation information. These messages are transactional in nature and should offer the customer’s important details front and center: what they purchased, where it’s being shipped, when it will arrive, and how they can reach customer service if there is a problem. Strategic post-purchase emails send the message that you care about more than just making the sale by asking customers if they are satisfied with their purchase. Other strategic elements of this series request a product review that can be used on the site, upsell or cross-sell based on purchase history, and remind customers to re-order products if applicable.
Re-engagement email: An email, usually with a good offer or incentive, which is sent to contacts who have stopped engaging with your emails. This is a great way to win subscribers back to your brand and clean your list of anyone who still does not respond.
4. How to successfully implement triggered email:
Timing is key:
While the first welcome messages and order confirmation messages should be sent immediately, the cadence of the additional emails in the series should be tested and continuously optimized.
Personalization is very important:
Use dynamic tags to pull in information like the subscriber’s name, purchase history, and product preferences so the email is relevant.
Most enterprise-level ESPs allow you to set up complex workflows with a variety of triggers, delays, filters, tests, and actions.
Most automated emails require at least some work from your web development team. It could be as simple as placing a script tag on your website, or could require setting up multiple API calls if you are using a less robust ESP.