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Email & SMS Marketing

Choosing an ESP for Your Business: Top Questions to Ask

February 3, 2023
Chris Johnson

Table of Contents

Choosing an ESP for Your Business: Top Questions to Ask 

When it comes time to choose an Email Service Provider (ESP) for your business and its marketing, there are several questions to consider before making that final decision. The first steps include: 

1. Outlining your required vs. desired features.

2. Creating a timeline for delivery.

When you start thinking about a new ESP it is important to set out a timeline, start with the date you want to be fully implemented and work backwards.  This is highly important because you will want to make sure that you plan for a seamless transition from your old tool to the new one.  Without this timeline, things will easily fall through the cracks leaving you rushing or paying for two tools at once.

3. Determining your budget. 

Let’s start thinking about those features. What does your business need and what do you want your new ESP to do? The obvious one … email.You want to send emails at the very least, but what do you want to do with your emails? And which of these features are needs vs. wants? 

As you go through the following questions, try to prioritize the features you need to get up and running first and foremost, as well as the ones that have the greatest potential to bring the most value and business impact. Doing this exercise will, in turn, help develop your desired features list — and it’s a great way to set goals for all the tactics you want to try eventually. 

Questions to ask about ESP features

Are you sending marketing and transactional emails? 

If so, you'll want to make sure that your ESP will be able to provide you with multiple IPs. Keeping your marketing and transactional emails on separate IPs will help ensure better deliverability across the board, which also means getting  more eyes on those emails you spend so much time building.

Will you need to send triggered marketing campaigns?  

Triggered emails (or lifecycle emails) are the types of emails that will get the most interaction, including things like abandon carts, browse abandons, or post purchases are all triggered off a specific user action. Determining what triggered emails you need to send for your business is a great way to start making sure that the ESP you are looking at can support your needs.

What other channels would you like to expand into?  

Many ESPs also offer services like SMS, Push, In-App messaging, and social media integrations. If these are channels you are currently using or planning to use, thinking about how those could fit into one platform with your email is a great way to start weeding out other ESPs — all while simplifying your list of logins.  

What does your ESP need to integrate with?  

Are you on one of the top-tier ecommerce platforms or do you have any specific vendors you need integrated with your email service provider? Many ESPs like Klaviyo fit like a glove with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, so if you are on one of those, this is an easy way to narrow your potential list down. Out-of-the-box integrations simplify the rest of the needed work down the line immensely, saving you and your business time and money.

What about nice-to-have ESP features?  

Don’t forget to think ahead and start a wishlist of features, too. You’re probably going to want to A/B test at some point, and while all ESPs offer a way to do this, not all are created equal. Make sure that you get demos on this feature if it is really important to your business. This way you can ensure that it meets all your requirements for testing and is also easy to use. Other nice-to-have features include dynamic site content, integrated popup/signup form capabilities, and preference centers.

Questions to ask about ESP cost

Email service providers can get expensive quickly so making sure you have a budget in mind before the conversation starts is very helpful since a lot of features are behind a paywall. 

Compile the following types of information before talking price, as these factors go into determining how much you pay monthly:

  • Contact volume.
  • Projected email send volume.
  • Level of service needed.
  • Features.

The bottom line on choosing an ESP

Most important of all…interview several ESPs, and then interview some more.  Implementing an ESP is neither simple nor cheap. It takes lots of time, therefore money, and you should make sure that you will be happy with the ESP you choose for the long run. Get your list together, and make sure that every provider you are interested in walks you through their capabilities and demonstrates how they match up with your requirements.

Chris Johnson
about the author

Chris Johnson is an experienced Marketing Manager, specializing in Email, SMS, and Push. Chris can be found at on the MarketerHire network. If interested in hiring Chris for your marketing program and projects, contact us today.

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