Thinking about using email marketing to help your business grow? One of the first things you’ll need to do is select an email marketing service. But how can you separate the good from the shady and get the most bang for your marketing bucks? To get started, consider 3 basic things:

1. Features: The first thing to consider is how you plan to use email marketing for your business and what features you’ll need. Think about things like email templates, reporting, the ability to share your sent emails on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter (this can save you a ton of time) and other integrations that make your marketing life easier and more efficient. Think about if you may need something more advanced like autoresponders – a series of emails that are sent based on an action or time based trigger.

Regardless of which features work best for you, almost every ESP (email service provider) offers a free trial, so you can kick the wheels and try ’em out. Take advantage of these trials to ensure you’re comfortable with the technology and can create, send, track and share your messages with relative ease and efficiency.

2. Cost: Most ESPs charge a monthly or annual rate for their service. Price can vary according to how large your list is or how many messages you send each month. Some charge more for additional features and functionality.

When you’re starting out, it’s a good option to pay as you go, or sign up with a ESP that charges less based on a smaller number of subscribers. As your list size grows you can switch to a pay-per month plan and it’s a win-win.

3. Delivery: When considering an ESP find out it they offer advanced delivery tools, such as accreditation and authentication tools, spam score, abuse processing, global suppression, and by-ISP delivery reporting – really just a bunch of techy things that get your emails delivered to inboxes. Most ESPs can tell you what percent of their sent email makes it into the inbox. Average scores are in the upper 90’s, so keep your standards high.  Also ask if the ESP has partnered with any third party deliverability experts, like Return Path or Pivotal Veracity, as these additional services can ensure that even more of your emails go to the inbox. Your goal is getting your messages to your recipients’ inboxes, and an ESP should provide up-to-date tools to help you overcome any issues.

What other things do you consider when selecting an email marketing service? Let us know in the comments.

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