Few things in life beat the feel-good nature of Spring. The warm weather and the sunshine make it easy to get motivated to clean house and begin new projects.

Spring is also a great time to review your marketing programs and tech stack, including your email service provider. Excellence doesn’t happen by chance, especially in today’s highly competitive and shifting digital marketplace. You may spend months planning various campaigns and programs, but if your email technology falls short, your results will suffer. You need to know how your ESP helps you succeed and whether it gives you the tools to help you succeed.

There are many terrific agencies that provide in-depth, custom ESP audits, but here are a few key indicators to get you started:

1. Deliverability

Message delivery is step one for any email marketing effort. If your emails aren’t being delivered, or only a portion of them are being delivered, you’re wasting time and money. You don’t want 20% of your potential return on investment going down the drain in someone’s SPAM folder.

Many ESPs track basic email metrics such as soft and hard bounces. However, is your ESP providing tools to help fix these technical issues either through their platform or a partner, such as Return Path or 250ok? Consider:

  • What tools does your ESP offer to track, diagnose, and correct deliverability issues?
  • Are you happy with the reporting and analytics they provide about your email campaigns’ performance? This includes open and click rates, but also custom reports and tools for conversion tracking that break down delivery by campaign, ISP, region, date, and more.
  • Does your ESP offer advanced diagnostic tools for delivery issues, such as measuring inbox placement.

2. Personalization

Like many other industries, marketing is at a turning point due to converging technology trends such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data, and widespread mobile use. Marketers are no longer just selling products or services; they are navigating a tsunami of data and devices while trying to reach customers at each point in their journey.

Marketers need platforms and dashboards that enable them to see their customers clearly and respond to their needs. They need access to the most current data and the ability to tie that data to their campaigns.

  • Does your ESP integrate directly with your databases and internal systems?
  • Are you able to use live, complete data for marketing purposes?
  • Can you create campaign triggers and automate messaging based on specific actions or segments based on a variety of criteria?

3. Safety and Security

Security is a critical aspect of any successful email platform. Cybercrime is at an all-time high and its costs are increasing every year. Experts predict that the cost of cybercrime will reach $2 trillion by 2019 (The Global Risks Report 2016, World Economic Forum). Cybercrime was ranked as the second largest challenge facing businesses by Fortune 500 CEOs in a 2015 WE Forum survey. An Osterman Research survey of I.T. decision makers from 540 organizations in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Canada found that 50% had been attacked with ransomware within the last year.

  • Are you happy with the level of security that your ESP provides?
  • Is your ESP doing everything it can to safeguard your data?
  • What actions will your ESP take should they be hacked?

When you decide to work with an ESP, you are placing many aspects of your company’s reputation and growth in the hands of someone else. You hope their services will make your job easier and help your business grow. It’s a big deal. We get that. While not comprehensive, these guidelines should help you get started on helping you evaluate your current platform and decide if it’s helping you deliver a great experience to your customers.