10 things to look for (and look out for) in your mass email service

If choosing the right mass email service is the task that keeps falling to the bottom of your to-do list, we get it. As a marketing professional, the last thing you want to do is spend time wading through product reviews and on the phone with customer support to determine the qualities you should be looking for in an email service provider. 
You want to skip to the good part—putting your strategies to work by connecting with customers and sending personalized brand content. No sweat, you’re closer than you think. Below, we’ve compiled the most important features to look for in an email marketing service to help you make the best choice and get to sending in no time. 

The value of choosing the right service 

No pressure, but this decision really does matter. While social media channels and other marketing mediums are always pulling at our attention it’s clear that email is still king. In fact, we’ve found that you’re 6 times more likely to get a click-through from an email marketing campaign than from a tweet. Additionally, 72 percent of people say they prefer to receive promotional content through email. So, choosing a top-quality email provider ensures a spot on your customer’s good side before you even get started. Win-win. 
Because email service providers know the incomparable value emails add to your business, there’s an overwhelming amount of companies, features, and packages to choose from. Thankfully, there are a few foundational qualities you should look for in a mass email service, and then, based on your own goals and needs, choose the additional features and capabilities that fit your unique priorities. 

Determine your strategy 

There’s probably a reason you’re seeking a new mass email service provider, but before diving in to all of the options, you need to pinpoint exactly the need that you hope the new service will fulfill. 
  • What are your goals for email marketing? 
  • How does a mass email service fit into your big picture marketing strategy? 
  • What value will email marketing add to your business? 
Then, you’ll need to consider the tools you’ll need to meet those goals. By determining this before looking at all of the possible options, you’ll maximize efficiency and minimize overwhelm. Here are some example questions to think about: 
  • How will you use emails? Will you send newsletters, promotions, updates, etc.?
  • How much do you hope to grow your subscriber list? 
  • How will you measure email marketing success? 
  • What customer insights are most important?
  • Are you looking for simple design templates or more advanced capabilities? 
Once you’ve established your game plan, you’re ready to recruit key players and helpful tools to help you execute it successfully: 

1. Deliverability 

Worst case scenario: You invest hard work and late nights into launching your company’s email strategy. The moment finally comes when you click “send” to all of the subscribers on your list, and you close your laptop for the day, celebrating a job well done.
Yet, if your email provider doesn’t guarantee deliverability, your work is far from finished—it’s lost. What if the content you’ve created especially for your customers never actually makes it to their inbox? This is why ensuring your mass email service provides reliable deliverability is the first thing you should look for in your search.

2. Good reputation

An email sending reputation is more than just the word on the street about your company. It’s actually a calculable score, and one you should not only pay attention to but know your email service provider cares about, too.
When your emails aren’t being delivered or subscribers aren’t opening your emails, your email sending reputation also declines. Make sure that the mass email service you choose has the functionality to track your emails and detect any problems before they become worse. 

3. Low spam score

We’re all familiar with the dusty attic of email, the spam folder. Ending up there isn’t part of any marketer’s strategy, and subscribers definitely don’t want to be the ones to peek inside to retrieve your message.
When you have a mass email service that provides a variety of settings and tools for handling emails that bounce, as well as helps you monitor new subscribers, you have the best chance of keeping your spam score low. And the less time you have to spend worrying about spam, the more time you can devote to content that will surprise and delight your customers. 

4. Tracking the customer journey

Regardless of your background in tracking and analytics, you want to choose a mass email service that will do the work for you and communicate it in an accessible and easy-to-understand way.
In the example below, you can see how a visual customer journey feature to help you map the unique decision process each of your subscribers goes through to get to the end goal (in many cases, purchasing your product.)
Choosing a robust email provider means they won’t just track a bunch of confusing numbers — they’ll show you what they mean and how they apply to your customer, step-by-step. 

5. Segmentation

There’s what we call the “batch-and-blast” email—sending one email to all of your subscribers at one time—and then there are the unique emails that stand out in our inboxes begging to be opened. You want yours to fall into the second camp, right? Us, too.
Segmentation is the method of dividing your subscribers into groups based on demographic, interest, or other variables. This allows you to send content based on location, age, buyer history, or any other fun information you’ve previously collected from them.
Email service providers with segmentation, personalization, and automation capabilities are what’s going to set you apart from all the other inbox messages. Watch how cycle studio Peloton sends an event email just to their East Bay subscribers: 

6. Personalization

The first step to building a relationship is learning someone’s name, and email marketing is no exception. In fact, 74 percent of marketers say that targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
But personalization doesn’t have to be limited to using a customer’s name—it can apply to any segment you’ve created based on their interests or demographics. Make it your priority to find an email service with lots of personalization capability, and the rewards will speak for themselves. It’s the easiest (and cheapest!) way to show a customer appreciation and create brand loyalty.
For example, Airbnb tailored this email content to a segment of users who recently booked a trip to Berkeley: 

7. Automation

Once you’ve created segments of users and built personalized emails for them, automation is the next feature to look for. It’s the tool that will help you scale your efforts while still making a customer feel like you’re anticipating their needs and there to help.
One of the most successful and necessary methods of automation is the welcome email. Sent as soon as a customer opts into your emails, the welcome email greets your new subscriber, introduces them to your brand, and lets them know what to expect. We’ll bet this email will send your open rates soaring, so make sure your email provider offers it. 

8. Templates

Templates are your design jumping-off point, allowing marketers of any experience level to send beautiful branded emails.
Think of templates as the bowling alley gutter guards of email marketing. They set you up for success and put you in a better position to hit your goals. And if you’re already a seasoned email designer, you don’t have to use them.
Make sure you find a service provider that offers easy options for both templates and customization, since you may share the account with other members on your team and want your branding to remain consistent regardless of sender. 

9. Support

Just the mention of “customer support” may seem to check off an item on your pro/con list, but make sure you do your research.
If you’re faced with a late-night deadline and have a pressing question, will someone be there to answer? If you’re in a different time zone than the company’s headquarters, will that be a problem?
Thankfully, there are email providers who do offer 24/7 assistance and support for all of your email needs. When you weigh this factor into your decision, trust us, your future self will thank you.  

10. Customer reviews 

Now that you know the basic features to look for, see what real-life customers have to say about their quality. Find an unbiased third-party site like G2 Crowd that hosts views and side-by-side comparisons of the products you’re searching for. This will allow you to confidently make a decision and know exactly what to expect from your mass email service. 

Wrap up

Choosing a mass email service can be a difficult decision at first, but when equipped with the right information, it can turn into one of the best choices your business can make. Be sure to choose a provider features that fit your current needs, but also comes with support and room to grow with your success. If you’re interested in exploring how Emma can help you create beautiful emails, let us know. 

About the Author

Kaitlin Wernet is a content specialist on Emma's marketing team. When she's not restraining herself from using too many exclamation points or grabbing one more La Croix from the office kitchen, she can be found working on her first book or planning her next big travel adventure.

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