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Choosing The Right Email Service Provider For Your Campaigns

In this week's issue of MediaPost's Email Insider, David Baker (vice president of e-mail marketing and analytical solutions at Agency.com) speaks about selecting email vendors and offers a few insights on how to protect your company:

  • Negotiate termination clauses. If service levels and escalation procedures are not managed at an acceptable level, you should be allowed to break the contract or refuse payment.
  • Negotiate a loaded CPM. Have your e-mail service provider combine all license fees, monthly service fees, training fees, set-up fees, and delivery fees into one loaded CPM based on your acceptable minimum volume.
  • Always select two providers. Never commit to one. You may not have the budget to do this, but it is a good idea to keep a back-up provider in case you need to make a change.
  • Get a detailed description of what your providers' services include. For example, see if they include account management, professional services, or deliverability services.
  • Confirm there are NO additional, hidden fees. You'll want to watch for fees like deliverability monitoring services per campaign or additional fees for surveying capabilities.
  • Use a local service provider if your program mandates a higher level of service. Nothing compares to the value of face-to-face interaction.
  • Look for value-added elements. Your provider could offer educational opportunities or knowledge sharing; or they might be active in publishing industry best practices.
  • Find a provider that is flexible. If you are a $1 million account, you will get all the dedicated service you need. But if your annual budget ranges between $20,000 and $30,000, you want to find a company that will still provide quality service that meets your expectations.
  • Be careful who you have running your RFP/RFI process. Make sure you have someone with real, inside knowledge of the e-mail service provider industry evaluate your short-list to guarantee you'll get the service you need. You may need to hire someone to do this, but it's worth it.
  • Always create a back-up of your data, campaign reporting, and any segmentation or data setups.
  • Do not commit to more than 12 months with your provider. (Unless you have stock in that company.)
  • Hold quarterly reviews of your e-mail service providers. This will ensure that you are getting the most from them.
  • Build 20 percent of your e-mail budget into an emergency fund. If you find that you need to make a change in providers, there will be costs, and having 20 of your budget set aside will help. If you haven't changed providers at the end of the year, you'll have this budget to do cool, creative things with your e-mail campaigns.
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