What Is an ESP?
By Amelia Woolard
It’s a typical weekday and your inbox is buzzing with activity — but in a sea of notifications, a certain email stands out. It beckons you with an enticing subject line, offering a special deal on that coat you eyed just yesterday, making you feel understood in a way that other emails don’t.
If you've ever been surprised by an email that seemed to know exactly what you were thinking, you can thank an email service provider (ESP) for making that connection possible.
What is an ESP? ESPs aren’t just email couriers. These email marketing platforms build meaningful connections between brands and their audiences. With a professional ESP, your business can personalize email communications, send them to large contact lists, and analyze how customers engage with your efforts. The best email service provider will turn email outreach into an ROI powerhouse, propelling your email marketing success.
But the right email service provider doesn't just stop there. It champions a philosophy: send fewer emails, make more money. How? By crafting messages that resonate and inspire customers to act. ESPs that put the customer first can not only transform your email marketing strategy but also your entire approach to the customer experience.
Let’s take a closer look at ESPs, what they’re useful for, and why every e-commerce brand looking to scale should use an email marketing platform.
- ESPs are email marketing platforms that help brands send email campaigns to a large group of people at once.
- ESPs are useful for reaching your customers at scale, as well as segmenting your audience, improving deliverability, and automating your campaigns.
- When looking for an ESP, prioritize one that's powered by AI so that you can send fewer, but more impactful emails.
What Is an ESP?
An email service provider (ESP) functions like an email marketing control center. It’s software designed to help businesses send email marketing campaigns to a large group of people all at once.
For those with small businesses, it can be tempting to simply send emails using a personal account like Gmail. But doing this is like running a big department store with only one sales associate. Personal email accounts don’t have the tools necessary to handle a large volume of emails, let alone segment your audience and analyze your results. Plus, personal email accounts can’t guarantee that your message will reach the intended inbox.
Email service providers are different. These platforms let you create and send emails, organize your contact lists, ensure deliverability, and track how well your emails perform.
With an ESP in your tech stack, you can:
Send Professional Emails That Align With Your Brand
ESPs make it easy to send professional emails that reflect your brand identity. A quality email service provider will offer an array of professionally designed email templates that look good and give every touchpoint a polished, trustworthy appearance. Consistent branding like this can generate 33% more revenue.
Get Advanced Segmentation Capabilities
One-size-fits-all email marketing is a thing of the past. ESPs empower businesses with advanced segmentation tools, allowing them to target specific audiences based on demographics, behavior, or engagement history. This precision ensures the right message lands with the right audience at the perfect time.
Speed Up Response Times With Automated Workflows
Time is a precious resource, and ESPs can help you optimize it. An email service provider will speed things up for your team by automating workflows through triggers, drip campaigns, and personalized customer journeys. This tactic saves time, ramps up efficiency, and allows you to remain in constant contact with customers, which can increase sales. You are 8 times more likely to win a conversion if you respond within five minutes of first contact.
Measure Success With Analytics and Reporting Features
Email marketing thrives on constant testing and improvement. With email service providers, you can analyze open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and more. Armed with this data, your team may tweak the timing, content, or audience focus of your emails to better connect with your customers and drive more conversions.
Ensure Your Emails Reach the Inbox With Deliverability Tools
Email marketers often focus on how their email looks and when it's sent, but neglect to consider whether the message will actually reach the inbox. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of global emails wind up in the spam folder. ESPs optimize deliverability through email authentication, spam testing, and sender reputation monitoring, all of which help your emails bypass dreaded spam filters and reach your intended recipient.
How Does an ESP Work?
An ESP consists of sophisticated machinery that automates email marketing campaigns. By understanding how ESPs work, you can see how they perfectly fit into your marketing plan and help you achieve your goals.
Let's break down the core components of ESPs:
Integration With a CRM or Customer Database
At the core of an ESP's functionality is its integration with a business's customer relationship management (CRM) software or customer database. With this sync, ESP tools can access customer data and use that intel to precisely target your shoppers.
Building and Managing Email Lists
ESPs provide intuitive tools to collect, organize, and manage customer data. From website sign-up forms to organizing existing customer lists, these platforms help your business streamline audience segmentation, so you can send better emails in a shorter amount of time.
Creating and Designing Email Campaigns
ESPs offer customizable, user-friendly templates that empower businesses to craft visually appealing email marketing campaigns. This includes adding compelling content, images, and calls to action. The best ESPs will allow you to do this intuitively and easily, ideally with a visual builder so you don’t have to go through IT:
Sending Through Optimized Servers
ESPs use high-powered equipment and special protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to guarantee your emails reach the right inboxes. In doing this, ESPs boost your message visibility and solidify your sender reputation, setting the stage for favorable results over the long term.
Monitoring and Analyzing Email Performance
ESPs don't just send emails; they track their journey. These platforms come packed with analytics and reporting tools that provide insight into all kinds of KPIs, like open and click-through rates. These metrics help you fine-tune your email marketing strategy for even better results next time.
Personalizing Emails Based on Recipient Data
ESPs play a pivotal role in personalizing email experiences. They empower e-commerce brands of all sizes to tailor their messages instead of sending one email to the masses and hoping that someone connects with it.
Personalization isn’t just about adding names to email subject lines; it’s about delivering relevant content at the right time based on preferences, behaviors, and interactions. By sending dynamically personalized messaging, email service providers can cultivate a sense of rapport, enhancing the overall buyer’s journey and nurturing lasting relationships.
Brands that integrate personalized emails into their strategy can drive a significant boost in customer engagement and conversion rates.
Why Should Businesses Use an ESP?
The e-commerce industry is heating up. If you think the sector is crowded now, brace yourself — by 2026, e-commerce sales will surpass the $8 trillion mark, and one-quarter of all retail purchases will be made online.
In the booming online retail world, you need the right email marketing tool to succeed. ESPs are essential for getting more out of your email marketing without breaking the bank or burning out.
Here are a few specific reasons why ESPs are vital for brands looking to scale:
Improve Your Email Deliverability Rates
ESPs are the superheroes of email marketing. They use their special powers (authentication protocols and reputation monitoring) to make sure that your message lands in inboxes rather than spam folders. While a 95% inbox placement rate is considered good, Bloomreach kicks it up a notch by helping brands reach an impressive 99%.
Master Audience Targeting and Segmentation
Reaching the right audience with the right message is a marketing golden rule. ESPs shine in this area by offering advanced segmentation tools. Businesses can slice and dice their subscriber lists based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences, and then send hyper-targeted email marketing campaigns that are most likely to engage those contacts.
Elevate Engagement and Conversion Rates
Personalization and customer engagement go hand in hand. When emails are relevant, timely, and personalized, they perform better and drive conversions. Email service providers make it easy for brands like yours to create personalized touchpoints that accomplish all of this and more.
Save Time and Money With Automation
If time is money, an ESP is the virtual piggy bank that turns time saved into revenue earned. With marketing automation features, you can set up triggers, workflows, and sequences, and control when they are sent and who receives them. Automated marketing emails save your team an immense amount of time and can even generate up to 320% more revenue than non-automated emails.
Find Your Ideal Email Service Provider in Bloomreach
Email service providers serve as the linchpin of impactful email marketing efforts. Improved deliverability, enhanced engagement, and the ability to save time and resources through marketing automation make ESPs an undeniably attractive addition to your tech stack.
With so many ESPs to choose from, picking the right one is key. Comparing other ESPs to Bloomreach allows you to weigh features, costs, and user-friendliness, so you can make an informed decision that complements your marketing channels and aligns with your goals.
Bloomreach Engagement stands out in the ESP world. That’s because all our solution is powered by Loomi, our e-commerce AI trained on over a decade of industry-specific learnings and data to help you personalize the entire customer journey in real time. We believe in fewer, more impactful messages that put your customers first, ultimately helping you succeed.
Learn more about how Bloomreach revolutionizes email marketing, one campaign at a time.