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What Is An ESP? Everything You Need to Know About Email Service Providers

Research has shown that it takes around eight touchpoints to make a sale. This can be daunting for any salesperson as follow-ups take time and effort. This is one of the many reasons that email marketing is such an efficient strategy.

Having the ability to contact your prospects or your current customers in a relatively unintrusive way (especially compared to phone calls), is essential to increasing your sales, customer engagement, and retention. These emails keep you top of mind with customers and improve brand awareness.

While it may seem simple enough to use your regular email system in the beginning when business is small and clients and prospects are few and far between, the thought of sending individual emails to people when you have a large contact list is time-consuming and unnecessary. In order to handle the volume of emails you’ll be sending out, you need to enlist the help of an email service provider (ESP).

Email Service Providers

An email service provider is software that allows you to send email campaigns to a list of subscribers. It is a set of tools for email marketing that stores email addresses and sends emails. However, depending on your needs, ESP companies offer a variety of different functionalities to help you achieve your goals.

Some of these can include:

Email and marketing automation
Lead capture forms
A/B testing for email subject lines and email content
Website tracking
Audience Segmentation

While there are a number of options to choose from, you’ll want to research ESPs before committing to one. Look for a program that has:

A mobile-friendly design: 85% of users say that smartphones are their primary device for checking email. This means that if you want your customers and prospects to get the most out of your marketing efforts, every email you send must be suitable for mobile.
Email templates: Options are great when you are designing your email campaigns. There should be several ready-made templates to choose from and have the option to get design support from a professional when you need something different.
Integrations with other systems: Chances are you work in a number of software programs to complete your work. An ESP should integrate with CRM and CMS systems, project management programs, and more.
Email series capabilities: These automated programs ensure new subscribers are nurtured and that you can design automated campaigns based on what activities your users engage in.

ESP Companies

When looking for an ESP, remember that price and functionality will differ. Decide what you need out of your email service provider then look for one that best fits your needs. Here is a list of some of the most popular ESPs:

HubSpot Email Hosting Tool

Price: Free

HubSpot’s free email hosting tool lets you quickly send personalized emails to your contacts that are beautifully designed with an easy drag-and-drop interface.

Mailchimp

Price: Free up to 2,000 contacts with paid plans starting at $11 per month

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Mailchimp’s free starter version has basic functionality that allows you send custom emails to up to 2,000 contacts. For more advanced options like email and landing page templates or advanced segmentation, you’ll need to upgrade to a more advanced plan.

Constant Contact

Price: Core plan starts at $9.99 per month; Plus plan starts at $45 per month

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Constant Contact offers email service for small businesses looking to grow their lists. In addition to email functionality, Constant Contact integrates with social media ads for a holistic approach to reaching your audience.

ActiveCampaign

Price: Lite plan starts at $9 per month; Plus plan starts at $49 per month; Professional plan starts at $149 per month

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ActiveCampaign is an email service provider focused on customer retention. This platform offers features specifically for ecommerce, B2B, and B2C businesses.

Campaign Monitor

Price: Basic plan starts at $9 per month; Unlimited plan starts at $29 per month; Premier plan starts at $129 per month

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For those looking for extensive template options, Campaign Monitor could be a great platform to start with. This platform’s template builder makes creating custom, on-brand emails quick and easy.

ConvertKit

Price: Free for up to 300 subscribers with paid plans starting at $9 per month

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ConvertKit is a popular platform for content creators and small business owners. In addition to email service, ConvertKit offers landing pages, integrates with most popular website builders and CRMs, and is fully customizable.

Sendinblue

Price: Free, with paid plans starting at $25 per month

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Sendinblue’s email marketing tools help make personalized emails easy to make. Users can create unlimited lists and groups for easy segmentation.

Once you’ve determined what functions you need in order to reach your marketing goals, and how many contacts you have or are looking to collect, you can decide on the right ESP for your business.

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