Email Service Providers (ESPs) can be absolutely critical in your nonprofit's online marketing, communications and fundraising success. There are upwards of 40 ESPs out there. They range from basic and cheap to sophisticated and some of them provide additional services such as donation systems. You have to look at what's out there, compare options and make an educated decision; rather than just choosing blindly and assuming all ESPs are created equally. Try to talk with others who may have used a specific ESP before and get some customer perspective. Find out the answers to these questions to help guide you in the decision making process:
- Can the ESP integrate original HTML easily? Do they provide templates and if they do, can you use your own, or are you forced to use theirs?
- What do they count and which statistics do they keep track of? (Deliveries, opens, reads, click-throughs, click-throughs on specific links, etc.) Make sure they can provide all of the data that you need to accurately gauge your results.
- Can they segment your list? Segment by multiple variables? Whatever your individual needs are, segmenting is important, whether it be by zip code, recent activity, interests or anything else.
- What are their timed autoresponse tools? When somebody signs up for your list, do they instantly get a reply or confirmation? Can that be delayed, to create a second time they come into contact with your organization?
- Do they provide unique IP addresses? Unique IPs affect deliverability.
And finally, what is their pricing? Different ESPs set their prices in different ways. Some by the number of email addresses in your list and some by how many total emails you send out per month. The size of emails could change costs as can, of course, the total amount of services and complexity of the ESP itself. The difference in pricing can be vast, so do your research and find something that suits both your needs and your budgetary restraints.
Learn more about Network for Good's EmailNow Service and see if it's right for you.
Source: Adapted by Jake Emen from Marc Lee's Nonprofit 911 Presentation "Email Fundraising on a Tight Budget"