Selecting An ESP With Good ISP Relationships: Part 1

Dear E-mail Diva,

Our company is a small/medium-sized designer clothing retail business.  We hold “sample sales,” where we sell designer clothing and accessories at 30-80 percent off retail.  We currently have about 18k subscribers but expect to increase that to 50k within the next three to four months because we are getting ready to launch an ecommerce site within the next two weeks.

We have an e-mail service provider, but feel it is an extremely poor program and are having delivery problems with AOL and other ISPs.  Any suggestions on which e-mail marketing companies would be a good match for us? 

Jay M. Saba.

Dear Jay,

While the E-mail Diva cannot use this forum to promote a particular company, I have some excellent resources for you.

First, purchase Marketing Sherpa’s Buyer’s Guide to E-mail Service Providers 2006.  It has information on 64 E-mail Service Providers (ESPs) and a10-page step-by-step selection guide.  One chart that will be of particular interest shows whether dedicated IP addresses are available, how many clients the vendor has and what deliverability services are offered.



Then, check out this excellent article, first published in Direct magazine and picked up on the Pivotal Veracity Web site, which provides information on ways to ensure a potential partner will optimize your e-mail delivery. 

Remember that once you have selected a new ESP with a good delivery record, the rest is up to you.  Make sure that you are upholding the highest possible standards as you build and maintain your list.  My shorthand for this is: Don’t send e-mail to anyone who has not actively raised their hand and said, “I want e-mail from you.”  If you hold all your practices up to this “sniff test,” I guarantee that you will build a good reputation.

Next week: Vendor selection errors I have made or witnessed in the past.  If just one ESP relationship can be improved from these painful experiences, it will all be worthwhile.

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Send your questions or submit your e-mail for critique to Melinda Krueger, the E-mail Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.
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