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Ken Magill

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Mad at Your ESP? Read This

By Ken Magill
The system—if it can even be called that—most companies use to select their email service providers is utterly dysfunctional.
That is one of the key lessons I have learned so far in my collaboration with email technology consultancy Red Pill Email.
One problem area is the people who do the research in selecting a new ESP are usually not the people who sign the contracts. The researchers typically report to the contract signers.
As a result, researchers are understandably in cover-your-ass mode as they recommend providers. They turn to industry voices of authority and make recommendations based on what those voices say.
Thing is, there is no “best” ESP. There are a lot of fantastic ESPs. But each organization has unique wants and needs and some of the so-called best ESPs may be an absolutely terrible choice for a particular company.
For example, an ESP may offer an incredible array of data capabilities but may also require users who can write code to leverage them. If an organization wants those data capabilities, but lacks the human-resources expertise to use them, that organization will be very unhappy with that particular ESP. 
Maybe the organization simply doesn’t need all the features and functions a more advanced ESP offers. And maybe an ESP with fewer features, but which requires less expertise is a better fit.
So if an ESP is rated highly on some industry list, that rating in no way indicates whether or not that ESP will fit the unique needs of a particular organization. It simply means the ESP offers a lot of stuff.
As I began to learn how to translate Red Pill Email’s ESP Features & Functions Guide—I’m still learning—the realization that more features doesn’t necessarily equal “better” was a major “ah ha” moment for me.
I concluded a lot of companies are selecting ESPs based on seriously flawed information. And as a result, there are probably a lot of bad ESP/client relationships out there.
Special Offer for Magill Report Readers
As I reported last month, I have entered into an informal partnership with John Caldwell, president of email technology consultancy Red Pill Email, during which I will be writing supplements to aid readers in using Red Pill’s Email Features & Functions Guide in accurately assessing email service providers.
We’ve published one supplement which dealt mostly with how not to use the guide. The second supplement is in production. It uses the guide’s Data & Segmentation section as an example of how to properly interpret Red Pill’s guide.
Starting with the third supplement, we’re going to publish case studies on how to properly assess ESPs according to the needs of specific organizations.
Here’s where you come in:
Are you one of those clients in an unhappy relationship with your ESP? Well, maybe—with the help of Red Pill Email’s John Caldwell—I can help at least get you pointed in a more healthy direction.
It will take a little work on your part, but the result—knowing which ESPs you should be considering for a switch—will be well worth it. The benefit for Caldwell and I is we get a real-world case study out of it.
If you are unhappy with your ESP and are seriously considering a switch, email me at I will send you a series of questions about your email deployment needs.
Based on your answers, Caldwell and I will walk through Red Pill Email’s guide and come back with from three to five ESPs that should be part of your RFP process.
I will not publish your company’s name or your current ESP’s name. After all, your current ESP may be a perfectly fine provider, just not one that is currently a proper fit for you.
In any case, if you’re unhappy with your current ESP, here is an opportunity to start headed toward a switch that works better for you and your new vendor.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: David Baker
Date: 2016-04-19 15:54:28
Subject: Love this

Great Post Ken.not a shortage of flawed evaluations going on. You might also reference what I put together recently on this (Its gated,(sign up required) but if you'd like to make available to your readers I'll provide you un-gated access)
Posted by: Jennifer Reher
Date: 2016-04-19 15:27:12
Subject: Wish I'd had this 1 ESP ago

Great article and sounds like a great service you'll be offering. Moving from ESP to ESP is not only painful, but expensive (both time AND treasure). We chose an ESP based on features and functionality, only to find we couldn't use or couldn't afford to use much of what was pitched. Not a bad provider, but not a good fit for our SMB, direct marketing model. We ended up switching a year ago to another ESP that better fits our needs and resources.
Thanks for the article Ken!