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Ken Magill

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Next Up: Top 10 List of ESPs on Alpha Centauri

5/28/14
 
By Ken Magill
 
This month marketing-vendor-ranking firm Topseos published a list of the top 10 email service providers in five countries: China, Brazil, Canada, Australia and Costa Rica.
 
With the exception of the name of the country, each list was identical. 
 
The ESPs were ranked from one to 10: Pinpointe On-Demand, Mad Mimi, Hypermail, AWeber Email Marketing, StreamSend, Benchmark Email, SimplyCast, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse and Elite Email.
 
Maybe I’m missing something but I find most vendor-rankings lists to be pretty close to useless.
 
Here is how Topseos describes its evaluation criteria:
 
“Topseos.com, the independent authority on search vendors, rates and ranks the best email marketing software companies in the industry. We often times contact clients of each vendor to obtain their evaluation. Additionally, we delve into the business practices of a vendor to determine the real quality of the work output. Once the evaluation process is complete we publish a list of the best companies.
 
“We have identified five key areas that separate the average from the best. These categories are submission interface, protocol compliance, delivery rates, analytics, support.
 
“The first aspect that we review is the submission interface. How easy is it to setup an email marketing campaign? Does the software provide templates while still allowing for a custom template?
 
“Next we review the protocol compliance of the software. Does the software follow protocols such as DomainKeys and SenderID in order to maintain high trust levels with the recipients.
 
“Another aspect that is reviewed is the actual delivery rate of emails sent by the software. Does the software have high-quality standards that prevents spamming and increases trust of email that is sent by the tool and also increases delivery rates?
 
“Analytics is another valuable aspect recognized by us. Does the vendor provide statistical information such as open rates, click thru rates, and forwards?
 
“The final key factor identified by topseos is the support provided for the email marketing software. Can a client easily get in contact with a vendor if there is a problem with the software? Beyond just getting in contact, what sort of response time does the vendor provide?”
 
Thing is, no company on the list scores average. Each area gets a score of up to 100. No company on the list scored lower than 96 in any area.
 
The lowest overall score was 97.4 percent. What’s the practical difference between a company that scored 100 percent and one that scored 97.4 percent? Probably none.
 
Using client input to rank vendors is no way to compile useful rankings. Safe to say none of the people interviewed have used all 10 providers. Most have probably used one or a few at most. As a result, they have little to nothing useful to contribute in a comparative sense.
 
Each email marketer’s needs and wants are different. What constitutes an easy interface and solid customer support to Jill will not necessarily be the same for Joe.
 
Am I recommending ignoring vendor rankings lists altogether? Not necessarily. But when selecting an email service provider, or any marketing-services vendor for that matter, it would be wise to recognize vendor-ranking lists' shortcomings.
 
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