internet pixel iconsOften when an organization goes looking for a new email service provider, it’s due to one of two reasons. Either they are fed up with the customer service (or lack of) or they’ve outgrown their current ESP.

If it’s the latter and you’re in the market for a more powerful ESP so you can implement a more sophisticated email marketing strategy, maybe what you need is not a new ESP so much as a new type of ESP: Maybe you’re ready for an enterprise level ESP.

The three types of providers
Essentially email service providers fall into one of three categories:

  • The SMB ESP: Low-cost, usually with a free trial period; fairly limited in capabilities but a great solution for a small business with low email volume and simple needs.
  • The mid-market ESP: Cost varies as does expertise, features and level of customer service. Can handle large email volume. Right-size email service provider for many types of organizations.
  • The enterprise-level ESP: Can handle sophisticated, complex email integrations, usually with high degree of reporting ability.

If sophistication is your greatest need, you’re obviously not looking for a low-cost SMB ESP, rather you’re looking for something in the mid to upper level. The question is: Which one? The answer is: It depends.

That’s why you need to understand the difference between the mid-market and enterprise-level email service providers. It could be you’re ready to step it up and your ESP won’t be able to deliver the level of sophistication you need.

The mid-level ESP
The challenge with choosing among the mid-market ESPs is the variety. This is the most crowded field of the ESPs out there, and this is where you’ll find email service providers with features all over the map. That’s why it can be hard to know when it’s time to move up, and if it’s time to move all the way up to the top tier.

A mid-level email service provider typically has a strong email platform. They can handle a lot of email volume for you. But that’s where the similarities end. The level of customer service you can expect will be wide ranging, and so will the range of features. If your reason for switching ESPs is a need for more complex email, be diligent in figuring out exactly what a mid-level ESP can—and can’t—do for you. And don’t settle for promises: Insist on proof.

The enterprise-level ESP
The main differentiator that sets the enterprise-level ESP apart is the ability to do complex email, including email integration with and between other tools such as web analytics and CRM systems. If the term “relational data” comes up when discussing ESPs, you’re likely ready for a top-tier one.

To determine if your business is ready to move up to an enterprise-level ESP, consider some of the following questions:

  • Is your company an enterprise-level company?
  • Is your business going—or already—international?
  • Is email integration one of your biggest challenges?
  • Is security a topmost concern?
  • Is maximum deliverability a topmost concern?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, narrow your email service providers comparison to the enterprise-level ESPs. You’re sure to find one that meets all of your needs. And if you need help creating your short list or screening the possibilities, call on ClickMail. We know the major ESPs inside and out, and we’ll help you determine the best email service provider for you.


Published On: July 24th, 2013Categories: Email service providers

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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