10 Things Every Retail Marketing Team Needs in Their Next ESP

By Sharon Shapiro

Picture this: You’re in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Your goals aren’t aligned, you have to put in enormous effort just to stay afloat and you’re flat-out exhausted.

This situation could easily describe a doomed relationship… or most retail marketers’ relationships with their ESPs.

If you were in that type of personal relationship, you likely wouldn’t stick around. So why continue to tow the line with your ESP? Like most relationships, it’s complicated. While it’s perfectly acceptable to be single, your marketing program needs an ESP. But just because you require an ESP doesn’t mean you have to settle for one that doesn’t fully meet your needs.

Bluer Skies Ahead: Get Ready for the Modern ESP

If the very purpose of technology is to make our lives easier and allow us to work smarter, why do most email marketers use technologies that do the exact opposite?

Quite simply, it’s because email solutions are so deeply embedded in organizations that replacing them isn’t easy. Furthermore, the technology is holding them hostage, because email does drive revenue — it just requires more and more effort to maintain that revenue, let alone improve and grow the program. On top of all that, there hasn’t been a significantly better alternative.

Today, that’s no longer the case. The next generation of email marketing technology has arrived and it’s already making an enormous difference for the retailers that have adopted it.

Unlike the technologies of the past, this new generation focuses on aligning to specific — and modern — retail marketing goals, simplifying workflows for users and continuing to improve over time, all so that teams can increase performance without increasing effort.

Prioritizing Performance: 10 Evaluation Criteria for a Healthy ESP Relationship

Deciding you’re ready to put the difficulties of your current ESP relationship behind you is one thing. Getting into a healthier relationship with a new ESP is quite another. After all, you don’t want to end up back in the same place a year from now.

So how do you navigate the ESP market to find the perfect match for your business? Much like you would when dating, it helps to create a list of what you’d like to see in your ideal partner. As you think through this evaluation criteria, the following 10 points should be must-haves:

  1. Identification and Acquisition: Properly identify site visitors and effectively convert them to email subscribers and purchasers.
  2. Customer and Product Data Intelligence: Combine customer, product and behavior data to provide a full snapshot of how individual customers engage with your brand, and make it easy for your marketing team to view and take action on that data.
  3. Personalization and Campaign Capabilities: Self-serve, out of the box capabilities to launch personalized campaigns (e.g. personalized batch emails, behavior and product based triggered emails) and to add personalized elements within different emails (e.g. dynamic blocks for content, offer and product recommendations).
  4. Workflow Optimization: Simplify the processes of creating new audiences, building and managing campaigns and creating new email templates so your team can react quickly and spend more time working toward business goals.
  5. Deliverability: Best-in-class email deliverability powered by truly relevant, personalized messages.
  6. Integrations: Play well with the other technology in your stack.
  7. Costs and Goal Alignment: Direct match between your email marketing goals and the goals of your email marketing platform. For example, a solution that charges based on email engagement rather than send volume.
  8. Retail Specificity: Maintain a deep, vertical focus on retail that allows the technology to better understand specific types of data and business goals that are unique to the retail industry.
  9. Clear Technology Roadmap: Access to a detailed roadmap for innovation that illustrates how the technology will grow with your business over time.
  10. Positive Peer Reviews: Honest feedback from teams like yours that use the platform and shine light on its biggest benefits.

Are You Ready to Dive Into the ESP Dating World?

What else do you need to consider as you map out the future of your email marketing program and search for the perfect ESP match to help grow your business? Find out everything you need to know in our Ultimate Guide to ESP Selection for the Modern Retail Marketer.

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon leads Bluecore's content marketing program, collaborating with top retailers and strategists to highlight the latest trends in retail marketing, spotlight industry leaders and share advice on how marketers can stay ahead of the curve. An experienced story teller, she has spent her career building content marketing programs for B2B SaaS companies. Sharon has had works featured in MarketingProfs and Content Science Review..