Email service provider (marketing)

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An email service provider (ESP) is a company that offers email marketing or bulk email services.[1][unreliable source?]

Services offered[edit]

An ESP may provide tracking information showing the status of email sent to each member of an address list. ESPs also often provide the ability to segment an address list into interest groups or categories, allowing the user to send targeted information to people who they believe will value the correspondence.

An ESP will provide a service which may include the following features:

  • Ability to create templates for sending to contacts and/or use pre-made templates
  • A subscriber list, which is uploaded by the user for distributing messages. This may be enhanced with custom fields in order to hold additional information for each subscriber for filtering and targeted messaging purposes
  • A send engine, which allows users to distribute their message to the subscribers
  • Updating of the subscriber list to suppress those requesting to be unsubscribed
  • Statistical reviews of each email sent to measure the success rate of the campaigns
  • Testing of templates for compatibility with email applications
  • Spam testing to gauge the score of the email against known factors that will place the template at risk of being blocked
  • The ability to send both HTML and plain text formats to improve delivery success rates (known as Multi-Part MIME)
  • The ability to customise dynamically the content of emails that are sent out, to tailor personalised and relevant communications[citation needed]

The level of service provided can be according to the above basic features, or the number of subscribers uploaded, or the frequency of use – or any combination of the above criteria.

- 2 types of ESP set ups or Configurations.

Third party software can be used to hook up from a platform, known as the front end or GUIX, graphical user interface that acts as the injector that hosts all the controls and data bases.. and then either uses API or SMTP connections to relay email from itself to a sending engine or (MTA..-mail transfer agent), or! it can be a log in all in one centralized system where the platform is all in the same spot as the IP addresses, domain doing the sending with its own MTA or licensed MTA such as port 25 power MTA.

Few Examples of a Centralized all in one ESP where things are much more regulated and strict, but very simplified and easy to use with low overhead would be: GetResponse, MailChimp, aWeber, ConstantContact, InfusionSoft now known as Keap which is also a full CRM, Campaigner, and ActiveCampaign.

Now, for examples of a decentralized or relay email system where you could build your own interface, db set up, and host the emails themselves could be combinations of a custom piece of software, or MailWizz, Mautic, OnGage, or even VoloMP which are all just available email sending software. But they do NOT actually send the email. Think of these like the cockpit or interior of a car, but to make things go you need an engine/motor and the rest to make the wheels move, so in this case the ESP is the place that is actually sending the email on behalf of the user of the front end software, but the difference is they are separate. So let's use MailWizz as an example. That is where your subscribers, html and text copy, links, tracking, open pixel, tagging, custom fields, unsub mechanism and so on all exist, and when an email message is sent it is relayed via an api call to an end point and a payload is dropped off to the ESP, or secure mail transfer protocol, SMTP is used instead of API, and then the ESP who does the sending and signs the email with their DKIM, and usually the DKIM of the from domain and SPF and feed back loops and all of the click tracking, unsubscribing, and things in the emails and so on, are all with the user of MailWizz in this case, the mailing software. The only JOB of the ESP or MTA sending engine here is to deliver the email on IP's that own and host via their DNS on the users behalf, and provide return path info and add in the necessary email headers so that all things are identified such as who the sender is, and how the email was delivered.

So here, that is just software in the first part, and the second part being described above in the email relay scenario is the sending engine, or connection, really simply the ESP, that does NOT have to be the one providing software, templates, tracking or any of that, the esp at its core is the COMPANY or Entity that is actually DELIVERING the email for or on behalf of their clients. So examples here would be SparkPost, SendGrid, GreenArrow, Mandrill, Postmark, PepiPost, SMTP .com , and even AWS or Oracle.

Some of these smtp or api relay ESP / MTA sending companies provide software solutions too in house or relay hook up, but the point I am trying to make here is that an ESP can be both the sending engine and the software all in one, or just the sending engine.. but MailWizz or OnGage is not an ESP; they do not send email. However they do all of the rest of segmentation, tracking, unsubscribing, and take in subscriber acquisition opt ins etc. but they then need to be connected or hooked up to AN actual ESP to relay the messages to be SENT out to the ISP's, like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook .com, iCloud, aol, etc. The SMTP/API relay set up is much more involved and has a ton of technical skill and resources that it will require mailing of your own managed dedicated IP addresses and running your own software and hosting, but an ESP is still needed to send the email relayed to their MTA. This is the way that most real large and enterprise grade senders do it as the abilities, freedom, and power are far greater than a log in turn key aWeber or ConstantContact where they do nearly all the heavy lifting for you. However places like aWeber and GetResponse etc. are much cheaper and easier, but very limiting for enterprise senders, but the responsibility and technical resources to run a software stand alone combined with a sending engine is far more and the sender then has to then handle much of the complexities.

All ESPs have the same basic features and functionality, however they vary greatly in volumes, policies, and email deliverability, which makes the selection of an appropriate ESP critical to both the success of an email marketing campaign and the cost effectiveness of its implementation.

ESPs policies, also known as terms and conditions (such as an acceptable use policy), are meant to prevent abuse by users in order to ensure that no spam is sent through their systems. This is intended to result in the best possible delivery rates, with no messages blocked as spam. Some ESPs cooperate with mailbox providers, through organizations such as the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, to ensure compliance with legislation and best practices, and get feedback on the messages they send.


According to The Spamhaus Project glossary, mass or bulk mailing is not spam if it is solicited. By accepting a dirty list (a list containing some addresses without the knowledge and agreement of their owners), an ESP puts its reputation in jeopardy, which may affect its ability to deliver messages.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vangie Beal (April 9, 2012). "How to Find the Right Email Marketing Service Provider". blog. CIO magazine. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Spamhaus definitions of spam and waterfalling (on the same page)