Originally posted by Jeune Ortiz, Future Ink, June 2010

What are the  differences between Outlook and Email Service Providers (ESP) like Constant Contact and Vertical Response?

Main Differences

Outlook

  • Outlook is a desktop application and it’s really designed to manage correspondence between two people or a group of people.
  • It works best when your message is short and text-based.
  • Outlook is not good at including graphics in the body of the email, and your options for formatting are limited.

Email Service Provider

  • ESPs are services that let you manage your account through an online interface. There is no software to install.
  • ESPs are designed to help companies manage email marketing (newsletters, email campaigns and auto-responders).
  • When you send an email through an ESP, the emails can be formatted to include images, links, and a custom layout design.

While reports, list management and layout may not matter when you’re corresponding with someone, they matter a lot when you’re trying to use email to build ongoing relationships with your customers.

The most important features lie within the reporting ability of ESPs. Ability to track the links clicked in your email gives you valuable information about what your recipient is interested in. Email Opens tells you how many people are bothering to read your email, and bounces lets you know when your email address is bad.  Anyone who is at all serious about marketing their business knows that statistics like these are the life-blood of any successful marketing campaign.

Outlook is a wonderful tool for one-on-one communication, but when it comes to managing your list and sending e-newsletters, you’ll find Outlook is less than ideal.