Email service provider (marketing)

An email service provider (ESP) is a company that offers email marketing or bulk email services.[1][2]

Services offered

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:

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.

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.[3]

See also


  1. Joanna Roberts (November 1, 2012). "Email Deliverability Terms You Need To Know (part 1)". blog. ReturnPath. Retrieved 7 March 2013. Email Service Provider (ESP): Another name for an email broadcast service provider, a company that sends bulk (volume) email on behalf of their clients
  2. Vangie Beal (9 April 2012). "How to Find the Right Email Marketing Service Provider". blog. CIO magazine. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  3. Spamhaus definitions of spam and waterfalling (on the same page)
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