Email Service Providers Are NOT Created Equal

Email Service Providers Are NOT Created Equal

Email Service Providers

This past week I had a very disappointing experience with a popular Email Service Provider (ESP). It really underscored for me that all Email Service Providers are NOT created equal.

This past week I had a very disappointing experience with a popular #Email Service Provider (ESP). It really underscored for me that all Email Service Providers are NOT created equal. #EmailMarketing Click To Tweet

I won’t call out the company by name but they were NOT Constant Contact. I share it as a cautionary tale. Especially for any of you who may be considering opening a new account or switching to a new Email Service Provider.

It started when a client reached out to ask me to help her with email marketing strategy and to create an email marketing template for her new business. She is someone I have worked with previously, on other projects and I was happy to help with this new venture.

She had used Constant Contact in the past but also had a newer ESP account. That account had most of her email contacts in it, so she chose to use that one for this new work. I know and recommend Constant Contact but since she had the account and contacts set up, it would save us time to work in that one.

We met to discuss the content and layout and I created a number of samples in the account, for her review. She picked one and we finalized it with a bio and a link back to her website.

Red Flags

The first red flag was that to send a test, you essentially issued the mailing. Not only did you have to have a LIST set up for the test mailing but the template went from DRAFT to SENT. If you liked what you saw, it was no longer available to send to other clients without going into the SENT folder and copying it to create a new version. In Constant Contact, you are able to send tests to yourself and others quite easily (no list set-up required, you just add the email addresses you want to send to) and if you like what you receive, you can just issue that to any lists. No copying (with the subsequent concern that something might change unexpectedly since it isn’t exactly the one you sent as a test) required.

I found this annoying but there was a much larger problem. I was UNABLE to even send a test (after I set up a new list) because the SPAM check was flagging the client’s website as spam! We were very unhappily surprised by this and immediately checked into it. We were able to quickly confirm that her website was NOT in fact, on the spam list. But we could not figure out what was triggering this message and there was no way to issue anything, even a test, until this was resolved.

The Email Service Provider’s Resolution

After many emails, support chats and phone calls back and forth, we discovered that the firewall being used on the website – a very popular and well trusted security service – was what was triggering the error. The Email Service Provider’s suggestions were to either remove any links back to the website and/or to remove the clients’ firewall protection. Both of these are not only TERRIBLE advice but belie a basic lack of common sense and an understanding of how email marketing should work.

Your email marketing should definitely link back to your website to drive traffic, allow people to learn more about you, etc. NOT linking back to your site it a terrible waste of potential.

And removing your firewall is NOT something you should consider doing just to allow an ESP to allow you to send mail.

The fact that the Email Service Provider had no way to address, bypass or otherwise fix this issue is absurd. They claim that they just rely on a third party app for the spam checker and left it at that.

So, after literally hours of our time to track down the cause of this problem – my time, the client’s time, the website designer and host’s time – we have no realistic resolution. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement.

We will probably end up re-opening her Constant Contact account and move her there but all the work done in the first account will be lost and we will need to re-create it in the new account. Another large waste of time, energy and money.


Before moving her, as a test, I created a template in my Constant Contact account and used THEIR Spam Test to confirm that her website would not be flagged. It passed without an issue.

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story? All Email Service Providers are NOT created equal and make sure you are using a competent and reputable one before you invest your time, money and energy into uploading your contacts and creating templates there.

If you need help with creating an effective email marketing strategy, templates and/or content, give me a call or email me at and click here to learn more about Constant Contact.


For more on what NOT to do re: Email Marketing, please check out this post –

What NOT to Do – 2021 Email Marketing Edition

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