[This post was originally published on 29th Nov 2022. It has been updated on 31st July 2023.]
I’m sure at some point or the other in your life, you’ve had to move houses. Sorting your items into different categories, putting them into boxes of varying sizes, using separate packing material for delicate and non-delicate items- I’m sure you don’t need any introduction to the packing and moving routine. Now, why am I talking about this? To call your attention to the fact that this process is pretty analogous to migrating from your current ESP (Email Service Provider) to a new one.
ESPs offer a bevvy of functionalities- website tracking, automation, list segmentation, lead capture forms, and A/B testing- which is why they are absolutely adored by businesses. However, with time, as a business (and its needs and requirements) evolves, they find themselves having to bid farewell to their existing ESP and embrace another solution that is better cut out for their demands. But, this can be an incredibly complex process (again, much like moving houses). If you’re currently in the middle of migrating ESPs or are considering doing so in the near future, this blog can prove to be a timely read. Here, we discuss some of the common pitfalls that crop up during the ESP migration process and how one can effectively deal with them. Ready to find out? Dive in!
From gaining familiarity with the features of your new ESP to assessing whether it’s holding up as desired to your expectations, one has to contend with plenty of challenges while migrating. Let’s take an in-depth look at the mistakes businesses are most likely to commit in the process.
- Rushing The Process
ESPs are complex entities. Therefore, should you fail to carefully plot out your migration from one system to another, you’ll find yourself neck-deep in undesirable outcomes. Once you’re definite about making a switchover, ask yourself this: “What should I be looking for in my new ESP?” Getting a lucid answer to this alone will solve more than half of your problems. All agencies offering email campaign management services will advise you to do the same, too.
Below, we’ve highlighted a few factors one must prioritize while hunting for an ESP.
- Utility of features: Selecting an ESP equipped with diverse functionalities is the way to go, right? Well, not always. You see, it all eventually boils down to your scale of operations. If you are a small or mid-sized enterprise, chances are that you won’t really get many opportunities to fully use a highly sophisticated ESP. While you might be tempted to invest in such an ESP, exercising prudence is key. You can consider asking yourself the following two questions to fine-tune your decision-making:
1. Are the features of this ESP aligning with my business objectives?
2. Will this feature-suite continue to accommodate my business as it scales up?
If and only if you get an affirmative answer for both these questions, go ahead with the purchase.
- Budget: This is pretty much a logical continuation of the point stated above. Most ESPs offer tiered packages where the primary difference between the upper and lower echelons is the number of subscribers they can service. So, if you don’t really have a huge email list, buy a lower-tier plan; you’ll be able to maximize your ROI that way.
- User-friendliness: Never lose sight of the fact that ESPs are long-term assets for a company. Hence, while choosing an ESP, make sure to check that it has an intuitive and user-friendly interface. The best way to inspect this is by availing of a free trial of the ESP in question- all the top ESPs in the market offer one to new users, anyway. Make the most of it.
- Customer support: We’re sure you’re well aware of the sheer number of nuts and bolts that go into executing an email campaign. At the core of it, lies your ESP. Ensuring, thus, that an ESP has round-the-clock customer support is downright imperative.
- Performance measurement: You might have heard this before, but we are going to state it again nonetheless: Launching an email campaign is just half the job done; the other half lies in tracking its performance. An ESP that has a robust analytics apparatus will give you an in-depth understanding of how subscribers are responding to your campaigns, making it easy for you to optimize them.
- Security: Your ESP will be privy to a lot of sensitive information pertaining to your subscribers. Therefore, after you have shortlisted an ESP, thoroughly scrutinize its data security policies.
- Not Warming Your New IP Adequately
This is particularly important if deliverability was the driving reason behind you switching ESPs. Remember, simply migrating to a new ESP which promises superior deliverability won’t solve all your issues. It will improve things to an extent, sure, but you’ll still have to take certain measures from your end to make sure you’re completely in the clear. By “certain measures”, we are mostly alluding to chalking out a dedicated IP warming plan. Moving from one ESP to another also involves moving from your existing IP addresses and domains to new ones. So, unless you establish a good reputation for these new assets by duly warming them up, the migration will prove to be counterproductive.
- Being Lousy With Old Data
Your old ESP is a repository of priceless customer data, beyond the obvious email address and contact information, such as subscription dates, opt-outs and unsubscribes, interests and preferences, spam complaint addresses, past purchase behavior, suppression lists, and the like. Now, what happens if you omit this data while shifting ESPs? You’ll have to make your customer profiles from scratch, end up sending emails to subscribers who no longer want to hear from you, and soil your existing personalization strategies, among many, many other things.
In a nutshell, you risk setting your business back by an unthinkable number of paces. Despite the catastrophic consequences, the number of businesses who fall prey to this is larger than what one would assume.
- Not Imparting The Requisite Training To Your Staff
One of the major challenges of migrating ESPs is having to wrap your head around the features of a new system, all over again. Without the right direction and guidance, this can appear fairly overwhelming and cumbersome. Whatever level of proficiency you had with respect to your previous ESP won’t reflect in your new one, always keep that in mind. The ideal course of action is to team up with the support team of your new provider and set up dedicated workshops for all your various departments to make the migration process as smooth as possible for them.
Now that we have learnt about the various potholes, let us understand how we can steer clear of them.
- Strike Up A Sync Between Your Marketing And IT Departments
Let us address the question that might have popped in your head after reading that heading: “How does my ESP concern my IT department?”
Allow us to elaborate. Your marketing department and sales, by extension, are the only two departments to whom your ESP is going to be directly relevant at all times. However, during migration, your IT department will have an equally important role to play. Tasks such as importing contact lists, historical data, and testing for custom integrations will be carried out with them. Hence, getting your marketing and IT departments to coordinate with each right at the onset of the migration process will make life a lot easier for you. Alternatively, you can also seek out the help of dedicated ESP migration experts from an agency.
- Test At Every Step
Be it creating a segment, designing a template, or setting up an automation workflow, it is always best to stop and test after performing an action for the first time in your new ESP. Yes, even if there happen to be certain similarities between your previous and current providers. Doesn’t matter if you have performed a certain action over a hundred times in your last ESP; you’ll never know how it is going to manifest in the new system unless you take a moment to test it.
- Create A Foolproof IP Warming Strategy
Earlier, we talked about the importance of IP warming while shifting to a new ESP. Here, we are going to list out a few best practices. Take a look.
- Know who your most engaged subscribers are. Target them first while sending out emails using your new ESP. This will help improve your standing with ISPs (Internet Service Providers), who use audience engagement as a primary metric to rule whether an email is spam or not.
- Don’t send emails to all your subscribers at once. Instead, increase your send volume gradually. Depending on the number of contacts on your list, phase out the warming process over a few days or weeks as necessary.
- Which of your email segments has enjoyed the most success historically? Newsletters? Recommendation emails? Customer appreciation emails? Testimonial emails? Whatever might be the case, make sure to keep them at the centre of your IP warming process. This will also help you understand what direction you should take while designing your custom email marketing templates.
As you might have already guessed, much hard work and research go into curating a solid IP warming strategy. If your plate is already full of responsibilities, you can always consider working with a reliable agency to carry out this critical task for you.
Wrapping It Up
Migrating from one ESP to another is, no doubt, a challenging affair. We hope the insights shared above help you make an informed decision and select an ESP that will elevate your business to new heights.