Thinking about switching email service providers? This is one of the most important decisions email marketers must make, because your choice can make the difference between success and failure.
If you’re in the market for a new ESP, it’s imperative to look at the whole package like you would when purchasing a new car or home. You can’t exclusively look at the bells and whistles, or even the cost. You should wholly understand the structure, the basic and superfluous amenities, and have a good sense of how it will hold up over time. When switching ESPs, plan to invest significant time researching and picking the platform that is best suited to your goals.
When beginning the shopping process, many email marketers make the mistake of letting fallacies about cost drive their search. Just because your business is big doesn’t mean you should have the most expensive option with many layers of support. On the flip side, just because your business is small doesn’t mean it should only spring for the cheapest and simplest option.
The process of selecting a provider is complex, and marketers shouldn’t be quick to jump to conclusions. In fact, take the time you need to clarify your goals. Do you want to add more subscribers? Convert more potential customers to loyal buyers? Improve your brand reputation? Consider these measurable goals and set a time frame in which you’d like to see them come to fruition.
Then, work to determine a list of “must-have” functions and resources that will help you narrow down a larger list. It’s likely that tools like list segmentation, templates, delivery options and user-friendliness cover the more essential qualities you will need. Beyond that, are there innovative new functions or customer support levels that are mandatory to your decision?
It’s also imperative to see a prospective ESP in action. Request that a vendor complete a comprehensive demonstration with your team, so the group can judge the utility of a platform. Most ESPs will offer you a trial period in which you can test the platform yourself. Reputable vendors are pitching you, so don’t feel guilty for asking questions or asking for more information.
So, after all of this consideration, you make a decision – but what’s next? If you are switching ESPs (as compared to starting from scratch) be prepared for some challenges. If your current provider is especially sophisticated, say one that offers tools that boost personalization, automated and transactional campaigns, and lots of custom content and integrations, the process can be even more difficult to adopt. Understanding the amount of time this process will take will also save marketers many headaches later. Realistically, it takes most brands about three months to migrate, so don’t set yourself up for failure by setting an unrealistic deadline.
In preparation for a switch, ramp up documentation of all your data. Create a detailed catalog of current campaigns, take inventory of all forms that feed data into your ESP (like from your website or social media pages), determine all points of data integration between your ESP and other systems, and work with your new vendor to determine the best ways to integrate the old and new.
Finally, it’s time to make the switch. But remember it’s not instantaneous. Consider having both your old and new ESP available during the migration process so that if you experience any hiccups, you aren’t left stranded and unable to send emails. Patience is key in priming your subscribers for a new sending IP address. However, the results of using an ESP that has improved features and functionality is worth your patience and work.