Switching ESPs? Use these key deliverability tactics

So you’ve chosen your new ESP and now you need to make the move but maintain and preferably improve your inbox placement at the same time.

The safest way to move between ESPs is to actually run two at the same time for at least month. You can in fact do this for longer if you wish; in some scenarios you might need to, depending mainly on your volumes and the set-up you have purchased from your new ESP.

Many people think that they have to duplicate their old set-up in their new ESP, however I would argue to the contrary. This is an opportunity to do better, from the ground up and at a steady pace without any extra effort.

In my opinion there are only 4 main things to get right:

1. Suppression

When someone opts-out from your emails or they hard bounce, you don’t want to send to them again, so you or your ESP will suppress them. Most ESPs will do this in a way that means even if you have addresses that have previously opted-out or hard bounced, the ESP will not send the email.

Why is suppression important?

As you should know by now, you are legally not allowed to send to people who have asked you to stop and there is no point sending to addresses that have bounced, because they no longer exist. As well as the legal consequences,  ISPs only want to receive emails which their users want so it is also horrific for your deliverability:

  • Hard Bounces
    Sending emails to people that don’t exist, is a waste of the ISPs’ precious processing power and it also shows that you are not emailing people who have asked for your emails, because they don’t exist.
  • Spam Traps
    An email address that hard bounced over 12-24 months ago could well have been re-opened by the ISP as a spam trap. These are there to punish people like list owners who do not clean their lists and make money out of addresses that do not exist. One spam trap is worse than one spam complaint or hard bounce and can really make a dent in your inbox placement.
  • Marked as Spam
    Even you find a loophole through soft opt-in to send to people who have previously opt-ed out or if you email people who you have not emailed in over 2 years, these recipients will be incredibly inclined to go straight for the spam button.

    Someone using the spam button is telling their ISP that they should have not go that email and don’t want any more. If an ISP get high volumes of these ‘complaints’ about one sender in a short period of time, they can decide that you are a spammer and start to junk all or most of your future emails if they let any in at all.

So when you move between ESPs you need to ensure that the suppressed  addresses are also suppressed in the new ESP.

Make sure you have all of the opt-outs and hard bounces from your old ESP and move them to your new one. Also, if you are running them both together, you will need to frequently export them from your old to your new ESP to ensure you are up to date.

2. Tell your recipients

If you’ve been doing it right with your old ESP many of your recipients will have added you to their address book and/or safe list. Moving ESPs can mean that you will using a new email address. In order to ensure those people add your new address, you will have to tell them about it from your old ESP, probably the last email you send them from that ESP.

All you really need to do is add a message to the content from the old ESP telling that your address is changing. Then add a message in emails from the new one to say that it has changed.

If you are warming the IPs and only sending to the openers from the new ESP initially, once they’ve seen it in the old one (by opening it) the next email they get will be from the new email address.
With this is mind it is often good opportunity to send specific content about this making a call to action out of the new email address. This is a novel thing that can get attention, especially if you can sell the benefits of it; eg: automatically loading images, never miss an email etc.

Next time

In the next part we will be talking about number 3 and 4 of the Key deliverability tactics when switching email tools. Including the right way to warm up the new account.

About Andy Thorpe


Andy Thorpe is the Deliverability and Compliance Manager for Pure360 and is also the author of Get in the Inbox , where Andy blogs and tweets about email marketing under his comical alias of Captain Inbox.