A handy checklist to smoothly switch ESPs

You know it’s time to switch email service providers – you’ve heard that others offer smarter features, greater benefits, or more attractive packages.

But the whole idea is too daunting: you fear the risks and unknown elements, not to mention the time involved.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a checklist to smoothly move to your new ESP?

Checklist for switching ESPs

Working through this checklist, you’ll make the mental leap and do the groundwork in preparation for a systematic, secure, and pain free move to the new email service provider (ESP) of your choice.

By following the steps below, you’ll be ready for the change, without overlooking any of the main points. And, more importantly, you can hit the ground running with your new ESP without endangering your revenue streams.

  1. What’s your current set up? Do you have a dedicated IP address or a shared one? ISPs won’t give you the brownie points you have on your existing dedicated address, so you’re going to have to break the new one in gradually, or have your ISP warm it up, so as not to put your reputation on the line.
  2. Make sure you keep a secure copy of your historical reporting data in numerical format – you’ll want to have the numbers to hand for a period of at least six months so you can keep track of activities and success rates, and percentages alone might not give you what you need to know.
  3. You’ll probably also be getting better analytic reports, but do get the fine detail from your potential ESP so you understand the new reporting system. You’ll need this information so you can check past against future reports, such as how open rates are being calculated. Are they counted as a percentage of the number of emails delivered before or after ‘soft’ bounces?
  4. Migrating your lists – also known as the great list clean up. The need to get your data squeaky clean is definitely an opportunity; the smart digital marketer will in fact see it as a real blessing. As you’re doing the clean up, make sure to keep your ‘unsubscribe’ and ‘bounce’ lists. You really want to avoid sending unwanted emails to people who have unsubscribed in the past!
  5. Is your website ready to support your ESP move? You’ll need to change over – and test – all your forms, links, share functions, chat forums, address entry and post-click tracking right across your website and have them all ready to go live on D-Day.
  6. Staff training – you need your staff engaged, involved and supportive of the move for it to succeed. By getting their buy-in and ideas, you can avoid the pitfalls of new system phobia. If this ride is to be a smooth and effective one, create great teamwork.
  7. Early on in the process, consider your CRM – is it robust enough to make the move with you? Include CRM in your training programs, as your employees’ insights will help you achieve smooth continuity of those all-important relationships with your customers.
  8. So, you’ve done the legwork in points 1-7 and feel ready to go. A word of caution here: allow an overlap period. Keep things running with the outgoing ESP for a period that will give you time enough to make any last-minute tweaks to the new system, move your clean data and lists across, do some test email sending campaigns, and resolve any issues that arise. Once your new ESP is fully running, you can sever the tie with the old.
  9. While we think our checklist makes the task a manageable one, we appreciate it’s not something you want to do too often. So, when you choose your new ESP, your plans for growth are critical. Don’t buy into something that is too complex for your needs. Equally, make sure to get the support and activity levels you need for the next two years at least!
  10. You’re done! Nothing left to do but enjoy email marketing and maximizing all the exciting new features from your new ESP!

About Ruth Hamer

Ruth Hamer is Head of Marketing at Ongage. Ongage is a revolutionary front-end email marketing platform that easily connects to more than 50 of the world's leading email delivery providers. We enable advanced email campaign management and the ability to work with several delivery providers at the same time, optimizing deliverability and ROI.

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