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How To Successfully Switch Email Service Providers (ESPs) with a Focus on Deliverability6 min read

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If you’re considering switching to a new ESP (email service provider), we feel you. You might not be happy with your current ESP’s features or feel like you don’t have enough visibility into deliverability, or even how your campaigns are performing.

To make an already complicated process a little less complicated, we’ve put together a list of things to consider when you leave your former ESP and start sending with a new one. From proper migration so you don’t lose any data, to having a warm up plan to ensure deliverability, we’ve got you covered.

Migrating From Your Former ESP

There a few important basics to capture from your former ESP before losing access to it. This list ensures you won’t have any regrets when your past account is shut down.

Exporting Your Data by List or Segment

It’s important to get a full export from your past ESP, but you’ll thank yourself later if you specifically export segments that include valuable data for sending in the future.

These segments include:

  • New Subscribers (sent less than five emails)
  • Active Subscribers (engaged with any of the last five emails you’ve sent)
  • At-Risk Subscribers (haven’t engaged with any of the last five emails you’ve sent)
  • Inactive Subscribers (haven’t engaged with any of the last ten emails you’ve sent)
  • Invalid Subscribers (email doesn’t exist, emails sent to this address have bounced, etc.)
  • Unsubscribed (have opted-out of marketing emails)
  • Any specific segments you regularly send to (e.g. specific location, interest, purchase history, etc.)

Taking the extra time to export based on engagement will be a lifesaver when you start sending emails on your new ESP.

Export or Screenshot Templates

You’ll want to keep a record of the main templates you use, including any standard headers and footers. You can save the HTML, take screenshots, and export specific images used in emails to upload to your new ESP.

Export or Screenshot Past Email Campaigns Stats

When you eventually lose access to your past ESP, it’s extremely helpful to have a snapshot of stats from at least your last month to set benchmarks and see how performance is changing with your new ESP. Useful metrics include emails sent, opened, clicked, and revenue generated.

Record Email Journeys and Performance

Copy down any of the automations that you want to continue using in your new ESP, including subject lines, preview text, “From” name, email templates, delays between emails, and any rules used to define who continues in the journey. Take note of how many emails have been sent in the past, opens, clicks, and revenue generated.

It’s helpful to screenshot or export stats of journeys you don’t plan to replicate in your new ESP as a reminder for the future. For example, if they didn’t perform well in the past, you’ll want to keep that information for anyone on your team who considers replicating them in the future. You never know what might come in handy!

Sending from Your New ESP

It’s a given that you’ll import all your lists and segments into your new ESP, ensuring that subscribers stay subscribed, and anyone unsubscribed isn’t sent to in the future. It’s also a good idea to prep your new ESP by setting up the basics of your templates, like headers and footers.

Related: Hive.co Implementation Services

This list goes into some of the more technical aspects around sending email from a new ESP like setting up a subdomain and scaling into sending that will set you up for great deliverability.

Set Up a New Subdomain

It’s best practice to set up a subdomain that you’ve never used when you start sending from a new ESP. If you try to use a subdomain you’ve used before, you run the risk of sending mixed signals to ISPs (think: Gmail, Outlook, etc.).

In the case that you set up a subdomain that’s currently being used to send email campaigns with a different platform, you’ll run into issues authenticating the subdomain on multiple platforms. In the case that you set up a subdomain that isn’t currently in use, but has been in the past, you won’t start your sender reputation off fresh. This is because your old subdomain carries send history attached to a different IP. Tl;dr: choose a new subdomain for your new ESP!

Suppress or Unsubscribe Invalid Email Addresses

If your past ESP gave you data regarding which email addresses have been undeliverable in the past (e.g. invalid or bounced), make sure you specifically unsubscribe or suppress these email addresses in your new ESP. If you don’t exclude these invalid emails before sending your first campaign on your new ESP, it’s likely that you’ll have a high bounce rate, decreasing the deliverability of your campaign and hurting the sender reputation of your new subdomain.

Warmup Your New Subdomain

So you’ve set up a new subdomain – great! Don’t go sending to your whole list on day one! Setting up new subdomains and sending large volume email campaigns is standard spammer behavior, and ISPs have checks in place to rate limit your sending, throttle your campaign, and send it to the spam folder when you abruptly send a large campaign from a new subdomain.

Most ESPs will leave it up to you to warm up your new subdomain correctly. Hive has a built-in warmup process that lets you properly warmup your subdomain while sending the rest of the volume you need using shared subdomains.

Warm up schedules vary depending on list hygiene, engagement, email frequency, and content. Below is a general warmup schedule:

  • First send: 2,500 contacts
  • Second send: 5,000 contacts
  • Third send: 10,000 contacts
  • Fourth send: 20,000 contacts
  • Fifth send: 30,000 contacts
  • Sixth send: 45,000 contacts etc.

If there are emails you need to send to your entire list and you’re switching to an email platform other than Hive, we recommend continuing to send extra volume from your previous ESP.

Send to Actives First

If you’re manually warming up your new subdomain, it’s best practice to send to the most engaged subscribers from your previous list first and eventually scale into your less engaged subscribers. You don’t want to mix up who you send to first (from new, to active, to unengaged all at once) or send to inactives first. Both will damage the reputation of your new subdomain, when you could be improving it by sending to active subscribers first!

Wrap Up

There’s a lot to consider when switching ESPs. With a little bit of preparation while you have access to your former ESP plus careful consideration around sending email from your new ESP, you’ll be on the right track to ensure a smooth transition!

If you’re interested in chatting with a migration specialist about moving your email marketing to Hive, you can schedule a time here.

This article was originally published by our friends at Hive.co

About the author

Steve Hutt

I'm obsessed with entrepreneurship, commerce, and Shopify. If you have the desire to implement what's working today for direct-to-consumer brands on Shopify, I'm excited you're here! Get the Shopify help you need. This industry blog and podcast is my digital brain where my guests and I share cutting-edge marketing strategy, must-have Shopify apps, and marketing platforms that will help you build and scale lifetime customer loyalty. To do this, I'm part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus and host of the eCommerce Fastlane Podcast.