Migrating to a new ESP (email sending platform) for your email marketing is a big deal. The need to move to a new system can arise for a number of reasons, but the main one we often see with clients is the need to move away from a platform that is restricting activity, to a more technologically advanced platform in order to take email to the next level. This may mean more advanced segmentation capabilities, a more sophisticated email editor, better reporting and insights, and increasingly often the case – the need to integrate email activity more cleverly with other marketing channels.
A switch from one platform to another should be taken carefully and be considered a significant project. You can’t simply stop sending from one platform one day and start sending from a new one the next. There are things to consider – so to ensure a smooth migration, be sure to follow our recommended steps and advice.
1. Export your unsubscribe and hard bounce data
Export your non send email data and make this the first data you import into your new platform. It is vital that you make sure your unsubscribe and bounce data is suppressed from the get go.
If you forget to do this and accidentally send to these lists, you can run into a lot of issues with inbox placement and spam folders. Make this action one of your top priorities when preparing for, and moving to a new email platform.
2. Export all your data and columns
Building a high-quality email list takes a lot of time, so it is vital that you take all your learnings about your users with you. Your email list holds a lot of valuable data. Be sure to export all the data you have available about your users, including email engagement data (active, inactive, etc).
You may also want to consider suppressing users that have not engaged with your emails for some time. It is highly unlikely someone that has not opened an email in 12 months is going to open anytime soon (of course, this does depend on your audience) Think about the time period you would consider a user “inactive” and consider suppressing them prior to the migration.
3. Rebuild your templates for the new platform
Think about how you currently build emails at the moment. Do you build them from scratch using HTML and CSS, or do you use a WYSIWYG editor within the platform itself? You may need to re-build your templates to work with the new system. At the very least, you will need to edit your dynamic links (online link, unsubscribe, preferences, etc) to the new hosting pages of your new ESP.
This may also be a great time to re-work your templates and give them a refresh. Using historic heatmap reports, take a look at which areas of your templates are being engaged with the most.
If you can see areas that are consistently not clicked (such as social media icons, nav bars, etc.) then consider getting rid of these elements in your template, making room for more valuable content.
4. Don’t forget about your automations
As well as exporting all your data and looking at templates, make sure you are not forgetting about your automations that are running in the background. These can often be overlooked, especially if you set them up years ago and have let them run over time. Things like welcome emails, trigger/event-based messages and transactional emails should all be reviewed, rebuilt and tested in the new platform. At this stage you should also be looking at how data comes into the system and triggers these automations – so be sure to review all your forms across your various data capture points.
5. Warm up your new IP
One of the most important things to think about when sending campaigns from your new provider is to warm up the new IP address. You need to build up sender trust, and suddenly sending thousands of emails in one go could trigger some issues with inbox placement. It is recommended that you gradually send emails in small batches, and start with your most active users that have recently opened and clicked your emails.
These are your most valuable users who are likely to open future emails, and will help with your trust building with the major email clients. This can really illustrate to email providers that you are a reputable sender.
6. Keep the old platform turned on for a month or two
During the transition from the old platform to the new, you will still have users engaging with campaigns sent from the previous platform. For this reason, it is important that you keep the old platform live for a while. This will ensure that users are not opening broken emails, and your links (including your unsubscribe link) are fully functioning.
Keep an eye on your reports, and when you can see that your old campaigns are no longer being interacted with, you can close your old ESP account.
7. Post migration monitoring
Provided you have done everything here, as well as additional steps that may be recommended by your ESP, then you should experience a smooth transition. Keep an eye on your email campaign reports post migration, and monitor your KPIs to ensure that things are going well.
Benchmarking your historic engagement rates and comparing them with sends from your new platform should help with this. If you are maintaining (or hopefully outperforming!) on before, then great! If you have seen stats take a dive, then seek advice from your ESP.