What are the Common Pitfalls When Migrating Email Service Provider (ESP)?

8 minute read

Any mature email marketing program and newsletter software will require you to be working with Email Service Provider (ESP) daily. Regular use will have you identifying issues in no time. Certain problems with functionality can be worked around, and you might be able to launch your campaigns with relative ease. However, if red flags are surfacing on regular basis, the user experience has you internally screaming, and your cries for help aren’t met with support, then a move might be the answer to your woes.

Migrating your ESP isn’t always plain sailing, which is why you need to be clear on what you want from a relationship with your new provider. We’ll take you through the pitfalls of migrating and show you the common mistakes, so you can avoid making them.

Moving too fast

Rushing into a relationship with your new ESP provider is likely to lead to mistakes. A methodical plan for setup and implementation is essential to ensure you have time to make the switchover and that proper training is carried out. You should familiarize yourself with the new system, ensure customizations are setup and that mistakes with data are avoided. Unrealistic deadlines will put unnecessary pressure on your internal teams, and potentially make adoption of the new solution more difficult. Any good email vendor that you’re switching to should be able to help you through the process, provide project timelines and help you to migrate smoothly. Chances are, they’ll have done it before and therefore will know some of the pitfalls too. When speaking to new vendors, ask them if they can provide a migration plan.

Unrealistic start date of new ESP vs. End date of old ESP

Your migration process needs to be set at a manageable pace with achievable deadlines. Having a realistic launch date for your new ESP, and a date to say a formal goodbye to your current provider gives you something to aim towards. But think about this carefully, as you don’t want to be stranded without an ESP or paying two bills over an extended period! Remember, you may need to give as much as 3 months of notice to your current ESP to be able to stop your contract with them, and they are unlikely to want to help you if you miss the deadline. Similarly, getting data out of some ESP’s is not as straightforward as it could be, and finding out these issues too late is going to put unneeded stress on you and the business. Agree with your current provider to keep it running until you are fully satisfied that all boxes have been ticked.

Insufficient training

Your marketing and tech teams will need to get up to scratch with both the basic and more advanced functionality of your new platform, including where your data lives, how to design your templates, and launch your campaigns. In the early days of using new automation software, it’s inevitable that there will be a period of finding your feet, and email marketers can often be wedded to the old solution despite its shortcomings. Training should be thorough, and onboarding should have a clear, two-way channel of communication for any support that is required.

Deliverability issues and improper IP warming

Moving to a new ESP doesn’t get rid of your deliverability issues overnight, but it can be a step in the right direction. Moving to a new provider will mean moving to new IP addresses and domains which will require a gradual warming process. The better your sender reputation was with your old provider, the smoother it should be building up with the new.

A lot of email platforms these days have warmed up IP’s ready to go but depending on the scale and volume you’re planning to send; it is something worth checking off with the new provider. You will need to create a plan that consists of identifying engaged audiences, slowly building your send volume, and identifying your best-performing emails. The rules for good deliverability remain the same; if you target your audience effectively with content they enjoy and are likely to interact with, you increase your chances of opens and clicks and reduce the risks of them hitting the spam button. In reverse, other customers of an ESP can potentially damage your reputation if they are consistently delivering spam to their audiences. Do your due diligence therefore if you’re looking at an ESP that is less well known and therefore may not have the same infrastructure.

Custom integrations not supported

Your ESP is one cog in your organization’s marketing machine, and to lose integrations such as with your CRM, Customer Data Platform (CDP), Survey software, or eCommerce could see you restricted post- migration. Your integrations play an integral part in making not only your marketing activity, but your customer experience feel seamless. It is therefore vital to ensure your integrations are considered in the migration process, and run use cases that consider all the variables to ensure that the connector or integration is truly going to give you what you need. An out of the box integration to Salesforce CRM can come in many flavours, so if you’re looking for integrations to trigger an action in a 3rd party system, make sure it’s up to scratch for your needs!

Transferring creative / templates

Migrating can be a good opportunity to do some spring cleaning, start afresh, and get organized. Your early efforts at templates that are now unused and collecting dust in your folders may not need to be carried over. However, there will be templates that you use on a regular basis that feature in your active campaigns. It’s important that they are transferred correctly, to keep interruptions to a minimum, or that you understand the new capabilities available and potentially rebuild them as part of the switchover.

Migration of journeys and always-on campaigns

If you have welcome workflows, reminder emails, and cart abandonment triggers in place, make sure they are carried over or rebuilt and tested, or you could face the timely process of starting from scratch and losing out on customer engagement. Remember, no two workflows or campaign canvases are the same so your campaigns will likely need to be rebuilt, which you will want to work with the customer success team from your new provider to ensure there are no hidden corners that could disrupt campaigns being sent once you switchover.

Poor user adoption

There may only be a handful of your internal team involved in the decision-making process of investing in a new email marketing solution. However, you need to recognize that the platform will be used by your employees, and there will usually be knock-on impacts to processes that some non-Marketing teams rely upon. Therefore, internal buy-in becomes a high priority. It’s essential that communication around the change is clear to avoid any concerns, and something that usually helps is to have a champion user to join that process and understand why the changes are happening so that the whole team feels bought-in to the decision.

Your internal promotion of using the new platform needs to breed excitement amongst your team – what benefit is it to them? How is it going to help them do their jobs better and with fewer restrictions? And what are the exciting new features they can get their hands on? Change can make internal teams uneasy, so settle the nerves with some excitement.

Just like your automated marketing campaigns, the rollout of your new ESP isn’t a set it and forget it process. Keep the adoption rate of your ESP high by providing ongoing training, upskilling employees, sharing tips and tricks, and communicating software updates to get the most from your new provider.

Losing historical information/data

Transferring your active data is important, but you need to ensure that your unsubscribes and opt-outs, suppression lists, and spam complaint addresses are accounted for in the migration. If your audience has made it clear they don’t want to be contacted, but your new ESP no longer recognizes their choice, you could end up with subscribers receiving content they didn’t want. This will drive them once again to either the spam button – impacting your deliverability – or to have to go through the process of unsubscribing again. Not the customer experience they had hoped for.

These pitfalls can be easily avoided in your early conversations with a potential new provider by communicating and being transparent. If you know what you need in terms of functionality, capabilities, and integrations, you can ensure you are asking the right questions.

This is a chapter from our eBook ‘Your Ultimate ESP Migration Guide’.  Download your free copy today to find out more about the key areas to consider for a smooth transition to a new ESP.

If you’d like to understand more about how Upland Adestra can help you deliver automated email campaigns that delight customers at every step of their journey, request a demo and a member of our team will be in touch.

Reliable products. Real results.

Every day, thousands of companies rely on Upland to get their jobs done simply and effectively. See how brands are putting Upland to work.

View Success Stories