Finding the right Email Service Provider can be a minefield. Larger platforms offer too much, smaller platforms too little. Like Goldilocks, you have to search hard for the ESP that’s ‘Just Right’.
It’s a long process, so it’s worth learning about what you’re getting into.
Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about switching your ESP. From the features you should look out for to how to make the switch, this guide has you covered.
According to Statista, over four billion people were email users in 2020. That figure is set to rise exponentially. In many ways this is fantastic news! However, a rise in email uptake does mean a rise in expectations from email subscribers.
As the quality of your email marketing grows more important, it’s vital to find the right ESP. You need a provider that can perform at the level your brand needs to thrive.
Of course, you may already have that provider. How do you know whether you actually need to change your ESP?
Here are the signs to watch out for:
If you often find yourself fixing issues or working around frustrating limitations, it’s time for a change. Crafting and sending email campaigns should not be an uphill battle.
Repeated functionality issues are a clear sign that your ESP won't improve their user experience. If you stay with them, this attitude will be reflected in your clients’ experience.
You may also find that, while your ESP is fine at what it does, what it does isn’t enough for you. In this case, it’s time to move onto something more advanced.
Some ESPs have transitioned to full-service marketing platforms. If all you need is a dedicated email platform, you could be paying for more than you’ll use.
Similarly, if your team members can’t navigate the complexities of a marketing platform, decide whether it’s worth hiring someone who can. You could save a lot of money, time, and employee frustration by sticking with what you know.
Deliverability is vital for any email operation. If your campaigns aren’t hitting the right inboxes, you need to investigate.
There are many reasons why your deliverability may be low. Don’t assume that the problem lies with your ESP. However, if the issue persists and your ESP doesn’t offer proactive support, consider switching.
Automation is increasingly important for email marketing. Automation allows you to reach your subscribers in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. It’s key to giving your clients the kind of bespoke email experience they deserve.
If your ESP doesn’t have the kind of automation capabilities you need, look around for one that does.
Analytics are vital for a good email operation. Without the right analytics, you won’t understand what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and how to improve things.
Analytics allow you to quantify the impact your emails are having. Without them, you won’t be able to make informed strategic decisions. So, if your ESP isn’t giving you the analytical insights you need, it’s time for a change.
The ideal ESP is one that can scale and grow with your business. That means one with flexibility. If your current ESP is immovable on things like price plans, upgrades, and extra features, it may not be the ESP for you.
Before you ditch your old ESP, you need to decide what you’re looking for to replace it. Every company will have their own unique needs, but there are still some common ESP features that can help most businesses. Let’s go through four of the most important features you should look for in your next ESP:
As we mentioned, ESP needs will differ from organization to organization. It’s worth sitting down and working out exactly what you need from your ESP.
Just like every business, every ESP is different. From dashboards to data, templates to workflows, they all differ in what they offer.
Make sure that your ESP provides everything that your business needs. Think about things like automation, smart workflows, flexible layouts, in-depth data services, responsive design, and more. Vuture, for example, is an ESP that has been designed specifically for legal and professional brands. It gives all of the above and more, without wasting your money on unnecessary features.
Don’t pick an ESP that’s offering more than you need. You don’t want to pay for features you won’t use! And don’t compromise on the features you do need. The right ESP is out there - it’s worth searching until you find it!
A good ESP will integrate seamlessly with the rest of your marketing deck. For example, Vuture partners with global martech leaders in everything from accounting to CRM. This makes it easy for Vuture clients to access all their data and/or perform essential tasks at the click of a button.
Look at your martech stack, and make a note of what’s most important. When searching for a new ESP, look for one that either integrates with your apps and platforms, or that can replace them.
We’ve spoken above about the importance of analytics. There’s a lot more to email marketing than beautiful templates and creative copy. To troubleshoot and improve your email marketing, you need quick and comprehensive analytical reports.
Vuture gives clients the ability to create and share bespoke reports for every purpose. It also gives important notifications in real-time. This gives clients the ability to adjust and optimize campaigns at speed.
Good customer service is critical for getting the best out of your ESP. Proactive support while you’re onboarding, migrating, and setting up your ESP will save you a lot of headaches down the line.
Ongoing support that you can rely on is also a huge weight off your shoulders. For example, every Vuture client gets a dedicated Customer Success Manager. Clients have a direct line to an expert if they have any questions or problems. This is fantastic for those who want to get the best out of their email marketing platform.
So you’ve worked out that you need a new ESP, and chosen one which suits your needs. So far, so good!
Now, you need to plan how to transition from your current ESP to the new one.
Careful planning at this stage is key to avoiding a huge workload later on. The better prepared you are, the faster you’ll be launching your new campaigns.
This preparation period is also a great opportunity to reflect on your performance. What’s going well for you, and why? What could you improve upon, and how? Go into your new ESP with a firm understanding of where your marketing operation is, where you’d like it to be, and how you’re going to get there.
These steps will make sure that you’re prepared for a smooth ESP transition:
Your email list is one of your most important assets. It takes time and effort to build a high-quality email list, so it’s vital that you take good care of it!
If the ESP you’ve chosen integrates with your CRM, as ESPs like Vuture do, this stage will be easy. However, it’s still worth backing up your list files just in case.
Export every address on your list, including unsubscribed and bounced addresses. This will make sure that they don’t affect your deliverability with your new ESP.
Look through all the activity that’s currently running through your ESP. Check your workflows, your trigger-based automations, lifecycle messages, events-based sequences, and so on.
For your transition to be as smooth as possible, you need to make sure that all of these will work in the new platform. Test them out before you make the switch.
Look at where your current subscribers are coming from. This will ensure that you can link those subscription sources to your new ESP. This is also a good opportunity to review your subscription process. Look at things like your sign-up form, and consider if your new ESP can help you to optimize subscription.
Your new ESP will need to be ‘warmed’ slowly. If you leap straight into your usual sending patterns from a brand new ESP, you could make the ISPs suspicious. This will jeopardize your deliverability - not a great start for a new ESP!
To make sure that your ESP starts with the best reputation possible, gather your most engaged lists to send to first. When transitioning, you can leverage this engagement to ‘warm’ your new ESP faster.
There’s no need to rush things. If your clients don’t experience any drop-off in their email service, you can take things as gradually as you need to.
Plan your transition carefully, with clear steps. This will give you the groundwork for a stress-free, seamless transition.
Also plan to keep your old ESP active for a couple of weeks after the transition. This will give you time to gather any final unsubscribes and bounce reports.
Here are the answers to to the most common queries people have about switching ESPs:
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to transition timescales. There are a lot of factors at play, including the amount of data you’re moving, the size of your team, and your current (if any) provider.
Timescales generally vary between 30-90 days. Dedicated support from your new provider will slash your transition time.
If you warm up your new ESP carefully, the change won't affect your deliverability.
As we mentioned above, start with your most engaged lists, and leverage their enthusiasm to build your new ESP a great reputation. Then you can start bringing over your less engaged contacts.
This is also the right time to do some list cleaning. Do you really need all those unengaged contacts? Or can you leave them behind?
Depending on the size of your company, you may want to consider warming your IP as well. If you're not sure whether this is necessary, as your new ESP provider. Experienced ESPs like Vuture have dedicated deliverability experts who can give you advice on this and other issues.
This depends a lot on the ESP you've chosen. Vuture, for example, is easy to learn and easy to use. For other ESPs, however, it can take up to a month of training before the marketing team is ready to use them.
The ESP's support team plays a huge role in your onboarding process. That's why the customer service provision is such an important factor in your new ESP.
You can if you want to, but if it's not relevant to them it may not be necessary.
If switching ESPs is going to make a significant difference to your customers' experience, however, then do explain what's going on.
Switching to a new ESP doesn't have to be difficult. If you choose a five-star provider and follow the tips outlined here, you'll be sending campaigns from your new platform in no time.
If you choose Vuture as your new ESP, your dedicated Customer Success Manager will gladly help you out at every stage. Call our dedicated team of email experts today to get started.