Guide for switching ESPs

 In About Email, Email Deliverability

Having that exasperated feeling when the current ESP (Email Service Provider) you are using is not providing the best return to you in terms of your investment?

Has the inboxing percentage of your campaign emails dipped and you are witnessing the engagement metrics suffer? Is your current ESP not able to scale up on your overall database?

Is your company new to the Email marketing field and you wish to start out on the best possible foot to gain some website traction and conversions with your email users?

This guide is for Marketeers as well as Transactional mailers looking to switch their mailing vendor or those that are new to Email Marketing field and wish to start using an ESP.

The below points should help in terms of providing the guidelines to follow for a smoother transition and keeping it stable for a longer period of time.

The guidelines have been created with an overall view of Email Marketing in terms of your marketing strategy as well as the Email Deliverability which would ensure that your new mailing platform is inboxing your mails.

One does not simply..Sean Bean knows it as well.

According to Return Path’s Global Deliverability Benchmark [1], 600bn emails were categorized as spam in 2018, coupled with that, the continuous stringent changes in spam filters across ISPs have made it more challenging for Inboxing mails.

The following points if followed resolutely will prepare you better for the upcoming transition and make it a win-win situation in terms of ROI and inboxing with an onboarding ESP

Address the pain points:

If you are switching your mail provider, you need to ensure that you don’t commit the same mistakes as you did with the previous one. Therefore, you need to address the shortcomings and avoid the same footprints with the new vendor.

Whether it is the email ids you need to segment better or monitor and work with the domain reputation with ISPs, these weaknesses need to be removed with a fresh start from a new vendor.

Domain Matters:

If you were using a sending domain beforehand which was bad reputed and hence your mails were in the spam box, or the domain did not have a good history with ISPs, it is prudent to change to a new domain with a new provider. The new domain needs to be previously registered with a DNS provider at least 90 days ago so that the ISPs will have some history to build on for this specific domain.

Get this domain re-directed to your website domain so that your users can directly associate your emails with your brand website.

If you do not have any previously registered domain, then you will have to register a fresh domain and get the DNS records added to it.

If the sending domain is not damaged but you were just not happy with your previous vendor’s performance in terms of engagement or conversions, then you can continue with the same domain with a new provider, piggybacking on the already reputed domain you possess. In order for this strategy to be successful, you should stop mailing from the previous vendor completely and shift all the volumes to the new one.

 Warmup for ISPs:

For any new domain or IP address to start sending your mails, they need to develop some reputation with different ISPs. The initial mailing needs to be done at a constant volume for the IP and the domain to be warmed up and attain a high reputation with different postmasters of ISPs eg: Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.

You should be monitoring your domain reputation incase of Gmail on a day to day basis to check on any dips or spam complaints that could be hampering your inbox performance.

The warmup process should take a period of 21 days to 1 month depending on the volume which is expected to be mailed in a single campaign.

Factors for determining a successful warmup :

- Scale-up on the actively engaged users entirely in a single campaign eg; if your overall database is 500k then the ability to send 500k in a single day with 90% + inboxing.

- Good engagement metrics in terms of opens and clicks according to industry standards or above.

- Domain reputation is high in Gmail postmaster.

- The active ids targeted achieves good conversions/website traffic/leads etc for you to track.

Thus after having your IP and domain warmed up, you shall be good to go for resuming your regular volumes for sending campaigns and getting a sizeable conversion from them.

Target relevant data:

The email ids that you shall begin with, should be your best-performing segment of all your database. This segment should ensure that you are getting very high engagement from the start of your warmup process.

The targeting of data can be done generally the following order of preference:

1) Opens and clicks from your mailing in the past 30 days.

2) Latest registered / subscriber users for the past 30 days.

3) Latest transacted users for the past 30 days

4) The rest of the database for the past 6 months, collected with permission from users.

Several segments can be done based on 4) users, as they can be targeted according to their preference of products/information.

The entire blacklisted data from the previous vendor needs to be provided to the new one for blacklisting at their end so as not to target these users.

Creative layouts:

The HTML creatives that you need to use for your campaigns from a new vendor should be different than the ones used before and which have not performed. Following the same campaign format will continue the spam pattern with a new domain as well as ISPs have a bad mailing history pattern with the old creative layouts which were spamming.

The creatives need to have a healthy combination of images + text (60/40). You can also experiment with other types of layouts which suit your business requirements.

The footer needs to be a customized footer which has your brand name and an actionable for the users to set their preferences.

Mail Infrastructure:

When you switch to a new vendor, you need to ensure that all the DNS records are reflecting for the said domain and all the necessary settings (SPF, DKIM, DMARC, TLS) have been enabled for the mailing infrastructure.

What IP addresses have been assigned for delivery, are they shared or dedicated?

If they are shared, what is the percentage of distribution in volumes for that IP?

- Email strategy:

It is paramount that the Marketeer changing the ESP, requires to have the following in terms of Email marketing strategy:

- What is your business objective with Email marketing?

- What do you wish to gain in terms of your campaigns? Is it just retention or acquisition as well?

- Do you have a proper campaign calendar prepared for a month of your upcoming promotions?

- What is the larger vision you are looking at in terms of engaging with your email users?

- Do you have a clear plan for engaging with your customers in different stages of the buyer’s life cycle journey?

If you have these questions figured out, then it will be easier for the onboarding ESP to perform and work with you in terms of your objectives and requirements.

This is a key part which many Marketeers are oblivious to, but it plays a vital part in how you engage as a brand with your customers and build trust and a relationship with them.

Email Deliverability doesn't have to be a major challenge when shifting ESPs and if the above points are followed with proper co-ordination with your ESP, then it would be possible to maintain trust with your customers and build long-lasting relationships with them through your campaigns.

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