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From Old to New ESP in Two Months: An Interview with Melanie Kinney

This month’s Litmus Live Interview focuses on what some might consider one of the more daunting challenges in email marketing: migrations. Switching ESPs can seem like an unenviable project, but I’d actually reframe this process as something you should want to take on at your organization—and it’s good to know I’m not alone in that opinion.

I sat down with Melanie Kinney, a friendly face you’ve seen at Litmus Live more than once. Melanie’s past sessions have focused on B2B design trends in 2017, and at Litmus Live in 2019, she talked about discovering her organization’s emails were showing on blocklists and provided actionable tips for attendees to overcome similar issues.

Melanie and I caught up to discuss her first big project at her new organization, how she used this to meet and develop relationships with stakeholders, and why being the lead stakeholder of a migration actually isn’t a monstrous undertaking (spoiler: it comes down to communication!). You can watch our entire conversation below, or keep reading for a selection of insights.

Tell me a little bit about how the team decided that migrating to an ESP was the right thing to do.

Melanie: “The current plan and ESP that we were on didn’t quite have the segmentation that we were looking for. We were hoping to find something that allowed us to do a much deeper segmentation on our audience. Also, we collect a ton of data, and we wanted to be able to give that back to people in a way that made sense and help them engage with our product.”

What were some focused areas and points of research you kept in mind when deciding which ESPs would make your shortlist?

Melanie: “We’re a small team, it’s me and three other people. We needed to make sure that the platform was going to be efficient for us so that we could build emails quickly, build workflows quickly, and that we could test together as a team…get through everything in a way that worked for three people, even though we’re talking to a much larger audience.”

Ultimately, Melanie and her team chose Iterable as their new ESP, and the adventure began!

How did your company set down to create the structure and organization to begin this process? Thinking through areas like project ownership, documentation, stakeholder involvement, etc.

Melanie: “I was the head of the project, if you will, so every communication went through me, both on the internal side and the Iterable side. I met with my team and the Iterable team once a week, so we were all on the same page throughout the process which really helped. We had someone in engineering that I was working with, another marketer and someone from our web side as well. I could kind of pull them in and have discussions when needed.

Communication was always coming from me, so it was sort of always in the same vein across both platforms. I think that really helped us…kind of get through it all on a similar page from there not being too many cooks in the kitchen.”

You mentioned that your team decided not to migrate any of your emails into your new platform. Can you talk a bit about how you approached that decision?

Melanie: “When it came time to move…we kind of thought this is a good time for a fresh start. We just kind of said ‘there’s some really good content in some of these, but they definitely could use a facelift.’

It was just a really good time for us to be able to take a step back and start over with everything, and I think it’s worked out.”

You’ve been on the new platform for just a few months. Does your team have any early wins in terms of segmentation or overall functionality?

Melanie: “We’ve been able to see the difference those [new] emails have made. We’re able to see that we’re getting more engagement, we’re getting more opens and we’re actually getting a better conversion rate. It’s only been a couple of months, but we’re able to see how it’s working out. That’s both a testament to certainly writing new campaigns and knowing more, but also being able to segment and use the data…has been really helpful for us.”

Your company’s decision to migrate to a new platform will be affected by different variables and situations unique to your needs and goals. Regardless of the ESP you choose, success happens with constant communication with both internal and external stakeholders, a clearly defined and findable documentation process, and giving yourself a bit of grace throughout the journey.

I’ve found a few related resources on beginning and working through a migration, and wanted to include Melanie’s blog on the same topic. Find links to these blogs and ebooks below, and connect with Melanie on Twitter for more insights on email, marketing, and more than a few hockey mentions (which I love, even though we’re not going to agree on our favorite teams).