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ESP Migration: How to Make the Process Smooth

ESP migrations (switching from one ESP to another) admittedly involve many moving parts–but following these important steps can make your migration process as smooth and headache-free as possible.

1. Lean on your email audit document

Your email audit document should house everything you need to migrate over to your new ESP.

2. Make the most of your blank slate

Migrating to a new ESP gives you the opportunity to start with a blank slate. All of those organizational niggles you had in your previous ESP can be remedied!

Take some time to think about how you want to organize and set up your new ESP. This will be highly dependent on the ESP you’re migrating to, but consider elements like:

  • Naming convention.  A good naming convention can make it easier and faster to find what you’re looking for in your new ESP. This includes naming conventions for emails, templates, programs, campaigns, and even email lists.
  • Folder structure. How do you want to organize your new ESP? If your new ESP allows for a folder structure—use it. Options include creating folders for specific campaigns or years, with sub-folders for months. Just be careful that you don’t create a never-ending folder tree,
  • Automations

3. Prioritize

You may need to be executing your email program while migrating. Set some priorities (and add them to your email audit document) on what needs to be migrated over the course of a specific timeline.

Consider the need to keep automations and email nurtures running and avoiding customers or subscribers from getting duplicate emails, or getting totally left out and not receiving anything.

4. Leverage available tools

Your tech stack can come in very handy during a migration. Are there tools you already use that could be helpful? We leveraged Litmus’ ESP integration to quickly migrate our email templates from Litmus to our new ESP with the click of a button. This automation saved the email team hours of copying and pasting email code.

5. Test as you go

It’s easy to get sucked into creating new programs, lists, rules, segments, and email templates in a new ESP… and forget to test each as you go. Your new ESP may behave differently than your previous one, so it’s important to test everything you create in your new ESP as you go. Does that new automation work as you expected? The email template you just uploaded—does this new ESP change your code in any unexpected way? You’ll save yourself a lot of time (and heartache!) if you iteratively test as you create in your new ESP.

6. Set realistic deadlines aligned to priorities

Share them with your migration team to ensure structure and feel like you’re making progress.

7. Use your ESP’s support team

When thinking of “resources” to help you migrate easily, you often think of internal resources, like the people on your team and the tools you use. But consider the support team at your new ESP a valuable resource in this process, too. They have the expertise to help you as you start out in your new ESP. You’re going to have an abundance of questions—they can help answer them for you. Before you start migrating, get in touch with the support team and ask if they have any tips or documentation on migration best practices.

8. Create an IP warming plan

Make sure you can get up and running in your new ESP quickly and start sending email as soon as possible, you need to warm your new IP address. (Hint: This is only applicable if you are on a dedicated IP address.)

When you migrate to a new ESP, you’ll be on a new sending IP address that is considered “cold.” When an inbox service provider (ISP) suddenly starts receiving large volumes of email from a “cold” IP address, they will begin evaluating the traffic coming from the IP. Email volume is a key indicator for ISPs when understanding which emails are spam or not. If you come in too hot—high volume, low email engagement—
ISPs will deliver your emails to the spam folder. This is why you need to warm up your new IP address.

To warm up your new IP address, start with small volume sends and gradually increase your email send volume over the course of time.

 3 tips to help warm your new IP

1. Identify your most engaged audience

You want to put your best foot forward in your new ESP on your new IP address and your most engaged subscribers can help with that. ISPs look at
how and if your emails’ recipients are engaging with your emails to understand if your emails are spam. This segment of your audience is ideal to warm up your new IP address because they are actively engaging with your email program. And that’s the indicator ISPs are looking for in
genuine email senders.

2. Slowly build volume

The key to successfully warming an IP address is a gradual increase in volume over a specific period of time, while continually monitoring email performance. Start by sending a small volume to your most engaged audience on your new IP address. The next week, send to a slightly bigger audience. At Litmus, we warmed our IP address over the course of 5 weeks, gradually sending to larger audiences each week. It’s important to monitor each send. Don’t panic if you observe any drops in email engagement. Adjust the volume for your next send to be slightly smaller, monitor, rinse, repeat!

3. Identify your best-performing emails

Along with your most engaged audience, you want to make sure you start warming your IP address up with your top email performers. These could
be high-performing newsletters with highly-engaged audiences or automated/triggered emails.

It’s easier to establish a good reputation on your new IP address than it is to repair a bad sender reputation. So be sure to plan your IP warming accordingly. And don’t forget to reach out to your ESP’s support team—they may be able to provide you with help and guidance on IP warming.

Check out the rest of our series with these helpful resources: