Don’t Switch ESPs Just Yet!

Posted by Henry Gutierrez on

The process of migrating your whole email program to a new ESP (Email Service Provider) carries many challenges. In my six years here at Return Path, I’ve heard of all the reasons senders want to do so. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out to the dream they thought it would be. So before you make the leap, be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and reconsider if your reason is one of the ones below.

Better Deliverability
A fresh start is a common desire, unfortunately, it doesn’t apply well when moving your program to a new IP address. Unless you’re making changes to your mailing practices, moving to a new IP address will more than likely get you the same result. Because of the additional thresholds given to new IP addresses, things may even get worse in the first few weeks. Mailbox providers actually advise against switching platforms and IP address unless you really need to. Ensure you’ve done everything you can on the current platform to maximize deliverability. Consistency is your best friend.

Client Example: I recently helped a sender dig their way out of the spam folder for a big mailbox provider where they had 80 percent inbox placement on their previous platform and ended up with 30 percent on their new platform (per our Consumer Network data). That carried on for almost a year until they engaged with our Professional Services team. Nothing in their program had changed other than switching platforms.

Cost Reduction
Everyone wants to save a buck when possible. It’s perfectly normal. However, the common mistake that accompanies this reason is not doing your homework. As with any product, a reduced cost usually means you won’t be getting the same value or functionality. The loss of certain features might end up hurting you more than expected. As you’re considering a new ESP, fully understand the entire process of creating, deploying and measuring campaigns.

Client Example: I had a client recently switch to a low-cost ESP that forced them to hire another resource to segment and deploy messages. A cost they didn’t account for and was easily done with their previous ESP. I’m a sucker for a bargain, just ensure you’ve counted the cost from all angles.

Your ESP made a mistake
Sending out from the wrong IP address or domains, not warming up your new IP addresses, putting you on shared IP addresses accidentally, not authenticating your mail… we’ve seen it all. Things happen. Depending on the severity of the issue you may want to think very closely about your next move. What’s very telling is how the ESP reacts to the mistake. Most should be good about it, and you may even have extra attention moving forward! In the end, choose what’s going to be good for you in the long-run and avoid overreacting to their mistake.  ESPs can have thousands of clients sometimes, it happens.

Client Example: I could name many as I’ve seen all the examples listed above. The best thing you can do is try to quantify the impact of the mistake. In several of the cases, we were able to use the Return Path Platform to see that the mistake had minimal impact on deliverability, reputation, or any other KPIs. It’s a lot easier to make decisions when you have other data points ensuring the health of your program and the effect of those mistakes.

With migrations, be sure to educate yourself properly on the challenges, costs and make informed decisions. If you’ve considered everything above and still want to jump, then leverage any information you can get a hold of. The Relevancy Ring ESP Buyer’s Guide 2018 shows some interesting survey results from senders and what they look for in ESPs.

“The grass ain’t always greener on the other side, It’s green where you water it.” – the wise Justin Bieber


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About Henry Gutierrez

Henry is an Email Strategist for Return Path's Professional Service team. His current role includes executing client-specific projects to maximize ROI and deliverability. Overall, he has worked in the email industry for almost 12 years, with experience both as an analyst for an ESP and on AOL's postmaster team.

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