Email marketing remains a powerful tool for businesses' marketing programs. However, it's common for marketers to either outgrow their email marketing providers or use one that is too complex - or not complex enough - for their campaigns. Not all email marketing platforms are created equally. As marketers continue to develop more advanced skills, it's important to find the right platform that best fits their needs.
While some marketers may have learned the basics of email marketing on a smaller, less expensive program, over time they may choose to switch to a platform with more sophisticated tools, such as segmentation or A/B split testing. Similarly, those who use a more advanced system than necessary may want to shift to a platform with only the essential functions. Regardless of whether they're upgrading or downgrading platforms, when switching email marketing providers, marketers should consider the following tips to ensure a seamless transition.
Don't Forget About Custom Content
Every marketer knows that a successful email marketing campaign includes multiple components. When changing providers, however, many forget about migrating essential details like image libraries and custom templates that are stored in their old platform.
To avoid losing content, download all images and save a copy of past email body text and HTML code for custom templates prior to shutting down an old account. While many email marketing platforms offer a variety of free templates to use, saving custom designs and previously used templates allows marketers to maintain consistency and branding during the transition.
Save Baseline Data
Shifting from one provider to another is more than simply importing emails and subscribers' first and last names. Remember that behavioral attributes and measures of subscriber engagement with your campaigns - through open and click-through rates - is not as easily transferred. It takes time for new providers to gain this insight into customer behaviors. Save this data to a third-party system for reference until the new service has built up this historical information.
Storing baseline data can also be helpful when determining the success of a new platform compared to a previous one after time has passed. Marketers should not be alarmed if their first mailing performs differently than what they are accustomed to seeing. It's not uncommon to see discrepancies in deliverability and interaction rates when changing providers. Certain platform-specific factors, such as IP address history and sender reputation, will come into play and affect email metrics. As email service providers become more sophisticated in screening out unwanted email from users' inboxes, marketers too need to adapt their strategies.
Reformat All External Systems
External systems may not immediately come to mind when migrating to a new email marketing platform. One of the toughest obstacles marketers face is remembering to recode all integrations using the new services. Items like sign-up boxes and forms on websites or data pushes from CRM systems that automatically populate to email marketing systems need to be reworked with new code to reflect this change.
Without updating these sources, new information collected won't be logged into the new system. Marketers should consider all aspects of what goes into their campaigns, including how all data is collected during the transition. By keeping the bigger picture in mind, they can ensure that nothing slips through the cracks during the big move.
Don't Rush: Transition Slowly with a Timeline in Mind
Finally, marketers should allow for a transitional period between opening an account with a new platform and closing their previous one, allowing easy access to both platforms. The right amount of time to consider having access to the old platform should be proportional to the complexity of the marketing program.
Marketers who have simple and straightforward campaigns, like those who send newsletters once a week, will have less difficulty switching providers and will need less time to transition to a new platform. On the other hand, more advanced systems with sophisticated workflows and segmented mailing lists will naturally take longer to set up. Allow for an overlap between the two platforms to ensure that campaigns, workflows and content are established and sending as desired.
Migrating from one email marketing platform to another takes time, but does not have to be difficult. Choosing a provider with the right features and services is important, and a smooth transition is critical. When changing providers, remember to save all custom content and upload it to the new platform before shutting down an old account. Additionally, update all web forms and API integrations to ensure customers can easily be added to new lists. While the transition can be tough, by keeping these tips in mind and allowing ample time to adjust to a new platform, marketers can continue to utilize email marketing platforms to grow their business and reach new subscribers.
EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner, has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry with expertise in building highly available, scalable SaaS-based solutions.
EJ McGowan, VP of Engineering for Glance Networks and Founder of Carpe Diem Software, is a highly experienced software professional with a career spanning over three decades. With a background in mini-computing and experience building major applications for microcomputers, EJ has a unique perspective on the evolution of technology. He was the architect for one of the first SaaS applications and now focuses on creating scalable and highly available applications for the on-demand marketplace. With a successful track record in building and leading development organizations and sales and marketing teams, EJ is a valuable asset in the software industry.