Switching email marketing provider and worried about your deliverability?

It’s got to get worse before it gets better, right?

A new email service provider, or ESP, means new sending domains, new IP and new rules. This could mean your deliverability rates plummet. Of course, you expect your opens and click-through rates to consistently improve with your new provider, but your deliverability rate is destined to take a hit for your first few mailings. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

Not many ESPs are brave and honest enough to warn you about this dip in numbers, so we’re here to tell you why what, how and a few steps you can take along the way to prevent it from taking over. After all, it’s got to get worse before it gets better, right?

First, let’s look at why your deliverability rates are going to take a beating:

ISPs don’t like change!

Any change in your mailings and they’ll come knocking. As soon as Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo realise something is different with your sending – domain, vendor, alias etc they’ll show up unannounced and demand a thorough inspection of both your new ESP and your emails. Rule number 1 of spam filters: if in doubt, sniff it out! While ISPs (Internet Service Providers) jot you down in their little black book of senders to keep an eye on they’ll be wary of any sending coming from you until given the green light. You can make it easier for them by using your own sending subdomain instead of the ESPs. At Spotler we provide you with your own subdomains to use from the off. For instance, we have separate subdomains for all our levels of sending – our cold unengaged data has a different domain to our warmer, engaged prospects. Just keeps it all separate and tidy.
Once ISPs have inspected the way you are sending, they will then move onto how your audience is engaging with you (opens, click-throughs and replies). This is why it’s important to have a good relationship with your audience so your engagement levels reflect this, and over time, gradually increase. Making the ISPs back off and clear you from that little black book of theirs.

A surge in spam complaints

It’s great news that switching to your shiny new ESP will bring you a higher deliverability rate, after all, your emails are now reaching the inbox of those people who were previously filtering you. However, this then unearths a whole other can of worms. If these newfound subscribers really aren’t interested in receiving your emails, they may report you as spam! This impacts your sending reputation, damaging your deliverability. Spotler to the rescue – a good email marketing service provider will maintain feedback loops with ISPs to take care of complaints and automatically unsubscribe spam reporters. After the first few mailings, your complaint rate should drop, allowing you to get your sending reputation back.

A boom in hard bounces

Hard bounces alone ruin your sending reputation. These are the dead, incorrect or invalid email addresses in your data pot so really, they’re no good to you anyway. But they’re causing more harm than good, so you need to get rid! ISPs will look at the hygiene of your lists for signs that you’re a spammer. Your emails will be flagged as spam if your audience contains lots of undeliverables, as this usually means non-opted-in data. Spotler takes care of your hard bounces for you, removing them from your list the first time you mail to it. If you are used to doing this yourself manually you could be in for a drastic decrease in audience numbers! Even switching between ESPs that do assist with bounce-management could end in higher bounce rates as criteria can vary. This means the damaged caused by those extra bounces initially will lead your deliverability to plummet. But don’t worry, once your list is fully cleansed and you’re a few sends in you can start to see an improvement on the ‘real-life’ data you’re left with.

The fast and the furious!

Believe it or not there are traffic rules in place when it comes to campaign sending. How many emails you are sending to ISPs is known as throttling and if you fail to abide by these traffic rules you could end up with a hefty speeding fine. Ok well not a real speeding fine, but it will result in your emails being deferred or blocked altogether. If your previous ESP ignored these rules, it may look as though your new provider takes much longer to send out your campaigns. But, really, they’re just being cautious and sticking to the rules put in place to ensure the safety of your domain. The slower the better to ensure the highest chances of making it to the inbox. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Spotler offers a number of different options when it comes to throttling, or batch sending so you can limit and control how your campaign is received. It also helps to not bombard your subscribers with multiple emails in one day or week. You set the rules.

Now let’s look at the deliverability steps you can take before switching ESPs.

Deliverability plays a hugely important role in the switchover process from one ESP to another. Obviously, there are lots of other elements to take care of in the process too, some which may seem more important. But this is why deliverability normally gets overlooked and marketers end up in a bit of a mess with their data. Follow our recommendations below for a smooth and steady switchover:

1. Only take your active and engaged subscribers with you. Quality over quantity is always key. This will prevent you from clogging up your new ESP with invalid, inactive, or already-unsubscribed addresses, which, you guessed it, would ruin your sending reputation.

2. It is all or nothing when it comes to switching over. Don’t think that you can run half your sends from one ESP and the other half from the other, seeing which would perform better. It sounds like a good idea, but ISPs will frown upon this. They know what you are up to and will come a knocking. Also, it will skew your results and not give you a true picture of your opens, clicks and engagement. It’s all about taking the leap of faith.

3. If you do want to compare between vendors, we have a solution. Seed audiences, as known in Spotler, is where you can add personal email addresses into the recipients of your campaigns. You can do this within both old and new ESPs as test accounts, don’t open or click through the emails just simply monitor the delivery of each. Before migrating to the new ESP, use your old ESP to get a few campaigns out the door to your whole list and check for delivery in the test accounts. After switching to your new ESP, do the same (make sure the campaign contents and subject line are similar) and see how delivery shapes up against the old ESP.

4. Be sure to take with you all automatic, triggered, nurture and drip campaigns with you to your new ESP. this might be a great time to review these campaigns with your sales and marketing teams to see which you want to keep, which to ditch and which to revamp. Our Spotler team will help with the warming up of your new dedicated IP.

5. The rules are there to be broken. I mean followed. No seriously, in this case, it’s important to follow the standards, guidelines and best practices set out while using any ESP. Follow the rules and you’ll have a much better chance of making it through the net, improving your deliverability and engagement rates along the way.

If deliverability is still a bit of a headache for you and your team, take a look at our interview with our deliverability manager at Spotler to get his take on the do’s and don’ts to keep you out the red zone.

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