The Science of Switching to a New Email Service Provider (ESP) in 2021
Written by
Tanishq Juneja
Tanishq Juneja

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The Science of Switching to a New Email Service Provider (ESP) in 2021

Published : June 4, 2021

Finding a new house for your family is hard. Once you find it, you make it warm, and comfortable so that the whole family can live happily. Time passes by and it becomes your little haven. You live, sleep, eat, and drink in the same house. Now imagine, after a few years when the lease is set to expire, the landlord is not willing to extend; he has other plans. He gives you the option to move into another house that he owns- it may not turn out to be the perfect for you.

You’re not happy about this whole turn of events and you now have two options to choose from, move into the house your owner is asking you to, or search for another one from the countless, known and unknown options out there.

It is precisely the kind of situation that the Bronto ESP clients find themselves in today. Oracle has announced an end of life status for Bronto from May 2022. It will suspend all their services from the said time frame. What does it mean for a Bronto client like you? 

The Bronto clients now have to evaluate and choose their next ESP from almost innumerable options. They are rightly concerned and have several anxious questions. Whenever you want to consider switching your ESP, let us help you navigate through the entire process: from evaluation to post migration success checks, and everything else in between. 

Here’s a resourceful webinar hosted by email experts at Netcore and Christopher Marriott, an expert analyst in the global MarTech vendor landscape. They explore the factors that businesses need to consider while finding a new ESP, ways to prioritize the benefits and the problems you’d face while migrating from your old provider to a new one. These experts also recommend best practices and solutions that enable you to choose the right ESP for your requirements.

Watch “The Science of Switching an ESP in 2021”

Chaitanya Chinta (CC), Global Business Head- Email, at Netcore says, “Numerous Bronto clients we’ve spoken to have shown the inclination to move to a new ESP, Today we’ll discuss a set of questions they would have while choosing a new ESP. 

Jumping right in, when you’re trying to pick a new ESP, there are a bunch of things you need to look into. On a higher level you need to look into the advanced features of the ESP, AI/ML capabilities, personalization, STO, other models and functionalities that drive a better ROI or increas the lifetime value, and the kind of support you would want to receive. You would need to consider if you want just the product or also the services beyond the product? You would also want to look into the depth of real-time analytics for your internal use. Inbox placement of your emails after the migration should however be of paramount importance. You would want a smooth as butter transition without any negative effect on inbox placement”

When you’re trying to pick a new ESP, there are many things that you need to consider, and those need to include all the available capabilities. Here’s a checklist of critical variables and factors for your ESP shopping.

Checklist for your ESP shopping:

1. AI/ML capabilities

AI/ML is just not another buzz word in the email industry, it’s a game-changer. Your new ESP needs to have AI capabilities. AI empowers you to do a range of things that ensure your deliveries are more fast, more efficient, and get more engagement.

Send Time Optimization: STO is an AI capability that delivers emails to your customers’ inboxes right when it is most likely to be seen, thus increasing the chances of your email being opened, and increasing the ROI.

AI Personalization: Your new ESP should have an AI personalization engine that personalizes emails to your audience, that lets you personalize your emails and deliver exactly what your customer would want to see.

AI Segmentation: Just like any other data, your audience list has patterns too. Based on your audience’s behavior, your new ESP’s AI needs to find meaningful patterns in the data that will enable you to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. 

AI Predictive churn: Churn is inevitable, but you can predict churn and take the right course of action in time with the right tools. Your new ESP needs to have the AI-powered predictive churn capability for you to devise retention strategies for the “about to churn” segment.

2. High inbox placement

Inbox placement: It sounds like a no-brainer to choose an ESP with high inbox placement, but you’d be surprised with the number of businesses that still entertain ESPs with low inbox placement. Due to various reasons, not all ESPs are equipped to deliver high-volume emails to the inbox. You need to view their average inbox placement and email deliverability time, particularly if you send time-sensitive emails.

Downtime: Email is critical for many businesses, your time is money, literally if you use emails for time-sensitive information. Any downtime at your ESP’s end will make it hard for you to send emails. Your new ESP definitely needs to have minimal downtime.

3. Excellent support

There is a good reason why we put excellent support in this checklist, you wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you need support and don’t get it on time. As we said, time is money for businesses using email as the primary form of communication. Your new ESP needs to have an excellent record for support, read about their clients’ experiences and, talk to them if possible before making your decision.

4. Consulting services

Sending an email is easy, but sending an email right is hard. You will need email experts to help you devise an email strategy for you. An actionable email strategy is a must for you to make sure you maintain extraordinary deliverability rates every time you send an email.

5. Real-time analytics

Almost all ESPs collect data through various touch points, but the treasure lies in how your ESP derives the insights and puts them into action. Your new ESP should be able to give an in-depth idea about your audience behavior and, the funnel conversions and display them on actionable dashboards.

Further in the conversation, Chris says “You could choose to stay with Oracle and let them migrate you to Responsys, but Bronto and Responsys are extremely different platforms. I would consider Bronto as a mid-market platform and Responsys as an excellent enterprise platform. Responsys has way more horsepower, and complexity, and is very different from Bronto. If you’re not going to go with Oracle for any of those reasons, you need to have a plan to switch to a new ESP. You could however include Responsys into your evaluation process along with many other ESPs for a thorough research.”

“You need to get started with the RFP process right now, as switching your ESP takes time, and it involves evaluation, negotiation, migration, success tests etc. If you’re waiting until the 12th month to switch, you’re most likely to be left with no platform to email from, or you’d be pushed to go with Responsys. To avoid a situation that puts you up against the wall, you need to have a plan to switch your ESP in time. I recommend you to use a scorecard to rank ESPs, based on their capabilities and other services.” – Chris adds.

Matthew explains,- “It’s really important to know what you’re looking for, and match what you’d need in two years with a new platform. So where do you want your platform to take you in the next two years?As you get ready to migrate, you will need to inventory your entire program. You’ll need to do some testing with your new platform, possibly some integration as well as a warm-up of your domain and IP’s and then meet the compliance requirements. So, we’re going to go through these seven stages here quickly to give you a general idea of what a migration takes to switch from one platform to another because as Chris mentioned you all know these things are going to happen in the twelfth month.”

  1. Investigation: You’re here in this stage learning about the requirements for migration. It should take 2 months approximately and involves analyzing your internal requirements, features of the ESP, integration possibilities with SMS or social etc.
  2. Evaluation: This stage involves analyzing ESPs in your RFP and, deploying a scorecard for buy-in from all the stakeholders. This process takes anywhere between 3-6 months. 
  3. Inventory: You need to inventory your forms, DNS records and all the data collection points. You need to start in advance so you don’t miss out on any journey, form or data collection point.
  4. Configuration and testing: You will need support from your ESP while doing this. There are multiple things you need to configure and test including forms, journeys, integrations etc.
  5. Integration: You need to integrate numerous third-party services for various purposes you think may be necessary for your business. This integration needs to be supported by your ESP and the third-party services as well.
  6. Warm-up: You cannot just start emailing high volumes right after you get your new ESP. It takes time to gradually build domain and IP reputation at your audience’s mail service provider to allow the emails and not move them to spam.
  7. Compliance: Your new ESP will need to be compliant with the data compliance laws.  

Explaining more, Matthew discusses the timing to switch to a new ESP and talks about various complications involved in switching to a new ESP in Q4. He suggests the right time to switch and answers some important questions regarding the migration process and choosing an ESP.

Finding a new house from the countless options could be a daunting task, but it’s easier if you have somebody to guide you through the entire process of searching and moving, and let you know the hiccups you could face beforehand. 

We’ve tried to accomplish precisely that for somebody trying to switch their ESP through this blog. 

Click here to watch the recording or tune into the podcast

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