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Debunking the myths of switching ESPs

john caldwellHaving been in the email space since 1996, Red Pill Email founder, John Caldwell, has worked on the agency side, the client side, and as a consultant, using deployment tools that range from ESPs to in-house to home-grown email systems. 

In the 20-or-so years since the birth of “Email Marketing”, myths have evolved and legends have been made; some urban, some not. Having been around Email Marketing that long I’ve had the opportunity to see some of that evolution first-hand.  Many began as a grain of truth before morphing into some of today’s Urban Legends of Email Marketing.  I think that we’re at the point now that with so many myths some might warrant their own categories.  And in that spirit I’d like to address some of my favorite myths on switching ESPs.

Myth 1: A machine can help me pick the best ESP for my company.

Oh, were it that easy….  As we all know the “machine” is just a query on top of a database and is only as accurate as the data it contains and who is doing the querying – just like any other spreadsheet.  Who is updating this database and how often?  And what about query restrictions, because there will always be restrictions.  Data matching web sites, like dating, real estate, or financial/loan sites have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and more on their data matching engines; ESP selection tools not so much.

Myth 2: It’s going to improve/damage my deliverability.

If you’re on a shared IP address, or under a damaged IP range, changing vendors might help improve (or damage) your deliverability.  If you’ve been on a dedicated IP and have deliverability problems the fault is yours.  It’s not uncommon to see a dip in deliverability when changing IP addresses or sometimes vendors.  New IP addresses should usually be “warmed up” before one starts sending in earnest, and warming an IP can usually take a few weeks.  Some vendors keep a bank of “pre-warmed” IP addresses so that new users can get a jump on the warming process.

Sometimes a new ESP account can feel like getting a new toy on your birthday; batteries not included.  Small-market vendors can turn accounts on immediately, so it seems a little silly that up-market vendors can’t.  Granted, dedicated IP addresses take a little more to set up than just dumping a new user on to a shared IP, but how long does it really need to take before a new user can start sending email?  Adestra knows that the first step in setting you up for success is setting up your account quickly and sending email as quickly as possible.

Myth 3: I’m going to lose/improve my reporting.

In 2015 you shouldn’t see a large discrepancy in metrics measurement. If you’re metrics go way up or way down there is a problem, and maybe that’s why you decided to switch vendors. Several years ago the Email Experience Council developed a set of standards for the calculations behind email metrics.  Since then, leading ESPs from around the world have implemented those standards on their platforms.  Improving reporting should be more than metrics; it should include easy and effective ways to use that information to drive additional messages and campaigns.

With the right vendor, what begins as a report can be easily turned into a campaign that reduces the typical time to market because the data is right there, right now.  Marketers are always talking about “actionable data”, but for too many of them the opportunity passes by the time action is taken.  With Adestra’s advanced reporting features it’s quick and easy to turn reports into refined data to immediately support campaigns as opportunities are presented.

Myth 4: I can’t afford the learning curve.

It’s true that some platforms are objectively easier to operate than others. For example, “drag and drop” is infinitely easier than operating from the command line, and the trend these days is in the direction of drag-and-drop.  Here’s a little secret: all platforms have a built-in perpetual learning curve and that’s a good thing. You want a platform that’s always introducing new features and functions, even if you’ll never use them; a platform that’s always being updated is one that’s not stuck in insert-year-here.

Here’s another little secret: most mid and enterprise market vendors have Professional Services resources that can help you get around that curve quickly so that you can focus on advancing your messaging with the platform skills you’ve acquired through the process.

When an objective 3rd party like the UK’s Institute of Customer Service presents you with their “Satisfaction Award for Customer Focus” you’re probably doing something right.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a full or self-service user, or somewhere in between, you’ll find Adestra has some of the finest service and support – and quickest response times – you can find in an ESP.

Obviously this isn’t an all-inclusive list of myths and misconceptions about switching ESPs – you’re probably thinking of a few others right now – these are just a few that seem to be popping up more frequently lately.

Switching ESPs can often feel overwhelming, but don’t let it intimidate you or make you nervous; just break it into manageable pieces, partner with your new provider, and the switch will be a memory before you know it.

About John

Experienced in integrated email marketing and operations, John has worked with a number of major clients that include Teleflora, eHarmony, Experian Consumer Direct (, LegalZoom, eFax, WebEx, Palm, and more.

He is a Member of the Email Experience Council of the Direct Marketing Association, serving as Chair of the Marketing & Membership Subcommittee for 2013-2014, Co-Chair of the Email Measurement Accuracy Roundtable/Advisory Board from 2009 through 2013, a member of the Speakers Bureau, a MAC Committee member, and member of the former Career Paths Roundtable.  He is a Member of the Direct Marketing Association and of Marketing Sherpa.  Named as one of the “50 Marketing Leaders over 50 You Should Know” in the May 2013 edition of Global CMO Magazine, John is always flattered when referred to as an email marketing expert, however tends to think of himself more as a practitioner.