We’ve all been there before: your smartphone or car is just fine until you see a new, shiny one. Enterprise marketing automation software is no different.
We see this all the time with our clients: they are perfectly content with their current email marketing platform until a new email service provider (ESP) pops up, offering all sorts of new bells and whistles that will do everything from integrating SMS delivery to providing all of the features of a full-scale CRM system.
The truth is, breaking up with your email service provider should often be a last resort. Here are some considerations to make before entering migration territory, with ways to make the most of your current email marketing provider.
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Depending on how big your list and how frequently you are sending, it can take up to several months to complete a migration to a new email service provider.
It can also be very costly, in addition to running the risk of downtime resulting from hiccups in the migration process.
We typically only recommend migration under a few circumstances:
- Financial: a client is spending more than they should on the platform and can get the same features at a lower cost from a different vendor
- Must-have feature: a vendor offers a unique killer feature that is critical to a client’s business
- Outgrown: a small to medium-size business is outgrowing a more basic platform, like Mailchimp or Constant Contact
If the above doesn’t apply to you, but you still want more out of your ESP, then read on.
Very rarely do vendors offer a one-size-fits-all email marketing solution.
Almost every platform we work with as an agency will offer a variety of add on features at an additional cost. Many vendors offer everything from SMS messaging to social media ad retargeting, to browse recovery or abandon cart that can be tacked on to your current platform.
If you’re looking for something that your current ESP does not offer, there’s a good chance that there is a third-party integration with an external app that can provide the same functionality.
Often, those external apps can be significantly less expensive, but there’s a catch: you might need to allocate additional development resources to make the integration work.
Ask any of our talented email specialists what they spend much of their time doing, and chances are they’ll answer: building complicated, highly defined segments to better target a client’s list to deliver more relevant messages.
Example: a fashion client wants to target women who live in states where it is colder who have engaged with the brand’s emails but haven’t purchased yet with an email for a discount offer on their latest jacket.
If there’s one core feature where not all ESPs are created equal, it’s segmentation capabilities. What I described above could be easily handled by some ESPs, but with others, well, not so much.
With some creative problem solving and the help of some third-party apps, like a gender API that can accurately guess a contact’s gender just from their email address, or with a geotargeting API that allows you to filter contacts by location based on their IP address, a competent Excel user could easily hack a list together to re-upload to the ESP in minutes.
Practically every ESP offers basic subject line and time of day testing capabilities.
Most will also offer content or AB testing, i.e., sending two different email creatives to the same audience to see which performs better.
If your ESP does not offer basic testing elements, there are easy workarounds:
- Take your main list you wish to send to and divide into two and re-upload as separate lists to your ESP
- Create two separate campaigns for each creative, sending each to the separate list (make sure to keep the same subject line and send time to keep the test as pure as possible)
- Track the results!
Static coupon codes are a double-edged sword.
There’s nothing worse than waking up to find out that a 50% off coupon reserved for a handful of VIP customers leaked to the many coupon code sites out there, and now hundreds of orders have been placed that your business is losing money on.
While using static coupon codes might be fine for smaller discount offers, it’s critical to be selective of who gets the steeper offers. Some ESPs will offer a coupon manager that generates unique coupon codes that you can directly insert as live HTML text into an email, ensuring that every contact you send to can only use it once.
If your ESP does not offer a unique coupon solution?
Most ESPs will let you create a unique field that you can associate with a contact’s email address. Create an Excel file with the contacts you wish to send unique codes to, create your own unique codes in the next column and re-upload.
With a little bit of HTML logic and some testing, you’ve now created your own coupon code management system.
This might not surprise you, but your current ESP vendor probably wants to keep you as a customer.
If you’re not satisfied with your current ESP, contact your account manager and ask how they can help you implement the features you want, or if there are workarounds to get the same result.
At Tinuiti, we’re an ESP-agnostic agency. We never push clients to migrate ESPs when it doesn’t make sense for them. We want to make our clients’ current email marketing platforms do as much as possible to deliver value.
And with our literal hundreds of years of collective email marketing experience across every platform imaginable, we’ve been known to work some ecommerce magic.
If you’re still stuck in an ESP rut, get in touch with our CRM & Email team.