Moving On: Your Essential Email Delivery Migration Guide

email service provider migration guide

Today you’re gonna learn how an email vendor migration is a lot like moving to a new home—including the reasons for moving, as well as the pains and frustrations that come along with it. In this article, we’ll help you understand the benefits of email migration from one email delivery vendor to another. We’ll also guide you through the process to ensure your next email migration is a total success.

Let’s get started.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the average American moves 11 times within their life. Over 37 million Americans — about 1/9th of the population — changed residences between 2013 & 2014 alone. In 2019, the moving industry was valued at over $86 billion. While these numbers are impressive, the sheer number of headaches, worry, and stress caused by moving is incalculable. With so many steps involved, all while continuing your normal way of life, it’s a small wonder people decide to move at all. Yet almost 28 million people moved in 2021.

By now you might be thinking, “What does moving from my home have to do with email?”

Simply put, the reasons for—along with the pains/frustrations of—migrating your email program from one email service provider (or ESP) to another are akin to moving your household.

Phase 1: Realizing the Need for Change

From your current home being too small or the amenities not meeting your needs to your neighborhood changing or a new opportunity bringing the chance to move to a new city, there are countless reasons and factors to be considered when deciding to move.

The same can be said for moving email service providers (or ESPs). As your business grows, you may notice your current ESP isn’t scaling with you. Or your ESP isn’t flexible enough for your true needs. You’ve been overlooking the fact that their metrics won’t drill down enough to explore your sending, but to make matters worse, their support team always seems to be M.I.A. At some point, you’ll decide “enough is enough”. It’s time to move.

What is email migration?

Email migration is the process of moving from one email delivery provider to another, such as from SendGrid or Sparkpost to SocketLabs. When you change providers, your email templates, contacts, and other data must be transferred between email services.

Just like when you’re moving from a smaller to larger home, if you have a small contact list and a very straightforward email program, your email migration can be pretty easy. If you have thousands of users, integrated software, or marketing automation sequences and segmentation rules to consider, things can get complicated, fast.

Despite the challenges, there are many reasons why a business might choose to switch email providers, including:

Reasons for Moving Your Home

You’ve outgrown your home.

Don’t like your neighbors, and the area where you live seems to be getting worse.

You’ve found a new opportunity in a different city, offering a better quality of life for your family.

Your property manager won’t fix anything, and they barely even return your calls when something’s wrong.

Mowing the grass isn’t your thing. You love how great your house looks when the lawn is well maintained, but your list of chores is already too long.

You can’t afford the mortgage, HOA fees, etc. and seek a home that better suits your needs (and budget).

Reasons for Moving Your Email Program

Your ESP can’t handle your volume.

Your mail is often blocked out of nowhere due to spammers abusing the platform.

You crave an email delivery service providing a better, more timely user experience for your customers via email.

Your ESP isn’t available when you need them, and support offers few solutions beyond “upgrade”.

Your growing email program is distracting you from what’s really important to your business. You need to minimize disruptions, now.

You seek a more affordable provider offering consulting services to help you better leverage the email channel, without outpacing your costs.

What are the benefits of email migration?

There are multiple types of email delivery infrastructure you can choose from, including options to send from the cloud or an on-premises mail transfer agent (or MTA). There is also a newer hybrid option allowing you to have the security and flexibility of an on-premises solution, paired with the expertise and benefits of email delivery managed in the cloud.

We delved into the benefits & challenges of the various email delivery infrastructure options available on the marketing today in our post on How to Choose the Right Email Infrastructure for Your Business.

Depending on the type of email infrastructure you choose, some of the benefits of email migration include:

Improved Reliability

Whether you’re adding a second email delivery provider for redundancy purposes or migrating all traffic to the new provider, ensuring marketing campaigns as well as highly important transactional emails such as password resets, purchase confirmations or any other time-sensitive content arrive without delay should be top of your list for a new provider.

Ease of Use

Wish your email program worked without having to think about it so much? Look for a vendor with an intuitive interface, or one providing higher levels of customer support, allowing you to stay focused on your business instead of worrying about inbox placement.

Reduced Cost

Email migration is a great time to re-assess how your email program works and if your costs are worth the spend. For example, if you’re living in a mansion but only using 1 of the wings, it may be time to downgrade. Even just considering an email migration can also be an effective way to negotiate a better price or more favorable terms with your existing provider.

Greater Efficiency for Your Business

Deliverability issues are a huge distraction. And trouble hitting the inbox means missed revenue targets and all the stress that comes with it. Migrating to a fully managed email delivery service like SocketLabs’ Concierge ensures you get to stay focused on your business while our team quickly identifies and works with you to resolve your issues.

Our Concierge plan includes access to enterprise-level support at a fraction of the cost, including migration services to assist with your email migration process, regular access to experts providing ongoing guidance on email infrastructure and deliverability, and proactive insights to optimize ROI and the efficiency of your marketing efforts with email.

If you’re feeling the pain of a lack of resources when it comes to your email program, then SocketLabs’ Concierge Service might be for you »

Phase 2: Finding and Closing on Your Dream Home

The discovery process of finding a new home can be time-consuming. Whether you work with a realtor or go it alone, you must consider the neighborhood, your commute, the schools, the size and cost of the new home, and what amenities add up to “the perfect home”. Before you even start looking, you need to decide what’s important to you: A two-car garage? A home office or exercise room? A large yard or open floor plan for the kids? Friendly neighbors? Not having to pay for a homeowner’s association (HOA)?

Similarly, in switching ESPs, you need to understand which vendors and plans have the features most important to you. Strong deliverability? An intuitive UI? Reporting you can understand? Someone who picks up the phone when you need help?

Whether you engage a consulting service to help you find the right ESP for you or research new providers on your own, there are several questions you’ll want to consider before finalizing your decision.

Key questions to ask before choosing a new email delivery service

Over the years, we’ve helped email senders resolve a variety of email issues including messages being rejected when sending to valid addresses, email data causing blocklistings and elevated spam complaint rates, emails being routed to the spam folder with Gmail accounts, and so much more.

Here is a list of questions we suggest thinking about before determining if an email migration project should be added to your team’s roadmap:

What goals are we looking to achieve with our email program?

List out all the things you are hoping to achieve through your email marketing efforts, including big and small outcomes. Our recommendation is to create SMART goals, which will ensure your objectives are measurable and achievable within a certain time frame.

What essential features or services are required to achieve our goals with email?

Involve all your key stakeholders in answering this one to ensure you capture the existing needs of your business as well as future needs (for example, supporting AMP for Email).

What challenges are we looking to overcome by migrating to a new email provider?

Are you facing problems hitting the inbox? Need to send large volumes of very important emails in short bursts? Do you desire better access to customer support when issues come up? Is your team lacking the technical expertise to set up your MX record & DNS authentication and manage a robust email program? Consider all potential roadblocks preventing you from hitting your goals. When in doubt, check out this RFP Calculator, prompting you with several questions to help determine whether an email vendor migration should be in your future. And speaking of RFPs…

Should we partake in a formal email request for proposal (or RFP) process?

Once you’ve listed out your needs and current challenges, you’ll be ready to start investigating new email delivery providers. does a great job of curating this information for you, but if your email program is complex or revenue from email is important to your business, you may want to consider an RFP to ensure you select the right email vendor for your business. The email RFP process is designed for purchasers to collect information about various email service providers, including available features and services, and pricing. RFPs are typically reserved for large brands with a complex email program, however by answering questions 1-3 above, you should be able to determine if engaging in one is necessary.

What needs to be prepared prior to email migration?

We’ll dig further into your actual migration plan in the next section, but during your email vendor selection process, consider all the things you’ll have to move, and change, and rebuild when you get to your new home. Ensure you speak with all affected teams here, starting with marketing operations, to ensure all important factors for the migration have been identified. If you’re unsure what needs to be prepared, keep reading! Also consider engaging with implementation or vendor selection specialists such as EmailNinjas or EmailConnect who can provide you with guidance on features, services, and vendors to consider, and connect you with the best providers to meet your specific email needs.

Phase 3: Packing and Preparing for an Email Service Migration

One of the most stressful moments in moving is packing. Realizing exactly how much “stuff” you have can be overwhelming. You go room by room, taking inventory, filling boxes, wrapping fragile items, deciding what to keep and what toss, labeling boxes to make sure they go to the right room, and so much more.

With email, it’s the same. Taking inventory of every facet of your email program and realizing all that needs to be migrated can make accepting your current situation seem very attractive, even if it’s ineffective and not meeting your expectations. Some questions you may have looming in your head include:

  • How exactly do you prep for an email migration while continuing to send in real time—without any downtime?
  • What needs to be done to minimize data loss and make sure all metrics are being met?
  • How do you ensure your emails reach user mailboxes instead of getting blocked by Microsoft Outlook or Gmail for missing some essential step you weren’t aware of?

Tips on how to do email migration to a new email provider

Every email program is different. And being properly prepared for your mail migration is the key to its success. As a result, every migration requires a curated approach to ensure things run smoothly. But just as realty and moving companies have made the experience of moving to a new home as pain-free as possible, we have a few tips for performing a successful email migration.

Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time.

Email migration is a necessary part of growing your email program. While there are migration scenarios where you may feel you need to switch providers quickly, be thoughtful and intentional with the choices you make. A cutover migration on the day your contract ends will not end well for you or your email audience. Instead, identify all the steps you need to take before cancelling your current email service. Ideally you have 2-3 months of overlap, if not longer. At minimum, you may be required to maintain both providers for 30 days to satisfy unsubscribe management requirements mandated by local and/or global email legislation.

Do not skip the planning phase!

Once you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on the contract, you may already have a plan for what steps are needed to move in as soon as possible. For a house, it could be as simple as painting a few rooms, or as massive as a total renovation. Add in changing all your utilities, your mailing address, your cable/internet, etc… When migrating your email platform, the plan can be harder to map out. How do you decide who should be trained on what? Who will handle the training? Who sets up the account and ensures everything is just as you want it? Who migrates all your data? And once it’s all set up, will your emails reach the inbox? It’s time consuming to ramp down sending on your old platform and ramp up on your new platform at the same time. You don’t want to find yourself migrating again next year because you rushed through the planning and prepping phases or chose the wrong provider. So, work with your new email delivery vendor to plan the ideal migration for your program. If they can’t be reached for help with this, consider if they’re actually the right provider for you.

Take everything with you.

Purging unnecessary data and contact lists when you move is always a good thing, but keep anything you think may be useful. Even if you haven’t used that marketing automation sequence recently, realize once your old vendor contract is cancelled, it’s gone forever. So, during your data migration, take anything you think you might use in the future, from an active directory of subscribers to campaign reporting, suppression files, automation sequences and even outdated templates you thought you’d never use again. Download everything into batches you can store within your CRM, or even just export csv files and screen shots of what was in place. You can always delete them later if they’re not needed.

Plan for the unexpected.

Email is complex, and so are email vendor migrations! Instead of simply hoping for the best, we suggest actually expecting some things to go wrong—and working with your new vendor to create contingency plans to ensure you’re able to overcome those challenges quickly, with minimal stress and business impact.

We know, this seems like a lot. But it can be done by taking things one step at a time. If you’re planning to manage the email migration process on your own, be sure to follow the process outlined closely, and get your new email vendor involved in the planning.

Phase 4: Moving Day & Unpacking: Onboarding with Your New Email Provider

By now, you should have everything packed and ready to load up for the move. If you have a smaller household, buying pizza and beer for your friends while renting a truck might be an option. As the size of your home increases, the amount of stuff you have does, too. You might want to consider hiring movers instead.

Next, as your keys jingle in the lock and you’re walking over the threshold of your new home, you just see piles and piles of boxes… Everywhere… Box on top of box on top of box… Hopefully everything was labeled correctly and placed in the right room. Otherwise, you could still be searching for your favorite frying pan two months later, because it accidentally went in the box labeled “storage.”

Now let’s apply this to your email program. The big day comes when you make the switch to a new ESP. This can be a hold-your-breath moment if you’re still unsure of the workings and features of the platform. Are your SPF and DKIM properly aligned? Did you apply the suppression file from your last provider?

As your first campaigns begin, you wait and watch to see where your emails are landing. What if something goes wrong? Who will you call? Will their support team be ready to handle your questions? These are all questions you’ll want to have sorted out well before you sign a new email vendor contract or hit “Send’.

Phase 5: Settling into your New Life in a New Home

Once your move is complete and you’re enjoying your new home, there will always be something to maintain. Oftentimes, it’s an unexpected issue that could be costly. A busted water heater. A clogged drain. The roof starts to leak. You need to find the time, energy, and money, along with the right experts to make the repairs.

The same can be said of sending email. Everything might look good on the surface, but issues can arise preventing you from reaching your email audience. Say a new client incorrectly enters their email address into your form and you hit a spam trap. Or spam complaints go through the roof, even though you aren’t aware of anything that’s changed on your end. Someone on your team needs to identify the issue, create a plan to fix it, and then actually go fix the issue; all while carrying on with their normal duties.

As you can imagine, this can lead to distractions, stress, and a greater loss of revenue for your business if your team is not equipped to investigate or solve issues with email data quality, authentication, inbox placement, or email strategy.

The good news? Email migration is easier with SocketLabs’ Concierge

As you’ve worked your way through this article, you may have started wondering: what if I could hire one company to do it all? They’d come in, inventory your home, carefully pack up your belongings, load up their trucks, haul everything to your new home, unpack and organize exactly how you want it.

That’s what our SocketLabs Concierge Solution is all about. Making your email migration away from the frustrating, confusing, and underperforming email infrastructure you’re using now to our robust platform as painless, stress-free, and successful as possible—with email delivery and infrastructure experts there to hold your hand through every step of your journey, including migration and beyond!

If you’re feeling the pain of a lack of resources when it comes to your email program, then SocketLabs’ Concierge Service might be for you » Let’s talk about it and find out.

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