Why and how to switch e-mail service providers

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In a perfect world, your e-mail service provider is flexible, responsive to your needs, knowledgeable of new technology and cost effective. It is not a perfect world, and working with an e-mail vendor can be frustrating as you negotiate contracts and customize service plans. Abandoning the vendor and moving to another bigger, faster, cheaper or closer provider is not always the best answer. There are more than 100 e-mail service providers (ESPs) selling their services in the market today, and all of them are on the hunt for new customers.
Taking the time to evaluate your options will prevent getting locked into an annual contract with a vendor that doesn’t fit your needs. Following are “decision points,” factors that make it worth your while to consider finding a new ESP.

  • You are made to share an IP address with any of your ESP’s other clients. If so, there is no distinction between the two companies. Organizations don’t get blacklisted, the IP associated with the organization does.
  • Your ESP cannot handle the volume of e-mail you send.
  • The ESP does not provide high-level features to create one-to-one campaigns, or makes you pay a premium for them.
  • You cannot integrate with a third-party system.
  • Your ESP’s customer service is lacking.
  • You pay a premium to send HTML-formatted e-mail.
  • You are locked into a service contract.
  • You are required to send a minimum amount of e-mail per month.
  • You paid a set-up fee just for turning on your account.
  • You pay upfront to send e-mail without getting a discount.
  • Your current ESP charges high fees for inadequate training.
    On the other hand, if you have low delivery rates or your campaigns are not garnering the response you hoped or planned for, don’t assume it is the vendor’s fault. For as many reasons as there are to look for a new provider, there are also key reasons to stay.
  • Have you updated your lists? If you don’t take steps to maintain and update your list, your campaigns may not succeed.
  • Are you just trying to save money? Because cheaper isn’t always better.

How to Make the Switch
If the reasons to find a new vendor are compelling enough to warrant a search, use the following guidelines.

  • Gather data on your current
    e-marketing efforts and discuss what was lacking with your previous vendor. Consider what type of service you need, how flexible your budget is and what kind of partnership you want. 
  • Plan out your search. Ask your colleagues and friends. Request references from professional associations and listservs.
  • Export invalid (bounced) e-mail address and opt outs from old ESP and import to new ESP.
  • Export and set up templates to keep consistency and implement a seamless transition for customers or members.
  • Make sure you are looking for an ESP that offers DNS configuration — DNS configuration allows e-mail to be sent from your domain instead of your ESP’s. Reverse DNS legitimizes this process allowing mail servers to identify this domain and who it belongs to increasing deliverability and preventing “spoofing.”
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