EmaillIconThinking about changing your email marketing platform (EMP)? It’s a relatively common project these days for small- and medium-sized businesses who have outgrown their old platform. If it’s something you’re contemplating or planning for, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Data migration:

It goes without saying that you’ll want to transfer your email list, but the other data you’ve compiled on your old EMP is valuable, too. Consider whether you need to preserve reports, timestamps and other data that might be valuable in future analyses. In many cases it’s worth dumping the last year’s worth of campaign reports into Excel files or PDFs so you’ll have them if you need them. If you’re able to preserve the data in tabular format, all the better. Then you have even more flexibility when you want to compare performance between old and new EMPs.

2. Preserve opt-out data

It’s critical (and a legal requirement) that you preserve the preference of any email recipient who has opted out of receiving email from your organization. Make sure that you know how this data is recorded in your old EMP, and that you have a clear plan for replicating that data in the new EMP. Then test new segmentation rules thoroughly to ensure that opt-out preferences are being honored.

3. Update your SPF record

The ‘Sender Policy Framework’ record in your DNS settings are important for ensuring high deliverability of your email. This record contains the list of IP addresses that are authorized to deliver email from your domain. Make sure this record is correct and updated to reflect the new EMP.

4. Update websites and processes

Make sure you have a complete inventory of forms and links that point to your old EMP, and then update them accordingly. This applies not only to ‘subscribe’ forms and messages, but also anything supporting email preference setting and unsubscribing. Be sure to avoid having your customer-facing email preference forms pointing at your old EMP because any unsubscribe requests will not be recorded on the new, active platform.

5. Kimono open or closed?

By making the above changes you’re likely to enjoy a smooth transition to your new EMP. However, if you’re faced with a situation where you can’t keep your current ‘from’ email address as the ‘from’ address in your new EMP (or some other more involved transition), you may want to consider telling your email recipients about the transition before it happens. It would give them a chance to whitelist your new ‘from’ address before you start using, improving your deliverability percentages.

But you may be able to do the transition to your new EMP without much noise. Some lists are very sensitive to email that does not conform to the usual subject matter, so a ‘heads-up’ email may be enough to scare away a few recipients.* Some lists love that kind of transparent communication and engenders loyalty among recipients. You’ll know best how your people may react, and whether to make them aware of the transition or not.

* As a side-note, don’t be afraid to scare away recipients who are barely tolerating receiving your email in the first place. Ideally your email list is comprised of people who brighten up when they see your email in their inbox. They are the most active and valuable members of your community. Spend your energy bringing in more recipients like that, and worry less about losing a few skeptics.