How to tell if you’ve outgrown your current provider.
When it comes to email marketing, the time-tested age-old saying rings true:
Your emails are only as good as the service provider sending them.
*OK, this isn’t really a time-tested age-old saying, but it should be.
Listen, it’s no surprise that email is a cornerstone of any strong marketing and communication strategy. That’s because your emails are a direct line of communication with your audience, AND you have total control over them.
However, you may not be getting the most out of your email marketing efforts, and it all has to do with your email service provider (ESP).
While things have probably been running smoothly for quite some time (or smooth-ish), you may start noticing unanticipated limitations or once-minor frustrations pile up — all things akin to growing pains after you’ve been sending emails for a while.
When your email efforts and strategy expand, so do your needs as an email marketer, and your current provider may no longer be meeting the mark.
But how do you know if it’s time to switch? That’s where this post comes in. To help with your decision-making, we’ve compiled a list of nine signs you’ve outgrown your current provider, and it’s time to explore other options for your email marketing.
What’s holding you back from switching ESPs?
Before we dive into the signs, it’s time to switch. It’s important to address the elephant in the room and call out what’s most likely holding you back from starting this conversation in the first place.
So, what’s the biggest hesitation when it comes to switching ESPs? The answer may surprise you… it’s TIME.
- The time you’ve already invested with your current provider.
- The time it takes to research different options.
- The time it takes to learn a new app.
- AND the time required to migrate, replicate, and set everything up in a new provider.
We get it – time is money. It’s one of the most important investments you make every single day. So, if your current provider is working (or working-ish), is it even worth the time to switch?
But, could you actually save time by switching ESPs? Most likely, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to making do with the minor frustrations and inconveniences or manual tasks you complete regularly.
Regardless, time is a big factor in deciding whether or not to change ESPs, and we would be remiss not to acknowledge that. So, with that said, take your time and read through all nine signs below. Keep track of how many apply to your current situation, because if it’s more than 3, you’re well past time for an upgrade.
Nine signs it’s time to switch ESPs:
1. Poor Deliverability Rates and Reputation
It doesn’t matter how pretty your emails are or how spectacular the content is if they aren’t getting to your subscribers. This is why deliverability is one of the most critical elements in the success of your email marketing efforts.
Refresher: Deliverability is the processes and protocols that ensure your emails reach subscribers’ inboxes.
You can read all about deliverability here.
If you notice that your emails are consistently ending up in spam folders — or aren’t even reaching the inbox at all — it’s a clear sign that your current ESP may have deliverability issues. And because this can have a detrimental impact on all of your email-related goals, it’s time to consider other options.
2. Low Open and Click-Through Rates
Low engagement may be due to your provider not helping you engage your audience effectively. Engagement rates help gauge your audience’s interest in your email campaigns, and features such as targeting, support, and campaign metrics all work to help boost these rates.
Low engagement rates, such as open and click-through rates, are also a cousin to poor deliverability rates or improper authentication — all things to check with your current provider when rooting out the cause of your issue.
Regardless, if you’re noticing drops in engagement, it’s worth exploring the features available from different providers.
3. Lack of Reporting and Analytics
Successful email marketing relies on real-time data. For example, do you know which email you sent last month had the highest engagement? Or how about which of your subscription forms is performing the best?
Real-time reporting is essential when it comes to tracking the performance of your campaigns, measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), and making informed decisions. If your current ESP doesn’t offer robust reporting and analytics, you’re likely missing out on the opportunity to optimize your email marketing strategy. Data-driven decision making, FTW.
4. Limited Features and Functionality
As you grow, your email marketing needs evolve, including the features and functionality needed to accomplish your goals. What helped you get started with your email marketing may not help you fully reach your potential in the long term.
If your current provider lacks essential features like automation, advanced segmentation, or A/B testing, it might be time to switch to a more comprehensive platform. The absence of these features, or other desired features and functionality, can limit your ability to create targeted, personalized, and effective email campaigns. And those limitations also limit your growth and revenue potential, as well.
5. Insufficient Customer Support
Good customer support is invaluable when you encounter an issue or need help with your email campaigns. If your current provider’s support team is unresponsive, lacks helpful resources, or is only available for select pricing tiers, it can double the frustration you experience when trouble or questions arise.
A good support team is not only experts in their products but also in the field of email marketing. They can answer your questions and regularly create and update available resources to help you along the way.
Stellar customer support goes above and beyond to help and empower you to take the reins and own your email marketing. If your frustrations are piling up regarding support, consider switching to a provider with a reputation for excellent customer support.
6. High, Hidden, Surprising, or Burdensome Costs
Email marketing costs can add up quickly, especially as your subscriber list grows or you increase your mailing frequency. Not to mention that the hidden fees and overages many ESPs tack on can also seriously strain your marketing budget.
If you’ve noticed a significant cost increase without a corresponding increase in value or functionality, it’s worth reviewing your current provider’s pricing structure and exploring more cost-effective options.
7. Limited Integration Options
You’re probably using more than one tool, application, or platform in your marketing strategy and, therefore, having to connect or transfer data from one to the other manually. Not only is this time-consuming, but it increases the likelihood of data gaps and inefficiencies — neither of which you need.
Integrations allow you to easily share and transfer data from one app to another, automating and maximizing your efforts. Your ESP should offer direct and indirect integrations (Zapier) to help you streamline your efforts, freeing up your time so you can focus on list and revenue-growing actions.
8. Scaling Challenges
Scalability is vital to meet and exceed your needs as an email marketer and support your growth. Are you sending greater volumes of emails regularly? Are these greater volumes hurting your deliverability or performance? And how about your campaigns – have they become more complex regarding templates, layouts, or media included?
These growth indicators can easily cause scalability challenges for your email marketing platform. Your email marketing platform should be able to handle increased volumes and complex campaigns without compromising performance. If your current provider struggles with scalability, it may be time to explore other options.
9. Frequent Downtime or Technical Issues
Frequent service outages, downtime, or technical glitches are frustrating and can completely disrupt your email marketing schedule and damage your brand’s reputation.
Your provider should be a reliable, robust, and stable platform to ensure uninterrupted communication with your audience. While minor outages and unexpected downtimes happen occasionally with all online systems, clear communication and frequent status updates are vital when these situations arise. (This circles back to the stellar customer support item above!)
If you find technical issues recurring and communication with support or your provider about them is lacking, it’s an excellent time to consider switching to a more reliable provider.
Steps to take when you’re ready to switch.
If, after reading through the list above, you know you’ve outgrown your current ESP and it’s time to switch providers, take the steps below to help make the migrations and transition as smooth as possible.
Step 1 – Take stock of everything you currently have going on. Be sure to note any of the following:
- email campaigns
- email lists
- subscription forms
- tags and custom fields
This gives you a better idea of the scope of your email marketing and creates a full picture of anything that will need to be replicated in the new provider. This list also offers an opportunity for you to decide what you want to continue with or stop doing.
We recommend keeping this list as accurate as possible for the remaining steps.
Important note: When you switch ESPs, the images, links, and archives of previously sent campaigns will oftentimes only be available for a limited time after you cancel your account. This is known as asset retention. Different ESPs have different timeframes. They retain assets of canceled accounts. At FeedBlitz, for example, we retain all client’s assets for 90 days. It’s always a good idea to double-check this when making a switch!
Step 2 – Evaluate email service providers. There are plenty of ESPs and email newsletter services on the market. Organize your search and evaluation by focusing first on these four areas:
- Your email marketing needs and goals.
- Your budget.
- The reputation of an ESP — both online and sending.
- The available features, services, and support that the email provider offers.
Step 3 – Reach out to a few ESP’s support teams. Many support teams are often happy to answer any specific questions you have, talk shop about email strategy, and evaluate your use cases compared to their available features. Also, inquire about migration services they may have. Have your list from Step 1 on hand to give a comprehensive scope of your current strategy and efforts.
Step 4 – Start a free trial while your current operation is underway. Trust us on this one. Use a test sample of your list and run campaigns simultaneously to get a complete comparison picture. This way, you’ll see deliverability, engagement, features, and data reports for both providers to compare easily. Free trials also allow you to interact with their support teams and resources, gaining insight into how technical questions are handled.
Know when it’s time to make a change.
Recognizing the signs you’ve outgrown your current ESP and that it’s time to make a change is crucial for ensuring the continued success of your email marketing campaigns.
Up to this point, what’s worked for your email marketing has served you well, but it may not do you justice in taking your goals to the next level. Whether you’re dealing with deliverability challenges, rising costs, or limited features, switching providers can bring new life into your email efforts.
Are you ready to switch ESPs and think FeedBlitz could fit you well? Head to this page to start your free trial. Questions? Feel free to reach out with any questions through our Support Page. While live support is available Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM Eastern, you can always find helpful information 24-7 at the resources linked here.