If ever there was a message that screamed, “Time for spring cleaning!” Bronto Software users just got one.
Bronto end of life has arrived.
Bronto’s parent company, Oracle Netsuite, sent an email to clients recently announcing it had put the email marketing platform on “end-of-life” status and that it would end support for it on May 31, 2022.
As a result, Bronto clients are going to have to switch to some other marketing platform, whether it’s under the Oracle Netsuite umbrella or somewhere else. They’re going to have to make up their minds quickly. A year is a blink of an eye when it comes to an email service provider (ESP) migration.
The time to start preparing is now.
One of the most important places to start preparations is by exercising email list hygiene. There’s no time to start email list cleaning like spring.
While having clean data and maintaining actionable intelligence on that data are always important initiatives, they are critical when switching email marketing platforms.
When a marketer signs on with a new ESP, typically they start sending mail from a new IP with no email reputation. As a result, each ESP has a warming-up process for new clients to help them avoid triggering spam filters.
The warming-up process works best when it starts by sending to the marketer’s best-performing email addresses.
The thing is, the new ESP won’t necessarily know what addresses are the best to start with because the institutional memory the previous vendor had with the client is gone.
“Anytime someone switches vendors, or ESPs, that’s a scary time,” says Vince Cersosimo, co-founder and chief executive of data services firm Webbula. “Many times, the new ESP doesn’t have the data history the previous ESP had. That’s often where a service like Webbula is introduced, to give that added layer of intelligence on how a record has performed. Is it a spam trap, a disposable domain, or a bot? Is it even valid and deliverable?
“When you start with a new IP, you can’t just throw everything at it out of the gate,” says Cersosimo. “You should leverage additional insights, segment your lists properly and start with the best of the best.”
ESPs often have their own internal suppression files.
According to Cersosimo, ESPs often have their own internal suppression files that the clients aren’t even aware of. As a result, when the client migrates their data to a new ESP, they may be taking addresses with them to which the old ESP would not send email unbeknownst to them.
“Our added layer of intelligence can help with that transition process by identifying addresses that may have been correctly suppressed by the previous ESP,” says Cersosimo.
Also, there’s inactive and there’s inactive. Over the years, some email professionals have recommended cleaning addresses that haven’t been clicked on or opened in a certain period of time. This advice ignores the branding effect unopened emails can have and the likelihood that some unopened emails drive sales from people who saw the “from” and “subject” line and simply headed straight to the sender’s site.
It is important to get an idea why the unopened emails are unopened so the sender can remove only the inactive addresses that really need to be removed.
“Data changes over time,” says Cersosimo. “Maybe they were using the address a year ago, but now they’ve changed jobs, changed service providers or are deceased. Keeping up with changes in email activity is really important.”
I think people underestimate the pain of having deliverability issues until they have them,” says Cersosimo. “When HR can’t send an email to a new hire, for example, that’s a big problem.”
Marco Marini, chief operating officer at ESP iPost, is a strong advocate of email list hygiene and data intelligence.
“Most of our clients are on dedicated IPs and we absolutely want them to clean their data,” he says. “Warming up IPs with [emails that have had a lot of] opens and clicks is fine, but once you start bringing in that other data, things can go sideways fast.”
It’s crucial to differentiate between the best addresses with which to start warming up new IPs, addresses that can be added later in the transition process and addresses that have become dangerous.
“You want Webbula, or a Webbula-like solution, to go in there and say ‘these literally don’t exist and these are suspected spam traps’,” says Marini. “You want to make sure those get off your list.”
When asked if he has more confidence in the data from clients who use services like Webbula, Marini says: “Yes, it’s not only a best practice, it’s a necessity to ensure a smooth onboarding process.”
Marini also warns against shopping for data services on price alone.
“You get what you pay for. There are some companies out there that are super, super cheap who don’t go as deep as the Webbula does, who don’t give as much insight and who aren’t as good at catching invalid emails. If you’re using something like that, I don’t know how much weight that carries.”
Switching ESPs “is an opportunity to do spring cleaning, so to speak,” says Marini. For example, he says, new data opportunities may be available.
“Look at how you structure your data, and other data sets that maybe you didn’t have access to two years ago that you have access to today that may allow you to further segment your audience,” he says.
“We take a holistic approach [to onboarding new clients] but the data side is extremely important,” Marini says. “As you warm up IPs, obviously you’re going to go to your most active [addresses] first, but once you start layering in that other data you want to make sure you’ve gotten rid of the harmful addresses.”
Kind of like sweeping up the dust bunnies that have been piling up all winter.
Are you migrating from Bronto? Download Webbula’s new ebook, ‘List Hygiene Style: 5 Tips for Navigating Email Migration’ to help you get started.
Ken Magill has been writing about digital marketing for more than 20 years. His work has appeared in DM News, Direct, Target Marketing, Catalog Age, Multichannel Merchant, Marketing Dive, Internet Retailer and his own newsletter The Magill Report.