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How to Set Up Your New ESP

February 3, 2023
Chris Johnson

Table of Contents

So you’ve already picked one?

Now that you’ve chosen the one you want to move forward with, let's get your new ESP setup. We are still a ways off from getting that first email sent as there are many things to consider before your ESP is ready to start firing on all cylinders.

Domains and IPs

The first thing you want to get organized is your 'sending domains and IPs'.  To figure out what you need, you’ll first need to think about sending volume and different email types.  If you plan to send just marketing emails you can get away with one sending domain but, if you want to also send transactional you’ll need to make sure that those emails have their own sending domain.  For marketing you can try something like and for transactional  The next piece to consider is the IP address if you are going to be sending at higher volumes, 100,000 plus emails per month, you will want to approach your new ESP about getting you a dedicated IP to send from.  When sending high volumes for transactional and marketing you will also want to consider an IP for each.  This typically comes at an extra cost up front and sometimes monthly fees as well, but in the long run it is the best way to ensure that you are in control of your email deliverability.

General settings

Many ESPs have a general setting section you should get familiar with up front.  Here you can set your company name and address (typically used in the footer of your emails and required by law), unsubscribe settings like links to preference centers, members list, roles and permissions, and everything that is specific to your particular ESP.  You’ll want to consider your unsubscribe process here at the beginning.  Whether or not you will just be using a one click unsubscribe for all marketing emails or providing your subscribers with a preference center.  It is great to have that more customized experience but at the very least a one-click unsub is going to meet all the legal requirements.

Upload contacts

Time to start getting your contact list built!  We are getting closer and next up it’s time to start imports of all your wonderful customers and leads.  First up though we need to make sure that the unsubscribed contacts are uploaded and properly marked as such in your new email service provider.  This will ensure that when you do start sending emails those contacts are not accidentally getting any emails.  You’ll want to pull a list from your old ESP of people that have unsubscribed or hard bounced and then upload those directly into your new ESP.  

Next it is a good idea to take the rest of your list and run it through a list cleansing tool like Kickbox.  This will give you a list of any bad emails like spam traps that you should also unsubscribe, helping you make sure that you are starting with the most hygienic list possible on your new ESP.

While you are in your old ESP, get the following lists, subscribers who have interacted with your email in the last 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days and everyone more than 180 days. Upload these as segments into your new ESP this will help later on with warming up your domains and IP.

The Data

This is one of the most important components when setting up your ESP.  Your ESP, any ESP, is only as useful as the data you are able to send it.  Data plays a key role in your ability to setup automations, dynamic content, segments, and more.  As you begin to think about a new ESP make sure you have an idea of what you want to be sending from it as this will guide the data infrastructure you will need.  If you plan to send automations like abandon carts, or browse abandons you will need to make sure that you have the ability to trigger those based on activity on your site for instance. And a layer deeper, what do you want in those emails?  If you need to show products and product info that will need to be sent, if you need to update cart items as a person changes them that is a whole new layer of complexity to think about.  If you are not already very familiar with the esp you are planning to use you will want to find someone who is while you setup this portion because each ESP uses and stores data differently and you’ll want to make sure you get it done right the first time.


The next piece to consider when picking is whether or not your ESP needs to communicate with other platforms in your marketing stack.  Will you need your ESP to send and receive data from tools like Looker or Segment, do you want it to help with facebook marketing, are you using a separate SMS platform like Attentive, what is your Ecomm platform, your Popup form partner?  All these things should be considered as several ESPs have out of the box integrations with certain vendors, so if yours isn’t on the list for an ESP you are looking at you may need to look elsewhere.

Final steps and sending

Now it's time to start sending. The first stage of sending from a new ESP is the warm up, you don't just want to start blasting your entire list day one, you need to warm the inbox providers up to your new IP and sending domain.  This will help get you better inbox placement as you start off.  Start with your most recent clickers, then add in openers, and then slowly add in the email addresses that have been less interactive. The size and age of your list will determine how long this should take, but the slower the better.  If you have a particularly old list, now is a good time to cleanse it and get rid of any bad email addresses.  I also like to send an inactive email from the old ESP and suppress any non interactors from that ‘send’ from making it on to the send list in the new ESP.  You’ll want to start off on the right foot with deliverability because once you start hitting spam folders a lot it is not an easy thing to bounce back from.

While you are warming up your ESP, get your triggered emails built and sent.  THese emails are sent based on activity a customer took and typically have a high interaction rate.  Getting these built and sending up front will also help with that warmup as the volume will slowly increase naturally to higher likelihood to open traffic.

Now that you are warmed up, your list is clean, and you have a nice data library in your ESP you are good to go.  This is where the fun begins!  Make sure you are constantly in contact with your CSM or support team at your new ESP as they will tell you about new features that will help your marketing, the more you take advantage of every tool your ESP has to offer the more opportunity you will unlock to communicate with your customers in an effective way. 

Chris Johnson
about the author

Chris Johnson is an experienced Marketing Manager, specializing in Email, SMS, and Push. Chris can be found at on the MarketerHire network. If interested in hiring Chris for your marketing program and projects, contact us today.

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