Back in May 2021, I joined the Content team to work on a large procurement project, searching for a new e-newsletter platform. Our contract with email provider GovDelivery was ending, so the team were going out to market to find a new platform.
The e-newsletter account with GovDelivery held around 80 newsletters managed by nearly 120 users across the council, sending thousands of newsletters every year. Our challenge was to migrate from GovDelivery over to e-shot – our new provider.
What was the most challenging part of procuring a new e-newsletter platform?
Migrating from one platform to another was going to be hard, the GovDelivery account was complex. Hosting around 80 newsletters being sent on different frequencies, some were sent once a week, monthly or quarterly and some on an ad-hoc basis. There was a very high chance that moving platforms would cause disruption for users.
Challenge 1. Getting user buy in
We spent a lot of time planning how to phase the migration to cause the least amount of disruption. Another problem we were facing was getting user buy-in. Plus – I put together a very detailed communications plan to keep users informed. This included flagging whenever an issue arose that may cause delays.
What did I learn? Be transparent with your users
Turns out I didn’t have to worry about user buy-in. Being as open and transparent as possible with people outside of the project team helped hugely.
While they were kept informed every step of the way, users were pretty excited about the move and, mostly, gave positive feedback about the project deployment and the new platform.
Challenge 2. Knowing who to speak to
Our biggest issue with procuring a new e-newsletter platform was getting help from the right people. Working closely with e-shot for guidance, we planned for all areas of tech that would need to be changed and how to implement changes. Also, e-shot have prepared a case study for more details on how they were on hand to help us.
However, the main issues arose when we hadn’t factored in the various levels of sign offs and different team inputs required from a technical perspective. This delayed the migration a couple of times as we were passed around different departments.
What did I learn? Get tech involved in conversation from the beginning.
Having conversations with tech teams early on could flag any potential risks or concerns they may have before implementation has begun. Though we did speak to them relatively early on, having those active conversations and getting them in the room with the provider’s technical teams could have benefitted from happening sooner.
Challenge 3. Dealing with Data
If ever a project has highlighted the benefit of regularly cleansing and maintaining data and database’s, it was this one! One member of our team was assigned only to this task, an astonishing number of hours could have been saved had the data been regularly maintained.
Until we looked under the hood and saw the sheer volume of data from over the years, I don’t think anyone knew how tricky it would be.
What did I learn? Maintain your data.
After dealing with a mass of messy and incomplete data at the beginning of this project, it has highlighted the need to keep on top of this regularly. Now we have nearly 90 newsletters and over 140 users on our system.
We are conducting regular account reviews to ensure the people that have access still require it, subscriber data isn’t being stored or used inappropriately. As a helping hand, e-shot themselves have some tips on data protection available to read on their blog.
What were my key takeaways?
So, there I was, fresh to a team I had only met through a laptop screen and knee deep in a huge project that impacted hundreds of people across every service in the council. No pressure! Thankfully, I had an amazing team around me and we got stuck in creating plans, spreadsheets, discussion boards, Teams channels and meetings.
One of the biggest things I learned was how important it is to have clear roles and responsibilities. And if possible, work with a really solid, inspiring team!
More about Email Marketing
Our Communications and Marketing toolkit has resources available for managing your teams e-newsletters, see more guidance on e-newsletters here.