The following scenario is all too common: An organization outgrows its email service provider. Its team spends the time, effort and money necessary to make the switch. The new ESP is sending email and the company’s account at the old provider has been shut down. Suddenly, the company’s email-list growth slows significantly.

Oops. Turns out in making the switch, the internal team left a web signup form behind.

Somewhere, there is a signup form accepting email addresses and sending them nowhere. The organization’s brand is being damaged because people are subscribing and getting ignored. The company is missing sales opportunities that should be coming in along with those addresses.

What is more, the organization’s email-address acquisition costs have risen because the abandoned signup form isn’t contributing.

As an ESP integration-and-migration specialist, I can tell you this happens more often than you might think.

Fortunately, it’s a scenario that is quite preventable. It simply requires a data-type and -source inventory. And that requires getting all the stakeholders into a room.

The process starts by identifying what data is being used. For example, what types of data are used for personalization? Does the program involve adding cart or order histories? Is their dynamic content based on profile attributes? How are audiences segmented?

Once the stakeholders identify the types of data their organization uses, team members can work backward to identify the data sources. Based on what the data is, the team can make assumptions on where it’s coming from and track it down that way.

One key to this project is identifying all the company’s online marketing efforts.

Moreover, it is imperative to get IT involved. They manage the traffic, plus they can run searches on keywords like “signup” to find data sources. And there are numerous other tools they can use to identify the different data-capture channels.

If applicable, don’t forget events teams that go out and gather email addresses at gatherings like sporting events. They typically deliver addresses in spreadsheets. And since events teams want to get paid for their work, there will definitely be a paper trail somewhere documenting where those addresses are coming from.

More often than not, an organization’s data comes from disparate systems that some people are aware of and most aren’t. It’s important to pull all of the data together and know who is responsible for delivering each data set. The person responsible for a certain set of data within an organization will naturally be the one responsible for delivering it to the new ESP.

Another consideration is how often a data set is refreshed and how. For example, are customers managing their own data in a preference center? If the customer is updating their own data, it is important to ensure there is a channel through which those updates get into the new system.

It is important to catalog all the data coming into the system and how it flows—the different channels it feeds into, the different sources it comes from.

As part of the data-migration process, it’s critical to identify the master source of data. If there are multiple sources of data, one of them must be the boss into which all the others feed. Then all distributions of data will come from master database.

A data inventory ensures all the data sources that are combined and used to drive campaigns are accounted for. Many times, there are automated data channels set up on a certain website that feed into the ESP. These integrations will feed into the old ESP until that account is turned off. Once the account has been turned off, any sources that fed into the old ESP that wasn’t accounted for and moved will essentially be tossing its data into a digital garbage can.

Bottom line: it is imperative to identify where all the data is coming from so it can be accounted for and integrated into the new system.

Be sure to check out our Email Vendor Guide for more information.