Imagine moving your business offices and leaving a revenue-generating asset behind. Never happen, right?

Yet, that is exactly what’s at risk any time you switch from one email service provider to another. That is, unless you take an accurate and comprehensive email-asset inventory before you move.

Most commercial email programs have had a succession of managers and rarely do former managers debrief new ones before they leave. So it’s impossible for most current email managers to be aware of everything that was implemented before their arrival on the job.

There could be some automated messages implemented three managers ago that, unbeknownst to the current manager, are quietly chugging along and generating revenue.

Without an email inventory, there’s no way to account for those messages and they can easily be left behind when switching ESPs.

Even with an inventory, it’s possible to leave some messaging behind that was created by someone at the organization who is no longer there. But taking the most comprehensive inventory possible is the best way to minimize that possibility, if not mitigate is completely.

Often there is an overlap between an incumbent ESP and the new one and it’s possible to identify messaging that was left behind and salvage it before the switch is final. But sooner or later the switch will be final and anything left behind that is needed will have to be recreated.

It’s also important to identify what campaigns may have been one offs, or those that were automated but are now outdated so you don’t make them part of the move.

Identify not only all the marketing campaigns that leave your system, but also all the transactional messaging such as password resets and “thank you” emails.

The idea of an inventory is that everything gets accounted for and brought over to the new system and nothing slips through the cracks.

Marketing should take the lead on an email inventory because ultimately they will be held accountable for a successful migration. But IT must also be involved because they will be able to identify all the automated emails leaving the system.

Even if you don’t plan on switching ESPs anytime soon, it’s a good idea to perform regular audits, say yearly or twice yearly, and maintain a regular inventory of all your program’s outgoing messaging.

It’s simply a matter of keeping the inventory in an Excel spreadsheet and updating it on a scheduled basis. This way, current email managers leave a helpful record for those who follow them. The chances that messages created by a predecessor will fall through the cracks during a move will drop dramatically, and the inventorying process necessary before the switch will be far less risky and arduous.

As part of your inventory, record the name of the campaign, the frequency with which it goes out, any calls to action, what the campaign aims to achieve, who the target audience is and any special lists the campaign uses.

You also want to inventory all your creative and templates to make sure they get moved, as well.

Lastly, in any email inventory, you also want to identify what campaigns you want to add in the next quarter or year. It may affect your choice of ESP.

If you inventory your email assets now, it’ll save a ton of headaches down the road.