5 Things to Consider Regarding your Email List when Rebranding

Christina Hoheisel
Mar. 30, 2018 by Christina Hoheisel

Several of our enterprise customers have recently gone through either a rebranding or an acquisition where they’ve needed to fold a new mailing list from the acquired company into their own. Because of this, I’ve recently been asked how to best go about doing that and decided to document some thoughts here.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I’ll state it anyways: DO NOT just start sending email to everyone who signed-up to receive email from the old brand or acquired company. That tactic will go south very fast because your recipients will likely not be familiar with the new name and, at best, delete your message without opening it or, even worse, mark it as spam. And, as we all know, the more negative signals like that an ISP receives, the more your domain and IP reputation will suffer making it harder and harder for your messages to land in the inbox. So before that happens, here are some things to consider on how to do it thoughtfully, carefully, and in a way that will do as little harm as possible to your deliverability.

  1. Introduce the new brand slowly
    1. Send an initial solo email introducing the new name, but keep the from label and sending domain the same. Let your customers know about the rebranding or acquisition without coupling it to other messaging. Be explicit as to when they’ll start to receive emails under the new brand.
    2. If you send a regular newsletter, add information about the upcoming rebranding in it.
    3. Start to co-brand your emails with the old and new names together. You can do this for several weeks or months depending on how frequently you send.
    4. Send a final solo reminder of the date that they will start to receive emails from the new name.
  2. During the introduction and reminder tell your recipients to add the new domain to their contact list in their email account and to be on the lookout for their messages in the spam or junk folders.
  3. If this is an acquisition, consider asking the recipients to opt-in or out of the new company’s emails. Some things to consider when deciding which route to go:
    1. Asking subscribers to opt into your email list will give you the cleanest list and one where recipients are most engaged and least likely to complain. However, you’ll likely lose some who miss the message asking them to opt-in.
    2. Asking subscribers to opt-out will give you a larger list and more recipients to add to your database. However, you run the risk of bringing along a lot of unengaged subscribers and possibly people who missed the memo and would preferred to have opted-out — likely increasing unengagement rates and increasing spam complaint rates, which can both negatively impact your deliverability.
  4. Transactional and triggered messages — When you start to consider all of your transactional, triggered messages, and drip-marketing campaigns and how best to brand these during a transition it can get complicated really quickly. The answer of how best to do this is really going to depend on your particular setup. Always think about how each particular subscriber knows your brand. For example, when I worked at a startup that went through a rebranding, I had a drip marketing campaign set up for new users to help increase conversion rates. The day the website changed with the company’s new name and look was the day that I changed the welcome email because those new subscribers only knew the new company name. However, it was a slower transition for the drip emails farther down the pipeline.
  5. Remember to always ask yourself “is this going to generate more spam complaints?” Use that as your compass for deciding whether or not to do something. The higher the complaint rates and less engaged your recipients are, the more likely your message with end up in spam folder or, worse, be blocked by an ISP.

Every company’s rebranding and acquisitions are different as well as their marketing channels and how best to go about communicating these changes with your customers is going to vary. There’s no one way to do this. That said, I hope that I’ve given you a few things to think about as you begin this process.

If you have additional thoughts or tips regarding this, we’d love to hear from you!

-Christina

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