Enterprise Email Marketing: Centralization vs. Coordination

Type the phrase “centralizing email marketing” into a search engine and you’ll be served up an impressive number of results (at this writing, about 247,000). And it’s no wonder—email marketing continues to rank among the most popular tactics that marketers use to reach their audiences.

The arguments for centralizing are compelling: Managing emails through a single platform enables companies to not only more effectively manage their brand and good sender reputation, but it’s also much easier to manage the frequency of communication—no one wants to frustrate their audience to the point of unsubscribing. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Not so fast. According to JupiterResearch, only 38% of companies have a single department handling email communication—while 24% have six or more. With all the benefits of centralizing email marketing, why aren’t more companies taking this approach?

For some companies, it may come down to resources and priorities. For example, within very large organizations, email is used to communicate with many different audiences—employees, partners, end user customers, and prospects—among others. Each of these audiences has different expectations for how they should be communicated with and likely, a different group managing that communication stream.

Because email marketing was often developed as a grassroots effort within each group, it’s not unusual for larger organizations to be actively using several different email platforms to manage their campaigns. In these instances, transitioning to a completely centralized approach requires almost Herculean effort.

However, in the absence of a completely centralized approach, there are still things you can do to streamline email communications and ensure a positive experience for your audience. Here are three specific tips that are reasonably quick and easy to implement:

1. Develop and share an email marketing calendar.

Wherever there’s a risk of message crossover, establish a marketing calendar to track these campaigns and assign a calendar owner. Although the owner is ultimately responsible for keeping the calendar updated, all groups should participate in the calendar development and notify the owner if campaign dates shift.

My team uses a web-based calendar hosted on our intranet site; however, tools such as Google Calendar or even an Excel spreadsheet are simple, no/low-cost alternatives.

2. Ensure that all stakeholders are on all campaign seed lists.

Whether you’re sending a campaign to a house or rented list, be sure and add the appropriate people to your seed lists. You may want to send test seeds to a smaller group for review and feedback, and then to a larger group for live campaign drops. This is additional insurance that everyone is aware of what messages are leaving the building.

3. Share examples of campaigns and results at cross-functional monthly or quarterly reviews.

At least once a quarter, get together and share examples of campaign creative and results. Even if you’re mailing to completely different audiences, best practices are sure to emerge that you’ll want to apply to your line of business.

If you work for a large organization, the idea of centralizing your email marketing may seem difficult, if not impossible. But by doing a little detective work and implementing some quick fixes that don’t require a lot of administrative overhead, you can do a lot to improve the quality of your email communications and set yourself up for more formal centralization in the future.

Cheryle Ross, the eCommerce Marketing Manager of Xerox Corp.

*Cheryle was invited to be a blogger for a day after sharing her thoughts in our Voices from the Email Evolution Conference post.