The Process of Bringing Process to Email Marketing

I’ve been in the business of delivering email now for quite a long time. I’ve spent more than 10 years managing, creating, or observing email communications in some fashion. I have worked on the client side, with partners, with vendors, and on the ESP side. This week while I was reflecting on what I’ve learned (don’t laugh, I can get introspective), the thing that kept coming back to me was one word…process. Process is such a basic thing that is so often ignored. We have very little margin for error when delivering an email. If you make a mistake it is out there for the world to see, usually with bells and whistles as Mr. Murphy seems to take over. I wanted to talk today about how solid process can help eliminate errors, increase productivity, and boost morale within an email team.

I am going to give away an interview secret of mine here for everyone to see. I guess that means I will have to make up another one, but here we go. I always ask candidates to tell me if they have multiple tasks to do, how do they stay organized? I am not looking for any specific answer, just an answer. A person who has a clear method of organization can go a long way in our business. You can use a white-board, sticky-notes, calendar, reminders, you name it. The key to organization is an understanding of how to prioritize and remind you of critical tasks as crunch-time nears. All email campaigns have a moment of truth where everything has to come together. I believe that predetermined process is the single most important factor in making that moment of truth a smooth one.

Here are the main areas where it is important to inject process:

  • Planning – It’s a great idea to have a rolling calendar. Plan for the future.
  • Templates – Don’t start every campaign from scratch. Develop and test solid templates for future mailings. Good templates take a lot of QA out of the picture.
  • Content Gathering – You must have a repeatable process for gathering your content. Copywriters, designers, revenue management, database, and management are all groups who may be involved.
  • QA – Crucial to have a documented process for QA.
  • Approvals – Do you know who must approve an email before a launch? Do they know they are supposed to approve them?
  • Launch – Taking the stress out of the decision by having a clear path to launch.
  • Analysis – An overlooked area sometimes. Process should be defined so testing, and analysis metrics have meaning.

    Document, document, document all of these processes. Putting down the process on paper helps you on a number of fronts. Writing down responsibilities on paper will allow everyone involved to make sure they feel comfortable. Having a documented process also makes training new team members easier. I would recommend that the “Email Team” have regular meetings to plan for future campaigns and review past campaigns. Continuous open dialogue with all involved in the email creation process can help smooth out any potential problems that may arise. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it is important to be a team when it comes to email. I have seen many a campaign come unhinged because of small issues.

    Making mistakes in email is just about unavoidable. Things happen, and as long as we humans are still in charge, it will continue that way. An important thing I have learned from these mistakes is that almost all the time, the mistake can be traced back to a process breakdown.

    Take a good look at the way you take an email from concept to production. Are you capable of developing the process discipline necessary to execute the vision? A little bit of work in planning and teamwork will pay dividends each and every time you launch a campaign.

    – Kevin Senne, Premiere Global Services

  • 3 thoughts on “The Process of Bringing Process to Email Marketing

    1. I definitely think that process is important. I also think that practice is important. There’s only so much you can learn from guides until you get out there and do it yourself and see what your own lists responds to. Of course, that practice leads to process…

    2. A process IS very important to email marketing. If you don’t have a process that you follow, you are not maximizing your true potential. Great job on this article.

    3. Great post. A process for any part of your business, especially your online presence and e-mail marketing is critical.

      Stefanie Blackburn
      Your Online Marketing Consultant

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