Five Common Stumbling Blocks to Optimising a High Volume Email Campaign Management Process and How to Avoid Them
We always recommend email marketing to be part of every online marketing plan. Somewhere, in some way, there will be a requirement to talk to either prospects or customers on a reasonably regular basis via email. For most companies this means one campaign being dispatched to one list, most likely once a month. This article is not for them.
Nope, here we are talking about chunky businesses with an email marketing list in the hundreds of thousands with a requirement to talk to these people multiple times each month. In this case, the requirements are rather unique. And having successfully operated in this email marketing services space for many years, here’s our take on the common mistakes people make when trying to optimise a process like this.
Stumbling Block #1: Relying on email to manage your email campaign
It may all start with one email with the campaign brief attached. From there other emails are sent back and forwards as the brief has more details added. Then the creative samples are emailed back as attachments. Then these are moved into the HTML build process with URL links sent for feedback . again via another email. And still another email that communicates that first proofs are on their way.
A barrage of email messages all tied to the one campaign and all hidden in each personfs Inbox for only them to be aware of. This is an environment that is a) hard to manage b) easy for details to be lost along the way and, finally, c) makes auditing the flow of communication responsible for delivering the campaign difficult if not impossible to achieve.
From our experience the best solution for the task at hand is a web-based, job management-style application that allows everyone involved in the campaign to see exactly what has been communicated to whom and when. It needs to be simple to use and easy to manage. Once operating, it incorporates all the communication for the campaign . starting with the initial creative briefing and ending with the message confirming the campaign has been dispatched. Itfs all there in one place. And if someone has to take leave midway through a campaign, then the job can be assigned to others without any campaign communication being lost in the process.
Stumbling Block #2: Not placing enough focus on process and systems
I’m not exactly sure of the average number of discussions that are required to take a campaign brief to a dispatched successful campaign. It would be a lot. Most of our own campaigns show job tickets listing out messages that run to three or four pages long.
Naturally, throughout all this therefs a lot that can go wrong. And email marketing is a cruel task master with the speed at which it makes any errors known. Only a bullet-proof process that is understood and operated by all involved will survive situations like these. A process that has the right people following the right set of tasks the right way for every campaign they touch. It doesnft matter how great the data selection was or how good the creative looked . all this expertise will go to waste without a reliable process to ensure the campaign build and dispatch was managed successfully.
After managing hundreds of successful campaigns we think we have that process nailed. Nevertheless, we still take all new clients through each and every stage piece by piece to ensure it will work as planned when matched to their unique needs. All because we know that solid processes, understood by everyone, produce solid results.
Stumbling Block #3: Thinking that the software vendor must be the software manager too
Most email marketing in this area requires the use of the top end of email marketing software. And the fact is that the world leaders in this space are not based in NZ. So support might come from the nearest location, which may be either Australia or Singapore. This can be a pain when it’s 8:30 am on a Monday morning and you need to launch a campaign in 30 minutes and no one is awake.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are companies, like our own, who have expertise in a range of email marketing tools, some of which they sell directly as well as those that they just support. For instance, we promote about four different email marketing tools and support another two.
These last two are high-end North American solutions. They are ideally suited to those with a large list and a desire to dispatch highly relevant email marketing. One in particular we have used on behalf of our clients for many years now. And while we invest our time and money to attend the vendor’s overseas conferences to learn the latest and greatest of their offerings, we will never be involved in the direct selling of their solution.
So, our customers can access the power of a top-end, complex, email marketing software solution with the added benefit of an independent, locally based support partner to help them drive it.
Stumbling Block #4: Not taking the time to test
Funnily enough, when you have an efficient way to manage campaign communication (see #1) coupled with a solid, reliable process to underpin your build process (see #2) the time it takes to send out a campaign seems to decrease. This allows you to either a) sneak off for a quick afternoon coffee or b) schedule in some campaign testing strategies.
So let’s go with b – because without testing you are guessing. But before you can test you need time, which is why the previous stumbling blocks need work first.
Then you can start with your hypothesis (what you hope will happen through the tests you want to run), which you match with your proposed method to follow. Most top-level email marketing tools include features to make the tactical part of this work easier than it used to be.
Now lists can be split into three (10%, 10% and the remaining 80% for the winning option) and set to “auto” to capture the results from the first two campaigns and then to pick a winner to send to the remaining majority.
If you look back over the last 12 months and see campaigns that are really no different to those you are running now then you aren’t testing enough.
Stumbling Block #5: Not monitoring the process as well as the outcomes
When there’s a lot to get done it’s easy to finish one campaign and head straight onto the next with scant regard to what was learnt before. All this tactical activity can leave little time to sit back and review any insights from the last 15 campaigns.
Now there are some obvious and not so obvious areas to include in reviews like these. Naturally, it makes sense to review all the main stats for the send. Opens, click throughs, bounces and, of course, conversions are all there waiting to be placed in a spreadsheet and reviewed. But what about the process that was responsible for delivering these campaigns? Where’s the analysis to be found to deliver gradual improvements here?
Not many take the time to do this work. So they don’t look into areas such as the number of times the briefing document is changed during the creative build and the creative time this wastes. Or the unnecessary mistakes made in the HTML creation. Or even the time wasted by the proofing team to locate test records to deliver emails for all versions of the dynamic content. All these are small, gritty problems that take time to improve but once done can deliver massive gains in process efficiency.
Managing one successful email campaign between two people can be a challenge. Managing 15 campaigns each week across multiple teams all residing in alternative operations – and all with 100% accuracy –̶̶̶ well, that’s a completely different space to operate within.
Here at Permission we have successfully operated in this space since 2004. We believe that by working with us you will optimise the full potential of the campaign management process, which will allow you the time to improve the overall effectiveness of your email marketing. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org if this interests you.