The e-mail marketing process: you need a map to get there from here


Here are two definitions for process:

1 - A systematic series of actions directed to some end
2 - A continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner

Both definitions hopefully apply to your e-mail marketing. If they don't, then there is cause for concern! Some recent survey data suggests there are a reasonable percentage of businesses who should indeed be concerned.

According to figures from the DMA in the UK, only 52 percent of respondents actually have a centralized process for controlling their e-mail marketing deployments. 26 percent divide it among different departments and surprisingly, 17 percent have no process at all.

Who is responsible for e-mail marketing success?

The data also reveals that in B2B the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of e-mail marketing still rests at the management level, rather than the executive or director level. 48 percent of B2B companies put that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of managers rather than the upper levels of the corporate pyramid.

This suggests that the importance of this channel may still be undervalued. While the report notes corporate inertia is a factor, the indication may be that senior executives still perceive e-mail marketing as something which pretty much takes care of itself and doesn't require that much investment to be effective.

While there may be nothing written in stone regarding exactly how a business should run their e-mail marketing program, you absolutely do need a process.

That process will help you avoid subscriber fatigue and leverage any and all cross-product or service marketing opportunities. Just as important, it will prevent you from having to deal with office politics and human drama which can severely impact management resources and employee efficiency.

The need of coordination and integrated processes: avoid e-mail fatigue and optimize!

There's no reason why separate departments can't drive their own e-mail marketing programs of course, but there must be a process they follow so that everyone is in the loop, no one gets left out of potential opportunities to cross promote and most importantly, your subscribers never feel as if you are engaging them with discordant or disorderly voices.

You need an integrated dashboard to have a centralized view on all e-mail activities to avoid potential clashes, too much messages and thus e-mail fatigue!
In a perfect world you want to have someone overseeing all your department's e-mail marketing campaigns, but the reality is that at best, the person currently filling the role in your organization is likely wearing a lot of very big hats already.
Be it one manager or several, you need to have an overview or you are going to waste resources and reduce efficiency.

Content and e-mail: an editorial calendar for your campaigns and newsletters

One of the most important steps you can take in the traditional way of doing e-mail marketing, for instance using newsletters, is to have an editorial calendar. This is your guide, your content road map! Companies may shy away from this since it seems like a lot of work, but don't you already have a basic one in your head? You aren't throwing darts at a product list each month to decide what content and calls-to-action you'll send out are you? You already have the calendar developed at a high level and now you just need to fill in the blanks.

Remember, it's a guide and not a bible. Start assembling it from a high abstract level based on goals and then drill down to the specific content for the campaigns. Each department doing e-mail campaigns should be providing a content calendar which can then be compiled with others to give you and overall view of where the opportunities are and where the potential conflicts exist. It's a topographical map of your e-mail marketing plan and you can't get to where you want to be in you don't have a map to get you there.

Obviously in more advanced and B2B e-mail marketing, content is function of the individual customer lifecycle but here as well you need to plan your content ahead in function of potential triggers and scenarios!

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