Despite the hype around social media and chatbots, email is still the primary method of communication businesses use to reach their customers.
Some 80% of marketers surveyed in 2016 said email was core to their business, while email use among white-collar Americans rose 17% year-over-year. Millennials spend the most time on email of any age group and do so primarily on their smartphones (90%).
If your business is growing fast, it can be a challenge to scale your email activities – both marketing and transactional – to keep pace. And scaling up your email doesn’t just mean greater volume, it also means increasing complexity. What was once a one-dimensional job has evolved into a multi-faceted role, as companies continually add new products or features, update or sunset old ones, and strive to fine-tune segmentation while maintaining growth.
Here are a few tips to help you assemble a crack team, able to meet the demand for increasingly complex email at scale.
Find the Right People
Very few college programs teach email development, design, or strategy, so most people learn the skills they need on the job. Often they do so with the expectation that they’ll quickly move on to bigger things, which can prompt developers, designers, and marketers to look at email work as a kind of purgatory. Salaries and the internal org structure can often underscore that belief.
To guard against this mentality, it’s important to prioritize email rather than treat it as an afterthought. This means allocating appropriate resources to your email team. If you don’t know what those resources are, ask the team what they need — and deliver.
Before you can ask them, though, you have to hire them. Finding people who are experienced in email development and design is essential to a viable program. Once relatively rare, such expertise is finally becoming more common, but if you can’t hire someone with the right experience, be prepared to invest in training.
Find the Right Tools
Rather than try to build every email from scratch, reuse code as much as possible. A set of standardized, base email templates and pattern libraries for frequently used elements will ease the workload considerably. There are tools out there to help with this but it could be as simple as storing snippets of code in a spreadsheet.
The goal is to reduce dependency on developers, so their help should only be needed when either the code snippets or the templates themselves need to change. By creating libraries of both, your team will save time and develop good habits, helping streamline the entire email creation process.
Automation tools can also help simplify tasks such as uploading images to your content delivery network and creating proofs. If you’re using dynamic data, you can also use automation to merge in sample data for testing and previews.
As for email workflow, content is created by individuals who work on distinct functions, like copywriting, design, and development. To prevent bottlenecks, create a system where one team member completes their portion of an email, then hands their work off to the next. Collaboration software can help formalize the process.
Don’t forget to make sure quality assurance is part of the workflow. If an email team is going to cut corners anywhere, it will often be on QA, sometimes resulting in embarrassing errors and hastily sent apologies. Be sure to use quality tools to test rendering on a variety of devices and email clients. But remember that while these tools can help immensely, nothing can completely replace a fresh pair of human eyes.
Finally, build stakeholder approval and final sign-off into the workflow, to make sure your emails are always on-brand and in full legal and regulatory compliance. By formalizing the approval process, your team will never again worry about an email going out with last year’s logo or with a missing Unsubscribe link.
The End Result
An experienced team explicitly focused on email, set up with the right tools and processes to limit grunt work, is a team that can scale on pace with your company’s growth.
But more importantly, they will be an email team whose efforts will directly contribute to that very growth.