10 Ways to Unlock More Value From Your Email Program
You’ll often hear deliverability specialists joke about how we’ve been giving the same advice for years. In truth, it’s not really a joke, because we have been giving the same advice for years! But not to the same people. The fact is, new email marketers are entering the field all the time, and the fundamentals of what makes email work are not commonly taught in school. They’re learned on the job (or not).
Which is why I partnered with the CSA for a session during their Digital Email Summit focusing on how to effectively educate your company’s key decision makers (or customers) on the true value that can be unlocked by following essential email industry best practices. It all starts by making deliverability, compliance, and security a priority – even when those topics are costly, time consuming, and just plain boring to people in every department, outside of yours, who touch your email program.
So without further ado, onto a few tips:
- Understand your audience – Whether your goal is to get more budget, a bigger team, or just an organization who is aware email industry best practices and why they are so important, seek to meet the level of understanding (and interest) of your audience. Gather some context about their goals, challenges and how you can help before you share your take.
- Increase awareness – The key decision-makers within your organization are the ones setting the foundation for what your company works on, what your company spends money on, and where they dedicate their resources: both human and financial. If they aren’t aware of your need, it doesn’t exist. So get yourself on their radar. Have a team mission, and make it known. Share details about what your team is working on with others. What challenges you face, and how you consistently tackle them head on. If you’re doing it right, awareness about what you need starts before you even pitch the idea for your new project or request. Awareness is an ongoing process.
- Hold yourself accountable – Awareness is a two-way street. Realize you will not always have top billing when it comes to budget, dev resources or even the attention of your primary audience. Before you start asking clients or leadership for anything, make sure you’re aware of your company’s or client’s priorities, as well as your current tech stack. Is your new tool or process going to fit in?
- Find allies – Whether this is on the client-side or within another department that your team historically doesn’t get along with (such as sales and compliance teams), find allies outside of your team! These folks can help raise your awareness about the company’s priorities, they can act as cheerleaders within the organization to support your project when it comes up behind closed doors. Not to mention, revenue-driving teams such as Sales and Marketing tend to have big budgets, and lots of influence over the company’s priorities. So work with those teams. Find common goals or challenges that you can get behind to help build those relationships.
- Consider all stakeholders – How will what you’re proposing affect marketing, sales, IT, project management, finance, support, customer success, etc? While these people are not your decision maker – and in fact, might be competing with you for dev time or resources – they could be your Trojan Horse to getting what you need.
- Bring data to the conversation – Find a way to tie everything to revenue that can be made (or saved) for your client or company. Highlight the potential butterfly effects of your change, such as how it will impact your team’s productivity or accuracy for the better, or help with retention by improving the customer experience. Finding ways to reduce operating costs or churn for legitimate customers is a very real way to appeal to your decision makers, so get creative about how you can turn your company-cost into a revenue-driver.
- Avoid the technical weeds – Obviously, there are plenty of cases within email where the technical bits are important. And as the subject matter expert, you should be prepared to discuss them if they come up. But plan to explain your case without them, using plain language, simple explanations, and my favorite: analogies!
- Use analogies to get your point across – The trick is to find ones that resonate with your audience. So do some active listening, get to know people whenever you can, and keep those analogies simple. My personal favorite is from Mike Hillyer, comparing changing ESPs to fix a deliverability issue to changing gyms. Odds are the reason the current gym isn’t working has very little to do with the gym.
- Be selective about what you ask for – Whether we’re talking about customers or internal decision makers, it’s likely you won’t get everything you ask for. So figure out where you really want to spend your credits this month, quarter or year. Prioritize what you ask for and cut non-essential items from your list. They are just distractions. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about dollars here. Account for the number of hours spent planning, scoping the project, actually developing something, training teams on the new process, etc. Know your budget and the state of the company’s road map, and try to align your priorities accordingly. People will notice if your team is constantly churning over new tools or burning through resources.
- Track and share your progress – Plan for how you will track the performance (and success) of your change. Celebrate the things that went better than expected, and the people who made those a success (including your allies and key stakeholders). Also acknowledge what didn’t go well, showing you will not repeat that mistake or already have a hypothesis for improvement next time so decision makers can have higher confidence in the fact that what you ask for generally tends to run smoothly and/or lead to good things for the company. The important part here is that it’s trackable.
Ultimately, the most effective ways to educate our colleagues, decision makers and clients isn’t more advice about email. It’s better advice. Advice that connects your audience to the subject in a way that makes them more likely to understand and embrace the right concepts early on and continue to implement them within their business practices.