Email marketing grows more complex every year, with changing technologies, integration with social media, mobile adoption and greater customer control of the process.
When you add in more budget pressure and management scrutiny, it becomes critical to create a high-performance email team that can take your email program to a higher level despite these challenges.
As I meet with clients and prospects in companies of all sizes around the world, I have noticed that the highest-performing email-marketing teams possess most or all of the following attributes:
1. Clear vision of email's roles and strategies. The team, and the entire corporate organization, understands that email is the single most favored communication channel for customers and prospects.
The team builds its strategy around a vision in which email doesn't just sell but can build brands, foster deeper and more valuable relationships, encourage greater loyalty through education, and reduce costs through efficiencies and redirecting from other channels like direct mail or customer call centers.
2. Management backing, buy-in and direction. Management understands and shares the team's email vision and supports it with resources, then goes one step further, demanding that the team think bigger and broader, beyond email as a siloed channel, leading the company in using email in other departments to meet corporate goals.
3. Deep technical skills plus strong inter-department relationships. Team leaders or key members have native email skills and also know which technologies or platforms other departments use. They work to share resources and expertise, to meet their own goals or to help other departments achieve theirs.
They have access to technically savvy people, whether on their team, elsewhere within the organization, or outside the company. Roadblocks thrown up by other departments don't stop them from innovating.
4. World-class technology and service partners. High-performing email teams invest in technologies, tools, creative partnerships and outside relationships to create and deliver world-class programs.
When necessary, they can sell management on the need to change or add technology providers in order to take the company’s program to the next level.
5. Well-honed process to move from whiteboard to execution. These teams can drive the machinery needed to plan, produce and execute email projects of all sizes, from creation and design to management and legal approval and delivery.
They understand the workflow process that keeps projects going without getting lost in internal battles with other players such as IT or brand managers.
6. Data-capture across channels for automated messaging. High-performance teams collect data across multiple channels and use it to create highly targeted automated messaging programs instead of relying on broadcast-only messages.
Consumer behavior is a major component of this data, captured not just from email but also in social channels, offline, customer support and web activity: browsing, purchasing, downloads, account activity or other actions.
7. Focused on business intelligence, not just email statistics. These teams look for meaning in the data, seeking to understand what drives email success. They go beyond process metrics such as opens and clicks and focus instead on factors that drive revenue, loyalty or inactivity, or help them place a monetary value on each customer.
8. Voracious appetite for knowledge, learning and sharing. These team members are hungry to learn from every source: each other, competitors, vendors or technology partners, industry peers and other sources. They fight to go to conferences in the email industry as well as their own verticals, and often share their knowledge through speaking and case studies.
They constantly seek out best practices and ideas and lessons from peers and competitors, uncovering rocks, always looking for what's next, what's new and what's better.
9. Continually testing and optimizing. Team leaders and members are never satisfied with the status quo. One day they celebrate a new cart-abandonment email that generated a 35% conversion rate; the next day, they're asking, "Can we drive that up to 50%?"
Also, the team workflow process builds in time and resources to continually test multiple aspects of their email programs.
10. "Customer-first" focus that aligns with company revenue goals. High-performance email teams recognize the need to remain customer-centric instead of burning out the list. They use the technologies, content and know-how they have to create a "customer-first" program that also delivers the revenue they need to reach or exceed their goals.
These are the key attributes that I've seen among email teams that have taken their program up a notch, or several. Did I miss any that are important in your organization?
Until next time, take it up a notch.