The one-person email marketing department is still a viable option for some businesses, but the arrangement does have its drawbacks. For one, the email marketer often wears several other hats, allowing for less time to concentrate on the details that truly make for an effective email program (such as metric analysis and targeted segmentation). There is also a risk involved with one person putting his/her stamp on every facet of an email program -- from subject lines to design guidelines -- without input from other sources who might be able to suggest a more effective strategy.
Strength in numbers can certainly be an asset to an email program, but for those enterprises with fully staffed departments, email can be a trick simply due to the number of potential hands each message must pass through on its way out the door. With so many individuals contributing -- and often accessing the same system -- during the process, it isn't hard to imagine that things can (and do) go wrong from time to time.
But when you think about it, shouldn't these errors be avoidable, even with so many "cooks in the kitchen"? They are avoidable if you treat the email marketing process as if it were an assembly line. On an assembly line, responsibilities are delegated at each step of the way to avoid mistakes and keep everyone on a specific path, and it only makes sense to approach email in the same fashion.
First, define the elements of your email program that certain individuals absolutely need access to. Does it make any sense for your HTML coder to have access to message scheduling tools if his/her only responsibility is to paste the completed code into your Email Service Provider's interface? No, but that same coder definitely needs access to the message creation area. In the same vein, a proofreader may do a fine job of spotting errors in your draft message, but does that same proofreader have the HTML chops to reflect those changes in your code without having an "oops!" moment? By defining where individuals should or should not contribute, you can define the stations that make up your email assembly line.
By granting or restricting privileges to members of your email team, you can ensure that access to certain areas of your Email Service Provider (ESP) will be tightly controlled. This type of role management can be a tremendous asset to an email marketing program. Not only is the risk of errors greatly reduced, but it allows for increased collaboration even with inexperienced system users. Email marketers cringe at the potential disaster that comes with training a new system user, but if he/she can start with the bare minimum and be granted privileges over time, the team will become stronger without having to worry about what might happen.
Additionally, managing users' roles makes for a much more streamlined review process. Instead of several system users logging in to review message creative -- and possibly making changes on the spot -- only system users with Edit privileges would be able to actually change the message. This forces the revision process to funnel through the proper channels, avoiding the confusion that can be caused by competing updates.
The one-person email marketing team definitely has a distinct advantage going for it: There are no toes to step on. However, by assigning roles to the members of your email marketing team within your email tool, you can ensure that no matter how big the team becomes, or how many toes have the potential to be stepped on, all of those pairs of toes are unscathed.