In my previous Email Insider column, I urged you to think big in 2012: to identify the most critical aspect of your email program and focus on ways to improve it so that you can drive greater success and take your program to a higher level.
This, of course, raises the perennial frustration among marketers: "How can I work on this big, important project when I'm already stretched thin on the work my boss expects me to do every day?"
Below are several approaches to help you win over management, not just to get them to see things your way, but also to secure the resources you need:
1. Make the case for focusing on a major goal. You know your email program well enough to be able to identify what I call the fulcrum: the point in your email program that drives the majority of your future revenue, conversions, engagement or loyalty.
Even if your managers know little about email, they understand achieving or exceeding goals and improving results. Explain why your fulcrum point is so crucial to your email program, and build a model that demonstrates how improving this one area increases success downstream.
2. Use metrics that get your CEO's attention. When building your case and communicating the value of email, it is critical that you focus on the metrics that matter to management, rather than basic email measures.
Focus on "output" metrics, which measure actual or anticipated performance against your company's strategic marketing or business goals, instead of "process" or operational metrics that measure individual tactics of your email program.
Do not base your case on tactics like improving open rates. Your C-level execs typically don't care. Show them the money instead.
3. Demonstrate how your email program contributes to company success relative to other marketing functions. In many companies, poor budget or strategy decisions often happen because the people making those decisions are clueless about email's contributions.
As in the previous strategy, make the case by showing how email performs in your company. Use charts, graphs, entertaining infographics and any other techniques that articulate email's crucial role in achieving key goals, delivering high ROI and supporting and enhancing other marketing channels, such as search, social media and direct mail.
4. Enlist help from other departments. One of the great things about email is how nicely it plays with other company departments. If you can show other departments how certain email improvements or programs can reduce costs, improve efficiency and achieve certain goals, you might be able to persuade them to cough up some budget or resources.
5. Create more automated programs. Automation is your best friend. Temporarily reallocate resources for a one-off email and produce a simple triggered birthday program, for example, to help prove the value of more sophisticated email programs.
While getting the resources for automated programs can be a key challenge in itself, start small and build these programs gradually, generating your success and proof metrics along the way.
6. Provide external benchmarks to show where the company is leaving money on the table or overlooking other improvements. These industry benchmarks can help you prove why you need the resources to turn that confirmation email into a welcome series, or launch a cart-abandonment program or post-purchase lifecycle series.
7. Educate management on what's possible. Case studies, research and white papers can show those above you how other companies were able to deploy specific email programs that produce killer results. Be choosy in what you select, and highlight the key points to conserve your boss's time and attention.
Material is everywhere around you; you just need to find it and cull it into a small but powerful information set.
8. Use external resources to get the job done. Beg, borrow or steal budget and resources. If you don't have the bandwidth to work on a specific goal or project, see if you can outsource it to a consultant with a track record on your issue or to your ESP or other third-party vendor that could help you get the project completed.
9. Carve out a specific time to focus on improvements. This last item is also the hardest for marketers who get pulled in many directions. However, your journey to a more successful email program starts with this single step.
Block out a few hours each week -- go on, lock it into your calendar -- and use it to brainstorm, develop your case or work on that onboarding email series you've wanted to do for years.
Until next time: Take it up a notch!