Are You And Management Speaking The Same Language?

Email marketers love to argue -- or rather, to discuss and share their opinions. From pre-checked boxes to the value of open rates, everyone has an opinion.

Still, inside your organization, opinions and misunderstandings often contribute to projects being derailed, never getting off the ground, or being focused on the wrong result.

The problems often start when each group or person brings his or her own definitions or bias to the topic. In the B2B world, for example, a "Venus and Mars" difference often exists between sales and marketing teams on how to define a lead.

Underpinning this disagreement are more fundamental questions and issues, such as quality versus quantity, and "When is a lead sent to sales, versus continuing to be nurtured by marketing?"

Sales and marketing management cannot come together on these strategic questions without foundational agreement on the identical definition of a lead.

Email marketers have their share of definitional questions, such as these:

  • How do we define permission?
  • What is an open?
  • What constitutes an email being delivered?
  • Is a pre-checked box considered permission?



The foundation of these and similar questions might be based on math, legality, culture or technical issues. But the challenges of communicating with management, other departments, or external service providers often starts with the words you use.

Why Words Matter

Words matter, especially definitions of the common terms you use when you work with people who have come to your marketing team from many different disciplines, such as direct mail, analytics, ecommerce, sales or graphic design.

Without this shared understanding, misunderstandings and mistakes crop up at inopportune moments. They can delay projects or cause confusion among team members and when you're presenting to management.

"Pop-up" is a term with multiple definitions. In my recent Email Insider column about "pop-overs," I took pains to make clear I wasn't talking about the often-hated "pop-up" window.

Suppose you go to your manager with an idea for adding a pop-over to your homepage to grow your email database. You go in thinking this could be a great way to ramp up subscriber acquisition, but your manager vetoes the project out of hand. Maybe it was because when you say "pop-over," he's hearing "pop-up."

Definitions: Step 1 in Strategy Discussion

Clearing up the misunderstandings and getting everyone on the same page starts with gaining agreement on the legal, technical and generally accepted industry definitions and aspects of a term. But this is just the first step.

The real work begins next.

Once everyone understands how to track and calculate an open rate and what its real role and value are, you can have a meaningful strategic discussion with management. The conversation might then drive a complete rethinking of how you and management measure the success of your email-marketing program.

During this discussion of definitions and success metrics, you now can take a step back and perhaps revise the goals of your program and the strategies you use to achieve them.

Are there terms that you and your team members or management argue about or don't fully understand? Or have you found ways to overcome these barriers and make sure everyone is on the same page? Please share your experiences in the comments section.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

1 comment about "Are You And Management Speaking The Same Language?".
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  1. Jeff Abraham from Rel-8 Marketing, March 8, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.

    One way to get around management concern for "pop-over" vs "pop-up" is to call the technique a "hover window". I have succesfully convinced several organizations to use hover windows which produced great results.

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