Over the course of a 15-year career in email marketing, I’ve watched the channel evolve and mature. In many ways, email’s maturation seems to have taken place in a bubble, floating outside of and unaffected by the “rules” of other marketing programs.
Many of us have been banging the “break down these walls” drum, and we’ve seen some progress in the movement against siloed cross-channel initiatives. However, while nobody was looking, our email teams may have started building up some walls within their own shared spaces, across groups like email creative, production, deliverability, and strategy.
Separation of these responsibilities is not a bad thing. The disciplines do require a different set of skills. But it is important to make sure that groups within your email team are working together effectively, so that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Otherwise, you risk messing up the consumer experience.
For example, when I recently logged into my online banking system, I was greeted with a big red note telling me that my email address was invalid and that I needed to update it to receive notifications about my account. Interesting, since I have been using this email address for 15 years and it is an active account.
My assumption is that for some reason the email address bounced with my financial provider (maybe because it’s a Comcast account?) and, being a financial institution, my bank erred on the side of caution and removed the bounce right away.
I make these assumptions because I’m in the business of email marketing, and I know how stuff like this works. But for the typical consumer, it could be maddening to a) not understand why something that worked fine yesterday won’t work today, and b) undertake the process of assigning a new email address to one’s bank account simply to conduct business as usual.
How could this have been handled differently? Here’s where effective collaboration within the email team — the strategy and deliverability folks, in this case — is critical.
Strategic recommendations are rarely black and white. We strategists use phrases like “it depends” often, because each business brings unique needs and circumstances to the table. However, the world of deliverability is often seen to be very black and white, leading to customer experiences like the one I just had with my bank. Before simply invalidating my email address, they could have sent me one more email notifying me that they were experiencing issues with delivery. They also could have included a notification about the issue when I logged in to my bank account, giving me an opportunity to fix the problem with my current email address before making me assign a new one to an account that I’ve had with them for years.
The moral of the story is to find some common “gray” space for your deliverability and strategy teams that allows them to approach challenges together. What might seem like an easy decision for a deliverability expert (simply suppress the bounce) could have long-term effects, or short-term, avoidable frustrations for your customer experience. Together, a collaborative email team should be able to devise a plan that works for everyone.