Non-Traditional Wins

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 8, 2014
Email marketing can at times be a really thankless marketing channel.  Email folks are typically under-funded, understaffed, work in the “red zone” more than half their waking life, and live in a world of vendor arbitrage. The challenge working in this type of environment is that “wins” are really hard to define and repeat, and hard to find inspiration for. 

As we enter the holiday season, finding key “wins” will be important not only for your morale, but also to create energy around your efforts in other camps in your organization.   Over the years, most email professionals classically learn to define wins by key metrics that cascade through the organization:

--       Growth of database

--        Revenue driven from email channel

- -       Responsiveness or engagement of email audience



While meaningful, there are other ways to promote a winning culture this year that might just liven up your teams, and maybe even your creativity.

First, try creating brand tracking teams.   There are ample tools to track competitor activities.   You shouldn’t have to seed your personal email with your top competitors’ and rely on everyone forwarding samples to each other.  Create teams and challenge each one to trend one of your competitors and do a standup “dashboard” each week.  Doesn’t take a lot of time if done incrementally, and can be quite fun. A key “win” will be having a more real-time view of your competitors’ programs and possibly stretching what you typically trend. This will manifest into a fun “newsroom” culture that gets you out of the rut of sitting behind the computer screen hunkered down on email.

“Pick a generation” is also fun.   Assign generations (Millennials, Gen X) to a specific team -- it’s even better if each team has participants of different generations. Do research, be contextual to your programs and when reviewing results, each team member provides a generational overlay to the results.   Having a generational perspective shifts you from trying to understand what happened in a campaign to why it happened, lending perspective. A key win will help you understand who to invest in today, how trends affect generations and what’s next, relative to how your customer base is trending- online.

Create a Geek Squad, whose sole responsibility is to be hyper-focused on device trends, from tactical response trends to translating what each means to your retail presence. This, along with competitive and generational views, will let you color in the picture with more than black and white.   Devices are changing our world, and having this Geek view will transform your thinking from responsive design to real behavioral trends on devices and how they can impact how your customers consume, engage and buy on these vital appendages.

Do exit polls.   Have a field trip to the mall or other high-foot-traffic area, and have the team ask and possibly video-interview people randomly about email.  Find out what they do on their phones, what they checked, and have fun with them. The human connection is really important in a channel that doesn’t talk.  Play these interviews back with the team, at annual reviews; share with your boss.  

Wins promote the right behaviors and satisfaction in the work. But they’re not just about fulfilling business goals, but about stretching and finding success as you do.  

Before this holiday gets away from you, build some fun and learning activities into your email role. You’ll find when you come up for air in January, your mind will be filled with a much broader perspective and passion for what’s next.    If you’re the leader of your merry band, build in some simple rewards into these activities, and you’ll find them evolving in a very productive way.

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