The Chemistry Of An Email Team

While each organization is unique in its needs, cultures, budgets and focus on the email channel, I've seen so many types of email teams put together -- from cobbled-together teams infused into marketing groups, fully functional email departments and then the "one person show."  The exact organization isn't as important as the chemistry and responsibilities within each role.  Let's think for a minute about all the roles needed to properly manage an email program, and talk about them in terms of personas rather than ambiguous titles.

-    The Idealist:   the one who brings ideas and plans to the forefront, the creative inspiration, the task driver, the manager ultimately responsible for the finished, delivered email and how it bridges consumer relevance and marketing goals.  This person usually has more ideas and promotions than the average team or agency can handle and is continually challenged with tradeoffs (time vs. budget).  Critical to success is his or her ability to make decisions, surround herself with information and do so "on-the-fly." 



 -   The Moderator:  this is the one who is driven by tasks. He or she insures that creative is on target, the lists are appropriated and segmented properly; he's the coordinator of the campaign, the approval moderator and ultimately the final gatekeeper of the email campaign.  Critical to success in this role is the ability to infuse key learning and best practices into each campaign, and the innate ability to manage many moving tasks and needs within a given schedule.

The Interpreter:  formerly known as the creative team.  They are tasked with optimizing to the medium, interpreting ideas, insight and understanding of the audience to craft messaging and design that clearly communicates the intent of the message.  It's persuasion, inspiration, and how the content/message and intent convey the brand and direct response goals of the campaign.  Keys to success in this role are the ability to understand the consumer experience, maintain this integrity through creative execution, and build on the continuity of the message (it isn't the message, it's the experience).  They must have clear insight into past experience, performance, and how the different consumer environments impact the consumer experience.

The Inquisitor:  this is the person who probably knows how to code properly for Outlook 2007 and understands all forms of CSS and their limitations.  This person may code and manage your email system, but she is strongly considered the power user of the email platform. She usually knows more about your customer file and the data than anyone on your team. Critical to success in this role is the ability to stay on top of big issues in the channel, and see how these evolve by ISP, to help translate performance from trends with consumer and B to B ISPs. 

The Miner:  yes, he's usually deep in the mine, digging up nuggets of data.  He strives to understand patterns in response, how that translates by acquisition, by demographic, by product/service group, by needs and attitudes. He will typically be the one that propagates online survey questions and strategies.  These are hard folks to find and grow, as data can be terrible fragmented and the needs are real-time.  Keys to success are knowing what you have, (data) knowing how you got this data (source) and having intimate knowledge of the business and how it operates.  I've rarely found this breed of person that can do it all. Rather, you'll have an analytics person (mine the data), analyst (interpret it), and strategist (who builds strategy around it). 

While few companies have all these people dedicated to email, the roles are still critical.  As I wrote in a past article on recruiting for the interactive space, our challenge will be to get people excited about the channel, keep them entertained, and balance the need to grow these skills internally and add a spice of external expertise and influence. Critical to doing this right is maintaining knowledge inside your company..





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