Now is the time to make sure your development process is humming like a finely tuned machine. If you're struggling making deadlines now, taking on additional holiday volume will cause quality and creativity to suffer.
Create a master schedule. If you don't already have one, develop a master schedule that allows you to see the status of all projects in process. A humble spreadsheet works just fine, so long as it includes all the START dates for steps in the process, not just the end dates. Put one person in charge of keeping it up to date and it will become a valuable tool rather than an administrative burden.
Invest in a collaboration tool. Check out products like Basecamp, Sharepoint and Wrike. These tools enforce rigor on content submissions, yield a single up-to-date version of working documents, and facilitate communication of tasks, deadlines and updates. Once you've used one, sending emails to discuss project details will seem like faxing. They can be used out-of-the-box or tailored to your specific needs, and are particularly useful when many different companies are involved in email creation. The reasonable monthly fee will yield big dividends in terms of time saved and errors avoided.
Tune up your templates. Review the templates you're using. Represent the eyeballs with heat mapping, the clicks with a click-map overlay (show percentages, not those strings of numbers, they are so not intuitive!) and the revenue. What is consumer behavior telling you? Develop some alternatives and test them now, while you have the luxury.
OK, you have integrated your efforts, done your research, delved into your data, tuned up your process and creative and considered how you can delight the customer this holiday season. Now all you need is...
The Email Diva
Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at email@example.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.