For most agencies, client projects should hit three keys success points: they are delivered on time, on budget, and on scope.
This sentiment especially rings true if you are an agency who offers email services. Chances are you are building a lot of email on a daily or weekly basis. You are working on projects simultaneously, in different phases, and with a myriad of different clients.
Thus, it’s key for your team to use the most efficient processes and tools, ensuring the production process goes smoothly from start to finish.
We hosted a webinar with guest panelists from the top, industry-leading agencies to talk more about the tools and processes they use to effectively build email for their clients.
We were joined by:
- Dan Caro, Director of Online Operations at Whereoware. Whereoware, based in Chantilly, VA, is a full service digital agency that specializes in email, websites, search, and mobile apps. Dan leads a team of 29 certified email marketers that do everything from production to QA, and everything in between.
- Molly Privratsky, VP of Email Operations at Trendline Interactive. Trendline Interactive, with offices in Austin, TX, Portland OR, and Chicago, IL, is a full service email marketing agency, that combines email strategy and wide understanding of email solutions to deliver customized programs to their clients. Molly leads a team serving clients including AirBnb, AARP, and Scott’s Lawn Care.
- Brian Wood, Senior Director of CRM Production at Moxie. Moxie is a full service marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA, that delivers everything from email to websites to fine-tuned data and predictive modeling. Brian leads a team serving clients including AMC movie theaters, Rachel Ray, and Verizon.
In this webinar, we uncovered how the teams at Whereoware, Trendline Interactive, and Moxie build email effectively for each of their clients. Didn’t have a chance to make it to the webinar? Don’t worry—we recorded the whole thing! Check out the video recording above and the slides below.
There were so many great questions during the webinar from our live audience. We didn’t have a chance to get to them all, but have answered most of them here on the blog.
Have any additional questions? Leave them in the comments below!
What does your email marketing team look like? How is it organized?
Dan: We have 29 employees who are focused on various parts of the email production process—and they are then split into various teams focused on each piece.
These teams include: individuals focused on high-level strategy and marketing audits (looking at a client’s current digital strategy and making recommendations), marketing managers who design and build emails, account managers who work on mostly websites projects but interface with the clients on email needs, a few full-time designers to support us, and a data specialist to focus on the data/metrics of the clients’ campaigns.
Molly: We are just one of just a handful of agencies that focus solely on email—we eat, sleep, and breath email marketing every day. We are a team of over 35 who work multidisciplinary: we have strategy experts, designers, developers, analysts, and a dedicated QA team. We also provide our clients with a dedicated client services team that is tailored to a client’s specific needs. For example, we may put a more technical project manager with a client who has a robust and detailed set of email needs.
Our teams overall are very fluid and work cross functionally to achieve our clients’ goals, with strategy working with development, and analysts working closely with creative.
Brian: We have about 75 employees who focus on email with specialization on the various stages as well. The teams that report directly to me are the production and QA teams, who represent about 35% of the whole email team. Then there is the solutions architects team who interface with the clients and think through the marketing projects to help drive revenue. In addition, we have project managers who keep the projects on time, and an analytics team to measure KPI’s and key metrics that clients want to meet.
What tools or processes do you use to keep all your email projects on track?
Dan: Our internal tool is Clarizen for project management. We use this for projectment management, collaboration, and contracting. Sometimes our clients want us to their project management tools, such as WorkFront or Basecamp, and we can be flexible to using these tools as well if needed. We have also found success using Trello as a collaboration and communication tool, especially internally.
It’s also important to mention the “human element” to communicating and keeping projects on track. We have weekly team check-ins, where our teams can come together directly and talk about the various projects, their stages, and how things are generally going. Coming together in person, if possible, we find is a crucial piece in making sure deadlines are met and we address any potential issues sooner rather than later.
2016 State of Email Agencies [Infographic]
Beyond demonstrating the role that agencies play in our industry, this infographic highlights how agencies do things differently in terms of email production.
Molly: We have hundreds of projects running concurrently on any given day, in various stages, and our teams and our clients are often distributed across different locations, so having a set process is vital to our projects. At the end of the day we are aiming for: speed, efficiency, and accuracy.
With speed and efficiency in mind, we use various project management and content management tools that are synced for each project and centralized. We use WorkFront for almost everything—client communication, workflows, client feedback, and even time tracking. WorkFront also has an approval process, so we have various checkpoints in place for both us and the client to make sure that everything is reviewed and completed.
We also make it a key point to enhance our clients’ workflows and be flexible—we can adjust to their tools and needs and don’t need to always rigidly use our process.
Brian: Our primary bread and butter tool is JIRA. JIRA is a ticketing system that allows us to customize our workflows based on client needs and project needs. For example, if we have an “ad hoc” campaign or a project that doesn’t have us covering creative, we can tailor steps and approvals in JIRA depending on what phases we do or do not have.
Case in point, right now we have 75 email projects currently logged in JIRA at various stages and phases. It’s great because it allows us to see where every project is in flux, and the resources assigned to each given project. It also allows us to involve our clients in JIRA and give them tasks or items to review, as well as ensure that we document their feedback.
Aside from JIRA, we use Tableau dashboards and we’ve even developed our own tools to meet the specific needs of email and our clients. We had our development team write QA automation scripts—this sends our emails into an inbox where they are scraped for certain things that may affect them their build or deliverability.
Where does your team find they spend the most hours during email production?
Dan: We spend the most time in design, coding, and development. To save time during coding and development, we created a code repository where we have reusable code snippets and modules. We spend significant time making sure these code pieces work across all the email clients and devices we care about as well. We also use Litmus to ensure that all of the code we are building and reusing renders appropriately. You can’t cut corners on how your subscribers are experiencing your email.
Molly: If we are going to be working with a client longterm, we will develop a modular template system. This involves creating a master template, then modules that can be populated with content. Most of our time goes into the design and really determining what the design and modules will be. But, by using this modular system, it saves us significant time and essentially we just “plug and play”—we populate in what modules are particular to which template(s).
It’s also important to use to Litmus to ensure that our modules and especially master templates are consistently rendering correctly—and to adjust, if need.
Brian: We spend significant time in designing and coding, but we also spend a lot of time in our ideation phase, where our solutions team works with our clients on ideation, strategy, and data analysis. Like Molly and Dan mentioned building repositories of code, we actually build a repository of ideas and solutions that have worked with various clients.
How can Litmus help agencies and teams building emails for clients?
The Litmus Agency Plan
Want to offer Litmus features to your teams or clients? Our Agency or Pro plan is our flexible, higher volume plan built to meet all the email production needs of agencies and large teams.