The steps you need to take to turn an email idea into an active campaign will likely always be the longest process of your marketing team’s job.
With more consideration in your pre-send process, you’ll see more efficiency in each step and realize greater insights.
How do you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be? It starts by assessing each step in your pre-send workflow.
Step 1: Planning
When you’re in the weeds of email creation and testing, it can be hard to find time to step back and strategize. If that’s the case, you may find yourself waking up one morning and realizing Black Friday is a month away, or that you never set clear goals for a new campaign. Luckily, 58% of email marketers use a content calendar year-round, and 24% use an email brief for every email. Skipping a planning session in lieu of making edits on your upcoming campaign is tempting, but it could come back to bite you later.
Taking the time to create an email brief or use a content planning tool gives you a few strategic advantages:
- Align on the strategy of the email, who will be involved, and what the goals are
- Have a “single source of truth” for everyone to reference and find key documents
- Ensure that all team members are aware of upcoming projects
- Identify gaps in strategy or knowledge
- Summarize all your work for your boss at the end of the year
Step 2: Design
Your email design and accessibility have a significant impact on the subscriber’s experience. The percent of companies using brand or design guidelines has risen over the past few years, and for a good reason. Having guidelines makes designing new campaigns faster and ensures a more consistent experience for subscribers. 39% of teams design their emails by replacing the text and image coding in a template or by updating it in a previous email, while 15% still create from scratch. Any time you can document or templatize a process, you make it easier for tasks to be distributed or for new hires to learn the ropes.
Step 3: Coding
Coding and developing an email takes teams, on average, 3.8 hours, though there is a small segment of groups that dedicate 9 hours or more per email. In general, CSS inlining by hand is falling in popularity as tools like Litmus Builder boost productivity and reduce errors. At the same time, the usage of snippets is on the rise.
Step 4: Integrating
It’s often the case that a task with many parts will require multiple tools. Email leaders, designers, and developers who work across many different programs could fall victim to copy-and-paste gone wrong. Not to mention all of the time spent transferring emails between building platforms, testing tools, and your ESP for every round of revisions. If you want to speed up your workflow while reducing errors, integrating your tools can be a lifesaver.
Step 5: Testing
When testing is done right, it’s a smooth process that can catch little “oops” moments before it’s too late. However, email testing doesn’t always go smoothly and leads some email marketers to (gasp) skip testing altogether. 57% of email marketers test every email they send, which on the flip side, means that 43% of teams don’t.
19% only check new or updated templates, perhaps because it’s a common myth that as long as you’re working with a template, testing every email is unnecessary. The reality, though, is that email apps update every few days. With each update comes the opportunity for something to go awry with your email, so testing before every send is absolutely a must.
Step 6: Reviewing and Approving
Glaring mistakes that stand out to fresh eyes seem to fade into the distance when you’ve been staring at the same email all day. Getting outside feedback and review brings a fresh perspective to a campaign, but the review process is tough to get right. While 58% of email marketers feel their review and approval process is just right, 42% feel it’s either too lax or too burdensome. For many teams it’s also the pre-send step that eats up the most time. Marketers spend an average of 4.2 hours gathering reviews and approval—for a single email.
Learn how to assess this step and actions to take in part 1 of our ebook, The 3 Pillars of Email Marketing: What You Need to Do to Stand Out.
Megan Moller was the Director, Content Marketing at Litmus