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Pre, Post, Perform: The Three Pillars of a Successful Email Program


When we think about the email workflow and what it takes to build a successful email program, we too often focus exclusively on the pre-send process. And while the pre-send process is absolutely crucial to building a successful email program, the best email marketers don’t consider their job done once they hit the send button.

Here at Litmus, we believe there are three crucial pillars to email marketing success—and only when you master all three can you build a state-of-the-art email program that can positively impact your entire marketing mix:

  • PRE:
    From copywriting to designing, collaborating to coding, and QA’ing to connecting to your ESP, this step of the email process includes all the activities needed to get your campaign ready to send and ensure your messages are heard.
  • POST:
    Learn and optimize. This step includes analyzing subscriber engagement and the performance of your campaigns to make your future email marketing even better.
    Go beyond the email channel. Break down silos and bring insights to the rest of your team so they can apply these learnings with confidence and improve the effectiveness of other marketing activities.

Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.

PRE: Nail the pre-send process

Getting a great email out the door is no easy task. From the first campaign idea to hitting send, marketers spend an average of 2 weeks producing a single email—and the process involves a magnitude of steps, tools, and stakeholders.

In a world where every consumer is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the noise. If you want your messages to be heard, your email campaigns must be targeted and perfectly executed.

A watertight email process keeps projects moving quickly, makes collaborating with stakeholders easy, and ensures high-quality output. A broken process, on the other hand, can be damaging to your program—and your team.

If your pre-send process is flawed, email results suffer

If your team is frequently missing deadlines, you’re struggling with campaign consistency, or you frequently discover errors after you hit send, these are strong indicators that your pre-send process needs some love.

Understand where exactly your weaknesses are. Does your email coding take too long? Is it your email approval process that slows you down? Or is your biggest challenge that you just can’t stop errors from creeping in?

Too often, marketers assume this is just how email marketing is; that getting an email out the door is a draining process and there’s nothing you can do about it. This isn’t quite true. Issues like the ones above can often be fixed by making small tweaks and adding automation to your pre-send process.

Produce better emails, faster

Easily manage campaign development, automate tasks that eat up your team’s time, and produce quality emails at scale with Litmus.

Learn more →


POST: Use email insights to improve future campaigns

A lot goes into getting your campaigns ready for sending—but the best teams know that their work isn’t over once they hit the send button. You have to constantly monitor how your campaigns are doing and then use those insights to draw conclusions and improve future campaigns. 

If you don’t optimize your post-send process, you’ll fly blind on email performance

Email marketing is complex, and you just can’t successfully maneuver a complex machine by relying only on gut feeling. 

Still, many marketers say they have limited access to the data they need to judge campaign performance. Others say they do have access, but they simply never have the time to really dig into the numbers. Both are issues you should take seriously. 

To constantly improve your campaigns with better personalization and targeting, you need a deep understanding of what messages resonate with and truly engage your audience to drive action—and which don’t. That’s why focusing on email analytics and campaign insights is key. 

Did your last newsletter outperform previous sends by a long shot? Take a close look at the subject line and content of that send to see what might have driven strong performance. Do you see a sudden drop in email engagement? There might be an issue with your content or email deliverability and you need to take action, soon.

Optimize for even better results with Litmus Email Analytics

Go beyond opens and clicks, track the email engagement metrics that matter most, and easily identify top-performing campaigns. Litmus Email Analytics gives you the insights you need to constantly improve your email program.

Learn more →


PERFORM: Go beyond the email channel

Brands that have truly mastered the art of email don’t just send perfect emails, monitor their performance, and use this data to improve the next campaign—they also break down silos, sharing insights about what’s working in email with their strategic leaders to help improve the effectiveness of other marketing channels.

Break down channel boundaries for overall marketing success

Do other members of your marketing organization have insights into email performance and what you learned from your subscribers? Do you regularly share what you learned in one channel so you can apply learnings from one team to the other, more expensive channels? Does your marketing team recognize your email subscribers as a valuable source of information about what your target audiences are interested in hearing about?

If you shook your head no to any of the questions above, that’s a sign that you can improve the perform stage of your email process. 

When you’re focused on getting the next campaign out the door and making your email program successful, it’s easy to lose sight of how the email channel can inform and integrate with other channels. But being a champion outside the email silo can have a huge impact.

For example, here at Litmus, we saw that this blog post generated incredible engagement in one of our newsletters. When our email team shared those results with the larger team and our VP of Marketing, it didn’t just inform our content strategy (there will be more blog posts on email design trends!), but we also decided to promote this same topic via a paid media campaign. 

The result: We more than doubled our average click-through rate, making this one of the most successful ads we’ve ever run.

Leveraging email insights can help you make better decisions in other channels—and vice versa—and improve the effectiveness of your marketing mix overall.

Set Your Email Campaigns Up for Success

There are three crucial elements to building a state-of-the-art email program—and we break them down one by one. Dive into the first pillar and learn how to optimize each step of your pre-send process, so you’re armed for success.

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Bettina Specht

Bettina Specht

Bettina Specht was the Senior Content & Lifecycle Campaigns Manager at Litmus