Are approvals killing your email marketing campaigns?

Are approvals killing your email marketing campaigns?

We all know that approval is often the very last thing you worry about when putting together an email campaign.

There’s the all-important audience to identify and segment, the artisan crafted copy with the perfect tone of voice and the hand picked images to edit. Add to that the geek clever email design to code things like image carousels, mobile interactive elements that you’re doing to make it stand out from the crowd… oh and that killer set of audience engaging Subject Lines you’re going to A/B test of course.

However, I believe getting approval can be the single greatest impediment to delivering great email marketing content to your audience, in the right way and at the right time.

Earlier in the year, prolific blogger and author Chad White wrote an interesting piece on the Litmus blog titled “4 Signs Your Email Approval Process Is Hurting Performance”

The crux of the piece as I see it was how large numbers and high organisational level of sign-offs, coupled with frequency of last minute changes and thereby approvals up to the wire were hurting email campaign performance.

I fully back Chad’s point of view and think there are a few key hacks you can adopt today that will improve your email life. I’ll tackle the WHO and the HOW below.

The screech of brakes followed by a riot of noise, leaving a scene of chaotic devastation and frustration in its brief shredding wake.

You’ve just been the victim of "Drive-by Feedback". Either you’ve experienced it yourself, had a colleague who has done it to you, or heaven forbid - you've been the perpetrator. I strongly believe that if you didn’t need to input into the brief, you don’t need to approve the output. There, I’ve said it. Feels much better now.

While I completely understand and approve of the need to get senior stakeholder buy-in on (email) campaigns including legal and message content. It makes sense to set up processes which ensure this happens when a change is a 30 second tweak to a shared copy file or briefing document. Rather than a redesign, code and test an hour or less before the scheduled dispatch.

Sounds simple. In practice though, it’s going to be much harder to change habits - but the reward can be both financial through efficiency and in the audiences experience.

After all, scheduling a message to go out based on when your CMO or MD can spare the time to review isn’t putting the audience front and centre.

How are you checking messages? Is it audience centric?

Take a moment… This could sound blindingly obvious if you’re doing it already.

It should be easy to get this information and really pays to check your open statistics on a regular basis to keep on top of this.

You’ve got >20% opening on iPad, guess what… pick up an iPad! Sure, it sounds like common sense doesn’t it. Well common sense isn’t always common practice.

If you’re unsure about your specific audience figures or want to see how this compares to the whole market I recommend bookmarking this page.

As you can see, the top 4 clients typically cover >70% of all opens… and to the vexation of many an IT team, 3 of those are Apple!

OK, thanks for the patience, we're nearly there.

I may hate the term quick wins with a frankly unjustifiable and perhaps unhealthy passion, but there are times when making a quick change to your design based on improving experience for customers using only one device simply makes sense. Particularly when that device is running iOS.

As previous, if you’re audience is primarily checking out your emails on their iPhones you can go to town with great looking messages without stressing too much about the cases where it isn’t supported. Settle with having a simple fall back.

How many times have you struggled with code for an hour or more to get that message rendering just right in Outlook 2013 on your laptop when you’ve got less than 2% opens in MSO? How many would you have if all your colleagues weren’t included in the open figures?

My advice? Focus on the big wins rather than sweating the small percentage of clients who aren't playing ball.

If you’re still worried, try educating your audience on how good it could all look if they tried viewing in a different client? We’ve got a good example of where we’ve done just that ourselves.

Using code, you can target Outlook openers with a helpful warning message.

I’d love to hear about your experience of getting sign off on your email campaigns. Tweet us @CommCorp and let us know; do you recognise the challenges? How have you solved them?