“Hey, would you mind sending a follow-up email?”
Already you are barely keeping up with your workload by the time you receive that dreaded last-minute email request.
With everything else on your plate, now is the time to take a break to get the second email out the door and then catch up on everything else on your plate …
We know you’re constantly being asked to send more email with fewer resources.
And sometimes it’s inevitable. As the needs of your business and your subscribers change, you need to be able to adapt quickly to stay relevant or put your email marketing program at risk.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be that difficult.
Enter agile email marketing.
Here, let’s summarize what agile email marketing means, why it’s important, and how you can use it to scale and send more effective emails faster – without breaking a sweat.
What is agile email marketing anyway?
Agile email marketing is a way to be flexible and adapt to change by focusing on data and the needs of your subscribers, using a modular process so you can send effective emails faster.
Before we dive into agile email marketing, we need to first mention the agile methodology.
The agile methodology is a project management process that started in software development and gives teams the flexibility to adapt quickly and respond to changes. That way, teams could constantly improve and innovate, keep track of their users’ needs, and beat their competition in the marketplace.
There are many ways this agility is possible, but the three things we translate into agile email marketing are:
- Focus on customer needs
- Make data-driven decisions
- Cross-team collaboration
While agile email marketing doesn’t require the use of the agile methodology, it is important to create a more efficient method of sending emails.
In other words, agile email marketing helps you prioritize your emails, get all stakeholders on the same page, and maximize your teams and resources to optimize your production process. With teamwork and a clear understanding of goals, you won’t keep an eye on them when sending last-minute emails or changing priorities.
Sounds too good to be true?
Agile email marketing requires a change in mindset. Instead of planning the big campaigns you are used to, you need to plan iterative changes in a test and learning environment.
For example, instead of mapping and composing all of the emails throughout your welcome or onboarding trip, start small with just the first email. Do something A / B tests to find out what your audience is most receptive to, tweak it, and use what you’ve learned to build on the rest of your parenting journey – one email at a time.
Your goal is progress, not perfection. But don’t worry, this shift is not all or nothing. Even the smallest steps to change your mind about email and the workflow to become agile can pay off hugely, as I’ll explain below.
Why agility is critical to success
Sure, email professionals may seem like wizards, but email isn’t created with the wave of a magic wand. There’s a lot going on under the hood. 52% of marketers spend two weeks or more completing a single email from conception to clicking the send button.
Source: Litmus’ 2020 State of Email Workflows
Not to mention, 55% of marketers juggle at least six emails at a time. So it is never “just” an email anymore.
The traditional email marketing process uses linear and interdependent steps. You can’t go forward without following the previous step. For example, you need to write a copy before creating any pictures or do the design before encoding the email.
Check out this process! It’s no wonder that composing and sending an email can take a long time.
However, this pace can affect your email marketing program – or worse, your brand reputation. Things can change in an instant … Think natural disasters, a health crisis, the sociopolitical climate, rules and regulations, etc. If you can’t adapt, your email campaign can stall or even offend and reject your subscribers.
Empathy is keyIf you are agile, you are prepared for the needs of your subscribers so that you can switch at any time – and keep your customers for the long term. This also gives your work purpose.
They know that instead of falling into the trap, you are always delivering the most valuable work sunk costs fallacy: Continuing the work that is no longer relevant or worthwhile just because you have already invested in it. Your work is no longer about you, it’s about your subscribers!
Even if you are in no rush and your competitor is only a day ahead of you, it can put you at a significant disadvantage. An agile email marketing workflow speeds time to market. This can be exactly the benefit you need for campaign success.
How to make your email workflow agile
How do you move from a linear to an agile email workflow?
You need to start with your audience first and put them at the heart of your campaigns, make data-driven decisions, and collaborate across roles and teams.
With these principles in mind, you can start creating a new workflow that can either automate or run many parts of your email marketing process together, as shown in this agile email workflow diagram:
Ready? Let’s examine how you can get agile.
1. Set up your team and tools.
Your employees and your tools are crucial for the success of agile email marketing. Without this strong foundation, you are more likely to face challenges in adoption.
Make an assessment of the skills and tools needed so you know who to tap on to join you and how to compose emails together.
One of the cornerstones of agile email marketing is cross-team collaboration. This means that you can leverage a variety of existing roles and skills already in place in your company to compose and send email.
That’s right: you don’t have to hire new employees or have a large, dedicated email team. Instead, by leveraging the strengths of others and going through them as needed Email Marketing Best Practices To improve your craft specifically for email, you can work efficiently as a team. Make sure to communicate your needs and get everyone on board first!
The skills you need will depend on your email marketing program. However, the most important are:
For example, in one scenario you might want to call on people from your content and website teams to help write, design, and develop text.
Tools and technology
The second part of an agile email marketing foundation is the tools.
Take an assessment of your current technology and review the rest of the agile email workflow steps below to see where your gaps are. Do you have what you need to send emails, simplify and automate steps in your process, and collaborate effectively across teams?
At the very least, you need an email marketing tool and a collaboration tool.
2. Align the email strategy.
With your team and tools in place, you need to make sure everyone – including reviewers and approvers – are on the same page and set your team up for success as you all work toward a common goal.
A solid strategy ensures that copy, design, and development are aligned. Without alignment, misunderstanding and confusion can arise. This can slow you down or throw your emails off track, resulting in even more work and wasted time. Not agile at all.
If you’re stressed out putting together an email marketing briefing, know that it doesn’t have to be complicated or long. As long as you have these basics, you are golden:
- Define the purpose, goal and audience of your email.
- Define your open and click content strategy.
- Define the hierarchy of copies and images of your email.
Remember, your subscribers are the key to agility. When their needs overlap with the needs of your business, you get … magic.
If you find that your email is not meeting the needs of your subscribers, consider changing your email or not sending it at all.
Continuous improvement is essential to be agile. You can focus your email on your subscribers by learning from the past and present to inform your future strategy.
You can extract insights from industry news or your email marketing tools to identify opportunities for design improvement or to improve segmentation, targeting, and personalization.
After all expectations have been set and synchronized, email production can begin.
3. Write, design and build at the same time.
The time it takes to write, draft, and create an email adds up in a linear process. When done all together it means that production time will be cut by over 50%.
The secret? Standardized email design and a visual email editor.
Building every email from scratch is a tremendous waste of time. And if you want to ensure brand consistency and reduce errors, standardized email is the way to go.
There are a few ways to do this in order of complexity:
- Snippets: Reusable lines of code for frequently used elements such as HTML buttons or hyperlinks so that you don’t have to code the same thing over and over again.
- Partially: Reusable lines of code for globally used content blocks such as header and footer, so any updates made to them are automatically applied to every email.
- templates: reusable encoded emails with a fixed layout in which copies, images and links can be easily added or replaced.
- Design systems: A collection of reusable email components with instructions on how to mix and match them to create more flexible yet standardized email designs.
This doesn’t mean that you have to settle for boring, hectic designs. You can still be creative in your pictures and how different reusable components come together to compose an email.
Standardized email design and development not only saves time for innovation, it also enables you to write, design, and create in one visual email editor at the same time.
Once a template has been defined for your email, you already have the specifications for the copy to be written and the images to be created. Then you need to include them in your email template.
A visual email editor tool loaded with your email snippets, partials, and / or templates can then allow anyone to work and collaborate on their part of the production process at the same time.
Images can be created based on the content description in your email marketing letter from step 2 while the copy is being written. The copy can even be written into your visual email editor to make sure it fits into the design, making editing copies a breeze.
Even if you don’t have a visual email editor, development can begin with placeholder images and text. With everyone on the same strategy page, you don’t have to wait for it to be designed and copied.
4. Gather feedback in one place.
By aligning the email strategy with everyone involved, the review process should be less painful. Even so, it can be difficult to juggle feedback from different people across different tools. What if there are conflicting comments? Or are you missing important feedback?
This time-saving tip is simple: consolidate everyone’s feedback in one place.
Stop sending individual screenshots or test emails. Share an email test with stakeholders in one place so everyone works together.
First, you’ll need to get the URL in the “View in Browser” or “View Online” link in your email. You can also create one web-based version of your email Divide. The important thing is that you have an email in which users can test links and interactive elements.
Then select a single point – not an email thread – to share your email for feedback. This can be done as part of a group message in your communication tool or as an individual task in your project management tool.
You can collect feedback in the same places. Or, you may find it quicker and easier to create a separate spreadsheet to track feedback, conversations about specific comments, and progress in implementing feedback.
The key is that all reviewers and approvers are together and can see each other’s feedback.
There are also specially designed collaboration tools that not only allow you to share a live version of your email, but also leave feedback on it, check off changes, and track approvals.
5. Analyze and share insights.
After sending your email, check to see how it works so that you can evolve to meet your subscriber needs. In the world of agile methodology, you can think of this as the end of a sprint working in small steps to improve the success of your emails.
The Email Marketing Metrics You should look at it depends on your goal. Your email marketing tools provide at least the basics – open, click, and unsubscribe – and may even offer deeper engagement-level metrics such as: For example, how long someone has read your emails (read rate) or how many people have shared your emails (forwarding rate). .
If you’re tempted to skip this step, don’t.
Email analytics is typically what people skip when they’re short on time. For the next email, right? However, in the long run, this will hurt your email marketing program.
It may be hard to believe, but analyzing your email actually saves you time. It’s what makes agile email marketing work in the first place. If you recall, I mentioned that agility depends on data, whether it’s internal (e.g. email performance) or external (e.g. messaging) data.
Data is how you can keep track of your subscribers’ preferences and how those preferences can change over time.
It gives you the option to say no to the emails that don’t matter. Otherwise, you’ll be shooting in the dark and wasting time on emails that your subscribers don’t care about. This affects brand awareness and the bottom line of your business.
Final thoughts on agility
Remember that even achieving some flexibility in your email workflow has benefits, such as: For example, if you can give your team some time back or reach out to your subscribers quickly.
While there is nothing wrong with the linear email marketing process – completed one step at a time – you can’t move that fast in today’s ever-changing environment. To stand out from your competition and make sure you always meet your subscribers where they are, you need speed and efficiency. This is where agile email marketing comes into play.
Make sure you have the right team and tools for everyone on the same strategy page. Then you can get started and create great emails in no time.
The next time someone asks if there is just one more email you can send, you can safely say “no” (because it is not for your subscribers) or hug it with open arms (because it is for your subscribers) ). Either way, your workflow won’t hold you back.