It’s Gmail, Not AOL: Grading Your Email Program Using ‘This, Not That’
This interesting read about corporate culture from the team at 99u.com recommends a branding approach to determine your values at work. It's a "this/not that" exercise whereby the description of a brand is more fully fleshed out when it's described in this paired combination.
The author recommends selecting a descriptor of when you were doing "great work" and pairing it with a more mediocre period. For example:
- curious, not knowing;
- step forward, not hold back; and
- loose, not tight.
By understanding what it's like when you're at your best versus when things are more ho-hum, you can focus more on the attributes in play when you're living up to your potential.
Let's take a look at this in the context of an email program. I audit email programs on a regular basis and wonder what clients’ reactions would be to this approach rather than a Likert scale, Harvey Ball or other more traditional rating mechanism. The following are examples of how I would have graded certain key levers associated with recent email programs — recognize any of these issues in your own program?
Triggered messaging: Pomeranian, not Mastiff. Sure, scientifically speaking they're both dogs, but one is a dog and the other more like a chew toy. It's substantial versus fluff. I've found when you start shining a flashlight into the dark corners of an email program you find that, yes, there are triggered messages set up and, yes, those are working. But there's a huge set of missed opportunities. The brands have enough setup that they're able to say, "Yes, we're sending triggered emails." But in reality, there are massive gaps. They're not tracking performance and the full set of data isn't being used to inform the sequencing/messaging/timing.
Multichannel integration: 2014 New Year's resolutions, not ones from 2013. Best intentions aside, those resolutions from just over a month ago are likely starting to fade. That promise to really integrate your email program with display, search and mobile is likely waning as well. Multichannel integration is on a lot of brands’ to-do lists, but given the scope of change typically necessary to accomplish this, it's often slow to gain traction. It's best to approach in crawl/walk/run fashion by choosing one channel, and then one pilot and build up momentum from there. Don't let next year's resolutions be the same as this year's.
Mobile optimization: Jazz bar, not music festival. When it comes to optimizing your email program for mobile devices, you can't treat mobile like background music where attention fades in and out based on other things that are happening around you. Today's email consumption environment demands that you be immersed in mobile and understand the lens through which a massive and growing audience is engaging with you. It's got to be Bonnaroo, not Dixie's Trumpet Club.
Test program: "A Christmas Story," not "Shawshank Redemption." You know where I'm going with this one. Assuming you have cable/satellite television, you know you can watch Shawshank whenever you want. Not by streaming either — just by flipping to TNT or TBS or one of several other stations. That's what your test efforts should be like — always on — unlike "A Christmas Story," which gets a lot of love once a year and then goes into hiding for a while to collect dust.
How would you describe the key dimensions of your email program? How about your program overall? Grade your own email program using "this/not that" and see if it helps cement in your team's mind where you are and where you want to be.