[Expert Insight] Planning is Critical Step for Email Marketing Campaigns

marketing, content marketingAs marketers look ahead to the future, new research suggests that they are turning to content planning to measure the ROI of their efforts. The “2018 State of Email Workflows” report from Litmus found that 55 percent of marketers now use a content calendar year-round – but is this trend bound to continue? How dedicated are marketers to future planning?

For answers to these questions and more, we spoke to Chad White, research director at Litmus.

More than half of marketers now say they use a content calendar year-round. Do you see this percentage increasing or decreasing in the near future?

content marketing“We expect this to continue to slowly rise. This kind of positive behavior is a sign of the growing maturity of email marketing programs.”

About 69 percent use software other than (or in addition to) spreadsheets, specifically to plan out email content. Do you see marketers turning to additional software for planning other types of campaigns in the future?

“More marketers will be adopting content and project planning software going forward because campaigns are involving an increasing number of people inside and outside of marketing. That’s being driven by two trends:

  • Email campaigns are growing more complex in terms of development and the data that’s involved
  • Email campaigns are increasingly integrated into other channels as part of omnichannel campaign, which necessitates more planning and coordination.”

Less than 20 percent of marketers create a brief for every email to set goals and establish KPIs – why do you think this is the case? Do you see any improvements coming in the near future?

“There’s an incredible urgency to skip the planning and get right to writing and coding a campaign. Everyone’s in a hurry, but scoping and planning is not a wise thing to skip. Foregoing the planning phase will regularly cost a brand later in the process or, worse, in the results of the campaign. Taking the time to clarify an email’s goal, audience, timing, KPIs, and other details gets the email team and stakeholders all on the same page, significantly reducing the chance of a campaign misfire.”

content marketingOnly 17 percent of companies plan their content for more than three months out for peak season campaigns. Are marketers missing out on opportunities by failing to plan ahead?

“The percentage of brands that don’t plan out peak season campaigns more than a month ahead of time is particularly worrisome. By giving themselves such a short runway, they’ve essentially ruled out the possibility to do anything innovative or creative. Also, brands that plan farther ahead are better able to foresee the need to engage agencies or freelancers to accomplish everything that they want to accomplish.

Currently, when it comes to email content planning, brands aren’t treating peak seasons much differently than they treat non-peak season campaigns. That’s unfortunate, since peak season campaigns are so much more valuable.”

What was the most interesting statistic/finding in the report, in your opinion?

“It is surprising just how much time brands are spending reviewing and approving emails—3.9 hours per email on average. That’s more time than brands spend on email copywriting, designing, coding, or any other aspect of email production. There’s a big opportunity there to streamline the review process and save time.”

marketing, content marketingABOUT CHAD WHITE

Chad S. White is the author of “Email Marketing Rules” and Research Director at Litmus, a web-based email building, testing, and analytics platform that helps more than 250,000 marketers create better subscriber experiences. He has written more than 3,000 posts and articles about email marketing trends and best practices. A former journalist, Chad previously served as lead email marketing researcher at Salesforce.com, ExactTarget, Responsys, and the Direct Marketing Association.


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