Lead with Strategy – An Email & More Recap

By Jonathan Pay

Life in the marketing trenches can be an exercise of stressful tunnel vision. There can be so much pressure to get the next campaign out the door that there’s no time to sit back and look at the big picture. To achieve anything more than fumbling blindly in the dark marketers need a strategy. This was the topic of the April 2024 Email & More, Holistic Email Marketing’s popular live webinar for Email Marketers gathering experts from across the industry to join our panel and audience to share insights, experiences, and best practices to the benefit of all.

Email & More prides itself on inviting guests onto our panels who are not only experts but actual working marketers, active in the industry and up to date on trends and developments.

For this episode, we welcomed Aubrey Miller-Schmidt, Senior Email Marketing and Website Programs Manager from Main Street America Insurance. Jennifer Hoff, Director of CRM at Dunnhumby. Sara Scofield, Director of Corporate Email Marketing at US Bank.  As always Kath Pay series regular panellist and CEO of Holistic Email Marketing was present with Skip Fidura as moderator to chair the event.

Discovering the Value of Email Strategy

Opening the floor to the panel, Skip asked our experienced marketing gurus when they first discovered they needed to put strategy first in their own careers.

Kath answered first, relating her experience with her first business explaining that all organisations, not just marketing focussed ones face when it comes to strategy.  “Sometimes as email marketers we grab those shiny little things which are actually tactics that deliver results, but we just throw them out there without any strategy behind it” Kath cautioned “But this means a very confusing and not seamless experience for the audience”.

RPE Origin, platinum sponsor of Email & More Season 5

For Aubrey, the need for strategy developed early in her career while working for a non-profit animal shelter. There she learned how to use the results of previous emails to plan future ones. Sara by contrast cut her strategic teeth in the high-pressure corporate world where she learned to use a strategy of segmentation to ensure that the communications her company were sending to their customers were relevant to their needs.

Jennifer perhaps had the most fortunate start. Her first employer in the field gave her a solid understanding of what a coherent marketing strategy looked like, something invaluable later when she went to work for an employer who… did not have a coherent marketing strategy.  A case study indeed of why it’s so important in marketing to take the time to teach and learn from others.

What are the Steps You Take to Develop a Strategy?

Moving on to questions from the audience, Kath, asked about how she develops strategy, answered that the place to begin was with business objectives as achieving these informs everything further down the chain. “It’s like a waterfall,” she says of her approach.  “You start with the business objectives, then you convert into marketing objectives. Then you identify what strategies can be put in place and then you convert into tactics”.

The second most important thing to do is to write it down to help ensure everyone can see the plan at all times. Critically, these plans shouldn’t be regarded as gospel truths, never to be changed but rather as living documents to be adapted and modified. “So if you do a test and find something isn’t quite working or you’ve got a big challenge that wasn’t there when you created the strategy you can go add to it to address the situation” Kath explains describing her view on best practice.

Seino, Silver sponsor of Email & More Season 5

How should Email Marketers approach other teams?

The next question went to Aubrey. While in smaller businesses the marketing department might consist of one brave individual, in larger ones entire teams exist to manage the separate channels. A successful strategy has to work between different teams from across the organisation. “It’s all about relationship building and understanding their success is your success,” Aubrey explains.

The key she advises is to work together in the early phases. This ensures that for example, the web team is considering what sort of landing pages may be needed or how customer activity will be tracked. Metrics especially need to be aligned between teams as the customer journey is rarely straightforward. “But” Aubrey cautions, “If it’s not written down – you don’t have an agreement. And you won’t know if what you did made a difference in the business!”

How Do You Manage with Corporate Goals That Are Not Completely Aligned?

When it comes to alignment with different stakeholders across a corporation or large organisation, according to Sara, the real challenge comes in prioritising the interests of different involved teams.  For example, a bank might have separate teams working on different products. For example, loans, retail, credit cards e.t.c.

Teams then need to collaborate to determine matters such as who gets contacted for what reason and how often. It’s particularly important to consider deliverability here. “You might have the best email program in the entire world, but if it’s not getting in the inbox it doesn’t matter,” Sara concluded.

Bouncer, Silver sponsor of Email & More Season 5

How Do You Create and Maintain Control of a Plan?

Jennifer provided the panel and audience with some great insight into this question. Advocating for customers she advised the panel that “It’s great to look at benchmarks of what other people are doing or what’s going on in your industry but it’s really important to know your audience.”

To preserve this it’s essential to have a seat at the plan-making table to allow you to advocate for the strategies that prioritise customer satisfaction over bulk acquisition.  Of course, every company wants to grow its customer base. But it’s better to have loyal customers eager to buy from you than a huge list of email contacts who don’t.

Don’t miss out on all the insights, questions and answers from the full episode of Email & More: Lead With Strategy available now on our website and Youtube!

Thanks again to our panellists Aubrey, Jennifer and Sara, for joining our panel and lending their expertise as well as to our live audience for their valued participation and questions

Finally a big thanks to our platinum sponsor RPE Origin, along with silver sponsors SEINō and Bouncer for their generous support of this series!

Hungry for more? Email and More will be back to talk “Gen-AI Copywriting for Email Marketing” on 21 May 2024.  Join us on social media to stay informed!