At last month’s ParDreamin’, the virtual Pardot focused 4-day event, I had the honor to co-present for a session with Karmel James, Senior Associate at Dupont Circle Solutions, to discuss what every marketer experiences while taking an email campaign from conception to delivery, told through the eyes of characters from Disney’s® Inside Out.
Focusing on the steps of the marketing process and what emotion it activates, here are what you can expect when trying to piece your campaigns together, from start to finish:
1. Sadness: Process and Journey Mapping (decisions, decisions, decisions)
When starting to build your email marketing campaign, there are a lot of big decisions to be made. Primary, what is it that you are trying to achieve? What are your marketing goals? Who is your target audience? From there, you need to be able to create messaging that targets that demographic and create a Call to Action (CTA) that targets that 80% majority of your chosen audience.
There are a lot of questions and decisions that need to be made at this first stage of your email marketing journey, bringing up sadness and putting you in decision paralysis. To overcome this overwhelming feeling, it is best to start by identifying your campaign end date and working backwards. This gives you a clear idea of what your intentions and goals are, streamlining your decisions and giving you clarity on what needs to get done and when.
2. Joy: Marketing Automation (don’t ‘set it and forget it’)
After you’ve gotten clarity on where your campaign is going, your next step is identifying if it requires automation, which is ultimately our next emotion: ‘joy’. Automating not only simplifies your journey, but really saves you time and resources along the way, bringing ‘joy’ along for the ride. But automation needs a clear thought process and effective design planning to ensure what you are automating makes sense and doesn’t cause avoidable issues down the road.
When choosing what to automate, make sure you are consulting all the resources and emotions involved and know that what is automated will have to be reviewed throughout the campaign journey, making sure you aren’t just setting and forgetting about it. Start with the necessities and see how they work – you can always add more automations or change accordingly later on.
3. Disgust: Testing (You want me to do what?)
Moving away from the joy of automation, the next step is testing, a part of the process that can be disgustingly painful. You are essentially repeating the same thing over and over to ensure that there are no gaps or inconsistencies. This step is critical in making sure the automations you put in place aren’t backfiring, and that your audience is able to effectively move through the journey you have created for them.
To do this, you need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you were receiving this email, is everything easily accessible for you? Are there any glitches you encounter? Do all the links work? What if you opened an email days later or forwarded it to a friend? View the email from the audience’s perspective, testing out what you’ve implemented in the backend.
Ensuring that all your links and your CTA are functioning properly no matter what audience member opens the email or how, takes repeated testing. But, the end result is a much more effective campaign, where your target audience focuses on exactly what you wanted them to, guiding them effortlessly from copy, to links, to the CTA.
4. Anger: Analytics (not just a bunch of numbers)
All the stops on your journey already mentioned are ultimately moving towards your results, determining if those results are accurate and move your company forward, or are skewed and force you to start again.
Analytics covers a wide range of things, so just like the start of our campaign journey, you need to take it step by step. Begin with settling benchmark targets such as KPIs, lead numbers, marketing material downloads or link visits. These will most likely be guesses and after you repeat the campaign process again and again, you can accumulate enough data over time to build your benchmark targets with more accuracy, based on past results.
It is important though to take these results with a grain of salt and make sure you are looking at the most important result areas rather than the ones that may not have as much value. Try to focus on the click through rate (CTR) rather than the open rate and focus on the involvement in your CTA. This will help you figure out where your campaign’s gaps are, and what works and needs to be leaned into.
These results and accurately analyzing them is important when presenting to upper management. Presenting graphs and visuals to your boss is good, but anger may creep in for them if you do not show what your results mean and why they matter to the overall operations of the company.
5. Fear: Documentation (your future self will thank you)
Everything your present self does to document every step, success or misstep in your campaign process, your future self will thank you for. Creating documentation of your journey from start to end gives your future self the opportunity to look back and better understand why you made the decisions you did and how you ended up there.
Don’t know where to start? Begin simple: write out your primary targets (i.e. 10% increase in ROI), why you chose them (i.e. I saw trends in XYZ), and how you are going to get there (i.e. CTA to downloadable content). This will help your future self have a thorough understanding of your goals and clear requirements on how to achieve them. It will also give you a clear visual of your marketing efforts quarterly and yearly, giving you the opportunity to pivot where necessary and increase efforts where you see success.
Another reason for having and continuously building on historical data is to evaluate your own success and see what achievements are accomplished, year after year. This helps you in building a case of needing new hires and with onboarding them.
Documentation is the final, but critical point of your journey – something you should be accumulating during your campaign journey and finalizing once your campaign is complete.
Final Takeaway: The most important character
It is important to note that while we discuss all of these emotions being separate parts of a whole, they are ultimately all part of the same important character: you. These 5 emotions are part of you, and take turns leading a portion of your campaign process, all being part of the same team.
To review, we begin with coming up with a cohesive process before you begin your campaign, which leads to thinking about your automation accurately and enables you to design and implement effective testing. From there, we can analyze how effective our processes are and their effect on overall operations. Finally, we need to make sure we are documenting this process and every step backwards or forwards that we took and why.
In the end, you are in control of this team of 5 emotions as the change agent inside your own head and need to know when to listen to which emotion and when to mute it. It is important to maintain a balance between them, keeping you from shifting too far into one direction. If you ensure all 5 are working as a team, you eventually correctly calibrate what needs to come out at what step and what is most effective.