Keeping E-mail Campaigns Calm, Collected... and Creative

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted April 24, 2002
By Jackie Gallogly and Lynne Rolls

You've got an important e-mail campaign and you're up against an extremely tight deadline. If you don't get those final files to the list broker by tomorrow at noon, all hell will break loose.

Sound familiar?

Now's the time to resist the temptation of running with scissors to your creative team while sputtering feverish, garbled, and nonsensical verbiage.

Instead, consider the suggestions in this article. They could help save you time, money, and hassles. And it's likely that your e-mail could be more focused and motivating to your audience.

Take a deep breath... count to 10... put those scissors back in your drawer... and read this column.

Don't Skip the Creative Brief
First things first: Draft a creative brief - a document that succinctly summarizes all relevant information with regard to your email creative goals. It is the single most important document. It starts the creative process.

In a nutshell, your creative brief can mean the difference between tepid, unfocused creative and creative that's intriguing, motivating, and relevant to your target audience.

You'll be glad you did it.

Refer to the Creative Brief Throughout the Creative Process
After your copywriter and designer have interpreted the brief and come up with the first creative concepts, resist the urge to look at those mockups before you review that creative brief again.

Take the time now to check your preconceived notions at the door. That said, take a deep breath and deliberately review the creative brief you drafted earlier. Refresh your memory of all the key points in the brief. Remind yourself of the key elements.

Again, who is the target audience? What's their mindset? What's the unique selling proposition (USP) -- or the ultimate benefit to the target audience that you need to breathe life in your email? If relevant, does your e-mail integrate well with your offline creative? What's your offer? What's the desired image? The list continues.

Remind yourself of these benchmarks, and then - only then - take a look at your creative mockup. As you soak it all in, ask yourself, is it "on brief"? Does it address all of the parameters you set? If so, great!

You Say You Don't Like the Creative?
So, what's the problem? Well, dear readers, it could be one of two things -- a) you're not the target audience, or b) the creative mockup is not on brief.

If you're not the target audience, it's best not to judge the creative by your own personal standards. Just because you are a 45-year-old woman living in Manhattan and vehemently dislike neon colors and "in your face" edgy graphics, consider your 22-year-old target audience, who loves that type of creative execution.

If it's not on brief, now is the time to go back to your creative team and review the creative brief with them. Point out specifically why their mock is not on brief. This approach takes the emotion out of the creative review and replaces it with cold, hard logic. Everyone is much happier that way.

Resist the Urge to Code Until the Creative Is Fully Baked
You've probably noticed there are always last-minute changes -- even up to the 11th hour when you think the creative is finally finished. There's typically a final edit. One more tweak. Or, if you're like me, you'll noodle it to death. If it's already coded into HTML and you continue this process, prepare to find your nerves frazzled. Instead of making these changes in your coded version, keep the mockup in JPEG format and make changes there. You'll find it's much easier to code the piece when you have the final, final (did I say final? I mean really final) version.

Jackie Gallogly is the Marketing Technology Officer for Inbox Interactive Inc., an e-mail marketing agency. Focused mostly on client house list and retention services, her responsibilities include strategy and offer development, managing client databases, e-mail deployment, and account management for new and existing clients. Thirteen years of direct marketing experience, the past three dedicated to electronic marketing and systems, make her a seasoned veteran.

As Account Director for Inbox Interactive, Lynne Rolls is a veteran in several marketing disciplines and comes primarily from a traditional agency background. With more than 12 years of experience, she has handled international brands and clients, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Saab, and Johnson & Johnson (Acuvue). Her career includes stints abroad, managing clients who required integrated and comprehensive marketing communications.

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