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Testing, Testing: 4 Tips to Streamline the Email Approval Process

Associations, Communications Strategy // When different departments are involved in the same email marketing process, nothing creates a bottleneck quite like waiting for unanimous approval to hit 'send.'

Tien Dinh
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It’s Thursday afternoon, the weekend is around the corner, and you’ve scheduled five different emails, each with its own list segment, for early next week. You wrote the copy. You created templates and laid it out. Unfortunately, you’ve yet to begin testing, and this quality assurance step of the production process is imperative to ensure content accuracy and display functionality.

On top of that, you and various projects managers from different departments who are involved in the approval process are all inundated with other impending deadlines. Sound familiar?

For many associations, this scenario is a never-ending one that consumes staff resources and creates a bottleneck for other projects. Below are four tips to help you streamline the email approval process without sacrificing the accuracy and quality of your campaigns.

1. Outline purpose

Why are you sending this email? To ensure that everyone is on the same page from the get-go, it’s important to compile an outline detailing the context, goal, and projected send dates of each campaign. This outline should be approved prior to the first draft, and included with each test.

2. Reduce staff involvement

Limit the number of people involved and define their roles during testing. Though the number of approvals needed varies depending on the complexity of campaigns, the ideal number should be between two and three.

In addition, feedback should be guided. Those signing off should understand where they are in the approval process and what exactly they are being asked to review (e.g. copy, a certain section, images, etc.).

3. Build in lead time

Same day approvals and last-minute changes will always occur, but marketers should aim to make those occurrences the exception instead of the norm. Testing should begin at least two to three days prior to the send date, with the final approval taking place at least one day before.

To keep things moving, those involved in the process should be given an expected time, even down to the hour, to review and respond. Establishing this expectation will help limit the number times they can send revisions.

4. Track the approval process

The back-and-forth review process can create confusing email threads. Instead, use a collaborative tool like a private online community or even a Google doc to manage feedback. Providing a centralized location to view all input and track changes will reduce confusion, motivate those lagging in the approval process, and help everyone reach quicker consensus.

Email testing can be tedious and dull, especially if the content is recurring, but it’s worth it, and it’s a process that you should be reviewing bi-annually. Streamline the process so that you can spend less time testing content and more time on the exciting stuff, like creating it.

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Tien Dinh

Marketing Specialist

Tien is a former Marketing Specialist at Higher Logic with an extensive background in technology, associations, B2B SaaS companies, and all things marketing. When he’s not working on lead gen campaigns, you can find him at the park playing pick-up ball or at a dive arguing the merits of some obscure indie band.

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