It’s an exciting time to be an email marketer — especially in the retail world, where consumers’ inboxes have become the center of their shopping universe.
Against this backdrop, the need for new, more innovative email marketing technology will inevitably arise as you work to create the best possible experience for your customers.
On the one hand, this need is a good thing, as new technology can offer a compelling opportunity to raise the bar on your email marketing strategy. On the other hand, this need can prove headache-inducing, as the process of launching that new email marketing platform can almost make you forget why you wanted the new technology in the first place.
But the launch process doesn’t have to be so difficult.
How to Ensure an Efficient & Impactful Launch for Your New Email Marketing Platform
Launching new technology has gotten a bad rap over the years, but if you approach the launch process with the right mindset, you can easily set your team up for an efficient and headache-free launch that helps you realize value from the new platform quickly.
At the highest level, as you start the launch process for your new email marketing platform (or any other technology for that matter), be prepared to take a crawl-walk-run approach, that way you and your team can ease into the transition. Taking this scaled approach will help ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew at once and that you keep things simple until your team is ready to get more advanced.
Beyond that high level, here are eight tips for a successful launch to help you position your team — and your new email marketing platform — for maximum success:
1) Understand Your Contract
Understanding your contract might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s an extremely important first step as you prepare for the launch. Reviewing your contract will ensure your team is aware of exactly what you did (and didn’t!) purchase, that way you can set clear expectations going into the entire process. Otherwise, you may very well end up with stakeholders who are unhappy at the end of it because they were expecting certain capabilities that simply weren’t part of your initial contract agreement.
2) Assemble Your Team
Next, you need to get your team in place, because even with all the support you should receive from your technology partner, launching a new email marketing platform is not a one person job. In most cases, the eCommerce or email marketing manager is in the best position to serve as the day-to-day contact who manages the relationship with your technology partner.
Beyond that, you will also need support from your technical team to manage the backend integration and development, your creative team to help with any template design and your CRM or data analyst team to coordinate the customer data available in your new retail marketing platform.
3) Detail Your Technology Requirements
As a marketer, the details of all the technology requirements might seem intimidating, but it’s something about which you have to be aware — even if it’s only at a very high level (after all, that is why you have your technical team on board!).
The good news is, you as a marketer don’t have to know all the minute details about different types of integrations. What you do need to know is the lead time your technical team needs to get things done and whether or not you need to get on the schedule for any of their upcoming sprints, since that will have a big impact on your launch timeline.
4) Establish & Stay Focused on Your Objectives
Throughout the launch process, it’s easy to get sidetracked by details about all the little things. And while you should absolutely pay attention to detail in everything you do, you can’t let the minutia get in the way of achieving your overarching business objectives.
For example, as much as your creative team might want to agonize over the exact placement of an image in your email template, moving it six pixels this way and three pixels that way, those few pixels aren’t going to impact your conversion rate — but whether or not you can actually send the email will.
As a result, it’s essential to establish your top objectives at the beginning of your launch and stay focused on reaching those objectives throughout the entire process.
5) Set Expectations Upfront
You have campaigns you need to run that depend on your email marketing platform and stakeholders you need to communicate with about how the launch is progressing. These needs (among many others) make it critical to set expectations upfront with both your technology partner and your internal team.
Most often, this expectation-setting comes in the form of a mutually agreed upon timeline with deadlines for key milestones along the way. It’s important to make sure you find a timeline that works for your team based on when you want to go live and what deadlines you can reasonably meet. And once you do set this timeline, remember to keep track of deliverables and due dates so that you can do your part in delivering according to plan.
6) Allow for a Transition Period
If your new email marketing platform is replacing an existing one (as opposed to working alongside and supercharging what you already have in place), you need to allow for a transition period. Specifically, you should plan to live in both systems for approximately three months.
While having two email marketing platforms might sound far from ideal, the alternative — doing a complete cutover with no overlap between the two — typically ends up leaving you in a far worse position. That said, there’s no getting around the fact that during this transition period there will be some extra work for your team, since you’ll be sending emails from two platforms for a bit of time and will need to manage email sends and suppressions accordingly.
All of that effort will be worth it though, as you need that overlap to conduct IP warming so you can reach high send volumes and you need time to phase out your old platform to ensure customers don’t receive an email today that they can’t open or engage with tomorrow.
7) Develop a True Partnership
One of the most important steps you can take to position your team for success during the platform launch and beyond is to think of your technology provider as a partner rather than a vendor.
When you take on that mindset, you can begin to tap your partner as a strategic resource that can help improve everything you do. Specifically, you should always feel comfortable going to your partner with questions (no matter how simple they might seem). You should also plan to rely on your partner for best practices, create a collaborative relationship with your partner and remain open to suggestions from their team about how to use the platform better. Remember: Your partner wants your program to succeed just as much as you do.
8) Stay Open to Experimentation
Last but not least, stay open to experimentation. Trying new things might feel uncomfortable at first, but you didn’t introduce an entirely new email marketing platform simply to continue doing the same things you’ve always done.
This is a critical area where relying on your technology partner’s strategic advice can make all the difference, as they likely have proof that certain activities are most likely to yield a high ROI and can make recommendations about innovative new ways to get more value out of the platform.
Ready for Take Off!
And there you have it: Everything you need to know to set the stage for the easiest and most impactful launch for a new email marketing platform. While these eight tips can help you ensure a smooth transition and realize value out of the gate quickly, they’re only the beginning.
For even more advice on what it takes to maximize the value of your email marketing platform, check out our tips on how to turn your Customer Success team into a true partner.