Collaboration is the future of email

Email isn’t dead. But it is changing.

Companies that invest in email can continue to expect a massive return on their investment. In fact according to Digital Marketing Association (DMA), for every £1 spent on email, businesses can expect a return of £32.38. Email return-on-investment (ROI) remains the highest compared to other channels, and only climbs up incrementally every year. However, as marketing teams continue to grow the way they manage email is becoming more complicated.

As consumers of email, we get hundred of emails everyday. Some text-based, some beautifully designed, some in rich media, others with a personalized message (just for you). What seems pretty straightforward actually requires all sorts of complex back and forth among a team of marketers, developers, data engineers, and others.

Email has changed, because email teams have changed. In order to continue to drive ROI from email, brands are having to rethink how they send email, and in fact how they work.

Median ROI for direct marketing channels

Across many industries and departments, people are using collaborative software to save time on all sorts of tasks – whether it’s communications, file storage, or project management – by streamlining multiple types of work into one single interface. With the advent of more specialised communications and marketing tools, one question remains: how will email further evolve and remain king?

Collaboration is the secret language of productivity and efficiency

It’s no secret – collaborative software is on the rise. Think of Slack and their #channels, a modern-day version of instant messaging chat-rooms pioneered first by Internet Relay Chat and Java Chat, now repurposed for all professionals. Or Asana that helps teams collaborate on projects, tasks, and campaigns much more efficiently. Data sharing and collaboration are a huge chunk of Google’s business model, most notably G Suite tools like Docs and Sheets which allows users to communicate and interact on various projects and documents in real-time. For example, this latest Google ad emphasises collaboration in their G suite, including its advantages.

Whether the task is creative and experimental or overly technical and dense, there is more value in working as ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. Every project is best completed as a team, and every company needs to build the conditions for effective collaboration in order to survive. The increasing use of collaborative software only reflects how more companies are reacting to the world becoming more digital and teams becoming more dispersed. If a project that normally requires coordinated effort can only be done by one person or p worse by teams that need to interact in-person, then that project will most likely fail.

Collaboration within marketing teams

Marketing teams survive on teamwork. From a 2018 study commissioned by Mailjet, 28% of marketers surveyed cite poor collaboration among their top pain-points, interestingly ranking third just above  lack of technology.

Collaboration with marketing teamsSource: Mailjet, 2018

Furthermore, 82% of marketers have seen growth in their team sizes and 72% in their budgets. At the same time, marketing departments rely even more on external agencies to manage multi-channel campaigns. On average, 11 people work on a single marketing campaign. However, 11 people also marks the tipping point after which marketers begin to have a much more difficult time collaborating and coordinating tasks. Multi-channel campaigns also lead to marketers having to interact more with other departments, like IT or Sales, in order to effectively act on actionable insights.

Investing in collaborative software is obviously not enough. Marketers not only need to be strategic and smart in choosing the right software, these tools can only work well if they fit within the company’s work flow and culture.

Reply All email blunders

For the #emailgeeks out there, remember that Bridgestone Superbowl Ad, in which a guy accidentally hits on Reply All? Terror-struck, he realises that now everyone can now see something meant for a few? It’s all too relatable. Then there are those times when you accidentally sent an unfinished email. Unless you’re fast enough to Undo Send within a few seconds, you only hope that the darn mail goes unnoticed.

When these silly, yet consequential mistakes happen in mass email campaigns like newsletters, the stakes are even higher. Crisis control can’t ever really completely fix the company’s reputation, unless they have tons of money to spend on a Superbowl Ad. The reality is that these mistakes happen more often than many are willing to admit, resulting in millions of emails sent everyday with typos, broken links, wrong images, bad branding, or worse of all wrong names. As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot that goes into sending an email, and therefore a lot of opportunities for mistakes.

Think of the times email campaigns did not go as smoothly as they could have due to miscommunication, unsupervised last-minute changes, a tired employee, or accidental sending. It hurts when email campaign mistakes happen, because of the amount of team effort and hard work put into these campaigns. Also, it hurts knowing that if the right tools were in place, such as restricting publication access certain managers, this would not have happened.

Collaboration is the future of email

The web is littered with articles criticizing email platforms for their poor collaborative tools. And they’re not exactly wrong. On a lot of email platforms, team members need to take turns going into the email builder to do their separate parts, whether it’s designing the layout, editing the content, adding in imagery, or integrating their contact database. They then need to close the app, and inform other colleagues that the email is ready for editing. This is tedious, redundant, and not at all how a modern businesses should work. With the expectation of real-time collaboration, and instant engagement, email platforms don’t have any excuse for being late to the game anymore.

What digital marketers need are ESPs that allow us to create email campaigns faster, together. An ESP that recognizes that digital marketers are apart of a team. As marketing teams handling email get larger, collaboration becomes harder, more dispersed and more fragmented between different parties. The need for collaborative tools in email becomes even more important than ever.

ESPs will need to integrate more collaboration elements, in order to keep up with the modern workplace For example, Mailjet believes collaboration is the key to productivity and has invested in helping teams email faster with the launch of the Collaboration Toolkit.

From commenting and editing in the same email editor, to giving customised access and publication rights to different users on a campaign, the future of  email is to respond to this growing demand for collaborative tools.

And I for one welcome our new collaboration software overlords.

About Julian Canlas

Julian is Mailjet's UK Marketing Assistant, the first ESP to be GDPR-compliant and ISO-certified. Mailjet is based in Europe and send 2 billion emails monthly.