Email Creation Maturity Model: Phase 4 Defined

If these scenarios sound familiar, your organization is in Phase 4 of email maturity.

Part 5 of the Maturity Model Blog Post Series

We recently released stensul’s Email Creation Maturity Model, which outlines the five stages of email production maturity as determined by our 5+ years of research. Over the last couple of weeks, we dove into where most organizations are today (Phase 1 or Phase 2) and also looked into the first phase of tech-enabled creation (Phase 3). Today we will explore Phase 4, which is the next Phase driven by tech-enabled creation.

Phase 4 Overview

Phase 4 is reached when all communication goes down the optimal path for development. The right people are consistently building the right message at the right time.

If there is a large send that goes to the company’s full list of people, that communication should go through a brief process, and the central team should create and update everything. This is the collaborative creation process covered in Phase 3. However, not all emails need to go through a central team. Field marketing and sales come to mind. For example, if you are sending a small dinner invite to 100 people, you can probably skip the brief and central team creation and allow the requestor to add content directly with strict guardrails in place. Operating with multiple creation options like these in place brings us to Phase 4 of email creation maturity.

The Phase 4 process and teams

The Phase 4 process supports 3 setups, depending on the requirement of the communication. These setups are as follows:

  • High visibility emails that require heavy design and copywriting (centralized) 

In a centralized model, a brief is used and designers/copywriters are builders on a central team. The central team should have a platform that brings the various people involved together and also works easily with a review and approval platform. More about this setup can be seen in Phase 3.

  • Medium visibility emails that require some design and copywriting (hybrid) 

The initial build of the hybrid model follows a process similar to the centralized model. The requesters can then make small changes on their own (with strict guardrails in place) to eliminate the back-and-forth and strain on the central team. Even if the initial creation is efficient, it’s rare that the back-and-forth changes are. The central team would still have final say before anything is sent.

  • Low visibility emails that require minimal design and simple copy (distributed) 

A distributed model can eliminate the brief and allow requesters to add content directly to templates created by the central team (with strict guardrails in place). The central team still approves and deploys the emails.

The model used is based on visibility of the communication and who is placing the initial email requests. It may make sense to set up more advanced requesters in a distributed setup, while newer team members operate in a centralized model.

Having a tech platform with strong configuration capabilities can help put these guardrails in place so the central team isn’t tasked with handling 100% of creation and edits. Many email production teams usually start in Phase 3, in which the central team collaborates and then slowly finds mail streams and users to push into hybrid and distributed models.

The end-to-end process takes a minimal amount of touchpoints needed for each communication. Creation time is 1-2 hours and can take less than a day to turn around for some communications. Last minute changes for all mail types are also simple since the code is enforced with technology, eliminating the errors that quick fixes otherwise risk.

What does Phase 4 strategy usually look like?

In centralized communications, the central team is no longer involved with managing the modules/templates and can collaborate across the team. They’re now able to focus much more time on strategy. In hybrid communications, the central team no longer needs to be involved in the back-and-forth changes. And in distributed communications, the central team is just required to perform final checks and deploy the email, enabling team members to focus almost all of that time on strategy.

Overall, the creation team can now spend about 70% of their time on performance improvement tactics, such as being more hands-on with requestors, leveraging the deployment platform, A/B testing, and analyzing and acting on performance data.

The technology stack 

Phase 4 organizations use an email creation platform that standardizes the build for the entire creation lifecycle. It allows for multiple setups as discussed earlier by having granular permissions not based solely on creation, but also on workflows. For instance:

  • Some people may only be able to build in templates, while others have access to modules.
  • Some can not push to the marketing automation platform, while others can.
  • Some are forced into reviews and approvals, while others can choose who reviews and approves the communication.

In all setups, the technology allows for the right checks and audits in place before anything is deployed.

What clients experience working with stensul

Using our detailed assessment process, clients retain $700,000 or more in value moving from Phase 1 or 2 to Phase 4 and above. After implementation, organizations find at least three to five full time employees that can focus on higher value work and strategy. In addition, moving to mobile optimization and enabled testing can yield a 20%+ uptick in revenue, increased focus on strategy, improved engagement and conversion, and possibly decreased external spend. This return can easily reach millions of dollars for larger teams.

Phase 4 is also used to set the groundwork for scaling to the enterprise, which Phase 5 will talk about in more detail.

Client story: Box moved from a Phase 2 to Phase 4

Before stensul: For Box, creating emails was time-consuming and a very manual process, as each email had to go through a very linear process. Each change would start the cycle over again. The amount of manual work on the production team made it hard to scale and hard to spend time on strategy.

Solution: Box’s goals were to scale, simplify creation, and free up internal and agency time for higher value work. They achieved this by using multiple setups for the build depending on the mail streams and visibility of the communication.

Results: With stensul, Box was able to

  • Reduce their email creation timeline from 5-10 days to 4 hours while increasing output and ensuring consistency.
  • Reallocate 60% of their agency spend for strategic initiatives and not have to hire additional resources on the production team as they scaled.
  • Realize 166% increase in emails created per month.
  • Execute 100% of emails on-brand and responsive.

To learn more about the Email Creation Maturity Model, download the whitepaper now.

Read part 1 of this blog series, Why should I read this whitepaper?

Read part 2 of this blog series, Phase 1 Defined

Read part 3 of this blog series, Phase 2 Defined

Read part 4 of this blog series, Phase 3 Defined

Take an in-depth look at Phase 5, the final phase of the Maturity Model.