Five signs your email review & approval process needs to be improved

marketers planning email program

No matter how many requests your email creation team handles on any given week, well before those completed emails get sent to your subscribers, each one needs to go through a review & approval process. Typically, it’s a process with several places prone to problems that slow things down drastically, prompting plenty of angst for all involved.

However, those problems don’t always make themselves readily apparent. It often takes time for them to be noticed. Not taking action will make your overall email creation process severely inefficient. Working with hundreds of email marketing pros, Stensul identified five critical signs that your email review & approval process needs to be improved – and fast.

Here are the five signs to look for and how you can deal with each:

1. Confusion

When you bring people together to review & approve an email, you need to give them a way to collaborate effectively. Unless everyone can see everything and understand it transparently, they will be confused about what they need to do.  Further, they shouldn’t review and comment on things they don’t need to worry about. For example, a marketer without coding knowledge doesn’t need  to review coding. It’s that simple.

2. Errors

marketing professional concerned about review & approval processAny time there are a lot of cooks, there’ll be mistakes in the kitchen. Errors in emails happen for countless reasons. Analyzing thousands of email creation efforts, Stensul found the most frequent cause for an error is people reviewing the wrong version of an email in proof form. Unless everyone knows which version they should be looking at, mistakes will arise.

Add personalization, segmentation, and dynamic content into the mix, and the chance for errors increases dramatically. Yes, these tactics can help boost your email results. But, if mistakes are not identified before the messages go to subscribers, the problems can include bunches of consumers opting out of your database.

The truth be told, it’s practically impossible to eliminate all errors all the time. However, by bringing all the parts – email versions, segmentation, and dynamic content variables – and the people performing the review & approval together in a common environment, you can reduce errors in a big way.

3. Missed deadlines 

The back and forth of most email processes takes up so much time that it’s no wonder email campaigns go out late. How email proofs move around for most reviews & approvals does not help. Stensul found that nearly half of surveyed companies use email to send proofs to reviewers and approvers. Slightly less use a project management system, while almost 40% use Google Docs or other file-sharing systems. About 20% use PDF markups, often distributed as attachments to emails.

There are so many ways for a review & approval process to go wrong when handled this way. So, it is not surprising that 92% of marketers Stensul spoke with said approval delays are the top reason they miss deadlines. The root cause is disorganization. An organized process is necessary to ensure everyone reviews the same version and has an easy way to review personalization and dynamic content to avoid errors and missed deadlines.

4. No one knows who’s doing what

Participants in an email review & approval process aren’t like an NFL team, huddling up before they execute the next play. It’s quite the opposite. In most organizations, people involved in the creation and the review & approval processes operate in silos. Comments are made in what amounts to a vacuum. You won’t know what others are doing – or should be – because the communication is far from what it should be. When all reviewers and approvers can easily communicate, ideally in real-time in a common environment, there’s visibility, understanding, and efficiency. Everyone needs to know what’s happening throughout the process to reduce questions, concerns, and delays.

5. Things not getting done

Email review & approval is just one of the many things someone involved in the process deals with on any given day. Our shared reality is everyone’s juggling, which means at least one person will drop the ball. The result is that everyone else needs to scramble to make up for lost time as they wait on that one person.

Unless there’s a system that sets roles, responsibilities, and expectations, there will be people who don’t prioritize the process or the associated deadlines. A system creates responsibility and accountability but works best when it’s endorsed by leadership. A review & approval system that’s informal or, worse, ad hoc will cause things not to get done. A review & approval process needs to be documented and then followed for it to work. Without doing so, not only will things not get done, time and money will be lost, and you and your team will get very frustrated.

To learn more about making your review & approval process simpler, speedier, and just work better, download the eBook How to make your email review & approval process more efficient.