Zen and the Art of Module Maintenance

While maintaining a library of email modules isn’t as exciting as riding a motorcycle down an open road, it is very much a job worth doing well. This post offers ways to do that while drawing parallels to the fabled “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," whose author advocated a mix of self-reliance and leveraging ways that lets you do things better. Kind of like stensul’s approach to email creation.

Here’s a question: If you owned a motorcycle, would you maintain it yourself or have someone else handle it?

That was one of several queries explored in Robert Pirsig’s fictionalized autobiography, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Published in 1974, it’s a tale about a couple of guys who ride their bikes from Minneapolis to San Francisco, with the aim of making it to the Bay Area by the author’s 42nd birthday. As they log mile after mile, they contemplate all sorts of things faced – or avoided – in life.

A  key message from the massively best-selling book is: if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Pirsig believed that if his 1966 Honda SuperHawk motorcycle was to operate reliably over the 2,000 mile trek, he had to tend to the machine himself. And do that really well.

Maintaining modules

While maintaining a library of email modules doesn’t conjure up the excitement of coursing down an open road astride a smooth running motorcycle, it is very much a job worth doing. And, certainly, doing it well.

To make my point, let’s start with establishing – and maintaining – a naming convention for all the modules you might have.

It’s really the first step. A standardized naming convention ensures that a host of things will be properly maintained. Without that your admins won’t know which modules are in production. Which are in flight. Or which should be removed. Putting a naming convention in place – from the start – makes maintaining those modules much easier.  As your library grows, modules get added and labelled with the appropriate elements of the naming convention.

The same holds true for other items in the library, like color palettes for CTAs or for background colors. Similarly, placing font families in stacks allows them to be easily leveraged over and over again, put back in and pulled from the location people expect to find them.

This is also true for pre-sets. Taking this approach ensures they’re correct and in the correct place. It means changes can be made quickly and with accuracy. If this isn’t the case to begin with, it’s a much tougher task.

This also means that when creating the email basic text, the CTA module, and copy they all can be treated as drag-and-drop elements. And that eliminates the need to rebuild the module. Not having to remake that saves lots of time.

As it regards maintaining aspects like branding or inclusion of regulatory language in emails, the stensul Email Creation Platform allows that information to be uploaded and updated. So it is always current. Always compliant. This also means that there’s no need to set up palettes, fonts, CTA spaces, and other specifications of the miniscule variety. It reduces implementation time as well as  the time to perform updates. 

Upstreamed QA

Checking on in-place processes associated with creating emails with modules doesn’t make much sense if handled after the fact. Which is the way most QA processes work. With stensul, QA is moved to the front end, during implementation. It streamlines the checking of existing processes and removes the need to check each time they’re run. By upstreaming the QA process, stensul makes things cleaner, with less chance for issues than where it’s usually done, at the point just before an email is deployed to an ESP.

With stensul a module can be built and it will render correctly across all approved devices. Even if CSS is used, stensul will render it correctly. There’s no need to manually correct the CSS code or check to see that it’s in the right portion of the module.

In certain cases, CSS is necessary to get your modules finely tuned. With stensul, using and managing your own CSS is easy.

CSS does allow you to do special things in the code. But if improperly coded, it can cause rendering issues. However, stensul’s Custom Elements feature lets you use your own code with the security of guardrails. So that when others create emails using that particular module, bad things won’t happen.

Marketing operations people may feel, with email module maintenance, they need to keep doing it the way it’s always been done. It’s worth noting that while Pirsig did advocate self-reliance, part of his Zen was recognizing the value of leveraging better ways to handle any number of things. In that way, stensul is a better way. Stensul maintains modules faster than even the savviest admin. It then pushes those modules out to users ready for them to create emails, regardless of their technical skills or coding know-how. And those emails will be delivered, load, and display without issue.

Think about it. If you’re a marketer who’s put together an email brief, why hand off the job of creating the email to someone else when you can do it well with stensul?  Learn more about stensul’s Email Creation Platform here.

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