Email Creation: 10 Tips for More Constructive Feedback

Publié le : 21 June 2018 par Damien Devisme

A new campaign, an unprecedented trigger, an email typology to reconsider…
An email creation project always gets the email marketing team feeling enthusiastic. Right up until the most irritating moment: feedback. Here is a little guide for a peaceful dialogue between marketing/CRM experts and the creatives!

Because your offers are constantly changing, the context in which your emails are seen changes. And simply because your campaigns have limited lifespans: email creation and the designing of new campaigns comes up at regular intervals on the calendars of marketing or CRM directors and campaign leaders.

The brief was sent, the writers and designers put out all the stops, and you’ve been delivered a first version of the email. You like it…a little? A lot? Truly, deeply? Not at all? In any case, you’re going to need to give the creative teams some feedback, and improve what needs to be improved. Here are nine tips (and, as a bonus, a process for rereading and validating your campaigns) so that the exercise is as constructive as it can possibly be.

1. Make a sweep of all the aspects of the campaign before giving feedback

First, you rejected the email subject, because it wasn’t punchy enough. Then you noticed that the button colour didn’t really harmonise with the photos. Finally, you stressed that in your opinion the right product hadn’t been highlighted.

That’s all pertinent feedback; however, feedback which arrived in disorder, drop by drop, and without hierarchy. The result? Your team is a bit lost, and doesn’t know if your feedback point #3 applies to V2, V1, or V3 of what they submitted. Not only is it unpleasant but there’s a strong chance it is counterproductive as well. Worse, you’ll be more than likely to receive a V4 that doesn’t live up to your expectations.

The way to avoid this? Do a global reread of the email before formalising your feedback. Global means you will review:

  • The messages: subject, pre-header, text, calls-to-action, footer mentions, etc. Are they all coherent? Well-written? Sufficiently motivational?
  • The images, GIFs, and other visuals: are they good quality? In line with the email’s promise? Are the fallbacks and alternative texts in place?
  • The links: do they point to the right place? To landing pages that are coherent with the email?
  • The behaviour of the email in its responsive version: the size of the fonts, the buttons, and in particular, are they comfortable to read and offer an optimal user experience?

2. Start with the initial brief

Despite all their good points, your artistic director, graphic artists, and integrators are almost certainly not telepathic. In delivering this email creation to you that only half satisfies you, they worked from a brief. Maybe it lacked sufficient elements to guide them?

It is a good occasion to have a look at the content of your briefs

If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to own up to it honestly. Not only will your team be grateful (and integrate your modifications with much more drive), but you’ll be able to capitalise on this semi-failure to identify what information is missing from your briefs—and add it by default to the briefs for the next campaigns.

3. Intervene in your area of competence

You are neither an artistic director, nor a writer. However, if your email marketing team is well-built, you have on hand both experts at finding the right word and creating effective layouts. Micromanaging them is not only demotivating for them, it’s also a trap for you and for the efficiency of your campaign.

Because no one is better-placed than you to judge the global coherence of the email as it is being designed. You’re also the one to judge if it best serves the marketing objectives that have been defined. This is where your expertise is expected, and this is where your feedback will have the most impact on the success of your campaign.

4. Choose your battles

The 80-20 rule is perhaps a bit of a caricature, but it works: 20% of your efforts will impact 80% of the results. And it applies perfectly to the feedback you will deliver to your teams in the context of creating an email.

The entire exercise consists of determining which aspects of the creation you’re working on are really worth the effort of reviewing. The button labels? Without a doubt. The alternative text style? Certainly, if the majority of your recipients read your messages in Gmail, but not if they use Outlook.

Separate the essential from the incidental

In short, “the best” is sometimes the enemy of good. And we advise you to simply let go of certain aspects of a campaign rather than going back for yet another round of corrections. Even if it means coming back to it next time an email is created.

Learn to communicate between creatives, marketers, technicians, etc.
It is not always easy for different departments to understand each other.

5. Be clear and concise

Good feedback is feedback that is written down in a document that will serve as a starting point for the entire team to advance on a new version of the email. Resist the temptation to convey “a quick point” over the phone or between two doors: it’s guaranteed that half of your remarks will be forgotten.

It’s also feedback that’s clear in form (indicating precisely which element of the email you are commenting on), and concise. Telegraph style, bullet points, etc.—anything that will allow the creatives to leave with a clear and clean list of modifications to make will be very welcome.

6. Neither 100% positive, nor 100% negative: be 100% constructive!

Being part of a successful effort is always great! A little positivity never hurts, and your team will surely appreciate it if you highlight their successes now and then. However, numerous studies have shown that collaborators are, above all, expecting criticism as well. The more experienced and confident in their work a member of your team is, the more they will be grateful for feedback that allows them to improve.

The key? The key is to therefore show that you are being constructive, and deliver concrete and usable feedback. The type of feedback that will help your team find solutions rather than pose problems.

Don’t say… Instead say…
This photo is horrible! How can we better highlight the product?
This button is poorly placed. I think the CTA could be more effective: do you have any ideas for improving it?
This green isn’t in the charter Why was this hue chosen? Could we achieve the same result with our colour scheme?
Never put “If you have difficulties reading this email” in the pre-header! Please suggest some pre-headers that complement the subject

7. Take your email constraints into account

If you are a real #emailgeek, you’ve certainly learned that the iPhone and Gmail combined make up more than half of the email clients used in 2017. But basing your assessments on these very generic numbers is as risky as judging the creation of an email in Outlook simply because it’s the configuration your business uses.

Do the majority of your recipients read your emails on mobile? Construct your feedback around the responsive version of the campaign.

Only one indicator counts, and it’s not the market average, nor the email client that your boss will use to consult your newsletter: it’s the makeup of your campaign’s readership. Your email service provider should normally give you access to this data, and this is what you should base your feedback on.

If it can only be seen by 2% of your subscribers, it’s useless to focus your attention on the rendering of that (magnificent) video integrated into your email. However, if your emails are for the most part read on Apple Mail and iOS, it’s worth it to make it understood internally that the email in question is not at all “broken”.

8. Base your assessment on your data to optimise your feedback

This is one of the primary pitfalls to avoid when we give feedback on the work submitted by creatives: you need to go beyond the level of “I like it/I don’t like it”. Because a lot of the assessment is based on intuition and the subjective, good feedback must also be based on real data. Yours, if possible.

Do you know whether this button colour (that you hate) maximises clicks or not? Have you measured whether or not the presence of emojis in the subject line (let’s say you like this) has an impact on the open rate? If you haven’t yet measured it, maybe it’s time to start an A/B study on the aspects of the campaign where there’s less of a consensus.

9. Find the right tool for exchanges

Good feedback is clear, precise, and usable. Excellent feedback is collaborative. There are dozens of solutions to make it possible for the marketers, graphic artists, writers, and developers to discuss, comment, and advance on the campaign project:

  • Slack or Trello, for the “project management” part.
  • A simple shared text document (on Google Drive or OneDrive with Word) ) for feedback on the copy.
  • And our favourite: Invision for the purely graphical part.

For users of Dartagnan, we suggest visualising the email being designed using a mirror link, which will then be imported into Invision. Each user who has access to the campaign can then leave a comment located exactly where they want to intervene, respond to other remarks, close points that have already been resolved, etc.

10. Bonus tip: adopt a clear and clean validation process

Is your feedback effective and productive now? Great! But, if your feedback is drowned in an opaque and/or interminable process, the problem is only half resolved.

A workflow designed for your future email creations? This is a workflow that’s sufficiently brief so that it doesn’t waste your teams’ energy (nor your own), but is complete enough to allow for indispensable revisions. Here is one, to be adapted to your situation.

What is it? Objectives
1. The brief A document shared between the developers and integrators, writers, and designers
  • Set the campaign objectives
  • Specify the target(s), the possible trigger
  • Give some creative leads (without being too limiting)
2. First pass Feedback focused on the copy and the design
  • Judge the global pertinence compared to the brief
  • Bring up the principal areas for improvement
  • Suggest possible actions
3. Second rereading An evaluation of the solutions (text/graphical) employed
  • Are they satisfactory? Then the campaign moves on to integration
  • Are they unsatisfactory? Then agree on a plan B and put it into motion
4. Validation Final revisions before sending
  • Step back and review the campaign with fresh eyes
  • Have it validated, as needed, by the ultimate decision-maker

If you regularly go beyond these four steps, there is a good chance your workflow is harming the efficiency of your team and, therefore, your campaigns.

On its own, it’s not necessarily serious, since feedback and the general process is not set in stone. The most important is that your objective should be to capitalise on all the feedback given during the creation of an email.

Have you found a creative and efficient way to handle the CTA, or a design for presenting a line of new products that everyone agrees on? Save it so that it can be reused in a similar situation. In Dartagnan, this can be done using modules: one of the most appreciated among the many functionalities of our email builder.

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