Killing the Producer

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If I had a dollar for every campaign error blamed on last-minute changes, I'd retire. Change management and rushed campaigns are always why big mistakes are made. There's something about the speed and availability of e-mail that makes it easy to wait until the last minute. Besides the risks of poor recipient experience, the stakes are even higher now that regulatory matters exist.

We know that we'll never fully escape last-minute changes, so to improve the likelihood of error-free campaigns try the following:

Set your campaign calendar. Yes, you can fire one off just minutes before the intended send time, but why risk it? Set up a procedure that requires campaigns to be scheduled at least one hour before delivery.

Establish a campaign checklist. Include everything you need to get the campaign out the door: list build, redirects, unsubscribe, etc. You may not fill it out for every campaign, but it can serve as a much-needed reminder when processes are rushed.

Send one message type. Sure, the business partner (or your boss) wants you to program the message in text, HTML and an alternative content for AOL and Gmail, but that often takes more time than you have. Pick one and communicate that the message will be delivered to all possible audiences in the single message type. When you pick a type, make it HTML. You get a higher rate of possible response and less text to proofread.

Check, double-check for the unsubscribe. This is the one thing that must exist in the campaign. The CAN-SPAM Act dictates that little is more important than the unsubscribe. If you get in the habit of inserting it first, you're more likely to remember it.

Keep clean master templates. The costliest mistakes frequently occur when a producer tries to overwrite an already-sent message with new content. What if the terms and conditions are different? What if you include pieces of the old message to an offer that no longer exists?

These are the mistakes that get your legal department involved. Instead of overwriting a message, make three clean templates: text, HTML and alternative for every message program type. Insert good commented placeholders and use these for all campaigns, especially the rush jobs.

Don't skip the quality assurance process. If you don't have a process, get one. If you have one, ensure it is followed every time.

Don't approve until you're ready to go. Once the campaign is approved, it takes a system administrator to erase it. Buy yourself a little time to ensure everything is OK by approving a scheduled campaign closer to campaign send time.

Remind the business partner of the possible pitfalls of sending last-minute campaigns. Do your best to protect the channel for your organization, because we all know whom they look to first when mistakes are made.

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