The C-Suite Must Be Involved to Make Email Work

As an email marketer, you have to get the C-Suite involved to maximize email results

When you’re grinding away in your cubicle day after day, running A/B tests, segmenting your audience, poring over deliverability metrics, you know the reality of email marketing. You know what’s working and what isn’t. It’s your job to know. You’re in the thick of it. Boots on the ground. Every day. You’re not part of the C-Suite; you’re an enterprise email marketer. This is your world.

It’s likely the C-Suite doesn’t tend to enter your mind, from day to day. “They’ve got bigger fish to fry,” you tell yourself. You’re more concerned with your immediate boss, with a title like Director or Lead or Manager. Maybe you have one chance a month or quarter to bring the CMO up to speed on how email is performing with your subscribers — updating her on open rates, click-throughs and conversions.

But is that enough? Just walking her through a PowerPoint presentation with some bar graphs and pie charts that show the bare metrics? If you’re doing your job well, the chances are high that the ROI on your campaigns is positive, even the envy of many other marketing channels. That’s likely to be the bottom line for the C-Suite, whether that’s the CMO or CFO. Is their investment in your team and email paying off? The numbers probably say yes.

You know there’s a bigger story lurking beneath the raw numbers. You know the reality is that your CRM marketing cloud solution is preventing you from running many of the campaigns you want to run because you can’t get direct access to your data when you’re rendering the emails themselves. At times, you’re frustrated. You know you could do more, but your friends in the email marketing industry tell the same story. Every enterprise email marketer wants to do more. This is just the way it is. So you don’t say anything, and keep grinding.

If you don’t tell the C-Suite about the reality on the ground, they’re not going to know, and it’s going to result in an enthusiasm gap that could hold back your email marketing program indefinitely. That’s one of the key findings contained in our recently released 2018 ESP Satisfaction Report, which you can download free here.

In our survey of more than 100 enterprise marketers, we found that, while 50% of C-Suite executives were “very satisfied” with the performance of their ESP, just 17% of managers, senior managers, directors and vice presidents felt the same way. Meanwhile, 50% of the C-Suite said they expect to have a different ESP in the next year, compared to 17% of the rest of the marketing team.

Why is that? We believe there are three key reasons:

The C-Suite sees strong ROI

In some ways, email’s consistent positive returns has been a detriment, propping up half-working email programs that really should be performing even better. The CMO gets presented with numbers that look solid, and deems email in good hands.

The C-Suite isn’t told a lot

You’re probably not quick to volunteer the negative in your infrequent, brief opportunities to update the CMO on email’s performance. You probably focus on the numbers because that’s easy, they’re pretty, and you can get back to work. But she doesn’t know about data lag issues you don’t tell her about.

The C-Suite is open to change because it’s just a tool

To them, the ESP is just a tool that helps drive customers to make purchases and increases loyalty. If there’s a better tool out there for that, even though they think the current one’s performing fine, sure. Let’s give it a shot. But they don’t fully understand the challenges of changing legacy marketing cloud solutions, and the marketing and I.T. teams cringe to think about it.

The bottom line is that the C-Suite needs to be involved — and better informed — if your enterprise email marketing team is going to get the most out of its work, and to make the right ESP change when it’s necessary. They need to know the full picture, as much as possible, if the industry is going to bridge the C-Suite ESP enthusiasm gap.