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Operational Creep and the Email Marketer

How efficient is your email marketing team? For enterprise companies, it’s getting harder and harder to keep operational tasks from becoming overbearing for email marketers. As customer demands ratchet higher for the messages they receive, the struggles for legacy marketing cloud ESPs to keep up with the needs of companies with large databases get more pronounced. And that leads to operational creep — a gradual, pernicious increasing need for various operational tasks that take email marketers away from the work they love, and that they’re good at.

This is the story we hear with increasing frequency among the email marketers we talk to on a daily basis. It’s a problem that’s growing, and it’s not likely to get better. It’s also a problem we wanted to understand a bit better. So, instead of simply drawing our own conclusions, we decided to go to the marketers themselves. We wanted to find out exactly how they felt about this phenomenon. Would the anecdotes we’d been hearing stand up to a bit more scientific scrutiny? And, if so, how was it impacting team efficiency and job satisfaction? Those were the key questions we wanted to get at in our new research report, “The Cost of Inefficiency: How Operational Creep Kills Strategic Thinking in Email Marketing.”

What we found is that the stories seem to be real. It’s not just the marketers in our circle of contacts. We surveyed 100 email marketing professionals at large B2C companies, and the same themes kept popping up. A significant percentage of them is getting bogged down with operational tasks that drain their time to be strategic. They see this impacting how efficient they can be with their time and budget, and they want to see change.

Some of the key numbers included:

  • 43% spend at least half their time on operational tasks
  • 76% of those who described their job as Completely Strategic are Very Satisfied with their job
  • 83% of those who are Very Satisfied with their ESP are also Very Satisfied with their job

Operational creep and the email marketer

Operational creep is a challenge that’s difficult to overcome, both as an enterprise team and as an industry. Customer expectations are going to keep rising, as technology empowers marketers to better target messages. While companies with smaller databases can meet those demands, enterprise organizations have few options. They need the cloud for its sending power, but it’s an albatross around their neck when it comes to data. Every time they have to copy a segment of data up to the cloud for building an email, they’re creating another silo, along with another impediment to effective and accurate personalization. The temptation is to just go batch-and-blast. Minimize the risk. Just push buttons and meet the minimum requirements.

But that’s not what #emailgeeks got into this business to do. Because you’re ambitious, you demand more. You know the possibilities of email, and what you can accomplish if your creativity is turned loose. Our survey shows that attitude is prevalent in email marketing. And our report offers some thoughts on what marketers can do to bring that creative energy back to their jobs.

Check out the full report, to see plenty more interesting findings, along with our prescription for lessening the operational in your email life.

Jeff Haws

With 20 years of experience in journalism and writing, Jeff brings an expertise in producing impactful content, identifying audiences, and writing in a way people will want to read. He’s focused on helping businesses better understand who it is they’re talking to, and helping them reach those people via the power of words.

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