Pulling together an email marketing campaign may seem easy enough from the outside, but as you’re well aware, it actually involves many moving parts. And things can get even more complex when you start building a campaign with others.
One of the biggest blockers I found when working in an agency was not so much solving email rendering glitches, but coordinating with sales, designers and clients. Back then, there were far less collaboration tools – and with differing schedules and/or locations, finding a way to get everyone on the same page could be a serious headache.
Since then, a dazzling variety of web-based tools exist, so in this post, we’ll highlight 4 effective tools that can help make team collaboration on your email marketing campaigns more productive and less stressful.
1. Litmus Scope for ideas
Before beginning the design process, there’s a period of gathering ideas. Your team looks for good examples, finds great design features you’d like to implement, and thinks about how you could do things like implement a new CTA button that increases conversions.
The trouble is, it’s not always easy to forward an example email you’ve found and have the preview display correctly. Or maybe you’ve come across an email or two that has an interesting feature you’d really love to replicate for a future campaign, so you need to check out the coding.
That’s where a tool like Litmus Scope comes in to make sharing and dissecting emails easy.
Litmus Scope helps you:
1) Take a look at a cleaned up version of the email’s code and see how the designer brought that interactive graphic or text to life
2) Send a preview of an email with display options for a browser or a mobile device
3) “Scope” an email from any email client with the bookmarklet
When you can efficiently collect ideas and get into the details of the exciting new elements you’ll incorporate into your next email marketing campaign, you can begin bringing those ideas to life by sketching out your ideas.
The best part? This tool is absolutely free! All you need to do is sign up through their website.
2. Balsamiq for mockups
The first stage of actually developing your email marketing campaign revolves around sketching out its basic design, layout and copy.
Balsamiq is a whiteboard-style tool you can use during this phase to quickly generate mockups. With its simplistic design and no-frills layout, you only see the dialog boxes you need and can utilize drag and drop tools to sketch out the basic look and functionality of your email campaign. Rearranging elements is easy, and there are already more than 75 element types that you can place right into your sketch.
From there, you can export the finished mockup as an image, or you can give a live demo by going fullscreen with your design.
Using Balsamiq during the early stages of your email campaign workflow also encourages feedback because it actually looks like a sketch. Keeping the design in a rough, few-details format helps remind your team that changes are welcome.
But it gets even better: You can conduct early user testing with your prototypes before writing any code. This allows your team to identify any areas that need tweaking before making a significant time investment into building the email out.
Pricing for a single-user license is $79, but there are additional options for increased volume. You can also try a monthly subscription for $12/month. For more information, visit Balsamiq’s website.
3. InVision for commenting and feedback
Once your team has nailed down the basic design and layout of your email marketing campaign, InVision helps you take that sketched out version of your design and transform it into a fully interactive prototype, complete with gestures and animations you can view in a browser or on mobile devices.
Then with InVision’s LiveShare tool, you can present this more polished iteration in real time to your team members. No more emailing back and forth: you can all collaborate within the same version at the same time. This means more opportunities for brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another.
You and your team can continue to interact on these more concrete design elements as well as copy choices, functionality, and more. Team members can leave comments directly on the design as you work through different versions of your email campaign. Changes are automatically turned into actionable to-do lists so that everyone is aware of where progress stands throughout the process.
InVision offers a free one project version, while pricing for multiple projects ranges from $15-$100/month based on the number of projects. To learn more about this tool, visit their website.
4. Design and spam tests for sharing email client screenshots
When your email is almost ready for launch, it’s important to first run a preview test of your campaign to ensure all elements are displaying correctly.
Thankfully, Campaign Monitor have design and spam tests built-in, which allow you to preview your email campaign across over 20 of the most popular email clients – including a variety of mobile devices. You’ll get an inside look at your preview pane, view the email with images turned on or off, and get a report on how your email performs with spam filters.
In addition, you can share your design and spam test results, which is perfect for calming nervous bosses, clients and colleagues, prior to send.
Putting these tools into practice
By implementing these powerful tools into into the collaboration process behind your email campaigns, you can ensure that your team members stay engaged, that they give feedback throughout the design and build process, and that everyone stays on the same page along the way.
For a more in-depth look at how email teams collaborate, we have two great articles, based on our experiences here at Campaign Monitor. The first one is, “How we create and send a monthly email newsletter to over 175,000 subscribers“, which is how we work on content together for our monthly newsletter. The other is “6 steps to bulletproof email templates“, which outlines how Stig and Nicole on our team collaborated to create 10 unique email templates for our builder, Canvas. Alongside the tools list here, you’ll get a holistic look of how people, processes and awesome tools can come together to create high-performing email campaigns, with minimal stress.
Your turn: What other collaboration tools does your team use to help design your email marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments below.
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