Marketers do these 4 things to help get their html emails out the door faster

Jul 22, 2020 | Email marketing

Here is how to give a good design brief to your team so they can create a killer email campaign for you, and more quickly too. Marketers who give a good email design brief find that their emails are created 70% faster.

Melaina Gross


Email campaign production is different for each brand, but typically it includes the following:

Today we’re going to dive into how you can give an email design brief that will improve the quality of your email campaigns.

Speed up the creation time of your html emails by as much as 70%

Did you know that just over 31% of companies have a production cycle of less than 1 week for a single email? That’s efficient considering this includes steps 1 through 7!

Most businesses can take an email campaign from drawing board to inbox in a week or less. This is possible if you factor in around 2 hours or less per task associated with the email – whether it’s copywriting, design, coding, data logic, or testing.

We have seen this compounded during the Covid-19 pandemic, with lead times being squeezed due to the time sensitivity of communications. Even so, the reality is that email creation needs to follow the same process to ensure a high-quality campaign.

In our experience in design and coding (we’ve created more than 12 000 html emails), when email design briefs are clear, concise, and complete, the creative team can focus their energy on the creative aspects of the design and layout of the email. Your brief is also crucial in the testing and review phase, where a quality assurance team member checks that the email fits the brief.

Sure, some pieces of communication are super urgent and when this happens one should still try and stick to the workflow as closely as possible. The output of steps 1 and 2 – those of strategy, goals, and content – are needed before design and coding. Trying to short cut these steps could delay the process instead of speeding it up and cause unnecessary mistakes and frustration. If you do have an urgent campaign or piece of communication to send, give your team a heads-up and commit to a time when you can provide the content, then set about creating and finalising it so the team is working with content that is less likely to change later on in the process.

This takes me back to drawing classes, where my art instructor advised us to look 3 times, think twice, and draw once. You will find that 2 things happen if you hit pause in steps 1 and 2: First, you’ll have a moment to clarify the requirements, think through them, and ask your client questions. (Is it really as urgent as initially thought?) And second, by loading the effort upfront and being very clear on what is needed, you’ll be able to give a better brief to your team, making the rest of the creative process much smoother.

You might be wondering what you need to supply in your design brief; what is the recipe, so to speak. Here are the key ingredients:

1. Background and campaign overview

Specify what type of email is needed: newsletter, production information, event invitation, announcement, and so on.

How many emails are needed for the campaign? Remember, if there is too much information to fit into an email – or if there are too many actions for the user to perform – then it may be better to split it into a sequence of emails.

Describe the audience that the email is intended for. Is it a segment or the entire mailing list?

Who is the client and what is their visual style? Make sure to provide identity guidelines if your production team does not already have these.

Give context for the email, painting a picture and explaining how the email fits in with other marketing activities and channels. If, for example, you have a mood board for your event, you can share it with your production team.

2. Content

Your content should include copy with headings, separate sections (if need be), and a call to action. Give your client the opportunity to make their edits and finalise their copy so you can supply copy that is as complete as possible with the brief. This will reduce the rounds of edits that are needed once the email has been created. Sometimes edits are so drastic they require a rework of the layout. If this happens, the client needs to understand the corresponding shift in timeline.

Consider imagery – communicate if you have something specific in mind. Provide examples if possible; draw on examples of other emails, or supply a stock image you want used.

Provide all the assets, such as product images and brand elements, if your team does not already have them.

3. Design

Describe how the email should look, but don’t be prescriptive. It is the designer’s job to collate the content and arrive at a design that helps you or your client achieve their goal with this campaign.

Should we use a template or new design? Using a template does help ensure brand consistency and a faster turnaround time on the creation of the email. Read more about the newsletter design process here

Over 44% of Litmus survey respondents report they spend over 3 hours in the coding and development phase.

 4. What is the timeline?

Specify the email deadline. Remember to factor in time for reviewing and testing with your client. Discuss the lead time with your team and set the expectation with your client so they are not frustrated by unrealistic expectations.

At Cantaloupe, we create briefing forms specific to each of our clients. This has helped immensely to create order in our workflow process, and to help ensure creativity and accuracy with each email we produce.

Tell us in the comments what you do to ensure you give a good email campaign brief. 


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