Adam T. Sutton

Email Marketing: Finding the time to improve results

Increasing your emails’ relevance is one of the most effective ways to improve results — but it is also one of the most challenging, and for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes the largest roadblock isn’t expertise, money or will power — but time. A marketer might know exactly what to do and how to do it, but first has to design the next landing page, create the next PPC ad, finish off some copy, attend a meeting, etc.

Sound familiar?

The good news is that this challenge does not come without opportunity. Simplifying part of your process can be the best thing you’ve done for your email marketing in months.

Production was a nightmare

For example, Brad Hettervik, Product Manager, Marketing Systems,, handles the email marketing at, a travel comparison site owned by Oversee.’s weekly email newsletter, Travel Insider, features travel deals selected from hundreds that are forwarded to Hettervik’s team by its partners.

Before the team streamlined the newsletter’s production, partners sent lists of deals in different formats and through different channels. Team members would have to:
o Manually gather the deals
o Go through the lists
o Check each deal by copy-and-pasting their URLs
o Copy the text of deals they would use
o Apply tracking codes to the URLs
o Create the email newsletter

“We select the top 20 to 30 deals out of potentially thousands of deals. So the production part of that was a huge nightmare,” Hettervik says. “It would take sometimes 15 hours,”

“Some of these deals expire in eight hours or 24 hours, so the speed is very important… [But] the production aspect was so labor intensive that if you wanted to add any more layers of targeting, the complexities got out of control” and some deals would expire before reaching subscribers, Hettervik says.

From 12 hours to 30 minutes

The team has since built an email tool in-house to simplify the process. It is a desktop application that pulls the week’s deals from each partner into a single interface. A marketer can click a check-box to select deals to include in the newsletter. Then, with a single click, it codes the URLs and generates the newsletter’s HTML.

The eight- to 12-hour process could easily be completed by an experienced marketer in 30 minutes, Hettervik says.

“Now that we’re not spending a full day or a day-and-a-half creating [each email], that has allowed us to get more analytical with our reporting…We are able to do a lot more targeting, a lot more testing and now it has actually helped us quite a bit in terms of delivering relevant emails to our user base.”

Related resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

MarketingSherpa Email Essentials Workshop Training

Email Marketing: A customer-focused mindset at ATP World Tour

Email Deliverability: Getting into Gmail’s Priority Inbox

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Email Marketing, Marketing

  1. January 18th, 2011 at 16:08 | #1

    Great post, Adam. Developing solutions and GUI’s that make any type of email marketing easier is always a good topic to share and discuss. I have to wonder how many retailers don’t have the ability to develop something in-house, considering there are thousands of retailers in the SMB range that are slammed with too many projects and lack the resources to develop their own custom solutions. Knowing this ahead of time, we recently created a cloud-based UI to help retailers deliver contextually relevant “cart reminder” emails. Not long ago, many of our clients were collecting list of unfinished orders and manually sending out reminder messages to come back and complete the transaction. Talk about inefficient!

  2. January 31st, 2011 at 10:55 | #2

    Nice article, we do e-mail marketing in Estonia and have to say that testing and to try new things is really the key. Market is changing and also rules, here in Europe.

  1. January 21st, 2011 at 03:02 | #1