Aimee Bennett is the Email Marketing Manager of eCommerce and Automation at Ferguson Enterprises. With over ten years of experience in sales and customer service leadership and 2.5 years in email marketing leadership, Bennett is an expert in hiring, coaching, and developing teams that run effective email marketing campaigns.
She is known for doing a lot with a little and finding creative solutions using an “out-of-the-box” mentality. However, much of her success has been due to investing personally and professionally in the individuals she works with, leaning on the skills of her team and the freelance bench. She considers herself no judge of where valuable info comes from; as an ever learner, she feels rewarded when sharing her knowledge with others.
She joined MailCon on July 19 for a webinar titled “Driving Business Impact in Email Marketing” to cover how companies can strengthen their email programs, support increased revenue, and create a scalable email team. The following is a breakdown of her three comprehensive steps:
1. Demonstrate Cost & Return
Create a monetary, time-based billback system to track the money spent versus money earned on a campaign. You can do this with the following activity chain:
- List your different email types and categories, separating promotional and transactional emails.
- Decide what aspects of email builds you will charge, designating the time required on average to complete them. This can cover design, planning content, strategy, coding, scheduling, and quality assurance.
- Do the math and ask yourself, “How much do my emails cost?”
- Figure out where your money is coming in and going out, factoring in whether you’re paying external vendors or supporting agencies to help execute your email plan.
- Jot down 2-3 ways to standardize your process to receive email requests through project management tools.
2. Determine Your Structure
Every good project needs structure, and every successful team needs essential tools to thrive to their potential. Bennett suggests “a little organizational planning” by identifying team responsibilities, categorizing roles, and evaluating current team needs to supply a growth-oriented organization and team.
3. Standardize & Scale
Creating a rinse-and-repeat, self-driven training and onboarding model is the main road for teams to standardize and scale. This can be done through the creation of training plans for freelancers, as well as investment calculations. Below is Bennett’s example of what should be factored in when creating a training program.
Here’s an example of how you can turn this list into an organized and fully operational timeline.
Below is how she calculates total investments into an email project:
Are you interested in learning more about Bennett’s planning and strategies? Follow along with this Q&A, where Bennett covers the history and innovation that have molded her into a successful email marketer and team leader.
Where did your career in marketing begin? What keeps you interested in email marketing?
I was pulled into email marketing, kicking and screaming, after a solid career in sales and customer service. Ready for something new, our company asked me to take over and expand the email program (e-commerce that was bought out). I pretty much responded, “Who, ME?!” Best. Push. Ever. I’ve never left!
With my background in person-to-person customer environments, I absolutely can’t get enough of meshing that with digital communications to support that same customer experience. It brings a unique and fresh perspective to what I do within email.
How has email marketing evolved throughout your career?
Anyone in email for more than six months can testify that our landscape changes daily, which has only accelerated in recent years.
From my perspective, the purpose of email is what has made dramatic shifts, as it’s not a quicker way of writing and sending a letter anymore. Email has become integral to business success, replacing direct mail, and linked hands with other promotional avenues like social media, SMS, push, etc. What keeps me engaged with email, year after year, is that it’s never stagnant, it grows in complexity while appearing simple, and those who master its art are leaps and bounds ahead of those still learning what’s new.
What’s one thing that you love about this field? What’s one aspect of email marketing that you’d change?
What I love: Currently, my team is focused on the backbone of email – data, compliance, coding, and tool integrations. I enjoy seeing how all the systems work together on the back end to send every email and learning all the fun features each tool provides.
What I’d change: I would change the focus of email to understand all the options, test all the complexities, and learn every new capability. Our world now overwhelms us with more knowledge, tools, and capabilities than we will ever have time to comprehend.
While all of this puts me in awe sometimes, there is value in simplicity. People are still people, and even though technology evolves, we still have the basic needs and wants we have had for thousands of years. I constantly have to remind myself that while the “latest and greatest” is fun to tinker with — and once in a while you land on something new that really clicks — you don’t have to do that 100% of the time to succeed. I’m still just a human, talking — through email— to another human.
Tell us more about your role at Ferguson. What drives your customer-centric approach to email marketing?
I love working with customers (even the angry ones) because I’m good at getting in their shoes, which has made me very successful in that vertical and has been what I’ve leaned on in email, too. My driving philosophy is to anticipate customers’ needs so that I can improve their daily lives, whether on the phone (previous life) or through digitally-enabled communications.
Working at Ferguson, I can keep this customer focus, and that’s not true for all companies regardless of what they tout. Here, I can make a case for why we should or should not send an email or launch a campaign based on how it impacts the customer. That’s huge. As an email marketer with strong convictions about how we treat customers, I can’t imagine working for a company that wouldn’t allow me to deploy the customer-first approach in my day-to-day life. This means that other areas of the company do as well, so I can bring to market a message I’m personally proud of.
What tools does every email marketing campaign need to engage clients effectively?
Starting at the very, very top – a reliable (99%+ uptime) and compliant ESP.
What strategies can be employed to re-engage lapsed clients?
Tough to answer because this all depends on the audience and why they’ve lapsed. I’m not a fan of blanket-style strategies. On that note, my recommendation is to get to know your customer and keep asking why until the answer is almost stupid obvious.
These questions you can ask in forming your unique strategy:
- Why did they lapse?
- What are the scenarios where you’ve seen similar customers re-engage?
- Can you recreate that?
- If you were that customer and stopped because of “x,” what would cause you to re-engage?
Why is now a good time to talk about “Driving Business Impact in Email Marketing” in a webinar?
Teams are growing rapidly in many companies (and others are having behind-the-scenes conversations trying to persuade leadership they should be growing their email team), and you want to ensure that you’re growing the value of your program simultaneously. You don’t want to go out and hire and then have to lay them off in six months.
Growing an email program takes time, a solid vision (that you can point to and speak to when asked), and a timeline. I want to share what I’ve done at Ferguson because it applies to expanding email in any company, small or large.
What strategies should up-and-coming email marketers consider to bolster their marketing efforts?
Spoiler alert! First, I highly recommend gaining ground through leveraging contract email marketing experts to support your team. Those who listened to my webinar got all the deets about how I moved our email program forward leaps and bounds.
Second, network. Get out of your computer silo (hello, working-from-home-life) and talk to others on Facebook groups, LinkedIn, in-person conferences, and webinars. DO. IT. This is where the real sauce is made.
What recent trends do you expect will have the most significant impact on email marketing going forward?
Changes in customer behavior due to world situations that we all know (and are probably tired of talking about). It’s all about the customer, right? As our customers change, so must our efforts to reach them and how we communicate to them.
Bonus: Tell us something that most colleagues don’t know about you.
My husband and I have wanted to adopt and recently began our journey officially toward adopting an infant. We know that it can be long and, at times, emotionally draining, but we know it will be worth it for our family and our future additions!