A quick Google search reveals that even a decade ago we were lamenting the daily grind of checking work emails. Fast track to 2018 and workers are spending more time than ever dealing with cluttered inboxes. And while studies have proven that checking emails less regularly alleviates stress, over 60% of marketers are still spending more than three hours a day in email.
One of the reasons for this is that marketers are still utilising email to manage their marketing approval workflow and its slowing down the creative process. Not only is this process contributing to work stress, it’s also impeding the quality and timeliness of marketing output. Let’s take a closer look at how email approvals are thwarting productivity and management.
1. Visibility over the creative approval workflow process is cloudy at best.
Sending artwork for approval via email is a bit like casting a line out and waiting for something to bite. It’s difficult to assess what goes on in between. Who has viewed your email (in the absence of read receipts); who has reviewed the artwork; is feedback tracking on deadline? Once you do begin to receive feedback, how do you know that you’ve captured all the feedback? In lengthy email trails, it’s easy to overlook feedback especially if it’s just a few short points. Ultimately, if you do miss vital feedback the artwork will need to be amended which then drives up your artwork revision counts. Worst case scenario, you could even have a marketing compliance issue on hand if a mistake slips through and goes public.
2. Trying to make sense of stakeholder feedback wastes time and is error-prone.
Due to email being text based, stakeholders are providing feedback with no visual direction, which means that changes aren’t always clear. This often leads to a follow up email or phone call to clarify what the stakeholder wants. In other situations, clarification isn’t pursued and the changes to the artwork are not made – cue more artwork revisions later. Alternatively, you might receive a scanned copy of the artwork with handwritten mark ups that are impossible to decipher. Once again, you have to waste time confirming the changes or risk having errors on the artwork. So much for seamless approval workflow.
3. Version control is an almost impossible feat.
How often have you had a stakeholder review the wrong artwork version because they have referred back to an earlier email? It’s not uncommon for versions to get lost or confused in the never-ending email trail of feedback. And it’s usually only after you’ve saved the feedback and looked over it that you realise the stakeholder has reviewed the wrong version. Now you have to resend the correct version. Do you send it to this person individually and leave them out of the main loop, or add it into the email trail potentially confusing other stakeholders?
4. More time is wasted following up stakeholders who drag their feet on approvals.
In 12 Biggest Content Marketing Challenges in 2016, Marketing Insider Group revealed that clunky and drawn out approval workflow processes is one of the major challenges for marketers today. But with no way to automate a follow up for artwork approvals in basic email apps, chasing stakeholders can be a long and drawn out process. Often it can take another two emails and a phone call to get someone to review the artwork (let alone approve it). No wonder marketers are spending so much time in email!
5. No matter what you’ve been told, email is not a marketing collaboration solution.
No one can argue that email is an effective tool for basic communication. It must be said, however, that it is not a collaboration tool. In producing marketing content, you have stakeholders that you rely on for feedback and creatives who pull it all together. Unfortunately, email doesn’t enable you to bring all these vital touchpoints together in a seamless collaboration, where feedback is transparent, changes are easy to gauge and approvals follow an orderly sequence. The writing is on the wall, and the longer you utilise email for management of your approval workflow, the longer you experience an unending cycle of inefficiency in the marketing process.
6. Email approvals are adding more stress to your work day.
It goes without saying that managing your marketing approvals via email will only keep adding to your daily stress levels as you sink deeper into the clutter of your email inbox.