"We've always done it this way" is one of the most dangerous phrases in marketing — but thanks to quick turnarounds and limited resources, it's often a rule that email teams live by.

Many email teams create an impressive amount of work — it's not unknown for a small team to be driving the lion's share of revenue delivered by a marketing department. It's often said that every $1 invested in email returns upwards of $40+, so it's clear to see why brands are keen to send as much as possible. 

One challenge this presents, is that as soon as a team finishes an email campaign, it’s straight onto the next one and repeat. It can become difficult to take a step back and see if there is a way the daily production process could be streamlined or made better.

If the process used to create email is inefficient and causes friction, this can quickly erode the effectiveness of the channel — not least as the team becomes stressed and less-motivated — leading to mistakes and challenges around the quality of content. 

Common signs that the email process could be improved include: 

⏰ It takes a long time to make email

🏋️ You don’t have the resource to make the email you need

😥 Your team isn’t collaborative or happy

📉 You’re not getting the full value of your ESP

💰 You think you can get more money from the channel

At Taxi, we're keen on improving the email workflow, and helping your team find their #EmailZen. Here are 5 ways email has always been made, and how we think it can be done better:

1. Building every email separately

The way we've always done it:

Two things tend to happen when creating a new email campaign — it's designed and built out from scratch, or last week's email is duplicated and updated.

The first approach takes time, and requires the expertise of a designer and HTML developer. Meanwhile the second approach leads to code quality declining over time — as rendering fixes are lost and piecemeal changes are made to the code.

The manual element of both approaches increases the risk of error, but particularly so when re-using old content. 

The Taxi way:

Using Taxi, designers and HTML developers create a master template (aka an email design system) that consists of all of the modular layouts that anyone on the marketing team can then use to create email.

Because it is reused, the time investment to create better quality code — a great mobile experience, improving accessibility and best practice design approaches — becomes more worthwhile. In turn, a better quality of HTML leads to a better experience for the email audience.

Designers and developers use Taxi Syntax to control precisely what and how content can be edited in Taxi (and crucially, what can't be changed). This helps keep all email campaigns on brand, and reduces the chance of mistakes and email rendering issues. 

Taxi was built by #EmailGeeks so there are plenty of things to geek out on (read our syntax principles for more) — but some things that email developers love are:

  • You can continue to update HTML, and previously built emails will inherit these changes.
  • You can make multiple changes to the code, based on one piece of content changing (for example, remove an entire block of code when CTA text is empty)
  • Taxi supports AMP for Email, Outlook VML, custom web fonts and more — if you can code it in email, we can support it.
  • Taxi doesn't break or change your code — you have total control.

In time, the role of developers and designers can move towards maintaining and developing this email design system, rather than working on disruptive last minute amends. 

2. Loading in content from a spreadsheet

The way we've always done it:

Spreadsheets make the world go round.But when it comes to creating content for email campaigns, there are better ways. 

What typically happens is a copywriter somewhere writes content to a brief. Once it's signed off, it's sent to a designer in a big excel document, ready to lay up. It makes sense – and when it comes to different versions, or translation, it's a sensible way to help manage multiple versions of content.

The challenge comes when trying to make the copy fit in an email — if it hasn't been written in context, then it is unlikely to work alongside the design to effectively communicate a message, or even just physically fit. Further amends to make the content work then take more time, cost more, and lead to multiple revisions of an email being made, which risks mistakes.

The Taxi way:

The main barriers to writing content in context are a requirement to know HTML, or asking content writers to make complex design decisions.

The interface of the Taxi editor is designed to help content experts write directly into the layout of the email — without needing to touch code. The way the email layout can be manipulated has been decided by the designers and developers when they built the email design system, so there is no risk of the design going off-brand.

Because Taxi isn't a sending tool, email teams are often more inclined to open up content creation to other teams, whilst maintaining control of sending, and removing access to sensitive audience data (in turn, this can help make corporate compliance easier). This enables content creators from elsewhere in the organisation to directly contribute to the email process. 

User permissions and Teams can be easily managed, and tightly controlled, to ensure the right people do the right work. 

Having content experts write directly into the email means marketers and developers, who otherwise would need to paste content in place, are free to get on with more valuable work. 

3. Repeating the same tasks for multiple-brands or regions

The way we've always done it:

Organisations with multiple brands, or those sending email campaigns to multiple regions and languages, are commonly faced with scaling out their email process by an order of magnitude. If the process to get a single email out the door is unwieldy, it is almost impossible to create multiple versions. 

As a result, one of two things tends to happen:

  1. The workload is often then shared out across different teams — split either by geography or brand — which results in inefficiency, duplicated work, and a siloed approach to marketing. 
  2. The work remains with a central team, that struggles to handle the workload. This can lead to over-complex solutions, such as loading content into a template via a grid loader, or by hacking ESP features such as segmentation. This often creates an inflexible system, that costs a lot to maintain and requires specialist knowledge to operate. Over time the team can become more insular, being the one team that's able to manage email as it's "too complicated" to explain their process to others. 
Over time the team can become more insular, being the one team that's able to manage email as it's "too complicated" to explain their process to others. 

The Taxi way:

Creating more email is a great idea, but it's hard — scaling out email production also scales out the inefficiencies that already exist. By making the business of creating one email much quicker, and smoother, we avoid amplifying production issues.

In addition, we built several features in Taxi to help smart teams achieve scale even more efficiently:

  • Taxi's Inheritance Model means content flows down from a master version of an email, to other secondary versions. This makes creating, and updating, multiple version emails more efficient and easier to manage. 
  • Sub-Templates enable different branded templates to be created from one common HTML codebase. A single source of truth for code, particularly when used across many places, offers a significant efficiency and helps avoid rendering issues from creeping in.
  • Translated defaults can be set — so that commonly used page elements can be translated once, then set as the default for each new email made for a given language. This avoids the need to repeatedly translate items like the navigation bar, CTA buttons and footer text. 
  • Version Sets help template out the settings for email campaigns with multiple versions — whether that's which teams have access, which language & region versions there are, and which brand template is used for each version.

Our Technical Success team has helped build out complex workflows for some of the world's biggest brands, and can help you work out what will work best for your team and tech stack.

4. Hard coding Sending Platform (ESP) segmentation & personalisation code

The way we've always done it: 

Personalisation and segmentation are bywords of email marketing — we always want to do more of it, and ESPs often have very powerful capabilities in this area, but marketers are often restricted by the effort required to execute it.

ESP specific code for segmentation and personalisation tends to be added manually in the code, once a HTML build is finished. This risks errors if the syntax is not added correctly, and it risks duplication of effort, or further issues, if the content of the email is then changed. Almost every email marketer has a war story about getting "dear firstname" wrong at some point - which is commonly down to this manual process. 

Adding ESP syntax also tends to break how an email is displayed, and this is only then resolved once the final code is loaded into the sending tool — this makes QA and render checking a more cumbersome process. 

The Taxi way:

Data driven content in Taxi is straightforward-yet-powerful. 

Segments can be set up within the Taxi Editor, using our Segments tool. This helps expose the power of segmentation to marketers and copywriters, without needing to manage and set up complex ESP code. 

For brands that tend to use similar segmentation across different email campaigns - Segment Sets mean groups of segments can be set up once and then reused, making the barrier to entry for segmentation much lower. 

Personalisation Fields in Taxi enable copywriters and translators to add personalisation within their content, without needing to work with any code. When the email campaign is exported, Taxi adds the relevant ESP syntax — this means the same email can be made to work in different sending platforms, if needed. The ESP syntax that Taxi adds is set up once, reducing the risk of errors happening in the ESP, and easily configurable when updates need to be made.  

Of course, segments and personalisation fields, and the code they represent, can be configured in Taxi to suit your brand.

5. Copy and pasting hundreds of UTM parameters

The way we've always done it: 

It's important to prove the value of email, and one way we do that is to add tracking parameters to urls when an email links to a website. This means website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) know where the user came from, and we can attribute their activity to the email channel. 

Manually copy and pasting the tracking code to every link in an email can be time consuming, and like any repetitive task, can be easy to get wrong. This risks errors in marketing analytics, not tracking the click at all, or worse - the link not working for the recipient at all. So not only is it hard to get right, it's also time consuming (but important) to check everything works. 

The Taxi way:

Repetitive tasks are a great place to find efficiency — with a bonus of helping avoid mistakes and enabling better use of technology. 

Using Taxi's Link Tracking Manager, the values in link tracking strings can be entirely automated, or can be changed per link, per version or for an entire email campaign (or any combination of the above). 

Every organisation has different requirements when setting up link tracking — so the structure of the tracking string, how they can be edited, and the domains that tracking is applied to, can easily be customised with Link Tacking Profiles in Taxi. 

Being able to use link tracking in a smarter, more efficient way, means marketing teams can do more to prove the value of their work.

But don't take our word for it!

Time and time again, when marketing teams move to a smarter way of working, we find they become more productive, achieve more from the channel, and most importantly, are happier.

Check out what some of our customers have said:

“As an email developer tasked with setting up complex, dynamic, and user friendly email templates, Taxi’s ability to lock down critical elements and maintain original code, while giving non-developers the confidence and freedom to create great emails is unparalleled.” — Camille Palu, #EmailGeek at Camiah.

“Taxi made the email team the superstars of the marketing department!” — Rosie Price-Smith, Senior CRM Manager at Debenhams.

Read more about how marketing teams use Taxi →

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