Email Geeks: How To Advocate For Yourself At Work

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BY  JUSTINE JORDAN Email geeks, it’s time to arm yourselves.

BY 


Email geeks, it’s time to arm yourselves.

You know your job. You’re passionate about everything related to email and focus relentlessly on creating personal, relevant, messages. But you may be working with colleagues who just don’t “get it.”
We get it. We’ve been there before ourselves, and know the pain of being a lone email advocate in an organization. We’ve also learned from this, and offer this advice for promoting yourself and your ideas:

ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, NOT PERMISSION

To achieve your goals, you have to be bold and take some risks, and that includes sticking to the age-old adage, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” If you spend your time waiting for approval to test a subject line or change a button color, you’re missing out on the opportunity to improve your emails and make an impact on your company’s bottom line.
At Litmus Live (formerly known as The Email Design Conference), Andrea Mignolo talked a lot about the concept of leadership. Often, we equate management with leadership, but true leaders don’t wait for a promotion or permission to start leading—they just do it.

In our State of Email Production ebook, we found that nearly 38% of US companies need the approval of 4 or more people before sending an email. That’s a lot of people waiting around for a “yes.”
As daunting as it may be, it’s time to stop waiting and start doing. Go ahead, test some subject lines or preheader text. Experiment with funny or engaging ALT text. Get out there and do it.

GATHER EVIDENCE + ALLIES

USE DATA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Find evidence that the thing you want to do works, either from a friend’s experience, case study, or resources around the Internet (like right here at the Litmus blog!). To be persuasive, you have to find the data. This can be quantitative metrics or qualitative feedback.
When it comes to your campaigns, the most important thing is to clearly establish your goals and objectives, and then measure against those specific goals and objectives. You may find that not every campaign is measured the same way; for example, our award-winning TEDC save the date email wasn’t a success in terms of opens and clicks. Instead, we asked them to engage on social because we embedded a live Twitter feed in the email. And tweet they did!
That’s why goals are so important. Once you define your goals for your campaign, you have a framework to begin testing, tweaking, and gathering the data you need to make your case. Know your campaigns inside and out to see how successful you’ve been against your goals, measuring opens, clicks, reading duration, web visits, sales inquiries, and more.
To be persuasive in making your case, make sure those goals match up with broader organizational goals, and use the data to connect your campaign’s success to the success of your organization as a whole.

GATHER ALLIES

At work, you can’t be a lone wolf. This can be hard if you’re a team of one or two like 41.5% of email marketers we surveyed in our State of Email Production ebook. (That climbs to 48% for companies smaller than 500 people!)
To get things done, you have to work with others in your organization and beyond, and gathering allies to help your cause is an important step in pitching anything, even something small.
This doesn’t have to be formal or Survivor-like. If you’re having a hard time convincing someone of your idea or your value, then ask others on your team to help you out. It may take convincing them to get on your side or giving them a snapshot of what you’re presenting at the next meeting.
When it comes to making decisions, all it takes is one person to tip a crowd into a bandwagon effect. Once one person agrees to something, the rest tend to agree. It’s a powerful force that can be set in motion even with an offhand comment or a smile from your ally.

START A SIDE PROJECT

If you’re not ready to take the leap at your regular job, or don’t feel like your company culture supports your crazy email geek ideas, start a side project. (Yes, on your own time.) Start experimenting on your own to gather the data that will arm you in your next discussion.
If you’re at a loss of where to start, find a contest (like ours in the Community) or try to recreate a really cool hack or trick you learned about at that conference that one time. Don’t worry about carefully planning your project—just get going. If you’re not sure where to start, career sites like The Daily Muse have some great resources (and motivation) to make the leap.
Whether or not the side project turns into something you use at work, you’ve created something just for you (and your portfolio) that helps you build the skills you need to succeed.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR CASE

Once you start to get noticed for your killer design or marketing skills, you’ll need to be prepared for the conversations that follow. Maybe you need more budget—or maybe you want a higher salary.
No matter what, keep these things in mind:
  • Know your audience. To be successful in pitching yourself, you need to know your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Why should they care about your idea? Pitching to your CEO? Make sure you connect your goals to that of the entire business. Need a developer’s help? Be crystal clear about all the details in your ask so they can plan their backlog accordingly.
  • Reframe your goals as their own. Now that you’ve considered your audience, think about how to reframe what you want done not by your goals, but by theirs. How does what you’re asking for help them? If you’re trying to get buy-in from your CEO, and all she cares about is revenue, then you need to learn how to present your ideas in a revenue-minded way. If you’re trying to get buy-in from other departments as a marketer, then you need to realize that different departments have different goals than you do, and reframe your ideas accordingly.
  • Consider the context. Context is key in any kind of request, because it helps you place your request among the thousands of other demands your management team has on their plate. Out of all the things they’re thinking about, is yours the best use of those dollars?
Ultimately, you have to answer two major questions for your boss:
  • What’s the return on my investment (ROI)? This is the most common business ratio to make decisions; essentially, it takes your profit and divides it by the amount you spent to determine the return.
  • What’s the opportunity cost? Opportunity cost is the overall cost of not going with your course of action. What are you missing out on? What would the cost be for the alternative choice?
If you can answer both of these questions (ideally with numbers) then you can prove you’ve done the due diligence. Put yourself into the shoes of your manager and think about resource constraints, budget constraints, potential impact on process, and, of course, revenue. How does what you’re suggesting help the business, but also how can you mitigate negative impacts, like a decreased budget, before your manager even has to think about it?

NOW, GO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF!

Making your case is easier said than done. We put together this free downloadable template to work through your ideas and make sure you’re hitting all the right points.

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