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Email Factory: Why create an "email factory"?

There are many many ways to create an email template ! From email builders (whether in the emailing toolsthird-party solutions, open source email builders...), the design and thehtml integration "and then some. But sometimes, you need to create an email factory. Because these classic solutions aren't enough, because there's a risk of looking for the magic tool that doesn't exist, and that will always frustrate some of your teams.

This is particularly true in "massively" multi-brand, massively multi-language companies... in structures that use many different types of email, many different templates. Which have to produce emails manually, and others automatically (or even semi-automatically). But they also have to satisfy a large number of clients and message producers who are not always digitally literate, let alone skilled in design or HTML integration.

The Email Factory, cousin of the Digital Factory

Digital Factories were created in response to the growing need for digital transformation in companies. Modelled on production chains, they include design, logistics, quality control, maintenance, etc. They are intended to accelerate digital innovation and bring together all the parties involved in digital production (and not just the CIO).

The digital factory is set to revolutionize working methods with :

  • multidisciplinary teams
  • using the agile method
  • a healthy dose of test and learn
  • short development cycles and regular production releases

Email is regularly integrated into digital factories. We can therefore say that the email factory can be one of its production lines.

If you'd like to find out more about the digital factory, read on. 1min30 article on the subject.

But what is an Email Factory?

The email factory is a set of tools and processes that enable us to flexibly meet all your email design needs.

Okay, maybe that's a bit pompous! But that's the objective! Centralize, formalize, but remain flexible so that the production chain can evolve whenever new needs arise.

At Badsender, we have chosen to base our email factories on different tools:

These tools (especially Maizzle and LePatron) can either be integrated into our customers' Digital Factory (since they are OpenSource solutions anyway), or hosted on Badsender's servers. Integration into our customers' technical environment will enable their teams to take greater technical control of the email factory, and provide greater flexibility, especially if the construction of certain emails is fully automated.

The benefits of the Email Factory

  • Improve consistency between different types of messages;
  • Integrate template variation requirements on a multi-criteria basis (languages, markets, brands, product categories, editorial posture, etc.);
  • Ensure compliance with the design system and brand charter;
  • Anticipate future needs by creating a scalable platform;
  • Automate the process as flexibly as possible e-mail production ;
  • Harmonize tools to maintain control over email production best practices;
  • Create different usage levels according to the profile of email factory users;
  • Automated deployment of updates to the various templates and emails previously produced.

The constraints of the Email Factory

  • Analytical work is required upstream of project start-up to define and prioritize needs;
  • Implementation takes longer than for a simple tool roll-out, as these processes are tailor-made;
  • The involvement of multidisciplinary teams requires more structured project management methodologies;
  • The need for collaboration between the company's various service providers;
  • The need to support change through training and acculturation (since we are in a process of digital transformation).

The different uses of email factories

Unlike an email builder, the email factory allows you to design your emails in 3 distinct ways:

  • Fully automated email: Based on a trigger or a defined periodicity, the email will be built automatically on the basis of a data flow. The data will define which organizations in the design system will be used, and the content, images and links will be inserted automatically. The message thus constructed can then be relayed to a third-party API for delivery.
  • Semi-automated email: The process is relatively the same as for fully automated email. The difference is that a prior validation step can be inserted, but also that the pre-filled email can be edited manually in an email editor.
  • Manual: Here we're dealing with a more classic process in which the email is designed using an email editor. But this uses exactly the same design system as for automated and semi-automated processes. Manual email production can also be supported by a validation and quality control chain.

In all 3 cases, personalization requirements (personalization variables and conditional blocks) are obviously integrated. There's even a potential 4th design method, close to the "fully automated" method, which consists of generating individualized emails for each recipient. Even if for these logics we prefer to rely on email tools, some of which already integrate all the necessary tools.

What are the steps involved in setting up an Email Factory?

Obviously, the steps will differ from one project to another, depending on your needs. Nevertheless, we can establish a few broad outlines.

1. Project analysis and validation

Analysis phase aimed at precisely defining the need and the technical solutions to be chosen.

This phase contains :

  • Stakeholder interviews to clearly define expectations
  • Complete inventory of email and block typologies. Creation of a table analyzing existing and future needs.
  • Analysis of business needs and different production methods (manual, semi-automated, fully automated) for emailings and newsletters.
  • Analysis of the various existing tools, both external and internal, to understand the challenges, limits and advantages...
  • Analysis of data sources (feeds, databases, etc.) used to create semi-automated and fully automated emails.
  • Analysis of variants to be applied to the email system design: brand themes (colors, fonts, links, ...), typologies, markets, languages, ...
  • Analysis of email personalization needs: variables, conditional blocks, etc.
  • Discussions with technical teams to learn about the technical stack and any constraints.

2. Production line design and set-up

This stage is the longest and most monolithic. It is bound to be different for each company, depending on the conclusions of the analysis phase. Generally speaking, however, it comprises two major sub-projects:

  • Email system design and development of email templates: Basically, these are the design and HTML integration phases. With all the validation, back and forth, testing and quality control.
  • Setting up the production line: This involves the development and deployment of production tools. And, of course, integration with the customer's information system if automation is planned.

3. Adoption, training, support and guidance

Once the first version of the solution has been deployed, it's time to train the teams, answer their questions and support them in using the solution. This adoption phase is certainly the most critical in any project. All users must be comfortable with the solution.

It's important to note that the "adoption phase" will in fact continue for as long as the solution is in use. There will always be new users arriving, requiring training and support.

Every comment, every piece of feedback must be collected so that the solution can be improved.

4. Functional and system design evolution

An email factory can't be set in stone. It's not a tool that's delivered once and for all, never to evolve again. It must adapt to the company's new needs, to changes in its strategy, to changes in technology, and to changes in the digital practices of customers and users.

Regular updates will enable us to adapt the solution to new uses, guaranteeing a constant level of adoption and maximum coverage of needs.

Need to rethink your email production processes?

So don't hesitate to get in touch with the experts at Badsender. And don't hesitate to tell us about your own experience of different email production methodologies. We love talking to our readers!

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