When most people talk about the 1992 United States Olympic men’s basketball team, they immediately think about the bona fide stars on a roster that included legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. In fact, 13 of the 14 players on that roster were eventually elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
And although the roster had no shortage of star power, what made it interesting was its strategic design: It was intentionally built to bring complementary skills to the court so that it could adapt to any style of play. Players like Isaiah Thomas and Shaquille O’Neal were left off the roster—not because they weren’t great, but because they weren’t additive.
The result of that strategy speaks for itself: The United States team won its first game 116-48, and never lost on its way to capturing Olympic gold.
Why the Dream Team Approach Translates to Email Teams, Too
Anyone who’s ever worked in email marketing knows that one of the biggest challenges email teams face is not having enough people (or the right people) to execute a successful email marketing program.
In fact, according to Litmus’s guide on the biggest email marketing challenges of 2019, surveyed email marketers reported that insufficient staffing was among the top three biggest challenges hindering their success. And though that may not be shocking on the surface (who doesn’t wish they had more people?), research on email team staffing revealed two findings that should be eye-opening:
- Of marketers who said their email marketing program was very successful, 50% said they were very well-resourced.
- Well-resourced email programs have 89% more employees, on average.
Of course, “more employees” doesn’t automatically translate to better results. As with anything, “more” should be appended with “more of the right.” Just as the 1992 US men’s basketball team strategically chose players who complemented each other’s style, the very best email marketing teams tend to approach staffing the same way.
So, What Does an Email Dream Team Look Like?
On average, Litmus’s State of Email report found that companies have about 7-8 people on their internal email marketing team. Depending on the level of a team’s skill set and specialization, it can feature various roles and take shape a few different ways.
But, generally speaking, most sophisticated email teams include some mix of these roles:
- Email marketing managers responsible for executing campaigns and programs
- Email copywriters and designers responsible for email creative
- Email developers and QA leads responsible for developing and testing emails
- Email analysts or strategists responsible for optimizing campaigns to maximize results
Of course, email teams are rarely made up of only internal talent—particularly at larger companies. Often, they’re supplemented by agencies and freelancers who can bring specialized skills to the table, like ESP migrations, system integrations, and custom creative. Those external resources allow teams to scale up more quickly and access talent they might not be able to find locally.
How common are these external resources? Data from Litmus’s annual report found that enterprises are the heaviest users of both, with 51% of companies that have 2,000 or more employees using agencies, and 38% using freelancers.
The Benefits of Investing in Your Email Marketing Team
On the surface, the benefits of a bigger, more well-balanced team are obvious: You’ll be able to execute more campaigns, they’ll be better optimized to your target audiences, and you’ll be less likely to make some fairly common (and costly) mistakes.
But those benefits also tend to compound, especially at the lower end of the staffing spectrum. That’s because having more employees on your team allows email programs to hire more specialists and fewer jacks-of-all-trades.
On smaller, resource-strapped teams, email professionals tend to be responsible for 4.6 tasks on average—spanning email planning and strategy to design and coding. Narrowing the scope of a team member generally increases performance and allows a brand to have a more stable team by bringing on a mix of junior and senior marketers. That makes the short-term loss of one team member less disruptive. It also helps with morale, which suffers when email teams are understaffed.
To bring it back to the 1992 Olympic Dream Team: If Michael Jordan or Larry Bird hadn’t been able to play, it’s highly likely that team would’ve still won the gold medal. Why? Because the team had 11 other future hall-of-famers on its roster and it didn’t pigeonhole itself into one specific style of play: Flexibility and adaptability were built into the personnel strategy.
That’s not to say that every company is going to build the perfect email dream team, because there just aren’t enough Michael Jordans and Larry Birds out there. But what we can learn from that strategy is that investing in great talent can deliver exponential returns—particularly when that talent is well-balanced, well-resourced, and put in a position to do their job at the highest level possible.
Are you looking to scale your email program? Watch this on-demand webinar with Litmus and Salesforce and learn what skills to look for when scaling your team—and how you can set up an organizational structure that’s designed for growth. Watch the free webinar →
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