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I recently welcomed a new consultant to the Professional Services team, and since we’re in the midst of her onboarding process, it struck me that many of the practices Return Path uses to hire, train and retain employees are very similar to best practices we recommend email marketers use for acquiring subscribers and driving program success.

A shared goal applies in both instances: mutual satisfaction. Return Path is committed to putting people first and creating a high-performance culture, which ensures we focus on execution and remain productive and innovative. Marketers who are committed to demonstrating value with their email communications and sending subscribers what they’re most interested in receiving will be rewarded with consistent engagement, high-levels of activity and ROI.

Here are a few more similarities:

  • Vetting candidates and list hygiene: We’re very selective about who we interview and ultimately hire. It’s not exactly “The Apprentice,” but as Angela Baldonero, our SVP of People & Client Success, recently wrote in a guest post on Fred Wilson’s blog, our application to hire percentage is 1.5%. We’re committed to finding the best talent and we have an amazing recruiting team that helps us do that.

    This same concept can serve email marketers well, especially when it comes to list hygiene. Quality of email addresses should be more important than quantity. Poor data in the form of unknown users and spam traps can negatively impact sender reputation and inbox placement. Old data from questionable sources that haven’t been properly opted in can lead to high complaint rates and low engagement, making the acquisition investment worthless at best and damaging to longer-term metrics and goals at worst.

  • Ensuring the right fit and promoting program benefits: Once a candidate makes it through our initial vetting and begins their phone and in-person interviews, it can be an intense process. That’s because not every candidate is right for Return Path, and likewise, the Return Path culture isn’t necessarily the right fit for everyone. As a hiring manager, I have a panel of participants, including my team, my peers and my manager, supporting me in interviewing candidates, and this is no small commitment of time. We then collectively share feedback and use a system called Jobvite to rank candidates based on certain key criteria. It provides a very clear picture of whom is a great fit and where everyone stands as part of the hiring decision.

    Email marketers could apply a similar strategy as part of their acquisition processes by clearly stating the benefits that subscribers will gain from signing up for the program. Including information about the content of messages, frequency, and any options available to further customize messaging helps subscribers to make an informed decision to sign up, meaning they will be less likely to lose interest and disengage with the program. A file populated with active subscribers who anticipate messaging and want to interact with it is a clear sign of a healthy acquisition process.

  • Onboarding new hires and welcoming new subscribers: Our People team has created a fantastic onboarding program that gets new hires up-to-speed quickly and solidly integrates them into the Return Path fold. Before a new hire’s first day, they are sent lots of useful information that helps them get to know what Return Path is all about, including links to videos from our Executive Team talking about Return Path’s mission, vision and core values, a detailed onboarding schedule outlining important meetings and trainings, an Employee Handbook and a list of FAQs covering everything about their first day. There’s no reason a new hire’s first day should be stressful or confusing, and these processes ensure that employees can focus on getting to know their colleagues, the business, and expanding their email knowledge right from the start.

    A good welcome message serves a very similar purpose. New subscribers are eager to engage with your brand and your email program. The more information you can provide to help them interact with your website, your messaging and your products and services, the better. This includes restating program benefits, providing an overview of what they will receive from you and including links to whitelisting instructions, your preference center, a privacy policy and other useful areas of your website. There’s nothing more valuable to a marketer than an active, informed and engaged email subscriber.

  • Creating a path for career success and measuring KPIs: As part of a new employee’s onboarding process, the hiring manager will work with their new employee to create goals for their all important first 90 days. These goals provide the employee with a tangible set of metrics for measuring success, and allow the hiring manager to identify development opportunities and areas of strength in a relatively short amount of time. This process also highlights two integral values at Return Path: collaboration and constructive feedback. After 90 days, the employee will have their first performance review and work with their manager to create a development plan. This transparent process encourages an honest and respectful dialog and helps establish the tone for future performance reviews. It also ensures everyone is on the same page, and there are no surprises or hidden expectations.

    How does this apply to email marketing? Without a set of metrics in place to measure success, track trends and identify key subscriber data points, marketers will have little insight into how to make changes that will drive program improvements. Depending on your business goals and subscriber base, your KPIs will vary, and should be adjusted over time based on changes to program strategy. In addition, as most businesses are multichannel, finding ways to attribute the impact of your email program on website visits, store traffic, social media growth, mobile app downloads and other business drivers can help to create a clearer vision for how all of these channels work together.

Given the theme of this post, I’d be remiss in not including a link to Return Path’s Career Page where you can find all of our open positions globally.

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