A Day in the Life…

8:00 a.m. — The day begins with an ugly commute, probably a familiar scenario to many of you. I often drive in silence to review ongoing projects, the small to-dos that are left undone, questions regarding how schedules are moving and how to adjust… the usual stuff. I try to not think about this for the entire drive. At some point, I have to turn on music or news so I don’t get overanxious.

9:00 a.m. — Arriving at the office, I learn that we are still going to deploy Client No. 1’s campaign (as a true multitasker, I’m checking email and writing responses while updates on projects occur between my team members and myself). The campaign has nine versions of creative, meaning 18 different docs to load between test and HTML. (Thank goodness our deployment tool adds AOL tags for us.) Although the final files deadline was three days ago, we’re still editing HTML on the morning of the send (not our fault).

All the text versions have been loaded and the links are set up for tracking. The HTML is in “volley,” due to last-minute copy changes (really, pieces of text within graphics). This gets tricky with multiple versions. This change came in after we sent the images to be loaded for hosting. It starts to get confusing to rename, trash this, keep that one, reload/host, and so on. Rather than take chances, we decide to pull back and wait until all the images are finalized. We instruct the Webmaster to trash all the earlier images and wait for a file containing all the final images. He’s glad to hear that. His head is spinning — in the few hours he’d been away from his desk, he received a pileup of email with varying, and conflicting, instructions about what to post, pull, trash, and rename.

10:15 a.m. — Relief! We can push to Friday morning, if need be. But because of our understanding of the message, the customer list and the timelines associated with the offer, we know we need to get this campaign out today. We forge ahead, with the best intentions of getting it out by the close of business. (You know what they say about best intentions.)

10:30 a.m. — Client No. 2 has been somewhat unresponsive in the creative draft approval rounds. The campaign date has come and gone at least twice. Now the project is very hot. This marketer wants the campaign out the door within a week. We’re doing our best to juggle. The deployment date is now on top of three other previously scheduled events that must take precedence. Those other clients are staying on task to make their deadlines. I guess there are politics in every job.

As Lindsey, our campaign manager, begins the push on Client No. 1’s campaign, due today, I begin writing this column and get a reprieve from some of the projects in the works.

12:00 p.m. — I’m working with Client No. 3’s lists. I have several files in Excel spreadsheets I am working with to verify what has been sent — record counts, data included in the files, and subsequent sheets within the files. I must figure out how to source or tag the information to make it accessible for segmentation. A few things I see will require me to go back with questions. For example, they want the sheet or the file names to be the sources for determining areas of interest. I need more clarity on how they want to name this data so that what I do will seamlessly match their data when I send back a file update. In the file conversion done on the client side, any data field (mostly postal codes) beginning with “0” dropped that digit. That might create problems when the data is transferred back. You want to catch as many things like this as possible when prepping data.

The next step is to create some test uploads. Then I can go back to the client with all my ducks in a row.

1:30 p.m. — Time for a conference call with a new client and his first project. He just returned the approved brief (we already covered that topic). He now wants to track unique responders on this campaign. His Web site form cannot accomplish this task. Rather than build a landing page with more information, we’re turning his landing page into a hosted form he can use to capture customer information for the campaign. Now I’m pondering how to best set that up so we can reuse the form for multiple campaigns. If at all possible, we try to build these to be reusable. To keep the source unique, I have to rename the form for future uses and give it a unique URL, but if done correctly the HTML and the questions can simply be copied into a new form in the future.

Around 3:00 p.m. — After grabbing something to eat, Lindsey and I determine that if we have any chance of getting the campaign for Client No. 1 out today, we will both have to dedicate the afternoon to the project. She and I split up the remaining tasks and spend the next few hours working out final setups, testing messages to ourselves, clicking links, going back for corrections, and testing once again.

Around 4:30 p.m. — We realize that a few graphics are not displaying correctly. We check code and our absolute image sources and realize that we need to have the coders check their side. A message is sent to our Webmaster and the client’s (who hosts its own images and landing pages for this campaign) to see if they can determine what we may not have been able to see. Turns out we missed an image source — it is actually a background image, not a straight “img src.” We didn’t catch it while doing setups. The image is hosted, so it’s only a matter of changing the code in our messages… phew! We’ve gone round robin so many times on images, I’m relieved we have only our own code to change, not another image-swapping event to do.

We have two other image problems. The hosted landing page on one version has funny garble where straight HTML should appear as text. Another image, whose source is coded correctly and is definitely hosted, refuses to display. In both cases, our Webmaster determined something was corrupted. We need to replace those images.

It’s late in the day and we still haven’t sent ourselves clean tests due to these glitches. We converse with our client, and all agree that Friday will have to be the day we deploy. Lindsey and I push on.

Around 6:00 p.m. — We have all the testing clean enough to forward to the client for review!

It’s late, so I dash off an email to reschedule a meeting and run through new messages, and we wrap things up for the day.

I hope you recognize some solutions here that will be helpful in your day-to-day campaigns. The checklist we wrote a few weeks ago is in play here. This is how it works when applied to real-world applications.

Let me know if this info is helpful. We work with different clients, and projects always vary, so we can offer more snapshots in the future.

Have a great week, all! And shop ’til you drop this season (preferably online) — the economy needs it!

— Jackie G.

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