Email is one of the most reliable marketing channels. In a world where new social media platforms seem to pop out of the woodwork, email consistently delivers top results.
Large corporations and small businesses can both benefit from a solid email marketing funnel. If you don’t have one yet, you’re missing out.
This guide walks through how to start email marketing planning and how to create an email marketing strategy.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Why you need email marketing
- How to create an email marketing strategy and build email lists
- Which metrics to track in your email strategy
Why You Need an Email Marketing Strategy
We get it. Email isn’t the most exciting option for marketing anymore.
But email’s been around a long time for good reason. Email marketing boasts one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) of all marketing channels.
For 60% of consumers, email remains the preferred method of contact.
Marketers can create email marketing campaigns that support a variety of business objectives, such as:
- Driving website traffic
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing sales volume and revenue
- Facilitating customer success
- Informing and educating customers
- Building credibility
And finally, email marketing works seamlessly with your other channels, including your website and social media pages.
So, how do you go about email marketing planning?
Follow along with these steps that outline email marketing for beginners, and you’ll be sending successful email marketing campaigns in no time.
Email Marketing Planning: Choose an Email Provider
Before you worry about email newsletters and building an email subscriber list, you need to choose your service provider.
An email service provider (ESP), also known as an email marketing provider, helps you create and send your email campaigns.
Finding the right email marketing software is an essential first step in building an effective email marketing plan.
With an email service provider such as Constant Contact, you can store your email subscribers and segment them into different lists.
You can also use your provider to send your emails and track the performance of your newsletters and email series.
When choosing an ESP, look for a reliable provider that fits your budget. Additionally, check to see if your provider offers features such as drip campaigns, list segmentation, and A/B testing.
Email Marketing Planning: Build Your Audience
Email marketing results largely depend on your ability to grow a subscriber list and use it to generate leads. Think of every new subscriber as a potential future customer.
As such, you need to include an audience-building strategy as part of your email marketing planning.
Creating an Email Opt-In Form
One of the best email marketing tips for beginners is to create an engaging opt-in form for your email newsletter. An opt-in form is an online sign-up form for your emails.
Add an email opt-in form to your website so you can add subscribers to your newsletter list.
We also recommend using double opt-in forms. A double opt-in form collects subscribers from your sign-up form and sends a confirmation email to validate the contact information.
Building Your Subscriber List
When you’re just starting with email marketing, we recommend keeping your opt-in form fields simple.
If you’re offering a valuable freebie (such as a detailed case study or an e-book), then you can get away with asking for more subscriber information.
You can increase your sign-up rate by offering incentives to those that subscribe to your email list.
Incentives, also known as lead magnets, include discount codes, quiz results, and online courses.
As your email subscriber list grows, you can create subsets of your total audience, which are known as segments.
Segmenting campaigns can improve your click-through rate by up to 64%.
Here are a few ways you can segment your email lists:
- Geographic area
- Email engagement
- Past purchase date
- Total purchase amount (for example, your repeat customers can be a segment)
When you segment your lists, you can send tailored email campaigns with more specific language.
The more personal your emails feel to a reader, the better your engagement and open rates.
Email Marketing Planning: Develop a Content Strategy
Now that you know how to grow and segment your audience, it’s time to move on to the fun part: content and design.
Learning how to write compelling emails and send them at the right time makes or breaks your email marketing strategy.
So, let’s see how content strategy affects email marketing planning.
Types of Emails
Before you create your content marketing strategy, you need to know the main email types. Each email type serves its purpose and requires different types of content.
- Newsletters. Email newsletters are one-off communications sent to your entire list or a list segment. You can leverage newsletters to send promotions, feature success stories, announce a new product, or share content marketing pieces. Newsletters are excellent for increasing brand awareness, engagement, and driving revenue.
- Transactional. A transactional email is a one-time communication related to a customer transaction, such as email receipts, confirmation sign-ups, and password resets. Transactional emails are an essential part of your customer experience, but you can also use them to drive traffic back to your website.
- Behavioral. Behavioral emails are targeted marketing emails triggered by customer actions. Behavioral emails include welcome sequences, abandoned cart emails, re-engagement sequences, and product recommendations.
Newsletters and transactional emails are traditionally one-off communications. However, behavioral emails can be a single message or a drip campaign.
A drip campaign is a series of emails sent over some time. For example, a welcome drip campaign might include four emails sent over one week.
Most email marketing software includes automation for transactional emails, behavioral emails, and drip campaigns.
Email Marketing Content Calendar
A complete email marketing strategy uses a combination of all three types of emails we described above. User actions trigger transactional and behavioral emails, so those are automatically sent.
Your email newsletters, however, should be planned and scheduled using a content calendar.
Here’s what to include in your email marketing calendar:
- Send date and time
- Audience (complete list or segment)
- Subject line
- Content description
- Objective (such as engagement, website traffic, or conversions)
- Call-to-action (CTA)
- Email author
Using a content calendar in your email marketing planning empowers you to keep your team on track and send the right messages at the right time.
Furthermore, a content calendar helps prevent you from spamming your subscribers since you can carefully plan out the frequency of your communications.
In general, send at least one email newsletter per month and no more than two per week. Over time, you can experiment and figure out what cadence works best for your audience and your team.
Remember to prioritize quality over quantity. It’s better to send fewer high-quality emails than several subpar newsletters.
Testing and Tracking Email Marketing Results
Email marketing planning isn’t something you do one time and forget about. Over time, you can experiment with your content and track metrics to determine what tactics work for you.
Which subject line gets the most open rates? What time of day should you send emails? What’s the best text for your CTA buttons?
Unfortunately, you can’t just Google the answers to these questions. Each audience is unique, and what works for someone else might not work for you.
The good news?
You can use A/B testing to find out.
A/B testing (also known as split testing) lets you send two versions of an email and figure out which one performs the best. (A/B testing can also be used for other channels, such as your website.)
To do the test, split your audience into two groups. One half receives the first version, and the other half gets the second. Then, you wait and see which version generated the most engagement.
Most email marketing platforms include A/B testing features that automatically split your audience for you.
When you’re A/B testing, you should only test one element, such as the subject line or header image. Everything else about the email should be the same, including when you send it.
Including A/B testing in your email marketing planning empowers you to tailor your strategy over time.
As you improve, so will your metrics.
In addition to tracking each A/B test, you should follow the performance of all of your emails so you can view long-term trends too.
Here are the essential email marketing metrics to track.
Email Marketing Tracking
- Delivery rate/bounce rate
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Spam reports
- Unsubscribe rate
- ROI from email conversions
- Revenue per email
Combined, these metrics help you determine the success of your email marketing strategy.
By tracking various key performance indicators (KPIs), you can also identify where you need to improve your content.
Let’s say you have high open rates but low click-through rates. This indicates you have good subject lines, but your email content or CTAs don’t compel people to click through.
Likewise, a high bounce rate indicates an issue with email deliverability. While deliverability can be an easy fix, you won’t know about it if you ignore your metrics.
In general, you should see an increase in delivery, open, and click-through rates as well as email ROI and revenue per email.
On the other hand, aim to minimize spam reports, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates.
Email marketing is a staple in any complete marketing strategy. Not only does email marketing provide the best return on investment, but it’s also the preferred method of communication for most customers.
However, email marketing success depends heavily on your website’s user experience too. You need compelling sign-up forms and an easy checkout process.
To learn more about fast and reliable website hosting plans for online services and eCommerce stores, explore Bluehost plans where you also have the option to add our professional email services to your package.