Develop an email marketing strategy in 10 steps

HookPR_Email_marketing_strategy_01Some email marketing providers make it so easy to send out enewsletters that many people do so without first crafting a strategy. As a result, their campaigns are ineffective or difficult to sustain.

An email marketing strategy is one of the most important — and the most overlooked — elements of a successful email marketing campaign. Here’s a 10-step process to help you develop one:

1. Set goals for your email marketing. What do you want to accomplish? Are you looking to sell more of a particular service, or do you want to rise as an authority in your industry or community? How will you measure your email campaign’s success? Ideally, your email marketing strategy should identify your goals for the next six months to one year.

2. Determine your starting point and budget. Review the nuts and bolts of your strategy. How many email addresses do you have? How will you acquire more? Do you have staff to help, will you do it yourself or will you outsource? This is the time to determine how the enewsletter will get done on a regular basis.

3. Look at the competition. Research as much as you can about your competitors. Get on their email marketing lists. Find out if their emails are informational or promotional. Think about what you like and don’t like about their enewsletters, and consider what you can provide to your ideal clients that they may not get from the competition.

4. Study your ideal client. Think through the needs of your ideal clients. Gauge how much time you think customers will spend reading your emails. What’s important to them? What would they be interested in reading? What do they need to know to help them progress in the engagement cycle?

5. Decide on frequency. Some companies send out enewsletters on a weekly basis and keep them short, no more than three paragraphs. See what your competitors do, then determine what works for you. Most organizations send out a monthly newsletter. Gone are the days of long e-newsletters. Nowadays, less is more when it comes to content length.

6. Brainstorm ideas for at least six months. Think about regular columns that could be included in your newsletter (and added to your website). If you send out a monthly newsletter, for example, you may want to include:

  • A longer “newsier” story about a development in your organization or industry.
  • A shorter article that profiles a service or a success story.
  • A message from the head of your organization.
  • A very clear call to action (more on this below).

As you brainstorm, consider developing a theme for each issue in advance, like magazines do. Also keep in mind holidays, seasons, buying cycles, upcoming events and happenings in your industry.

7. Design an email template. Just like your website, every email that goes out should have a uniform look and feel. Consistency is important for branding. Use the same color palette as your website. Just as important, use responsive templates that are easy to read on a smartphone. One out of two people opens an enewsletter on a mobile device. Always keep that in mind when designing your template.

8. Write relevant content that includes actionable language. Nobody wants to read a rambling email. Keep your content clear and concise. Journalists usually write with what is called an inverted pyramid style, which places the most crucial information at the beginning. This is also a good approach for newsletter articles. A concise, well-organized email that gets to the point shows that you value your readers’ time and are considerate of their needs. Any text longer than three paragraphs should continue via a link to your website. Otherwise, the email becomes too long.

Also, don’t forget those important calls to action! Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do by using verbs like call, read, visit, etc.

9. Develop effective subject lines. If you don’t pique your readers’ interest with your subject line, they won’t open the email. It’s that simple. Play with a variety of interesting subjects and test them on your readers. Keep the subject lines short, snappy and spam-free, meaning avoid using all caps and multiple exclamation points. Stay away from language like “buy now” or “free.” Give them a reason to open it immediately by making it about them (use “you”).

10. Look for ways to improve upon your results. Creating an email template, matching the graphics to your brand and website, and writing good content is only half of the work that needs to be done. The other 50 percent is analyzing your email tracking reports and planning your future campaigns based on what you learn about customers and how they are responding to your content. Always look for ways to improve your open rates and click-through link results.

A solid email marketing strategy will turn prospects and visitors into loyal clients. Are you ready for a more strategic approach to your email marketing? Send us an email or call 302.858.5055.