Email Marketing Strategy: Development Guide + Checklist

You can do mailing irregularly, test headlines and forms randomly - there will be clicks and even some sales. However, without a clear strategy, you should not count on stable growth in business performance.

Mary Gilsbert
Mary Gilsbert
Email Marketing Specialist
Published:
March 08, 2021

You can do mailing irregularly, test headlines and forms randomly - there will be clicks and even some sales. However, without a clear strategy, you should not count on stable growth in business performance.

An email marketing strategy is a document that describes:

  1. Goals that you need - and most importantly, you are able to achieve with the help of email marketing.
  2. Specific actions required to achieve these very goals.

Ready to get started creating your email marketing strategy – follow this step by step strategy.

Step 1: setting goals

It is with setting goals that you should start email marketing (and any other marketing).

There are three standard directions:

  1. Targeted traffic to the site and getting quality leads from the mailing list.
  2. Expert status - the formation of the knowledge among potential customers that the company N is the best who understands something.
  3. Brand awareness and audience loyalty (increase in mentions, increase in brand advocates, etc.).

Bad goal

Write as much as our main competitor. Now everyone has a mailing list, you can't lag behind.

Good goal

Reduce the cost of paid traffic by increasing the share of free transitions to the site by 20%.

Bad goal

Get a return on your email marketing investment 2 weeks after launch.

Good goal

Increase the number of repeat purchases by 10% six months after the launch of the mailing list

Now for more specific examples.

It goes without saying that when developing an email marketing strategy from scratch, it is difficult to get the exact numbers right off the bat. Objectives and other sections of the document, one way or another, will have to be adjusted during implementation and testing. However, a certain vector must be immediately visible.

Let's say you know the conversion from email newsletter reader to the customer (at least the industry average). Then, using the average check and unsubscription rate, you can immediately calculate how many new addresses you need to collect in the database every month.

Step 2: Define the target audience

To build long-term trusting relationships with your audience, you need to know them well. Namely:

  • Possess data on age, geography, estimated income level.
  • Understand fears, pains, needs, selection criteria.
  • Have an understanding of the customer journey (how he makes a purchase decision, how often he buys, how many points of contact are needed to order, etc.).

If this is your first time composing a Buyer Persona - this is a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. Decision-making methods are more important than hobbies or the number of children (unless, of course, we are talking about a product for kids). Sample Buyer Persona of the employee training center:

Sector B2B
Segment Logistics
Name John Snow
Age 33 years
Family status Single
Nationality American
Place of residence Texas
Education Sales and marketing
Position Sales manager
Income level High
Habits, lifestyle Healthy lifestyle and sports
Values Wealth and career
Life position Active, sports enthusiast
Thoughts on innovations Conservative and doubtful, but wants to try and see the results.
Reasons to use the company’s services Managers demand higher profits. While employees want to work at a slow pace and get paid. Something needs to be done, perhaps employee training.
The benefits of interacting with the project Sales will grow and exceed the investments in trainings → the manager will get a bonus.

There are many options for collecting this information:

  • Study the data of subscribers in social networks.
  • Interview company owners, executives, and sales managers.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with 10-15 existing clients.
  • Gain industry research and insights from competitors' marketers.

Target audience portraits will come in hand at other stages of email strategy development, as well. For example, when developing USP, landing pages, advertisements, etc.

Step 3: Competitor Analysis

The target audience is clearly defined - now you need to find out what competitors are offering. To do this, you need to subscribe to their mailing lists and get familiar with sites and pages on social networks. Then add all the important data in the table.

What to include there:

  • Examples of headlines, descriptions, and CTAs from newsletter signup forms.
  • Information about how competitors ensure data confidentiality.
  • A description of what happens after the form is successfully submitted and the subscription is confirmed.
  • Data on the frequency of sending letters and types of mailings (what triggers are used, what they write in digests, etc.).

There are many options for collecting this information:

  • Study the data of subscribers in social networks.
  • Interview company owners, executives, and sales managers.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with 10-15 existing clients.
  • Gain industry research and insights from competitors' marketers.

Target audience portraits will come in hand at other stages of email strategy development, as well. For example, when developing USP, landing pages, advertisements, etc.

Step 4: Determine How To Get Subscribers

At this stage, we decide where to get traffic from and how to attract subscribers. This is where the results of competitor analysis come in handy: you need to do better than theirs.

There are many ways to invite subscribers - for example:

  • Promise, in the form of a subscription, a super useful book, checklist, or free online course.
  • Tell what awaits future readers - publish examples of letters on the landing page along with reviews of grateful subscribers.
  • Set up a pop-up for “warm” visitors: for example, those who have read 70% of the long read in the blog.
  • Seduce fans with promotions and discounts: write in social networks that each new subscriber will receive a discount coupon.

If you have a budget and a separate subscription page, then it is worth trying paid promotion methods: targeted and contextual advertising.

It is important to remember the main rules for working with the database:

  1. No ready-made bases. If you want to do email marketing, don't spam.
  2. Do not regret - delete the address if it is incorrect or the owner has complained/does not react in any way (for a long time).

Step 5: Deciding on Future Content

We know who our target audience is, what competitors are and how to work with the base. Based on this information and product knowledge, a content decision can be made.

Let’s imagine we sell an airplane wing for several million dollars, the promotional mailing may be of less importance. Here, newsletters like “a new wing model from the manufacturer Flügelpflanze” or “British scientists predict an increase in the cost of wings: time to buy” is more suitable. If we sell books - the basis of letters is likely to be promotional.

It all depends on the project. Some projects only need promotions, since subscribers sit and wait for discounts: they are not interested in anything else. In contrast to other projects, where you can't do without a useful newsletter, especially if the topic is poorly disclosed / controversial.

Step 6: Develop communication

Now that everything has cleared up with the target audience, competitors, the base, and types of mailings, it's time to create a chain of letters. Here are the email types:

  • Greetings or Welcome letters (only for new subscribers).
  • Triggered (react to a specific event/subscriber action).
  • Transactional (sent with a paid subscription, purchase of a product or service).
  • Promotional, commercial or promotional letters (contain information about discounts, promotions, sales).
  • Informational (these letters are the basis of regular mass mailing).
  • Announcements (sent before the events).

There is no need for content details at this stage, only algorithms. Preparation of text and design is optional: not everyone aligns content along with a strategy.

When developing email communication, you need to rely on audience data, take the best from competitors and, of course, build your hypotheses: tests will show whether they are correct or not. Key ingredients for success: personalization and segmentation.

For those who don't know where to start, we present a standard set of triggers that work well in emails:

  • You left an item in your shopping cart and forgot.
  • The last copy remained in the warehouse. Hurry up!
  • You have 100 bonus points in your account that get expired in two days.
  • 24 hours left before the end of the "Title" promotion!
  • Hurry up to buy a discount item from the basket / postponed item.
  • The item you wanted to buy is back in stock.
  • New reviews from the user you follow.
  • You have purchased these items. Please, review items X, Y, Z!

Step 7: Assigning Responsibilities and Planning the Budget

So, the strategy is almost ready! All that remains is to appoint responsible persons and agree on the budget.

The email marketing team ideally includes:

  • Those who work on the text - the author, editor, proofreader, and content strategist.
  • The guys involved in design: designer and layout designer.
  • A project manager who sets up mail services, monitors efficiency and makes AB tests.
  • Lead - account manager who manages the entire team.

After assigning responsibilities, a budget is agreed upon. It is calculated based on the number of employees, email marketing goals, and the tools used.

Email Marketing Strategy Checklist

1. Setting goals

  • Why does a business need email marketing (increased repeat sales, more brand advocates, etc.)? Try to set at least one specific, measurable goal and a timeline for achieving it.
  • How to connect intermediate goals (open rate, click-through rate, etc.) with business objectives, that is, evaluate the effectiveness of email marketing?

2. Define the target audience

  • Who is your potential client? How old is he, where does he live, how much does he earn? How does he choose products/services? What are his fears and desires?
  • Make one or Buyer Personas. Sources of information: social media, interviews with clients and employees, research, etc.

3. Competitor analysis

  • How do competitors build their base? Where are the subscription forms located? Do you use dedicated subscription pages? What is a budget for paid promotion methods?
  • What headings, descriptions, and calls to action are used? What is offered to a potential subscriber in exchange for an email?
  • How is confidentiality guaranteed? Do they have a privacy policy and personal data processing conditions?
  • What do you write immediately after confirming the subscription? And what - then, within 1-2 months? What types of emails are used?

4. Determine how to get subscribers

  • Where to get subscribers (site visitors, subscribers to competing communities, left users, retargeting, etc.).
  • How to attract readers (offer a discount and/or a gift and/or show examples of feedback letters, etc.).
  • What to do if an incorrect address is specified, and what to do with those who do not read for a long time (when email again, and when - it's time to delete).

5. Decision on future content

  • What kind of emails are needed besides transactional and trigger ones?
  • Do I need to send company/industry news, make a useful newsletter?

6. Develop communication

  • How many emails to include in a Welcome series?
  • When to start sending trigger letters?
  • How to convince if a promotional letter is left without attention?
  • Take into account the activities of competitors, the characteristics of the product, and the needs of the target audience.

7. Assigning Responsibilities and Planning the Budget

  • How many people do you need to involve in your email marketing strategy?
  • How much money to spend on email marketing (based on ROI forecast)?
Written by
Mary Gilsbert
Email Marketing Specialist

I am Mary Gilsbert, e-mail marketing specialist with work experience of 12 years. I know how to sell using the right words in the right context. I was lucky to write my paper with the help of qualified experts from WritingAPaper.

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