A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

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Here’s a number to think about: 3,800%. That’s the average email marketing ROI according to the DMA. But just because you’re doing email marketing, too, doesn’t guarantee you’ll also be getting the same spectacular returns. To generate decent ROI, you first need to develop a working email marketing campaign plan.

Putting together a coherent and doable email marketing campaign plan remains a daunting challenge for a great number of marketers. A lot of moving parts make up a typical email campaign, and it’s easy to get lost in the dizzying details. But with a clear planning process, the task becomes more manageable. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide to campaign planning, plus a ton of email marketing tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Step 1: Set specific campaign goals and objectives

As email marketers, we’ve been raised to believe that everything starts with the list. But this mindset needs to change. Goals and objectives actually precede the email list. Everything only follows once you’ve identified the things your campaign needs to achieve.

Some email marketing campaign goals include:

  • Reaching out to cold prospects
  • Nurturing email prospects
  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Verifying/Updating subscription
  • Promoting/Announcing new offers
  • Achieving conversion goals
  • Responding to triggers or actions

 

Step 2: Identify the types of emails to be used

Once you’ve specified your campaign targets, it’s time to figure out which types of emails work best for the tasks at hand. Marketers use dozens of email types, but these can be grouped into:

  • Prospecting Emails – These are emails sent to identify new opportunities for customer acquisition
  • Nurturing Emails – These are emails that cultivate relationships with leads, subscribers, or existing customers.
  • Promotional Emails – This type of emails announces offers or company-related news.
  • Transactional Emails – These emails are sent in response to a specific action or trigger.

 

Step 3: Know the target audience and segments

This looks like a fairly straightforward activity. But almost half of marketers still fail to segment their lists into relevant groups. There’s more to audience identification than simply knowing your target market. You have to define specific buyer personas that serve as your ideal audience profiles.

We’ve written about effective ways to segment a list in a previous post, and the key points are worth repeating here:

  1. Start with basic firmographics
  2. Map emails to sales funnel stages
  3. Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
  4. Find out what content they’re engaging with
  5. Keep track of responses and activities
  6. Apply a lead scoring scheme

 

Step 4: Flesh out a robust sending schedule

Now you’re ready to set the schedule and frequency of email send-outs. Different sources cite varying optimal times of day and days of week for sending out emails, but it’s good practice to test this out for your own campaign. The same holds true for sending frequency.

While not all campaigns need a detailed sending schedule, the following email marketing tips and tricks for scheduling will help you find the right send-out times:

  • Start with the widely-accepted “best” times for sending out emails (Tuesdays through Thursdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
  • Let subscribers indicate how often to receive emails
  • Keep initial follow-ups to within 3 days of last touch point
  • Sync nurturing emails with your content calendar
  • Tweak schedule and frequency based on campaign results

 

Step 5: Brainstorm content and design ideas

You now have the why, what, who, and when of your email marketing campaign plan. The next things to think about are your emails’ content and design. Compelling copy and great design go hand-in-hand at producing successful email campaigns.

In terms of content, your emails need to speak to your audience and achieve a purpose. Consider the following tips when crafting email copies:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA

For the design, it’s the message that dictates the email’s look and feel:

  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

 

Step 6: Choose suitable metrics and KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why selecting a suitable set of metrics is part of campaign planning.

Email marketing continues to be one of the most data-rich marketing channels around today. So, if you think “vanity metrics” (delivery rates, open rates, CTRs, bounces, spam reports, and unsubscribes) can tell you everything you need to know about your campaign, then you’re leaving a huge insight gap in your program.

To ensure your dashboard displays only the right numbers, follow the below steps:

  1. Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
  2. Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
  3. Look at all your campaign data sources
  4. Know which pieces of data improve timing, content, and impact

 

Step 7: Outline a clear process for testing

The final step in the planning process is to come up with a program for testing and tracking your email campaign. Testing allows you to continuously improve your email marketing campaign plan. So, you need to hammer out a workable testing procedure before hitting “send”.

But, with so many individual components to test, creating a testing plan (as well as carrying it out) can feel overwhelming. Put the following tips into practice to make this part of the planning process run more smoothly:

  • Test basic elements first
  • Focus on one component at a time
  • Make your sample sizes sufficiently large (i.e., at least 1,000 observations)
  • Use consistent schedules when testing
  • Trust the test results over gut-feelings, no matter how counterintuitive

 

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a working email marketing campaign plan. But before you hit send, it’s crucial to go over your outline once or twice to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

If you think some aspects of your campaign look tedious or too time-consuming, then a good email marketing automation tool can make things easier. In addition, reputable email marketing service providers help you carry out part or all of your campaign activities more effectively.

What other steps do you follow when putting together an email marketing campaign plan?

How to Decide Between Lead Generation vs Demand Generation Services [2019]

In this day and age, it’s surprising that quite a number of B2B marketing folks still get the terms “lead generation” and “demand generation” mixed up. Although these two activities remain inextricably linked, they’re not the same thing. That’s why if you’re out on the market looking for lead generation or demand generation services, it’s important that you know the differences between them and find out how to choose which one you need.

Demand generation and lead generation share some similar goals, but successful marketers use each of these to achieve different sets of objectives. According to the Content Marketing Institute, demand generation creates interest on your brand or product, while lead generation captures information from interested prospects once demand has been established. The outcome of demand generation services is increased reach and conversions, while that of lead generation is new qualified contacts available for marketing or sales.

In other words, demand generation precedes lead generation. Demand generation hauls prospects into your sales funnel, while lead generation ensures that these prospects actually make it inside. That means if you’re looking for an outsourced marketing partner, you need to be sure you’re getting the right services. Here’s a few questions to help you find out whether you need lead generation or demand generation services:

 

  1. What are your present priorities and objectives?

Customer acquisition and brand awareness typically vie for marketers’ time and budget. But achieving either or both these end-goals requires having clear processes in place. What’s more is that these processes vary depending on whether your current strategic situation call for a revenue-oriented or a branding-focused approach (or a combination of both).

If you’re leaning toward customer acquisition, then lead generation activities should probably make up a significant chunk of your marketing efforts. Otherwise, going for demand generation services is most likely your best path forward.

 

  1. How much does your target market know about your product or solution?

Keep in mind that demand generation services help you create buzz and awareness about your solution or company. It’s the right tool for the job if your target buyers aren’t very familiar with what you’re offering and you need to let your audience know about its capabilities and benefits.

On the other hand, if your target prospects already have a good idea about your product, then they’re potentially ready to proceed toward the next stages in the sales funnel. That’s where lead generation can really help.

 

  1. What prospect qualifications are you looking for?

Here’s one way to think about the differences between lead generation and demand generation services. Demand generation is like casting as wide a net as possible, while lead generation helps keep only the most interested prospects, setting the rest aside. This is why demand generation tactics often use content that’s freely available (such as blog posts), whereas lead generation relies on gated content assets (such as whitepaper downloads).

Lead generation needs a more specific (and oftentimes narrower) set of prospect qualification criteria. BANT, buyer profiles, and lead scores make up prospect qualifications in lead generation. Demand generation, meanwhile, works with a broader set of prospect characteristics.

 

  1. What are your target outcomes?

Demand and leads are obviously different things, although you could argue that a lead is what demand looks like once qualified. Unless we’re talking about demand in a microeconomics context, quantifying demand for your product or solution is trickier than measuring lead generation outcomes.

With lead generation, it’s easy to find universally agreed-upon metrics to measure results (e.g., record counts for lead quantity, lead scores for lead quality). For demand generation services, it takes a little creativity to find the right yardsticks to use.

By now, you’ve possibly gotten the impression that lead generation and demand generation go hand in hand. That’s exactly the case. Deciding between lead generation and demand generation services is actually finding the right balance between which initiatives to do in-house and which ones to outsource to a third-party provider. Define what you want to achieve and determine how your current capabilities and resources stack up against your objectives.