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:
- Start with basic firmographics
- Map emails to sales funnel stages
- Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
- Find out what content they’re engaging with
- Keep track of responses and activities
- 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:
- Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
- Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
- Look at all your campaign data sources
- 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
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?