Email marketing is an important – but often overlooked and undervalued – component of your marketing strategy. The benefits are simple. Over 3.5 billion people globally have an email address, and email remains the primary method of online communication. On top of that, statistics indicate you’ll get a $21 return for every $1 you spend on an email marketing plan. Creating a strategy is simple, but will require paying attention to details. Start with a basic plan and work your way up from there. Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating an email marketing plan:
Step 1: Develop a foundation.
Your first step has to be answering the big WHY. There is no “right” answer to this question; it will be unique based on your business and current needs. A few reasons you might want to establish an email marketing plan are:
- Develop a relationship with customers/clients by staying top-of-mind and providing valuable resources
- Increase sales by offering discounts and coupons
- Boost website views and/or social media following by linking to content
- Create a “tribe” by giving insiders unique information or access
Don’t move forward until you’ve determined your end goal!
Step 2: Find your audience.
This has two facets. First, you have to find contacts to email your campaigns. Read up on the legality of importing contacts to lists, and always ask permission before adding someone’s email address. You can gain new contacts by offering incentive to sign up for your e-newsletters. Discounts and free resources are great places to start.
The second facet of your audience is knowing how to target your messaging. Once you’ve developed a healthy contact list, you’ll have a range of connections represented from loyal customers to hot leads to unengaged followers. Knowing the needs of each segment will help you craft and customize your messaging to appeal to each audience.
Step 3: Craft content.
Ultimately, your email marketing plan has to deliver content your audience cares about. The better you know your audience, the better you can be sure and meet those needs in your campaigns. A universal rule, though, is to keep it short and sweet. Keep your purpose in mind, but also make sure you’re adding value to your audience.
Step 4: Make it easy.
Make the purpose for the email crystal clear and include obvious calls-to-action. Overcomplicating your emails with too many articles and too much information bogs readers down and can keep them from following through on the action you desire. Simple, bold content is far more effective. One very practical tip here is to include links wherever possible, from section headings to images to buttons to calls-to-action.
Step 5: Design it beautifully.
Your e-newsletter template doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. In fact, simple is often far better. Make sure the design includes your logo and is consistent with your branding. Lighter colors tend to be better than darker colors, and make sure the colors you select for text and hyperlinks are easy to read on your background of choice. While content is important, if it isn’t delivered well poor design can cause your audience to completely write off your message.
Bonus: Track results.
One of the most useful aspects of email campaigns are the trackability of results. From the outset, determine the metrics to keep track of. A few good ones to pay attention to are open rates, click through rates, and unsubscribe rates. Most newsletter companies offer in-depth analytics you can dig into, and we suggest you do so. Developing a strategic email marketing plan is a smart, cost-efficient, and relatively easy way to communicate and connect better with your audience.