Email is cost-effective. Among channels like social media and advertising, email remains one of the most affordable marketing methods out there.
Email marketing is only expected to grow. In 2023, nearly 350 billion emails are sent and received daily. That number is projected to grow to over 360 billion in 2024.
What makes a good email marketing strategy?
So, you likely get why an email marketing strategy works, but you’re also likely wondering what makes a really excellent one. Here are a few key pieces:
A clear goal. Know what you want to communicate to your customers and what you want them to do following your emails.
A customer-centric focus. Keep your customers as your priority and treat them like individuals to keep them engaged.
Strong calls to action (CTAs). Your audience doesn’t know what you want them to do until you ask, so, be clear about their next steps.
Constant improvement. Like any business practice, email marketing takes some trial and error. Commit to improving your email marketing strategy one step at a time.
How to start building an email marketing strategy: the basics
You came for easy steps, so I won’t make you wait. These are the first three steps any aspiring email marketer should take to get off to a good start.
Step 1: Write an email marketing plan
Don’t dive in without a clear idea of where you’re going with your email strategy. Putting together a few important details now will save you a major headache later.
Define your goal(s).
Decide what your emails should add to your marketing efforts and what results you want from them.
Define your target audience. Figure out who exactly you’re talking to so you can speak to them effectively.
Define the value you’ll provide (what you’ll send). Why should customers open your emails and act on them? What will they gain when they do?
Define how often you’ll send (at least initially). While you don’t have to set a frequency in stone, it’s good to set an initial email frequency and stick with it until you’ve got the hang of it.
Plan your initial email schedule/calendar. Along with your frequency, decide what kind of emails you want to send out to start. Plan a few weeks or a month’s worth so you never have to scramble for an email to send. This will also keep your marketing messages cohesive.
Choose your email tool. Last but certainly not least, pick an email platform that meets your needs. Compare popular platforms for:
Features you’ll want
Customer support availability
Educational materials on hand
Ease of use
Step 2: Set up an opt-in to build your list
You’re going to need an audience to get your emails, so take some time to set up a way to bring leads and customers onto your lists.
Build a web form with your email platform and paste it to your website. A web form collects email addresses from your web visitors. The creation process varies by platform, but most major email service providers offer a pre-made web form. You can generally customize a few extra fields alongside the default fields, and then copy the code to add it to your site.
Create contact lists for new subscribers to filter into. Get a head start on organizing your contacts as the first ones filter in. This will help you avoid being overwhelmed as your subscriber base grows.
Keep those lists organized in the way that works for you. That could be by customer location, deal stage, product preferences, or any other relevant criteria that help you target your messages.
It’s time to hit “send.” The idea here is to start slow and then tweak components of your emails until you find a few winning combinations.
Send your first email. (keep it simple)
There’s no need to make your very first email an award winner.
This is really just a test run to get you familiar with the mechanics of setting up and sending an email.
Aim for a straightforward update like an upcoming sale or a welcome email to new subscribers. Stick to the basic details readers will need to know, and then monitor the response.
In your next emails, try out different:
Lengths – Will your audience respond better to a long, detailed message or a quick alert?
Language – Try out a more casual or formal tone or different wording as you iterate.
Formatting – Play with the layout of the information and images in your emails to see what flows best.
Buttons – Do buttons to your website or social media do better early on in your emails or down toward the end?
Calls to action – Writing a great CTA sometimes takes practice. Test a few different “asks” with your audience to see what gets results.
Step 4: Keep an eye on your analytics and iterate
Most importantly, you’ll need to have a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t as you design future email campaigns. That all comes down to your analytics.
Locate your analytics board.
In your chosen email platform, find your campaign performance page. This will be key to knowing whether your current strategies are working and improving future campaigns.
Delivery rate – This tells you whether your emails are being delivered successfully.
Open rate – Your open rate tells you how many people opened your email.
Click-through rate – This lets you know how many recipients clicked on any links you included in your email.
Unsubscribes – Check this number to see how many contacts have unsubscribed from your emails.
7 proven email marketing strategies
Beyond the basics, here are a few top strategies to boost your email marketing campaigns and their results.
Organize your subscribers.
By “organize,” I mean break your contact lists up according to common factors so you ensure that each subscriber only gets information that’s relevant to them.
Typically, you can start this process by gathering important data pieces from your subscribers like:
Subscriber zip code
Previously purchased products
Organization revenue level
Number of customers
Then, you’ll break those lists up into segments based on the data you received.
This strategy will drastically reduce your unsubscribe rates because every subscriber will only hear about deals, topics, and updates that align with their interests.
Before this step, ask yourself:
What do you plan to send in your emails?
What data points do you need from subscribers?
Ask for what you want.
That is to say, let your subscribers know exactly the action you want them to take after reading your email.
These actions might be:
Browsing new products
Setting up a call with your team
Clicking an included link
Filling out a survey
Replying to the email to confirm receipt
Sending a reply with a piece of information
Watching a video
Reading an article or blog post
Links are an excellent way to get your subscribers to take quick action, but whatever your call to action is, be clear about it.
If I got this email, would I be clear on my next steps?
Have you motivated the reader to act? What’s in it for them?
Are you using action words and clear language?
Personalize your emails.
Remember all that data you collected earlier? Time to put it to good use. 52% of customers report that they will shop with a different company if a brand sends them a non-personalized email, so personalization pays.
At its core, personalizing your emails comes down to a handful of techniques:
Including personal details subscribers have shared like their names, locations, etc. in your emails.
Sending only targeted emails based on information you’ve collected from your subscribers.
Automating emails to send when subscribers take a specific action (as in a drip email campaign).
Am I making it clear that I think of my subscribers as people rather than dollar signs?
Is this email going to add something to this specific person’s day/life?
Nothing catches the eye like pictures, videos, or other rich media in your emails. This comes down to both a “show, don’t tell” style of communication and an incentive to read each email through to the end.
Custom graphics to illustrate points or show off your brand
Preview photos for events or products
Demo or how-to videos
Video testimonials from customers
Images from your business
Get familiar with automation tools.
Automating your emails can save you a lot of time and effort. Most commonly, you can automate emails to send after a subscriber joins your list or when they take a specific action.
This takes the burden of remembering to send every individual email off of you and frees up your team.
Keep your emails mobile-friendly.
Around 1.7 billion people check their email on a mobile device, so make your emails attractive to those users as well as the desktop folks.
Before you put these strategies to work, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.
Follow compliance guidelines. To be sure your emails get delivered successfully and that your customers trust them, follow GDPR guidelines. The most important part of staying compliant is making sure that you have subscribers’ consent to email them.
Be mindful of your timing. As more of us have our email notifications enabled, keep subscribers’ time zones in mind as best you can when planning out your campaigns. Aim for a mid-morning send time when possible.
Set your frequency and stick to it.
Use a double opt-in. A double opt-in verifies each subscriber’s opt-in to confirm that they consent to receive your messages. That’s not only a sure way to stay in compliance, but it’s also a great tool for building an engaged audience.
Email marketing strategy FAQs
It’s tough to cover every aspect of building a great email marketing strategy in just one blog post, but here are a few common questions business owners ask on the topic.
The most important KPI for email marketing is your click-through rate. While a high open rate is nice, a high CTR tells you that your emails motivate readers to take action.
Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.
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