5 Unskippable Steps in Planning an E-mail Marketing Campaign

8 min read
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E-mail marketing must be an integrated part of your communication strategy.

Starting with the database, up to the content of your e-mails, moving to testing, and also the post-campaign, stage where the analysis is critical, shouldn’t be skipped. Read here all the steps that an e-mail campaign must go through.

E-mail marketing is a great tool…

…for keeping a close communication with current and potential clients, within a tight budget. It can be a weapon for your success, or directly against you, depending on how good or bad the e-mail or the campaign was planned.

There are some steps in planning an e-mail campaign that you just can’t ignore.

Pre-campaign actions: planning, database organizing, e-mail content.

1. Planning the e-mail campaign

This step is pretty obvious why it should be the first one. Any campaign of any kind must be planned in advance so that you can know exactly where you stand and what you want to achieve, but especially the best ways to action. An e-mail campaign can have one of these specific goals:

  • Convincing the audience to make a purchase.
  • Creating a communication channel with the audience and receiving feedback.
  • Creating traffic for an external source e.g. an website.
  • Convincing the audience to participate. It can be filling in a form, completing a test, downloading content, etc.

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2. Database Organizing

How to create a database

John, 27, California. Well… John was 27 when he entered your database, but now he can be 33 living in Europe. The main characteristic of a database should be the up-to-date status.
Here are some suggestions on how to create a reliable database:

  • The sign-up form! Never ever forget about this one. Place it where it can be seen, preferably on every page of your website (or at least a CTA for it), posting links on social media with it, on online banners and other forms of advertising. You simply need this form almost everywhere. Maximize your shots of convincing your potential customers to sign-up by using “call to action” messages and also offering free content that could interest your audience.
  • Nobody likes spam! Absolutely nobody! Make sure that your audience knows you won’t be spamming by stating it clearly. There are countries with specific anti-spamming legislation and you could be facing trial, the least that can happen is to lose trust and leads. Also remember to put an unsubscribe link in your e-mails. This type of attitude will make the reader see you as a reliable company and make them more open to further communications.
  • Again, be transparent! Let your audience know what type of e-mails they will receive, how often, what is their benefit. Don’t create long stories. If you really have something relevant to say, 1-2 phrases are enough.
  • Check if the e-mail address is correct by checking the syntax.
  • Use as many occasions as possible to ask for an e-mail and some basic personal information, of course, without being annoying. For example, when the reader leaves your website, contests, recommendations, etc. You could also use the offline world if the opportunity occurs, such as business events, job fairs, etc.
  • From time to time, ask your subscribers to update their information. You must find the best way that works for both you and them. It can be either by letting them know that they can participate on a study you’re conducting upon your audience, or that you want to send them only relevant information according to their specific data, etc. You should analyze which is the best way to do it, but remember to update your database, or else it will become irrelevant after a while.

What should the database contain?

  • First name, surname, and title
  • Gender
  • Date of birth. Not the age, the age changes, birthdate doesn’t!
  • Country
  • Telephone number
  • other specific informations, depending on your needs

This type of information is enough to beginning with. If you ask for too much, you may receive none – nobody wants to complete endless forms and it could also scare your public. Nowadays, online fraud is an extending phenomenon and people are highly sensitive about offering personal information to websites. Which is normal, and a good thing. If you can’t help it and you want more information, wait until you build a closer relationship with your audience, then after a considerable period of time, you can ask for more.

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3. How the e-mail should look like

It should be HTML, not just plain text. This way, your e-mail can contain images, different types of fonts and also hyperlinks. It makes the e-mail more appealing and easier to digest.

An e-mail should contain 6 parts:

  1. Header. The header contains “to”, “from” and “reply” fields. Make sure that these fields are customized in order to create a familiar approach.
  2. Subject line. This is the most important part of the e-mail because many people will only read the subject line and will sort their e-mails according to what is stated at the beginning. Just add the extremely relevant information here and avoid using words such as “free”, “buy”, “gaining”, etc. Some e-mail servers could mark your e-mail as spam.
  3. Personalized greeting. You already created a database with this information, then why not use it in your favor? People will be more interested in what you have to say if you at least bothered to mention their name.
  4. Body. Here comes the content. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible and in a positive manner. People react better to positive statements and will not be tempted to close your e-mail if you say something valuable and friendly.
  5. Footer. This part makes the e-mail look professional. Add the important details about your company such as the company’s full name, a person that can be contacted for further information, telephone numbers, address, social media. You should know which is the most relevant information for your company.
  6. Unsubscribe link. As mentioned above, unsubscribe link is a must!

Customize your e-mails using personalized messages. Why? The e-mail is a direct form of addressing your potential and current customers and every one of them wants to feel that you’re valuing this interaction. Along with using their names in the personalized greeting, you should also use your database to customize across demographics and also the type of purchases they already made. There are e-mails that can be sent to everybody, but there are some that you have to create for a specific category. By doing so, you will notice improved results in opening and reading your e-mails, also in your website traffic, and hopefully an increased number of purchases. It’s a long shot, but it’s definitely worth the struggle.

A little testing never hurt nobody. You should test the display and deliverability on several web and software based e-mails. Test Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Lotus, etc. You may be surprised that your e-mail doesn’t look the same on different platforms, or perhaps doesn’t work at all. Test before you send!

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Post-campaign actions: reports and analysis of results.

4. Reports

A campaign is meaningless if you don’t analyze the results of your work. In order to be able to analyze your campaign properly, you should take into consideration the following measurable numbers:

  • Number of bounces: hard bounces/soft bounces
  • Number of unique e-mails opened
  • Unsubscribes
  • Pass-on rate: high pass-on/soft pass-on
  • Click-through rates and conversion

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5. Analysis of Results

This ultimate step is of high importance. Sending e-mails is a long shot process and you will need to analyze reports after every e-mail you send so that you know how to get better. Having the numbers, analyzing them should be pretty easy. Here are the things you have to look for:

  • Open rates. What kinds of subject lines create a better open rate? What about the day of the week or the time of the day?
  • Content type. Does a copy length or copy style influence in any kind conversion?
  • Other content such as audio, audio-video material increases website traffic, conversion, etc.? Do they affect deliverability?

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In the end…

…I would recommend integrating your e-mail marketing campaign with other social media platforms. After all, a communication campaign should be consistent and displayed in the same manner in every available communication channel.

The benefits of using a planned e-mail marketing campaign instead of sending occasional e-mails with no plan are pretty obvious. If you decided to start planning an e-mail marketing campaign and you take into consideration this 5 important steps, your campaign has a good chance of succeeding. You may not increase your purchases starting with your first e-mail, but don’t be discouraged, it’s a long-term battle that will make you improve your skills with every e-mail you send.

Interesting read?

About Alina Bugarin

Alina Bugarin is a passionate Online Marketing Specialist that has a strong background in social media marketing, online campaigns, content writing & scripting for ads and animations.