Email Marketing How To Guide for Successful Campaigns

Most of our inboxes are filled with emails from businesses – businesses we have either patronized in the past or whose websites we have visited in conducting searches or seeking information. It’s frustrating and tempting to just mark all email marketing emails as spam. After all, when we want to do business with a company, we’ll get in touch. In the meantime, they should just leave us alone.

Email Marketing Campaigns

As a business trying to maintain contact with your customers and prospects, this attitude can be pretty disheartening. After all, you have spent a lot of time developing your email lists, segmenting them, and crafting differentiated messages for the status of each segment in your sales funnel.

But here’s the important thing to remember: Email marketing is still a viable and successful strategy, and many businesses are reaping high ROI’s from their campaigns. It’s a matter of doing it right.

What follows is a guide that may help you craft a campaign that reaps results. Remember, email is still one of the cheapest forms of marketing.

Set Your Email Marketing Campaign Goals

What is it that you hope to achieve with your campaign? Understand that you may have many different goals depending upon which audience segment you are targeting. Here are typical goals for email campaigns:

  • You want to welcome newcomers, perhaps with a special offer and a prompt to check out something on your site or an informative article in your blog.
  • Keeping a relationship with current customers. You want to continue to nurture these valuable subscribers. Offer them something of value – maybe a free download, a loyalty discount with free shipping, etc.
  • Restoring a relationship with customers/subscribers who have not responded to you in a while. You may want to make an offer they cannot refuse, in order to get them back into your sales funnel; you may want to highlight new products/services since your last interaction; you may want to offer something of value in the way of education that will meet a need they have – an e-book, a podcast, a webinar, etc.

The goal is to get a conversion of some type – that conversion may be to download something you are offering or participate in a podcast or survey; it may be simply to get a reply; and, of course, it may be to take advantage of a special offer. The point is this: if your recipients will take an action based upon your prompts, you either keep them or get them to return “into the fold.”

Dig Deep into Your Audience Needs and Wants

Before you develop any campaign or craft a single email, you must have a complete understanding of your target audience. At this point, it doesn’t matter where they are in your sales funnel. What matters is that you have detailed information of not just their demographic information but also their activity online, their past purchasing behaviors, and what they have expressed as their pain points and needs.

For this information, you will need to access what is now called “big data” – oceans of information gathered from all over the web and then churned to answer the questions you have about your audience. While this used to be quite expensive, and a playground only for the “big boys,” new tools and services can now provide that data for you. When you have this kind of information, you can begin to look at needs and wants of this audience and then identify topics for emails that will address those.

To begin your data investigation, begin with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

Use Email Marketing Tools to Your Advantage

There is any number of tools to use to help ease your cold email campaigns. In general, all of them will do the following:

  • They can segment audiences for differentiated email Marketing campaigns/content
  • They can automate the sending of those emails, based upon a schedule you set.
  • They can personalize the messages
  • They can track the open rates and conversions and provide analysis, so that you can determine what is working and what is not
  • They can alert you of any email replies so that you can respond immediately.

Many do even more than this, but one that will accomplish these for you is a good start point. As you learn more, you will want to use more sophisticated tools that will “up your game” even more.

Growing Your List Via Opt-ins

Your email list may grow some by asking current subscribers to share a great blog post, a survey, a special offer, etc. But, by far the best way is to have engaging and compelling opt-ins on your site and blog.

Email marketing Opt In Forms

There are several things you can do here:

  • Never publish a blog post without prompting readers to subscribe to your email list. Offer your great posts to be automatically sent to them through their subscription.
  • Offer upgrades from your blog posts as well – an e-book that expands on a topic, a list of resources, etc., in exchange for an email address.
  • Experiment with the placement of opt-ins on different pages of your website. Offer resources or coupons for savings; you can also have “gates” to get into the sight, but be careful not to irritate a visitor. Check this opt-in form from Zulily, an online clothier. Once a visitor finds an item, she cannot add it to her basket without either signing in or becoming a “member.”
  • Lightbox popups can be embedded on any page – these are popups with prompts to sign up, and they darken the content on the page in the background. Most of these have an “X” to close and bring the content page back.
  • Exit pop-ups. You know what these are because you have experienced them on other websites. When a great offer or upgrade of some kind is offered, the reader may be compelled to opt-in.

You will want to be careful not to annoy visitors with your pop-ups, so track your bounces. If you are getting too many from a page that has a pop-up, you may want to eliminate it there and put it somewhere else. Experimenting will improve your use of these prompts.

There are lots of ways to structure opt-ins, other than the ones mentioned here. Check out a variety of opt-in techniques and experiment with their effectiveness.

Now to the Content of those Emails

All of the steps above will set up the best ways to organize an email campaign. But the real “meat” of any marketing campaign is the content presented to recipients.

Email Marketing Content

Types of Emails

There are all types of emails that you may be sending out.

  • The most common types are promotional, and they fill our inboxes every day. Offers of discounts with an urgent time limit and special sales. These are self-promotional and should really only constitute about 20% of the emails you send out.
  • Welcoming and opt-in confirmations are simply written to say hello, to perhaps speak a bit about who you are and how you want to serve all of your subscribers
  • The confirmation of an order, shipping information, etc. are other emails that are a “must.”
  • Emails that are related to developing relationships with subscribers might include such things as a newsletter, a valuable blog post, something entertaining or inspirational – things that do not involve promoting products or services or “housekeeping” issues (e.g., shipping details). For example, a newsletter might feature team members, provide photos or video of a charitable event in which the business participated, have a humorous piece and a “feel good” news event. These are the emails that promote trusting relationships between businesses and email subscribers.

The Content Itself

Especially with the relational type emails, how you compose the content is really important. If they are not engaging, subscribers will simply stop opening them after the first few. You have to be creative and entertaining.

  • Begin with the Subject Lines: journalists understand this – the title or headline is the most important part of an article. It is what motivates readers to move on into that article. You want to pique interest and intrigue with your subject line. If you struggle with these, get help from a creative writer or use any of the great headline generator tools out there.
  • Deliver What You Promise: Your headline motivates recipients to open your email. Don’t disappoint. The content must be just as engaging and creatively written. If you find writing a challenge, then get some help. There are plenty of creatives among freelancers and professional writing services, and you can always contact RankToday's content team for professional SEO optimized content.
  • Vary the Types of Content: You can do all sorts of things with email content, just as you can on your blog and social media accounts. One of the additional nice things you can do with email content, however, is to personalize with recipients’ names, in both subject lines and in the content itself.

Unless you are re-publishing one of your blog posts, email content should be shorter. Many are accessing it on mobile devices, and they just don’t want to take the time to read long content. And do break up that content with visuals.

Now, let’s look at the types of content that engage your readers:

  1. Tell a story – about yourself, about your team, about events, about customers.
  2. Provide useful information to your audience. Your research has told you what interests them – add those topics to your content list and schedule
  3. Publish a survey, and provide some incentive for recipients to take it; and publish the results for all to see
  4. Hold a contest with a valuable prize
  5. Publish an explainer or how-to video
  6. Use GIF’s, memes, jokes, inspirational quotes/stories

You will probably want to add a CTA but not until toward the end of the email. Decide what you want your audiences to do, and ask them to do it – access your site and take a look a new product or service; take advantage of a discount or special pricing event, sign up for a class, webinar, contact you for more information, etc.

How Often to Send

This will vary according to each audience segment, and you may need to use some trial and error

  1. For new subscribers, you may want to develop a series of welcoming emails that include your story, that asks direct questions about what they want or need, and to assure them that you will provide value through your products, services, and communications.
  2. For current customers, you will want to email on a regular basis but not so often that they trash your communications or, worse, unsubscribe. Once you decide on a schedule, it is a good idea to tell them how often you plan to email. Better yet, take a short survey and ask them how often they want to hear from you.
  3. For those who have been inactive, you should certainly email occasionally, perhaps offering a “special pricing event” or featuring what’s new.

You have to find the right balance between staying in touch and being seen as a harasser. This will take some time and trial and error.

A Final Thought

There are approximately 269 billion emails sent out every day. That’s an ocean of content. Your goal is to rise to the top of that ocean with an organized, well-thought-out campaign, based upon goals, and this step-by-step guide. It won’t happen overnight, but with time, persistence, and constant evaluation of your campaigns, success will come in the form of increased ROI.


Diana Nadim is a writer and editor who has a Master degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Diana also runs her own 3to5Marketing blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.

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