Creating an email marketing plan

Looking to do some email marketing but not sure where to start? Well, the key to getting your email marketing off the ground is having the right plan, and it isn't as hard to put together as you might think. Let’s take a look at the process step-by-step.

Step one: Define your readers
Before you start designing, writing and sending email marketing campaigns you should define your audience. Once you’re able to accurately define who they are, you’ll be better able to provide them with relevant information.

If you already have a list of subscribers who are they and how did they sign up? If they subscribed during checkout, they're customers, if they found you through your website or at a trade show they are leads or a ‘general’ audience.

If you don't have a list of subscribers yet, who is your target audience and how will you find these people?

Step two: Determine your content
What’s going to make your readers actually want to open your email and stay subscribed to your list? Usually, it’s a mix of helpful tips, special offers, sales, promotions, surveys, and seasonal or holiday-themed content.

You want to provide value-added content for your existing subscribers so that they’ll also want to share the content with their friends - which will allow you to continuously increase the size of your reach. Once you start your campaign, identify the type of content that’s really resonating with your readership and use that insight to help generate ideas for future topics.

Here are some tips for making and gathering compelling content that will speak to your subscribers:

  • Treat your readers like VIPs - they entrusted their e-mail address to you and are expecting to get something valuable from you in return.
  • Keep it useful and relevant - think about which emails you open and which you delete right away. You aren't going to open an email that doesn't benefit you in some way so make sure the content of your newsletters are giving your subscribers something they want.
  • Show some personality - chances are, your voice, tone, and sense of humour are all important reasons why your customers signed up in the first place. Try to write the same way you'd speak to one of these customers.
  • Keep it short and sweet – nobody wants to read a boring newsletter that goes on, and on, and on… you get the picture. If you do need to include a longer piece, feature only the first paragraph and link to the rest of the content on your website. 

Step Three: Determine your sending frequency and goals
How often does it make sense to communicate with your subscribers? Most businesses opt for once a month while some communicate more or less depending on their specific requirements. Ideally you want to be sending once a month as a minimum, any less could cause your subscribers to forget about you and unsubscribe as a result.  

From there you need to decide what you want to get out of your emails, do you want to send traffic to your website, help promote sales or increase traffic to your website? Set goals like these for each of your campaigns and then keep track of your progress over time. 

Step four: Make a schedule
Not everyone is going to send on a regular schedule, but for a lot of senders, having a timeline is helpful, if only because it gives writers, designers, and managers a deadline to work toward. It’s also useful making a note in your calendar of when you should begin working on your email – the last thing you want to do is create it the day it’s supposed to be sent out. We also recommend making a note of any public holidays and special events in your calendar as they could affect your sending schedule and or content.