At a high level, the goal of marketing is to reach new customers and engage existing ones. There are a wide variety of tactics your business can use to do this — so many that it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
At Margo, we consider email marketing to be a foundational growth tactic. It’s one of the first things we work on with new clients. Why? It is a relatively inexpensive yet direct way to connect with your audience.
That said, it can be hard to create a compelling email campaign. Think of your inbox: how many emails do you ignore or automatically delete?
Here are our tips for creating an initial email campaign that provides value to its recipients. For the sake of this blog post, we’ll assume you have an email marketing software provider and an existing email list.
1. Determine your goal
It’s easy to feel like you need to start using email for your business because “you feel like you should” or “everyone does it”. But without a goal in mind, it will be more challenging to execute the remaining steps and create an effective campaign.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to connect with existing customers?
- Do you want to sell more products?
- Do you want to provide company updates?
- Do you want to convert prospective customers?
- Do you want to educate? Entertain?
- Do you want to thank customers for their purchase?
If you have multiple goals to accomplish through email, it can help to prioritize them. As you plan your email content, keep both your chosen goals in mind and your audience’s needs (and wants).
2. Define your audience
Once you have a goal in mind, you can determine the appropriate segment of your audience that is most aligned and likely to engage with your emails.
If your priority is to provide product updates or increase engagement with your product, you might focus your email on only those who have purchased from you. If you want to sell more products or services, your audience may be broader.
You can have different email strategies for different segmented audiences. We recommend focusing on one goal and one audience to avoid biting off more than you can sustainably maintain.
3. Create a list of content and messaging ideas
Once you have an audience in mind, brainstorm a list of what messages they may want to hear. This is a critical step. Irrelevant or boring emails will go unopened. Now is the time to think about how your business can provide unique value to your audience.
Think about what your audience likes and what information you would like to share — ideally, these overlap.
Questions to think about when brainstorming:
- What topics or products are popular with your audience?
- What types of questions does your audience ask often?
- Do you have any seasonal events or promotions you want to communicate about?
- Are you releasing anything new in the future?
- What action do you want your audience to take from the email?
- Do you have new content on your website that you want to direct to?
- What messages are audiences engaging positively with across other marketing channels?
4. Plan out your calendar
With your list of content and messages to promote, the next step is to plan out when you want to communicate with them.
Certain messages or content may be tied to specific dates or activities. For example, you know you would like to announce a sale on your products before a certain holiday. Get these down on the schedule first.
For educational, entertainment, or evergreen email content, you may decide that you can commit to a particular cadence, like once or twice a week. Keep in mind what is realistic for you to commit to and whether you have enough engaging content to use.
5. Draft your emails
With a plan outlined, do your best to stick to it. Draft emails in advance and evaluate them with a discerning eye. While your marketing copy and content should exude your own brand’s style and voice, keeping copy simple and easy to follow is always a good rule of thumb.
If you’re struggling with drafting email copy, look at examples. Do a quick Google search for inspiration. Look through your own inbox — which emails do you actually open and read, and why? Get feedback from someone you trust. If you’re a Margo client, your account manager is your second set of eyes.
6. Send and measure
The only way to see how email marketing works for your company is to get started. Based on your first email campaign, you can set a baseline for performance and monitor how it changes over time. While it’s great to track a variety of metrics, you want to really pay attention to the metrics that matter most for the goals you set.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) for email campaigns:
- Delivery rate: Percentage of emails that were received out of those sent. This shows you what emails bounced and were unable to be delivered.
- Open rate: Percentage of emails opened by recipients
- Click-through rate: Percentage of emails clicked on out of those that were sent
- Click-to-open rate: Percentage of emails clicked on out of those that were opened
- Website traffic: Number of visitors or page views your website receives
- Conversion rate: Percentage of users that completed your desired action out of those who received the email
- Unsubscribe and/or spam rate: Percentage of emails that resulted in recipients unsubscribing or marketing as spam out of those that were sent
- Shares (forwards, social media shares): Number of times an email was shared elsewhere
Your performance metrics should inform your future email content and any updates to your strategy. Did you see a spike or a dip in metrics for a certain email? If you have a hypothesis about why, test it out in your next email and see what happens. Email strategy (and marketing in general) is iterative and should evolve, just like your customers do.
Ready to get started on your first email campaign? Here are six types of foundational email campaigns for more inspiration.