Five Tips to Designing an Email Marketing Plan

As a new business, email marketing is one of the most cost effective marketing tools you have at your disposal. It’s easy to manage, gives you full control and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers.  

In this blog, you will learn the very basics of kicking off an email campaign. We will cover:

  • Designing your email marketing strategy
  • Picking your CRM / email platform
  • Collecting subscribers
  • Writing the email
  • Tracking performance

Let’s get started!

Designing an email marketing plan

Your email marketing strategy should align with your overall marketing plan.

As with any other type of marketing, it’s critical to create a plan before moving forward. This will help you to visualize goals, develop a strategy and track progress.  Based on Mailchimp’s ‘Email Marketing Field Guide’, some steps to developing a winning email marketing strategy should include:

  • Know your purpose– Understand why you’re emailing your audience, and it will define every step you take from here on out
  • Establishing your goals– This can include (but not limited to), growing your email list, increasing open rates, improved click-through rates, cutting down unsubscribes, and getting a higher number of responses
  • Define your audience– Once you have an idea of who your target market is, you’ll be able to identify how to reach them better. Learn the keywords that get their attention, the style marketing they respond best to, and the types of response you can expect from them.
  • Collect data– How to grow your data base (discussed in more detail below)
  • Design the email campaign– Segmenting your data (different audiences get different messaging), topic selection, email scheduling and frequency

Picking your CRM / email software

Selecting your email marketing software can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out. It’s hard to find one that’s affordable but offers you the services you need. When picking a tool it’s best to narrow your search by design, marketing automation, sign-up forms and analytics.

Although there are a ton of platforms available, below are the top four email tools for new businesses that are free or low cost and offer a variety of services:

Constant Contact: At approx. $20/month (starting), you get a personal marketing coach, and a one-stop shop including personalized registration tools, feedback forms and surveys, as well as real-time reporting for metrics and social shares

AWeber: Starting at $19/month, you get an easy editor, automated campaigns, subscription forms that can be embed on your site, blog or Facebook and performance tracking analytics

MailChimp: the only email marketing tool that offers a free option (has limitations), is exceptionally user friendly for the most intermediate user, and integrates with a ton of other tools

ActiveCampaign: a low cost, all-in-one email marketing software and CRM. Starting at just $9/month, it’s a user-friendly emailing platform that will monitor contacts, create automated campaigns and nurture leads

A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails, manage contacts, segment users, and track the performance of your email campaigns.

If you’re not getting this out of your service, then it’s time to find a new one.

Growing your subscriber list

The best contacts are the ones that choose to be in your database. That may be a weird statement, but it’s not uncommon for companies to buy data. The problem is that these are not engaged recipients. It’s forceful inclusion when they have never shown interest.

But good news, there’s lots of ways you can get subscribers on your own without spending a dime:

  • Sign up form on your site (it can be a full contact form or email-only)
  • Exit Intent popup form
  • Sticky Bars: a colored bar that sits on your website and asks visitors to take a specified action
  • Social media channels should link to your mailing list
  • Special offers / Discounts
  • CTA at the end of every blog post

For more great ideas, check out How To Grow Your Subscriber List

Once you’ve decided your plan for capturing leads, then you need to apply smart designs. You have to think about word choice and look, in order entice the viewer to subscribe. InvestOps shares some tips for optimizing your subscription page:

  • Avoid clutter & TMI – it can overwhelm and confuse the reader, ultimately causing them to leave the page without subscribing
  • Avoid too little information – show the value of subscription, but in a minimalist way.
  • Free subscriptions – If you’re just starting out, then it’s best to give the goods for free.
  • Don’t make them think – Write as if a 5th grader is reading.  Anyone that has to figure out what you are trying to say, will leave.
  • Targeted banners – Know. Your. Audience. If you want conversion rates to go up, target your messaging. Know what they want and attract their attention. Simple as that.

As a new business, this may be the most critical area of development, so it’s worth your effort and time. For any company starting out, your subscription page should be a primary focus; it’s detrimental to your growth.

Composing a marketing email

Being a new business, your primary audience will only be slightly aware of your brand, but have chosen to stay in touch. You assume they are interested, but undecided.

The key to your writing is to provide value. How can your product improve their lives?

Never write a sales pitch. Manipulate your words in a direction that will motive them without selling to them.  A few things to consider:

  • Humans are emotional.  We are impulsive shoppers. Target our emotional side and get conversions. Focus on fear, urgency, and success.  E.g. “Almost sold out!”, “Look how good your life could be”, “Everyone else bought tickets already”
  • Don’t forget your end goals. Make your CTA known and dynamic and clear. E.g. “Buy today”, “Reply here”, “Subscribe now”
  • Write like a 5th grader. We want fast and easy, scannable reading. Keep your sentences short, with only the most pertinent info, and consider bullets where appropriate.

Experts suggest writing short copy is the best way to get engagement. But understand your messaging depends on your audience. A short message can peak interest, but a well-informed message can get leads.

Four must-haves for a good email:

  • Dynamic subject line– motivate the reader to open the email
  • Personalization– Anyone can spot a marketing email a mile away. Write as you would to your best friend.
  • Imagery– Make sure your headers / banners / buttons all align with your brand, and your images support your marketing.
  • Call To Action (CTA) – Always direct your audience to perform an action; “Click the button for more info”, “Reply today to get your copy”

For more tips, check out Hubspot’s 19 Best Email Marketing Campaigns:

Tracking performance

Think about your goals. What are your KPIs? Subscriber growth, generate more leads, increase sales.

By now, your email marketing plan should be designed in a way that works toward those goals. But how do you know it’s successful? A good email marketing tool will allow you to evaluate your campaign’s performance based on several factors. Below are few metrics to consider:

  • Clickthrough Rate (CTR):  % of email recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in a given email. *More accurate than Open Rate, because emails are considered ‘opened’ only when the images are received / opened as well; throwing off actual counts.
  • Conversion Rate: % of email recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action, such as filling out a lead gen form or purchasing a product.
  • Bounce Rate: % of total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
  • List Growth Rate: The rate at which your email list is growing.
  • Email Sharing / Forwarding Rate: % of email recipients who clicked on a “share this” button to post to a social network, and/or who clicked on a “forward to a friend” button.
  • Overall ROI: Return on investment for your email campaigns; total revenue divided by total spend.

Tracking performance can often be forgotten. Schedule a reminder for once a week, month, or whatever works for your campaign. But don’t skip this step. If your campaign isn’t performing then you can be damaging to your brand, and wasting time. This will help to realign your strategy with your goals.

To conclude

As a new business, there are a lot of affordable tools at your disposal. Email marketing is one of the cheapest and most effective strategies you can incorporate into your overall marketing plan.

Find an email service that works best for your business needs and goals, design your strategy and get going. But remember to constantly monitor your progress and be willing to change it up where necessary.  As your company grows, so will your goals.

Further Reading

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