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Email Marketing Strategy

The email marketing campaign strategy is the blueprint for building the design, messaging, conversion techniques and evaluation metrics for the entire campaign. Key components include the following.

Target Audience

Personalization is enormously important for a successful direct email marketing strategy. Personalization goes beyond technical functionality such as inserting the recipient's name in the greeting; it also means crafting the content to use the language of the customer and highlight messaging points that evoke a strong, and often personal, response. For instance, messaging points and tone are quite different for an audience of young professionals than for recent retirees.

Target audience selection is primarily based on both sales department targeting and list demographics. For example, if the sales department focuses on audiences A and B, but the mailing list includes only detailed information for segment B, the initial email campaign is probably best served by concentrating on only that segment.

Campaign Goals

The next step in the email marketing strategy is to determine goals for the campaign. Embarking on a campaign simply to "touch" customers more often does not necessarily provide a good ROI or any other concrete business benefit — reason being, fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy emails, which lead to a fuzzy response. Goals generally align with one of two common email formats:

  • Email newsletters are effective when the goal is establishing thought leadership or providing customer education.
  • Emails are effective when the goal is to drive sales, leads or a direct call-to-action such as visiting a particular product page of the company website.

Newsletters tend to be long form, which is ideal when the depth of information is paramount. However, newsletters must be extremely well written and on-point if they are to be read. Regular emails, in contrast, tend to be most effective when they are brief. Too much content obscures the message and usually reduces conversion rates.

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Our email campaign has been a great success. Patients definitely enjoy hearing about our special offers and new services. Thanks in part to these emails, we’re busier than ever.

Darla Scheidt
Director of Marketing

Email Marketing Content Strategy

Once the appropriate format has been selected, the type of messaging must be determined. In addition to the issue of long form versus short form content discussed above, the handling of several other content-related issues should be determined at this stage. These issues include:

  • Formal or informal writing style
  • Type of imagery to be used: photography, charts, photos of applications, photos of products, etc.
  • Level of content detail: Will facts, figures and deep analysis help or hinder results?

Once these issues are decided, the content strategy proceeds by setting up an editorial calendar that serves as a management tool for campaign execution. The editorial calendar organizes and tracks email delivery dates, topics for each email and deadlines for production inputs relating to each email.

Distribution Frequency

Another key consideration for the email marketing campaign strategy is frequency. Should emails be sent once a week, once a month or somewhere in between?

This is never an easy question to answer, because audience behavior is notoriously difficult to predict. For the most part, frequency decisions will evolve based on campaign testing, but launching with a frequency schedule as carefully thought out as possible is definitely advisable.

The major disadvantage of emailing too frequently is annoying the recipient. The major disadvantage of emailing too infrequently is never gaining any awareness from or traction with the recipient. Both situations lead to declining open rates and weak conversion rates.

Generally speaking, higher frequency works better with relevant, well-qualified mailing lists. If recipients are familiar with the company, and have shown by prior action (e.g., being a current customer) they are favorably disposed toward the company, they tend not to mind receiving an email once a week — provided it is useful.

Determine Calls to Action

Every email should contain at least one call to action, taking the shape of one or more of the following:

  • A link to a website page where the recipient can find more information on a particular topic
  • A link to a customized landing page where the recipient can fill out a form requesting more information, request a consultation, or order a product or service
  • A phone number the recipient can call for more information or to order

The purpose of calls to action is twofold: First and most obviously, calls to action take the recipient to the next step in a business relationship, generating sales leads and revenue; second, calls to action provide a concrete way to measure the effectiveness of the email campaign.

For conversions on calls to action to have meaning, they must be properly tracked during the campaign. In other words, the client must be able to understand how many phone calls were generated by the campaign versus other sources, and how many visits to the website or landing page were generated by the campaign. If, for instance, the email campaign uses the general company 800 number rather than a special phone number tied to the specific email, the company will never know how many calls the email campaign is producing, and will have a much more difficult time not only evaluating results, but also accumulating the necessary data to continuously improve the campaign.

A competent agency documents the components of its email marketing strategy process. When considering agencies, ask to see that documentation, and if possible, examples of strategies prepared for other clients. If the details of an agency's strategy process are sketchy, odds are the campaign results will be sketchy as well.

Straight North Email Marketing Services

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