How to Plan an Email Marketing Campaign

This is the blog transcript of our video “How to Plan an Email Marketing Campaign”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

So email marketing still has a massive return on investment. But if you’re going to realize that return, you’d better have a plan for it. So how should you plan your email marketing campaign?

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

I’ve been in marketing for about 20 years now, and I’ve been running email marketing campaigns since the days when you had to send off an email newsletter using blind copies from your Outlook account. 

If you were sending valuable content, people were generally pretty happy with you. If you were sending out junk, they weren’t. But that didn’t really matter because there really weren’t any mechanisms to report someone for sending out spam.

I think the worst part as the marketer was that you had to do everything manually. And I mean everything. Every time someone asked to be removed from your email list you had to manually remove their address from the list. After the first few sends, it was pretty simple because at that point it was typically only one or two addresses, but those first campaigns would take a LONG time to manage.

Things are different now. Over the past 20 years, more and more email marketing tools have been introduced, and some of them are really great! 

Now you don’t have to manage your own unsubscribe list, it’s all done for you. The content is easier to build out than it ever has been. You can even leverage automation to not only send out emails automatically, but to let you know when you should follow up with someone.

It’s amazing to see what we’re able to do now, but the only way to actually make it effective is if you have a good plan to work from so that you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll know once you’ve done it.

So in this video, I’m going to walk through the steps that I take to build out my email marketing plans before we launch them. 

What’s the point?

First, as with so many other things, you have to go into this knowing WHY you’re doing it.

Email marketing sounds great, sure, but do you really think that it’s a good idea to do email marketing just for email marketing’s sake? 

No one’s sitting around staring at their computer screens thinking to themselves “you know what I’d love is more emails popping up in my inbox”, so you’d better go into this knowing what you’re trying to accomplish.

Brand recognition can certainly go a long way – are you just looking for people to know who you are?

Maybe it’s all about sales and your emails are exclusively focused on promotions you have going on.

Do you want to provide education and teach people the ins and outs of your business?

Maybe it’s a little bit of everything.

Whatever your goal is, knowing what you’re trying to accomplish with your email marketing campaigns is going to help you define all of the steps moving forward. All of the content, the frequency, follow up, etc – it’s all informed and ultimately defined by the goals of your campaigns. So spend some time on this step to make sure you get it right.

What’s the content?

Now that you know what you’re trying to accomplish, now you get to dive into how you’re going to do it.

What kind of content are you going to be sending out to get people to care enough to do what you’re hoping they will?

There’s a DIY Musician’s podcast that I follow called, creatively, the DIY Musicians Podcast that’s put out by CD Baby. One of the hosts, a guy by the name of Chris Robley, said one of the best things I’ve heard about marketing in a long time – “marketing is just getting someone to care enough to do something.” So how are you going to get the people you’re emailing to care enough to do something?

Are you going to engage them with video? If so, what kind? There are YouTube talking head style videos, webinar videos, panel videos, etc.

It doesn’t even have to be a video of you…maybe it’s just a video that you think your audience will appreciate from someone you follow.

Maybe video’s not your thing – maybe you’re more of a wordsmith and want to regale your audience with a story and images of your latest discovery.

Or maybe you’re a budding photographer and have some ideas on cool images to send out that get people engaged and ready to take action.

Whatever that content is, make sure that it’s something that you can do with some consistency. With all marketing, consistency is everything. People are rarely going to get to that point where they care enough to do something until they’ve seen your stuff a few times.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you’re considering your content:

  • Don’t be too salesy, unless it’s an explicitly sales focused email…and keep those few and far between if you can (but more on that in the next step)
  • I like to have at least one passive call to action at the bottom of my marketing emails. It’s not going to get a ton of traffic, but there’s no reason that you can’t remind people what the next step to engaging with you is.
  • Try different things and see what gets the best feedback. The only way you’re really going to find out what engages your audience is to do some testing.

What’s the frequency?

This is the last major consideration that you need to make when planning your campaign is how frequently you’re going to send it out.

Again, the key to marketing is consistency so make sure that you pick a frequency that you can stick with.

If you can do a weekly email, that’s awesome. If you can only send something out monthly, that’s great, too. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you can stick with it.

Your credibility will die pretty quickly if you start down a path only to drop off from it. And I say this as someone who has themselves struggled with consistency in the past. I would start something weekly and get a great response and then suddenly realize that I couldn’t keep up the weekly cadence and I would end up with some erratic schedule because I was “trying to figure out what works for me”.

I’m not saying you can’t change course if you find that one frequency isn’t working for you, just make sure it’s deliberate and intentional, not haphazard.

When that happens, you start to lose engagement, lose subscribers, and eventually just drop the campaign all together. And that doesn’t serve anybody.

Also, when thinking about frequency, keep an eye on how your audience is interacting with your content. If you’re sending out a daily email but people aren’t paying attention to half of the emails that you send, you’re doing more harm than good. 

Listen to what your audience is telling you through their open rates and adjust accordingly. It’s entirely possible that they don’t WANT to hear from you every day or every week.

Remember that marketing is about THEM, not you. Make sure you’re focusing on the right thing.

If you’re doing any email marketing or have done it in the past, let us know by giving us a quick thumbs up below this video. And if you have any tips to share, let us know down in the comments!

What are the metrics?

Now it’s time to talk about what a successful campaign looks like. Now we focus on the metrics. 

Going back to the first step in this planning process, we need to consider what our goals are and then start to look at the different things that are going to tell us when we’ve accomplished those goals.

For example if your goal is brand awareness, you’re probably going to be looking for an increase in website traffic, an increase in web searches for your brand name, and more mentions and engagements with the social media channels that you’re on.

The web searches you’ll be able to track through tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Trends (or whatever they’re called these days), and the social engagements you can track with tools like Hootsuite, and the web traffic you’ll be able to track through Google Analytics.

Most of these types of metrics can be tough to track back to your email marketing campaign specifically, but you should be able to get a sense of general lift by connecting the start of your campaign with the rise in numbers.

There are things, however, that you can track through the use of email marketing software like Mission Suite. 

First of all, you should be able to connect your email marketing software to your Google Analytics account to track what website visits came directly from your email.

You should also be able to track things like open rates and click through rates to see how well your emails are performing to engage people and create that overall brand lift.

All these things should be pretty simple to find in the tools that you’re using and are going to help you be able to track the performance as it relates to your goal.

The metrics that you choose to follow are going to vary based on your goals. Keep in mind that the end results are going to be the easiest to track, and they’re usually the most exciting to track, but don’t neglect your leading indicators like open rates, click throughs, etc.

Those are the ones that are going to help you optimize your performance and get the most out of the email marketing that you’re doing.

When (and how) do you follow up?

And lastly, the follow up.

Even the best ecommerce companies follow up on your interest these days. Why? Because it’s become very clear that following up on people when they’ve shown interest in something – whether that something is a product in a shopping cart or a link click to a page on a website – greatly increases the chances that they’ll actually take action.

So spend some time thinking about your follow up. With an automated system like Mission Suite, you can build out automated triggers that will move people into different campaigns, focus the content that they’re getting moving forward, even let someone know that they have to make a phone call.

There are a lot of ways that you can follow up with people who show interest in your campaign, and it’s a great way to get someone to engage deeper with you.

Take some time to think about how you want to follow up with those folks and make sure that you add that into your plan.

Your Turn

I know I’ve mentioned Mission Suite a couple times through this video because our sending tools and automation capabilities give you the ability to really take your email campaign to an entirely different level.

If you want to see a demo of Mission Suite, drop down to the description of this video and click on the link to register for one of our next demo webinars.

Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

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