Plan, prepare, execute and assess your email marketing campaign

How to Plan, Prepare, Execute, and Assess Your Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your audience on a regular basis.

It provides the opportunity for you to share new products, updates about the company, or other content that will be of interest to them.

But in order for it to work well, there are some important steps that need to be taken before and during an email campaign so it can deliver results.

This article will discuss these steps and provide tips for how you can do them effectively.

PLAN

The first step when planning an email marketing campaign is deciding what your objective is.

• Do you want to increase the number of people who open your emails?

• Do you want to generate more sales leads?

• Do you want to increase the click-through rate going to your website?

Think about how many new email subscribers or customers it might take for this campaign to be successful.

Your objective needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Your objective should also be linked to the tool you are going to use to measure your results.

Check your email marketing software to see what types of metrics they offer.

Next, decide who your target audience should be.

Knowing your target audience is important so you have a better idea of the type of content you should produce, as well as what types of offers and incentives.

• Are you reaching out to people who are already on your subscriber list, or are you trying to find new contacts?

• Is your target audience men or women? Both?

• What is the average age of this audience?

• What are their interests?

Use your Buyers Persona as a starting point and focus on your demographics, psychographics, geographics, and consumer behavior.

You may also want to segment your audience.

This means you are targeting a specific group of people with different messages and offers.

For example, you might target men between the ages of 18-30 who live in New York City and make less than $50,000 annually.

Or for someone that sells running shoes online, they could segment their audience into “runners” or “non-runners.”

Your segmentation will depend on your audience and the objective and will help keep you organized for future campaigns.

Next, determine the length of time for the campaign.

• Is this a seasonal campaign?

• Is this something you want to do every month?

• How often are you going to want to email your audience?

Deciding on the frequency of emails is important for executing an effective campaign.

With too many emails, people will start unsubscribing and stop opening them; with not enough, they won’t have any updates and may forget.

Having definite start and stop dates also helps with measurement.

• Did you accomplish the objective or did you fall short?

• Did you set your objective too small and you easily exceeded it or did you set your objective too high?

The more scientific you can be in your approach, the more useful your data will become, and the more effective you will be in the long run.

PREPARE

After you have created a plan for an email marketing campaign, you need to conduct some preparation.

You have the conceptual plan, but now’s the time to get into the detailed plan.

First, you need to create the email content – you can do this by mapping out your plan and writing up some short paragraphs of text that address what the reader will learn from reading the emails.

Things you should consider include:

• Sender Name: Should you use your companies name or a persons name (Mike at 46ALPHA)

• Email Header: What will it say?

• Subject Line: Should you include a question, an offer, or both?

• Offer Text: Where should the call to action be and what is your incentive for people to take that action (i.e., buy now!)

• Email Body: How many paragraphs are in this email? Is this text-only or are you including visuals?

• Call-To-Action: Where is your CTA? What are you asking them to do?

• Personalization: Do you want to use first names (Hi Mary!) or keep it generic (Hey Team!”

Any graphics used should be eye-catching but also incorporate keywords such as ‘sale’ or ‘free shipping’.

Don’t forget about creating images specifically for mobile devices which have different screen sizes than desk

Next, create your list of people to send these emails to.

If you are trying to get new subscribers, design the landing page and the email automation workflow.

Once you have all the components down, it’s time to review, test, and get ready to execute the campaign.

EXECUTE

After your planning and preparation, it’s time to execute the campaign.

Make sure you are using your tracking codes to capture all your analytics.

You will need to know what time zone email recipients are located in so you know when their local day begins (GMT+12 or GMT-11).

It is important to send emails at appropriate times for each region which means if sending internationally then take into account any different time zones.

Watch the information environment for any crisis or events that may cause you to want to modify your campaign or some of your content.

Monitor your progress, getting a snapshot look at your analytics, and be willing to make subtle changes along the way.

If you have a theory of why something is underperforming after the campaign has started, use your email marketing A/B tools to test that theory.

If you’ve been sending emails weekly in the morning for several weeks with limited success, try sending them in the afternoon.

Try changing the day of the week that you send them.

Try changing the colors, graphics, or CTA, and watch for any improvements.

ASSESS

Once your campaign is complete, you will need to assess how effective (or ineffective) your campaign was so that you can continue to improve for the next campaign.

Use the metrics identified in the planning phase to see what worked best:

• Did people open them?

• Were they clicked on a lot?

• What was their response rate when clicking through from the emails?

Look at your data from different perspectives.

You can look at the data from a daily perspective, seeing if there was a certain day of the week that was better than others.

Look at your data from a weekly or monthly perspective and try to identify trends.

Perhaps your marketing performs better during a certain time of the year.

You won’t know unless you continue the plan, prepare, execute and assess, and continue to bring in new lessons learned from each previous campaign.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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