The death of email marketing has been a hot topic over the past few years, but recent reports have shown it’s simply not the case. Email marketing isn’t just sticking around – it’s on the rise.

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So how can you be sure you’re getting the most out of your email campaigns? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of posts on best practice for each stage of the campaign process – from planning your email to measuring and understanding your results.

Planning Your Campaign

Any successful email campaign starts with a clear plan, so once you’ve got an idea, resist the urge to jump right into building your email. For an effective campaign, you’ll need more than a general idea of what your email is about and who you’re sending it to.

Here are some key things to consider:

1. Audience and Content

It’s easy to approach your campaign from the perspective of what you want to tell your customers, but you’re more likely to engage with them by asking, “What do my customers want/need to read about?”

For example, say you run a hotel and have two new email subscribers – one is a local university student and the other is a businessman with a family. The student may be interested in last-minute weekend deals with a nightlife-related offer, while the businessman is far more likely to click on an offer of a family-friendly package for the upcoming summer holidays.

It’s important to separate this content out – if the first offer the businessman sees is for a wild weekend, he may click out of the email before he gets to the content that’s relevant to him.

2. Data

Targeting your content won’t be effective if the only information you have on your subscribers is their name and email address.

Information such as purchase history, interests, age – or whatever is relevant to your business – can help you determine the content that’s right for each subscriber.

Let’s say you’re a hairdressing business offering a range of services, and you have three different offers you want to advertise. Here’s how you might break them down so the right people get the right message:

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If you don’t have any of this information, start with a re-engagement campaign. Simply send an email to all of your subscribers asking them to choose the types of content they’d like to receive, and use the submission form to collect additional information.

3. Objectives

Don’t set objectives that are unrealistic. Make them attainable, relevant to your business and easy to measure – they’ll be far more meaningful in determining the success of your campaign.

This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s one that’s often overlooked or dealt with later in the process. By defining your objectives right from the start, it will be easier to ensure that the rest of your campaign is working toward those goals.

Here are a few examples of good, measurable objectives:

  • Fill 20 midweek appointment slots, every week
  • Generate £5,000 revenue every month
  • Convert 10 new paying customers every month
  • Re-engage 10% of customers who have lapsed in the last 6 months

Make sure you have a way to determine if you’ve met your objective(s) – whether it’s through sales revenue, web page analytics or your email software’s reporting tool.

Building an effective email campaign is much easier once you’ve thought about how you’re going to target each message and how you’ll measure the results. Remember to keep your plan to hand as you work through the rest of your campaign, so you can check that you’re staying on track.

In the next post, I’ll cover practical tips for optimising your content to maximise open rates and reduce unsubscribes. Stay tuned!