Email Marketing Strategy
Updated: Aug 27, 2018
What is an email marketing strategy? Why do you need one? What should be in the strategy? Learn what mistakes to avoid and how to create a powerful strategy to catapult
your conversions and retentions.
First of all, email marketing is only part of an integrated marketing mix . Therefore it is important that there is a correlation between the general and the particular: to ensure that the goals, objectives and characteristics of email marketing agree with the marketing strategy.
What is an email marketing strategy?
An email marketing strategy is a plan describing the purpose of email marketing and the goals to be achieved and the actions that can lead to these goals.
Why do you need an email marketing strategy?
If you have seriously decided to put things in order in the Internet marketing of your company and use email lists, then, most likely, you need a strategy. Not having a strategy is ok if you just want to send blog updates to your subscribers.
If you are hoping that email marketing will bring you profit, you need to identify your goals and objectives and set out how you plan to achieve them. For all this, you need a strategy, otherwise triggers, welcome emails, promo newsletters will be difficult to manage and the process will turn into chaos, you will get confused and disappointed in email marketing.
What should an email marketing strategy be?
According to my approach, an email marketing strategy should possess the following qualities:
• top-level document: describes the mailing scenarios, the expected result, the audience, the segments;
• flexibility - the strategy is not tied to specific technologies - they can change over time;
• is focused on money;
• changeability - the strategy is not set in stone and is not done to last centuries - in due course and as and when required it should be capable of being adjusted. For example, if the company has a new product, then there will be new segments and new chains of emails;
• time allocation - the strategy should include a plan for the timing, how much time to spend on the various tasks involved in the process;
• Resource Planning - you cannot offer a client to build a space station, if he has a chicken co-op, you cannot come up with solutions where many programmers are required, if they are not available from either the client or the agency.
• Get people on board - almost the most important in the strategy, because no one needs plans that will not be realized. Without a good buy-in from all stake holders it is impossible to make a successful implementation of an email marketing strategy.
For example, the introduction of a welcome chain. To configure it, managers in the sales office must collect email addresses of customers and enter them into CRM, from CRM
these addresses must go to the system of mailings. For such a process in a small company it is enough to put tasks to two or three employees. In a large one - it is necessary to write the
rules, approve it and give it to the sales office so that they work according to the rules.
Without the proper understanding of such things and in the absence of buy-in from the employees and third parties your email marketing strategy may not come to a winning conclusion or it may lack coherence.
What should be in the strategy?
• description of audience segments;
• description of mailing scenarios;
• the expected result;
• estimate of the project.
I consider the strategy as a top-level document, where details are not worked out. Sometimes in strategies they describe a lot of things, up to the various policies and ready-
made mock-ups of emails - this, in my opinion, is one of the common mistakes.
Mistakes in developing an email marketing strategy
Describe the strategy too much
No matter how much we face executives of companies that decide, implement or not implement a strategy, they are all busy people, and they do not have time to delve into the
details. Leaders want to know what kind of result they will get, how much money they will have to spend and what you will do.
Include unnecessary details in the strategy
Sometimes the strategy includes ready-made mock-ups of emails, usual policies, and even recommendations on layout with pieces of code. In my opinion, this is irrational.
The strategy is a compass document that helps both the company and the agency to go in the right direction. Fine details of design and pieces of code do not affect the direction of movement.
How to use the corporate style in the mailings and how to set the adaptability of letters - this will all be described in the ToR for specialists.
Link to technology
I will repeat, strategy is a top-level document, which talks about the goals and ways to achieve them. Linking to technology in strategy is short-sighted to say the least.
For example, the strategy says that you need to increase the number of paying customers by 5%. We can indicate that we will achieve this through the reactivation of subscribers, a welcome trigger chain, segmentation and more accurately targeted advertising to subscribers who have not opened the letter. But it's wrong to write that we will do all this in ExpertSender. What for? The tool may change in the future, and the strategy should be tied to the goals and problems to be solved, not to tools. But it makes sense to include email marketing software and their selection criteria in the budget of the project - the budget depends on them.
How to develop an email marketing strategy
Step 1. Conduct an audit
These questions will help to conduct an audit:
• What mailings are there now, what is implemented?
• How did you collect the current base?
• Where are subscribers coming from now?
• What channels of attracting subscribers are used, and which ones can be connected?
• Are the mailings from the technical point of view configured correctly, do not they fall into spam?
• What are the current rates for newsletters? How to explain low or high rates?
• Where to get data for performance analysis?
• What is there for the mailings: integration with CRM, are there any promotional codes that are generated automatically, what data about subscribers / customers are there?
Step 2. Understand the product audience
You can use several possibilities to study the audience. First, large companies often have market research, and the client can ask them. Secondly, see the profiles in the already existing database of customers and leads. Third, look at the traffic sources in the analytics systems and the queries that users pose on the site.
Step 3. Carry out an analysis of the customer base
When analysing the client base, I study what data already exists about subscribers / customers:
• from where they received data about the client, including the e-mail address;
• how the customer interacted with the company;
• what statuses were assigned to clients (bought, did not buy, used a promotional code, uses a loyalty program);
• how these data are stored, how they can be transferred to the mailing list.
On the basis of these data, it becomes clear which segments can be formed, and the segments depend on what we will do next.
If you do not study the segments, then the solutions proposed in the strategy may prove ineffective or even fail.
For example, N years ago in X company (cannot disclose information) they introduced an abandoned cart - for those who left the goods in the shopping cart, they prepared an email
urging them to pay for the goods. To do this, email was passed through to the marketer, designer, copywriter, technologist, and programmer. When the solution was implemented, it turned out that it was only 20 users a day who abandoned the cart, and around 20% of those addresses were invalid. A lot of resources were spent on the abandoned cart and the efforts were not justified. An accurate understanding of the segments helps to avoid such situations.
Step 4. Explore the product
• What problem does the product solve for users?
• How do users find out about the product?
• How does getting acquainted with the product begin?
• What difficulties arise when getting acquainted with the product?
• At what stages do users fall off?
• Why do users leave?
• Why do users stay?
Step 5. Analyse competitors
To understand how to address users, what to offer them, how to stand out from the rest, you need to analyse competitors - to understand how they solve customer problems.
Usually customers provide a list of competitors. But, in addition, you need to google - to see what is produced on requests related to the product. Sometimes it's enough to go around the sites and see what the competitors are offering, in some cases you need to call several of them and talk to the sales manager.
Step 6. Develop mailing scenarios
Now we have data about both the audience and the product. Scenarios of mailings should be based on segments and tied to the features of the product.
For example, pregnant women, women with a child under the age of 1 year, from 1 to 2 years old, etc. register at the forum for mothers and expectant mothers. The forum itself
earns money on advertising. The more accurate the advertisement corresponds to the interests of the audience, the more it benefits advertisers, the more they are interested
in it. Therefore, the forum is important to take care of precise targeting, which is impossible without information about users.
First of all, after registration we should receive data that the user did not leave. For example, the user did not specify the age of her child. Then in the welcoming chain in the first letter we will ask them to provide this information.
Further, already knowing the age of the child, we will be able to send links to the most popular discussions corresponding to age. If it is immediately clear to which category the user belongs, then in the first letter you can send inks to the most popular discussions. It turns out that knowing how the user interacts with the product helps us to compose mailing scripts.
Step 7. Implement the strategy
We begin the implementation with a pilot project - a small part of the strategy - to make sure that it works.
We select the pilot project by the following parameters:
• is effective from the point of view of profit;
• can be implemented quickly;
• does not require large resources.
We calculate the budget for the implementation of the pilot project and implement it. After that, we look at the result and do an evaluation, and carry out any adjustments that might be needed, and we continue to implement it.
Who needs to develop an email marketing strategy?
If you want to develop and implement an email marketing strategy in your company yourself, you will need human resources and appropriate expertise.
To develop, you need an email marketer, or at least an Internet marketer - a person who understands the product of the company, understands the audience and knows the needs of customers. To implement, depending on the complexity of the solution, you will need a designer, a copywriter and a programmer.
If you want to launch as simply and quickly as possible using MailChimp, and your marketing specialist understands design a little and writes well, try to give the tasks by text and through ready-made templates (using standard MailChimp tools) to him. With this approach a programmer is not required, but the possibilities with regard to email layouts and the aesthetic aspects of the emails and the setting of triggers will be severly limited. This approach is good for a quick launch and channel testing. If you see that you are not coping, try to enlist the expertise of an agency.