Effective Email Marketing Strategies and Tips for Successful Campaigns

Email marketing strategies

We’re into email marketing because it’s a great tool for achieving goals, it’s relatively inexpensive to start and maintain, which is great for small businesses, and it’s effective for communicating with your clients. 

But you can only achieve those goals if you know what they are and what you need to do to get there. That’s what strategies are for — a sort of roadmaps showing you the way. In today’s article, we’ll talk about email marketing strategies in particular. Away we go!

Does email marketing still work in 2022?

Just look at the numbers:

  • Over 4 billion people use email — and that number is growing.
  • An email has an average return of $36 for every $1 spent.
  • By 2025, over 376 billion emails will be sent every day.
  • 41% of brands say that email marketing is very critical to their success: 
41% of brands say that email marketing is very critical to their success
Source: Litmus

In fact, you can see from the picture above that email marketing is now more valuable as a business asset than ever. Experts say that it’s because of the pandemic and the way more people started to make business exchanges online when they had to stay at home. 

Then why do we hear that email marketing is a thing of the past year after year? That’s just it, email marketing dates back, that’s why you can regularly hear this question, it appears about anything that is old enough. In reality, though, email marketing hasn’t gone anywhere and it’s as solid as it has always been. From the first time your customer interacts with your business to the day they reach the final stage of the consumer decision journey — email marketing is everywhere and it’s versatile. The purpose of your emails can range from getting people to tell you more about themselves to getting sales.

A screenshot from the Really Good Emails website
A screenshot from the Really Good Emails website showing what kinds of emails there are and what they can do. This is just one category.

Why use email marketing strategy

For starters, we should note that you don’t necessarily need a strategy for emails. If you’re launching a single newsletter as a hobby, a strategy might be too much for you at the moment. But if you have a complex and long project before you or you want to get results out of your hobby newsletter (even just subscribers), there is no way you can do it without a strategy. A strategy is your guide that you can refer to avoid getting lost. 

It also does several pretty amazing things that would be difficult without it:

Lead nurturing

You need a strategy to BUILD a relationship with your customers. Step after step, email marketing can help you lead them through every stage of the buying cycle, making the process smooth and natural. 

It shortens the buying cycle. If you’re selling complex and/or expensive products, it takes your potential customers much longer to make a purchasing decision. Emails help to gradually acquaint them with the idea of having those products. Send guides, checklists, how-tos to show the benefits.

It automates routine tasks. Set the sequences of triggered emails and transactional emails. With their help, you can automatically send emails in response to your customers’ actions, while you focus on more important tasks.

Revenue generation

This is probably the main goal of every marketer. In the literal sense, inform subscribers about upcoming sales, good deals, and provide them with personalized offers. In a broad sense, every email marketing feature can increase your revenue.

These are just some of the facts:

  • Segmentation: segmentation can increase email revenue up to 760%.
  • Personalization: personalization increases email open rates and click-through rates, sometimes up to 70%.
  • Automation: an automated email drives 320% more revenue than emails that are part of a non-automated campaign.
  • Welcome emails: welcome email open rate is 50% or higher, which makes them 86% more effective than standard newsletters.

Traffic generation

While making a profit is certainly the main goal of any email marketing strategy, it should never be your only goal. If your email marketing gets too aggressive, it’ll scare prospects away and make them hit the unsubscribe button. Create additional valuable information and send them to your website, getting backlinks and increasing traffic on the way. 

With captivating subject lines and compelling CTAs, you can direct the attention of your subscribers and promote pages on your website that don’t receive enough traffic. Your subscribers will get something more than just emails, you’ll get the much-wanted traffic.

Brand awareness

Usually, companies maintain a single visual style in all their marketing materials: the same colors, fonts, logos, tones of voice. Emails are another place to flash the image of your brand.

Email marketing is a great opportunity to remind customers about your brand. The more often they see your company emails in their inbox, the more likely they are to choose you when searching for a product or service.

Email from Starbucks
Emails are one extra place for Starbucks to remind you of their brand and its trademark colors, fonts, and the logo. Source: Really Good Emails

How to develop an email marketing strategy

Now it’s time for a step-by-step guide on how and where to collect contacts, what and how often to send and how to design your emails. Let’s dig in.

1. Identify your goals

Before anything else, clearly define the goals and work out the metrics that you’ll use to determine the success or failure of your tasks. Every next move depends on the goals because if emails are sent without a clear purpose and system, they are unlikely to bring any significant result.

The set of metrics to keep an eye on depends on the specifics of your project, but it’s important that the metrics are specific, measurable, and few in number. They might look like this:

  • Email list growth rate
  • Email-generated website traffic
  • Leads from emails
  • The number of completed targeted actions
  • Income from the targeted actions

Take your list of goals and adjust your actions accordingly. For example, if you want to increase the number of subscribers, concentrate on the numbers of delivered and opened emails (though after last year’s iOS update, you need to take the open rate with a pinch of salt). If you want to increase sales, analyze the visitors to your website and their behavior and transactions. 

Ideally, you should have clearly stated goals in the form of “increase sales by 30% in 6 months.” For benchmarks, use the numbers from your current mailings (if you have any), competitor data, average market benchmarks. 

When developing an email marketing strategy from scratch, it’s hard to get exact numbers from the get-go, so it’s OK for the first goals to be approximate. Adjust them during the implementation and testing. The vector is what matters.

2. Make a competitor analysis

Once you have your goals and metrics defined, you need something to start with — actual ideas for templates, copies, email sequences, etc. The most effective method is to perform a competitive analysis: just subscribe to some of your competitors and analyze their email marketing activities. Create a document and make notes of what types of emails they send, when and how often, what content they use, how they build their lists, etc.

What else to include:

  • Examples of headlines, descriptions and CTAs
  • What happens after a successful subscription confirmation
  • Design ideas 
  • Email marketing tools
  • Data privacy protection measures
An example of a competitor analysis document
This is what the competitor analysis document may look like. Depending on the characteristics, you can either note which competitors have them using check marks or evaluate them on a scale of 1 to 10 or using star signs. If you’re not sure (yet), place a question mark.

To get an understanding of your competitors’ strategies you need to subscribe long (about a couple of months at the least) before you launch your own campaigns.

3. Determine your target audience

Create subscriber personas: who they are, what they like and what they need. Information about the pain points of your clients will help you determine the form and frequency of your email campaigns.

What else a subscriber persona can consist of:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation and position
  • Hobbies
  • Any of the points specific to your business (for example, if you’re in the educational business, it’s the information of what kind of courses they like and need)

Don’t get carried away. Collect only the information that you need to make a decision. If your business has nothing to do with your subscribers’ marital status, there’s no point in describing whether they are married or single in their personas.

There are many options for collecting this information:

  • Set up Google Analytics to find out about the search queries and interests of your customers.
  • Examine the data of your subscribers in social networks.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with some of the current clients.
  • Get industry research and insights.
  • Add surveys and polls in your existing email campaigns.
Email from Food52
An email with a survey is a great way to get feedback and from a clearer perspective of your clients. Source: Really Good Emails

A list of contacts is the foundation of email marketing efforts. Emails sent to low-quality lists end up in spam, flagging a sender as a spammer and creating a bunch of problems for future campaigns. That’s why it’s never a good idea to buy email lists.

“Wholesome” email lists gathered organically, on the other hand, consist of people who gave their consent to receiving your messages and are willing to be open to your offers. It is immeasurably better than purchased lists full of junk and dead contacts. 

Possible ways to build a base:

  • Pop-up forms on your website: you can offer visitors to subscribe to your emails to receive useful content.
  • Subscription forms in blogs: if you have a blog, embed a subscription form there.
  • Give something in exchange for a subscription: guides, discounts, cheat sheets — anything acting as a reason for them to give you their emails.
  • Collect contacts offline: not the most popular option in recent years, but you can get emails during various offline meet-ups, conferences, etc.

If you’re seriously in search of list-building tactics that work, we have something for you: our epic list building guide that you can get for free 🔥 Plus, you’ll get to subscribe to our email marketing digest and get emails with links to the hottest blog articles twice a month. Come on in! 

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If you already have a list and want to use it after a break, it’s better to reactivate it first to freshen it up.

It’s also always a good idea to regularly clean your lists up of dead and abandoned emails and from unsubscribes.

5. Optimize your emails and edit the content

This step is optional and matters only if you already have/had some email campaigns working. If you’re starting from square one, go straight to the next step.

So, if you have some email campaigns, it might be easier and faster to optimize them instead of creating whole new templates. Study your current email marketing situation to answer the question: what do you have now and what do you need to make it work (better)?

What to evaluate:

  • Where do your subscribers come from? Analyze your existing subscription forms and other ways to build a list.
  • What kind of lists do you have? Find out how old they are, do they have a lot of sleeping or dead contacts, what characteristics can you use to segment them.

What are the strengths/weaknesses of your emails? Look at how your emails look, what messages they convey, what design solutions work and what do not.

To make informed decisions, use the findings from the previous steps:

  • After having evaluated the competitors’ emails, find their strengths and weaknesses and decide what to take for yourself, what you can do better and what not to do under no circumstances.
  • Use the information in your subscriber personas as a base for segmentation.
  • Depending on the goals, make a list of possible changes: do you need to make your CTAs clearer to get more website traffic? Does your copy sound too aggressive? Do you run re-engagement campaigns?

6. Pick the email marketing tools

By email marketing tools we understand email marketing services (ESPs) like Selzy that come full of features that make modern email marketing if not a breeze then at least a very effective channel of communication.

There are many (very many) different email marketing platforms to choose from. Depending on the size and specifics, some of the platforms may suit your needs better than others. When making a choice, ask yourself what your long-term goals are. For example, if you’re a small business owner and all you need at the moment is a small list of people who would be interested in your handicraft, you don’t need an especially sophisticated service. On the other hand, if you have thousands of customers and want to scale your business further and/or have specific automation requirements, for instance, you might need a more robust platform.

What else can impact your choice:

  • Budget
  • Your (or your employees’) experience in email marketing
  • Type and size of business
  • Special requirements
  • Goals

For details on how each (and more) of these points can sway you towards one ESP or another, read our email marketing service comparison. We created it to help you not to get lost in the variety of email marketing platforms that exist on the market.

7. Determine the email types

To explore the potential of email marketing, send several types of emails to your subscribers. There can be different options there: 

The more types of emails you send, the fuller your presence will be in your subscribers’ buying cycle. However, different types of emails require different templates (explore the links above to get an understanding and find inspiration). You can create them from scratch or use the template library of your ESP of choice. Selzy has several dozen templates of different varieties. To explore them, have a try of our email builder: it’s free and you don’t even have to sign up.

Selzy drag-and-drop email editor
You do not need to code — just add ready-made blocks in the drag-and-drop editor.

When developing email communications, rely on your audience data, take the best from competitors and, of course, build your own hypotheses.

8. Create a schedule

After you’ve determined what to send and who to, comes when, i.e, planning.

You’ll need to develop a sort of content plan for the near future (for a couple of weeks/a month). There’s no strict template for how it should look, so you can do it in the free form in Google Sheets, for example. All you have to know is how many emails you need to send and when to later analyze their results.  

The number and the frequency of emails depend on your goals. Here you will have to experiment in order to find a balance where the subscriber engagement remains at a good level. 

What matters is activity and regularity. Write regularly, but not too often. You can start with 1 email per week and work your way from there (plus triggered and transactional emails). See how often competitors send their emails. 

To determine the best time to send emails, take a look at our article on the matter — we studied several reliable studies including our own study of 26 billion emails to provide you with some definite information.

9. Monitor email performance

Analyzing results is a critical element of any email marketing strategy. It tells you where you are on the journey to those goals you have outlined in the beginning.

After you launch campaigns and collect the first data on your chosen metrics, you’ll see how realistic they were and you’ll be able to adjust your KPIs. This will give you even more data on what types of emails and formats work best for your subscriber list.

What to evaluate in addition to your pre-set metrics:

  • Opens
  • Clicks
  • Deliverability
  • Unsubscribes
  • Spam complaints

These are likely to be the key metrics in your email service provider so you won’t have to look far to find them. 

Selzy campaign details

Use data from Google Analytics. There, you can track what subscribers do on your website and make some conclusions. You can evaluate:

  • How many people go to the website from emails?
  • What is the bounce rate?
  • How many orders did you have coming from emails?
  • What is the average check of each subscriber?
  • How much money did each email bring?

Effective email marketing strategies for better results

And before the end, a bunch of short but sweet email marketing tips to help you get the most out of your email marketing strategy. 

Segment your audience

Segmentation helps to divide your list into parts (segments) and concentrate marketing efforts on the target audience and deliver emails that matter. Each segment is a group of buyers with the same type of requests and reactions to the product. You can segment by:

  • Activity
  • Preference
  • Life cycle
  • Age and gender
  • Location

Personalize your messages

Having segmented your list, create personalized messages for each group. 

Personalization is an approach where emails are made with the target audience in mind. It’s a very important principle of email marketing. Without it, your mailings will likely miss the mark and look too general or worse, like spam. It makes no sense to send the same emails to your entire audience because people have different interests. It’s much better to divide users into several groups and offer useful content to each of them. For example, if you have a cosmetics store and know what kind of skin your customers have, there’s no point in sending people with dry skin tips on oily skin care.

Write click-worthy subject lines

The subject line is a sort of headline in the case of emails. It performs the same function as a headline: mainly attracts attention and tells what the whole thing is about. So you can apply the headlines rules to emails’ subject lines. For example, the 4U headlines technique states that four elements should be present in the title: uniqueness, usefulness, ultra-specificity and urgency.

Still, in emails, the context is slightly different because they imply a more personalized level of relationship with the reader. Read more about subject lines and tips on how to write good email subject lines that get opened.

Test copy, design, and buttons

Sometimes small changes can be a decisive factor that affect the email marketing performance. A/B tests are a powerful tool that helps you use solid data to tailor your campaigns to your audience’s preferences. Not sure which layout to use to make an informed decision? Conduct an A/B test.

Send two emails with different layouts to two groups of subscribers (10% +10%). Then evaluate which option won depending on your metrics (for example, which got more clicks). Send the winner email to the other 80% of your list.

The rule of thumb of A/B testing is to test one thing at a time and focus on the key elements at first: in the case of emails, that would be the subject line, calls to action, and images. Read more about A/B testing.

Automate email campaigns when possible

Automation is one of the most popular reasons to use email service providers. Automation helps email marketers delegate routine tasks and free their time for other activities. You can set up transactional and triggered mailings in response to certain events like order placement or newsletter subscription.

You can also set up more advanced email sequences like re-engagement campaigns or create even more sophisticated branched sequences. Read more about email automation.

Include clear calls to action

Calls to action help users to purchase, download, subscribe, sign up. Your mailings’ CTR largely depends on how convincing and clear your CTAs are. There are several ways you can create effective CTAs:

  • Make the call clear. Tell users what they will get and be as specific as possible. 
  • Talk about benefits. Emphasize the benefits of your offer. 
  • Offer immediate results. It’s great when users click on buttons and immediately get something useful.
  • Use the fear of missing out. Add an element of urgency to your offer.
  • Use the idea of ​​scarcity. Introduce limited product series, short-term promotions, temporary bonuses. 

Send mobile-friendly emails

When designing an email, keep in mind that mobile email clients are the most popular email reading environment. Mobile’s share is 44.7%, with webmail at 36.3%, and desktop at 19.1%.

It means that you need to structure the emails in a special way:

  • Place the most important elements in the center of layouts as most users scroll the page with their thumbs.
  • Choose bigger fonts.
  • Position the CTAs so that the user can see them without scrolling.
  • Do not make emails too lengthy. 

It’s good to know that in ESPs’ email builders, you can not only adapt emails for mobile but make separate mobile versions.

Email marketing strategy checklist

Let’s sum it up in the form of a checklist.

1. Identify your goals

  • Outline why your business needs email marketing and why it can be beneficial.
  • Set specific measurable goals (at least one) and a deadline for achieving them.
  • For benchmarks, use the numbers from your current mailings, competitor data, average market benchmarks.

2. Make a competitor analysis

  • Make a list of your competitors to find out how they conduct their email marketing.
  • Subscribe to some of your competitors and analyze their email marketing activities: what types of emails do they send? When and how often? What do they write about? How do they build their lists?

3. Determine your target audience

  • Create subscriber personas: who they are, what they like and what they need. 
  • Collect only the information that you need to make a decision.

4. Identify the appropriate list-building tactics and plan re-engagement campaigns

  • Don’t buy email lists.
  • Study the list-building tactics and decide which ones are appropriate in your case.
  • Regularly clean your lists and run re-engagement campaigns if you have an old list that you haven’t used for a long time.

5. Optimize your emails and edit the content (optional)

  • Answer the questions: Where do your subscribers come from? What kind of lists do you have? What are the strengths/weaknesses of your emails?
  • To make informed decisions, use the findings from the previous steps.

6. Pick the email marketing tools

  • Ask yourself what your long-term goals are.
  • Study email marketing service comparisons to make a choice.

7. Determine the email types

  • What types of emails do you need (except for transactional and triggered ones)?
  • Rely on your audience data, take the best from competitors and build your own hypotheses. 

8. Create a schedule

  • Develop a sort of content plan for the near future.
  • Write regularly, but not too often.

9. Monitor email performance

  • Gather the data and see how realistic your goals were.
  • Adjust metrics and create new hypotheses.

Tell us about your email marketing strategy. How is it different?

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