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Email Marketing Strategy (What It Is + How to Create One)

  • Andrew FolklerAndrew Folkler

Building an email marketing strategy can feel intimidating and challenging. You might be worried about what kind of emails you should write to your audience. Or you may not have an audience yet and are wondering how you build an email list from scratch.

Fortunately, learning email marketing isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.

It’s also well worth your time, as email marketing is still the best marketing strategy used worldwide. Email generates the highest return on investment, and according to a study by Litmus, up to 79% of marketers use an email marketing strategy. 

In this article, we’ll be covering what email marketing is, different types of emails you can send, and how to set up your email marketing strategy. 

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the process of building a relationship with and selling to your target audience via email. Like many other forms of marketing, email marketing is a dialogue between your company and your audience. 

Your email marketing strategy should cover every stage of the sales process:

  1. Greeting the customer
  2. Discussing customer pain points
  3. Presenting your offer
  4. Closing the sale
  5. Following up after the sale

When you build your strategy, you need to set up different campaigns that address each of these stages. Without these stages, your email campaign will have bottlenecks, which means customers will get frustrated and leave. 

But before I show you how to create your email marketing strategy, let’s go over the different types of email campaigns that you can use to grow your business.

15 Types of Marketing Emails To Build Your Email Marketing Strategy

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Wow… Do I need 15 different types of email campaigns? This is too much!”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Depending on your needs, you might only need some of these email types. As you grow your business, you can continue to add different email campaigns. To see examples of successful marketing emails, click here

In general, businesses send three types of emails to their customers every day. They are transactional emails, relationship emails, and promotional emails. 

Let’s look at some examples of emails that fall within each of these categories. 

Transactional Email Campaigns

Transaction emails are meant for providing specific information that’s relevant to your client. Often these emails are automated by businesses. You can do the automation with a variety of email marketing software. 

1. Login and Account Information Sequence

These are emails that provide login and account information. This type of email is best for students who have just set up an account with your company or website. Having an email with this data helps them remember critical information like usernames, passwords, and specific web links. 

2. Order Confirmation Sequence

An order confirmation sequence is an email informing the customer that their order has been processed.

3. Shipping Confirmation Email Sequence

If you are shipping physical products, you might want to send a shipping confirmation email to your customer. If a tracking number is available, be sure to send that. A tracking number will give your customers peace of mind as they will know the approximate arrival time of their product. 

If you are sending a digital product, your shipping email will be much simpler. You can just send a link for your subscribers to download your product to their computer.

4. Receipts and Invoices

Receipts and invoices are sent after a transaction has been processed. These emails will include a detailed description of the products or services purchased, order number, cost of the order, any tax charges, contact information, the refund policy, and the company information. 

5. Password Resets

Sometimes it can be challenging to keep track of all our passwords. Having an automated sequence to send your clients a password reset email can save you and your team time dealing with customer issues.

Relationship Marketing Campaigns

Relationship marketing emails are intended to build the relationship between your company and the audience. As any entrepreneur knows, trust is a crucial factor in closing sales. This means you should focus your relationship emails on building trust with your customers. 

1. Welcome Campaign

A welcome campaign is a series of emails sent to new subscribers. These emails are the first emails your audience receives when they subscribe to you. Often, these emails begin with an introduction to the brand or company. Subscribers are also invited to follow the business’s social media accounts. This is also an excellent opportunity to ask your new subscribers to whitelist your emails so that they always land in their inbox. 

2. Nurture Campaigns

A nurture campaign is a series of emails that focus entirely on relationship building. These emails often include links to relevant content that may interest the subscriber. Usually, a nurture campaign proceeds with a sales promotion. By starting with a nurture email campaign, you can build trust in the subscriber before asking them to make a purchase. 

3. Ascension Campaigns

The ascension campaign is a series of emails that try to move the subscriber into the next stage of the customer journey. This campaign pushes new subscribers to make their first purchase and one-time buyers to become repeat buyers. 

4. Segmentation Campaigns

Segmentation campaigns help you track the engagement level and the purchasing history of your subscribers. You wouldn’t want to send a promo email to a subscriber who had already bought your product, right? And the messaging you write for your raving fans will be vastly different from the subscribers who do not read your emails. That is why segmentation is so important. 

5. Re-engagement Campaigns

Sometimes people get too many subscriptions in their emails and end up ignoring them. Then they open their inbox one day, and there are thousands of unread emails! Since it is essential to focus on keeping an engaged audience, sometimes it helps to remove inactive subscribers. But you don’t want to count them out just yet. A re-engagement campaign can help you determine if they will stay subscribed for future emails. If not, they are encouraged to unsubscribe. 

Promotional Email Campaigns

Promotional emails are essentially marketing emails in which you inform your audience about a specific promotion your business is offering. As you’ll see below, promotional emails can take on many different forms.

1. Abandon Cart Sequence

Abandon cart emails effectively help close the sales where a buyer went to the checkout but then backed out. Some businesses might offer a coupon or a discount to encourage buyers to checkout.

2. Seasonal Campaigns

Seasonal campaigns typically consist of a series of emails promoting an offer once in a given season. Sometimes these campaigns are referred to as limited-time offers or LTOs. One example of a seasonal offer would be a Mother’s Day sale or a Black Friday sale.

3. One Time Offer Campaigns

One-time offers (OTO for short) are campaigns that promote an offer that you will not advertise in the future. These campaigns typically have zinger headlines like “Prices have never been lower before…” and seek to increase the volume of sales based on the scarcity of the promotion. 

4. Product Launch Email Campaigns

Product launch emails are among the most common campaigns in email marketing. In these campaigns, you begin by nurturing your audience with content relevant to your product. Then, as interest starts to grow, your emails bring awareness to your offer. At the end of the product launch campaign, you will fully promote your product and close sales. 

5. Joint Venture Email Campaigns

Businesses thrive with solid relationships, and that is where joint venture partners come in. A joint venture email campaign helps you tap into the audience of another company. Joint venture partners either write their email campaigns or use a provided email campaign that they broadcast to their audience. This helps expand the reach of your launch and often introduces new people to your brand. 

Email Marketing and Anti-Spam Compliance

Now that you know the different possible email campaigns, there is one more thing you need to know. Anti-spam laws have been put into place to protect consumers from deceptive advertising.

Failure to comply with these ordinances can result in hefty fines and, in extreme cases, the blacklisting of your IP address

Here are some anti-spam laws all online entrepreneurs should know about.

CAN-SPAM

CAN-SPAM is an anti-spam ordinance introduced by the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2003.

Here are some of the requirements to be CAN-SPAM compliant:

  • Unsubscribes must be removed from your email list within ten days
  • You must have your business address attached to your emails
  • No deceptive information in the subject lines and headers of your email
  • You must identify that the email is an advertisement
  • You must provide subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe from future emails

Failure to comply can result in fines up to $46,517 per email violation. Consult your business attorney to ensure that you are sending emails that do not violate CAN-SPAM. To learn more about CAN-SPAM compliance, click here.

GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an ordinance passed by the Information Communications Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom. 

GDPR was introduced in 2018 to govern and protect the use of data for EU citizens. Here are some of the requirements to be GDPR compliant.

  • The subscriber must consent to the collection of their data
  • You cannot have any pre-ticked boxes to opt-in for anything
  • If they opt-in for one offer, that does not equate to consent for another request
  • There must be an easy unsubscribe option
  • You must record evidence of your data collection 
  • In your records, you need to show how you got their data, what you said to collect their data when consumers gave their data, and whose data is being collected

Here is a checklist from the ICO that you can use to remain compliant. Once again, consult your business attorney to ensure that your emails do not violate GDPR.

CASL

CASL is the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. Introduced in 2014, CASL focuses on protecting the data of Canadian citizens and preventing spam. 

Here are some of the requirements to be CASL-compliant. 

  • You can only send commercial emails to subscribers who have given consent
  • You are forbidden from harvesting email through software or spyware
  • And you cannot purchase or sell a list of harvested emails

As with other anti-spam laws, it’s best to consult your business attorney to be sure your email strategy is compliant with CASL. To learn more about CASL, click here.

How to Create an Email Marketing Strategy

Now that you know what kinds of email campaigns you can use and the laws surrounding email marketing, you are ready to start crafting your email marketing strategy.

Your email marketing strategy will have multiple moving parts that work together to form the whole. As you build your email strategy, examine how each email campaign affects the other.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, email marketing is a conversation between your brand and your subscribers. This means that each email campaign must guide your subscriber along the customer journey.

Now let’s take a look at the nine steps for crafting your email marketing campaign. 

Step 1: Set Your Email Campaign Goals

If you are going on a road trip, you need a map and a destination. What kind of email campaign goals do you want to set for your business? 

Your goals would heavily depend on several factors.

  • The size of your email list
  • The profitability of your email list
  • The engagement level of your subscribers
  • The open rate of your emails
  • The growth rate of your email list
  • The financial cost required to send your emails
  • The time needed to produce your emails
  • How often do your subscribers expect to receive your emails
  • How new subscribers join your email list

Thorough analysis and planning can help you prevent bottlenecks in your email strategy. Set your targets, execute your plan, measure your progress, and adjust accordingly.

Step 2: Determine Your Target Audience

Before you send any emails out, you want to be crystal clear on who your target audience is. A pet brand would have little success promoting cat toys to a person who does not own cats. Knowing your target audience helps you stay focused on your marketing. You want to tap into the pains and frustrations of your subscribers. If you do not qualify your target audience correctly, you risk having more unsubscribers. And in the worst case scenario, you risk having your emails marked as spam.

Step 3: Set Up Your Email Content Calendar

An excellent way to organize your email campaigns is to set up a content calendar. Your content calendar is your roadmap to help you achieve your email marketing goals. Typically, a content calendar stretches over 90 days, and it details when specific email campaigns are released. With a content calendar, you can plan your promotions ahead of time so they don’t collide with each other. It also helps you better visualize your email strategy.

You might be wondering, “Do I need to write all my email campaigns before starting?”

No, you do not. Most companies will write their email campaigns several weeks before they are scheduled for release. The content calendar is simply a roadmap for your marketing division to follow. 

Step 4: Create Valuable Content

As you prepare your email campaigns for your audience, ensure your content is relevant to their needs. Provide value to them based on their struggles. Then, link your content to events, downloadable material, and relevant web links. As you nurture your audience, they will appreciate the offerings you have given them and will be more likely to trust your offer. 

Personalize your message so that it resonates with the subscriber. Nowadays, most emails have a function where you can insert the recipient’s first name. 

So instead of “Hello valued subscriber!”, you have a personalized message like “Hello Andrew!”

With the advent of AI in both copywriting and video production, you can expect more significant levels of personalization in the years to come. Personalization helps your message feel more genuine. You build trust faster and, as a consequence, guide your subscriber toward purchasing your offer. 

Step 5: Launch Your Email Campaigns

With your email campaigns ready, it is time to launch your campaigns. You can automate your email campaigns through email marketing software such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and many others. 

Using automation software will save you time and money, and it also allows you to track your campaigns in real-time.

Step 6: Analyze Your Email Campaigns

As the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets done.” This aphorism is especially important in your email marketing strategy. 

There are many KPIs to track when you are analyzing your email campaigns. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Open Rates: Your open rate measures how many people opened your email. 
  • Click-Through Rates (CTR): Click-through rates measure how many people clicked on links in your email. 
  • Conversion Rates: The conversion rate measures how many people took a specific call to action that your email intended them to take. This could include purchasing a product, downloading a lead magnet, or clicking a particular link. You only want one specific call to action to maximize your conversion rate.
  • Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate is a measurement of how many emails sent failed to go into the target inbox. This could result from a typo in the email, emails that are no longer valid, or email server issues. 
  • Emails Marked as Spam: This metric is to see how your audience perceives your email. Typically, having a few people marking your email as spam is not a big deal. However, if many subscribers mark your email as spam, you must reevaluate the setup of your email and your email list. If subscribers continue to tag your emails as spam, you risk being penalized for noncompliance with spam legislation. 
  • Average Duration on Email: The time spent reading an email can provide valuable insight into how much your subscribers resonate with your email. If a subscriber only spends an average of 5 seconds, then you know they are not reading your email. 
  • Email List Growth Rate: Your email list growth rate can show you whether you are growing your list or losing subscribers.
  • Email Forwarding Rate: Most people like to share things that they find interesting and valuable. If your email is helpful to your subscribers, they will likely forward it to someone else. 
  • Email Campaign ROI: Your email return on investment measures the profitability of your email.

Step 7: Maintain Your Email List

Now that you know what KPIs to look for, you can use that data to help you manage your email list. There are two ways you can maintain a healthy list of subscribers.

Segmentation

Segmenting your audience into different categories makes it easier to track how likely your subscribers are to buy from you. You will want to segment your audience based on their level of engagement, purchasing history, and demographics.

Regularly Clean Your Email List

Another way you can maintain your list is to clean it. If subscribers are not reading your emails, then maybe they should not be on your email list. Run a re-engagement campaign to try and get them to read your emails. If not, encourage them to unsubscribe from your list so that they will not have your emails clutter your inbox.

This helps prevent your emails from landing in spam. You can focus on the people who are engaged. And you leave a better impression on those who unsubscribed from you. 

Step 8: Test and Optimize Your Emails

The next step is to test and optimize your emails. This will strengthen your email marketing strategy and improve your campaign performance.

When you test your emails, you want to take a scientific approach. If you test several different emails with many variables, you will not know what is working and what is not. 

Most marketers use a technique known as A/B split testing. A/B split testing isolates one variable and tests the performance by separating the audience into two groups. One group would receive “Email A,” and the other would receive “Email B.” Then, you can analyze the performance of each email and determine which one outperformed the other. 

There are multiple things you can test in your email campaigns for optimization, including:

  • HMTL vs. Plain Text Emails – What format works best for your emails?
  • Visual Optimization – How does the design of your email impact the subscriber?
  • Copywriting Optimization – How does your copy perform?
  • Device Optimization – How does your email appear on different devices?

Step 9: Continue to Build Your Email List

As you continue to optimize your email marketing strategy, you can start to look for opportunities to grow your email list. 

Many online entrepreneurs accomplish this by producing email newsletters, releasing lead magnets, hosting events, or building more joint venture partnerships. 

Continue to implement your content calendar and deliver valuable content to your subscribers. Analyze the performance of your email campaigns and regularly clean your email list. Finally, conduct a split test for optimization and repeat the process over again. 

Now Go Build Your Profitable Email Marketing Strategy!

Building a profitable email marketing campaign strategy can feel overwhelming at first. But if you work at it one step at a time, you can grow a healthy and prosperous email list. 

Start by setting email strategy goals and researching your target audience, then identify which email campaigns make sense for your business. Once you’re clear on the types of email campaigns you want to focus on, you can start building your strategy. 

Above all, remember that email marketing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And you win through the consistent delivery of valuable content and optimization of your current campaigns. 

So go ahead and start building your email marketing strategy to take your business to the next level.