If you are determined to set your email marketing right, you need an email marketing strategy. A strategy is necessary to keep your email marketing in order and prevent chaos, so we're going to share how you can develop your own.
It's okay to not have a strategy if you just want to send blog updates to your subscribers. However, if you hope that email marketing will bring you profit, you need to define what goals and tasks you have and how you plan on achieving them.
What Is an Email Marketing Strategy
At EmailSoldiers, we understand an email marketing strategy as a plan that describes email marketing goals and actions that help us achieve these goals.
What Should Be Included in the Strategy:
- audience segments description;
- emails scenarios description;
- supposed result;
- project estimation.
Mistakes in Email Marketing Strategy
We are warning you that these are what we call mistakes within our approach and vision. Maybe for someone else, these are not mistakes, but a habitual way of work, and it may even be effective, but we doubt it.
1. Don't Describe the Strategy in Too Much Detail
Each time we meet company leaders who make decisions — all of them are busy people who don't have time to go into details. They want to know what result they will get, what will be done to reach it, and how much money they have to spend.
2. Don't Include Unnecessary Details Into the Strategy
Sometimes people include email layouts, editorial policy, and even layout recommendations with the pieces of code in them into the strategy. In our opinion, it is unnecessary.
A strategy is like a compass that navigates both the client and the agency in the right direction. Design and pieces of code do not influence the course. The way of using the signature style in the emails and setting email adaptability will be described in the technical requirements for the specialists.
3. Don't Stick to Certain Tools
Strategy is a high-level document that speaks about the goals and the ways of achieving them. Sticking to instruments in the strategy is at least unwise as the technologies are of lower levels.
For example, the strategy says that we need to increase the number of paying clients by 5%. We can say that we will achieve this with the help of subscriber reactivation, welcome trigger series, segmentation, and more precise offers, like targeted advertising for the subscribers that haven't opened the emails.
But it is wrong to write that we'll be doing all of it in ExpertSender. Why? The tool may change in the future and the strategy should focus on the goals and the problems that are to be solved, not on the tools. But it is reasonable to include the tools into the project's cost sheet as the budget depends on them.
What an Email Marketing Strategy Should Be
According to our approach, an email marketing strategy should possess the following characteristics:
- it should be a high-level document explaining what the emails scenarios, supposed result, audience, and segments are;
- flexibility - a strategy doesn't stick to certain tools as they can change with time. The strategy is not engraved in stone and made for ages - it can be corrected with time, for example, if the company makes a new product the new segments and email flows will appear;
- include timeline - how much time you'll need to spend for these or those actions;
- description of implementation - you can't suggest to a client that they need to build a space station if they have a hen house. In the same way, you can't think through the solutions that require lots of programmers if neither the client nor the agency has them. Implementation is nearly the most important part of the strategy: nobody needs plans that won't be performed.
For example, to set up a welcome campaign, sales managers must collect the clients' email addresses and bring them to the CRM platform. From the CRM platform, these addresses must get into the emails platform. In a small company you need to set a task for 2-3 managers for such a process and in a big one - write a detailed plan, approve it and send it to the sales department.
How to Create an Email Marketing Strategy
1. Do an Audit
These questions will help you do an audit:
- What emails are there now, what is implemented?
- How was the current base collected?
- Where do subscribers come from now?
- What subscribers engagement channels are being used now and which can be connected?
- Are the emails set up correctly from the technical point of view? Do they get into the spam folder?
- What are the email rates? How can you explain low or high rates?
- Where can you get data to analyze effectiveness?
- What do you have for the emails: integration with CRM, are there automatically generated promo codes, what subscribers/clients data do you have?
After an audit, the client should already get profit. We collect a wiki with the manual on working with the emails: setting them up, design, and layout for the client.
2. Understand the Target Audience
You can use several methods to study the audience. Firstly, large companies often do market research and you can ask for them. Secondly, study people from the existing base. Thirdly, you can see the traffic sources in the analytics and the inquiries that users use to get to the website.
3. Analyze the Base
Analyzing the clients base we study what subscribers/clients data we already have:
- from where you got the client data, including the email address;
- the way the client interacted with the company;
- what statuses are assigned to the clients (bought, didn't buy, used a promo-code, using the loyalty program);
- the way this data is stored, the way it can be transferred to the Email Marketing Platform.
Based on these data it will become clear which segments you can form and it depends on the segments what we will do next.
If you don't study the segments, the solutions suggested in the strategy may turn out to be ineffective or even disastrous.
For example, N years ago company X (we cannot reveal the information) was implementing the abandoned cart - for those who've left goods in a cart, they prepared an email pushing to pay for the products. It involved an email marketer, a designer, a copywriter, a technologist, and a programmer. When the solution was implemented it turned out that we know the email addresses of only 20 users per day that abandoned the cart and 20% of these addresses are invalid. Lots of resources were spent on the abandoned cart, but the efforts turned out to be unjustified. Precise understanding of the segments helps to avoid such situations.
4. Study the Product
- What users' problem does the product solve?
- How do the users learn about the product?
- How does the acquaintance with the product begin?
- What difficulties appear when getting acquainted with the product?
- At what stages do the users fall off?
- Why do the users leave?
- Why do the users stay?
5. Analyze Competitors
In order to understand how to address the users, what to offer them, and how to stand out from everyone else, you need to analyze the competitors - understand the way they solve the clients' problems.
The clients usually give the list of competitors. However, besides this, you need to google, look at the product connected requests results. Sometimes it is enough to visit the websites and watch what the rivals offer. Sometimes you need to call some of them and talk with the sales managers.
6. Develop the Email Scenarios
Now we have both the audience and the product data. Email scenarios should be based on the segments and the features of the product.
For example, pregnant women, women with a child younger than 1 year, from 1 to 2 years and etc. sign up on a message board for moms and future moms. The board itself makes money on advertising. The more precisely the ad corresponds to the audience's interests, the more interested it will be. Thus, it is important for the board to take care of precise targeting, which is not possible without information about the users.
After signing up, we first need to get the information the user hasn't given us. For example, the user hasn't given her child's age. Then we will ask her to do it in the welcome series in the first email. Later, knowing the child's age we will be able to send the links to the most popular discussions corresponding to the age. If the user's category is clear right away then we can send the links to the most popular discussions right in the first email. It turns out that the knowledge of the way the user interacts with the product allows us to create email scenarios.
7. Implement the Strategy
We start implementation with a pilot project, a small part of the strategy, in order to make sure it works. We pick the pilot project according to the next parameters:
- it is effective from the point of view of profit;
- it can be implemented quickly;
- it doesn't require many resources.
We calculate the pilot project budget and implement it. After this we look at the result, think about what we need to correct, and continue the implementation. Our approach is to implement quickly, inspect the result and optimize.
Who You May Need to Develop an Email Marketing Strategy
If you want to develop and implement an email marketing strategy in your company on your own, you will need human resources. First of all, you will need an email marketer or at least a digital marketer - a person that knows the company's product, understands the audience, and knows the clients' demands. Depending on the difficulty of the solution, you will need a designer, a copywriter, and a developer.
If you want to launch as quickly as possible with the help of Mailchimp and your marketer has some knowledge in design and writes well, try to give the text and template preparation (that can be done with the help of the Mailchimp standard tools) tasks to him. In this case, you won't need a programmer, but the possibilities will be rather limited. Such an approach is good for quick launch and channel testing.
If you see that you can't cope with it, try working with an agency. For example, with us.