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Email Marketing

Email marketing strategy full guide

Why you need the email marketing strategy
If you have seriously decided to bring order to the internet marketing your company does and you want to use emails then you'll need a strategy. It's normal to not have a strategy if you want to just send blog updates to your subscribers. However if you hope that email marketing will bring you profit then you need to define what goals and tasks you have and how you plan on achieving them. You need a strategy for this or those triggers will make your head spin, the whole process will turn into chaos and you will get lost and disappointed in email marketing.
What is an email marketing strategy
An email marketing strategy in EmailSoldiers is a plan with the email marketing goal description and actions that are to lead to this goal.
What should there be in the strategy:
  • audience segments description;
  • emails scenarios description;
  • supposed result;
  • KPI;
  • project estimate.
Sometimes everything is put into strategy - starting with editorial policy and going on to templates, but we think that it is not correct. Strategy is a top-level tool.
Email marketing strategy development mistakes
I am 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.
Describing 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.
Including unnecessary details into the strategy
Sometimes people include ready emails layouts, editorial policy and even layout recommendations with the pieces of code in them into the strategy. In our opinion it is unnecesary.
Strategy is a compass-document that navigates both the company 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 the emails' adaptability will be described in the technical requirement for the specialists.
Sticking to certain instruments
I will repeat myself, strategy is a high-level document that speaks about the goals and the ways of achieving them. Sticking to the 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 posses the following characteristics:

  • a high-level document explaining what the emails scenarios, supposed result, audience and segments are;
  • flexibility - the strategy doesn't stick to certain technologies - they can change with time;
  • money-oriented;
  • variability - 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;
  • timeline - a timing plan should be included into the strategy, how much time you'll need to spend for these or those actions;
  • implementation - you cannot suggest to a client that they need to build a space station if he has a hen house, you can't think through the solutions that require lots of programmers if neither the client nor agency has them. Implementation is nearly the most important part of the strategy, as nobody needs plans that won't be realized. It's impossible to build an implantable strategy without good immersion.
For example, implementing a welcome series. To set it up sales managers must collect the clients' email addresses and bring them to the CRM, from the CRM 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 an order, approve it and send it to the sales office so they work according to the order.
Without the proper immersion you won't learn about such things and won't be able to take them into account in your strategy.
How to develop the email marketing strategy
Step 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 emails' 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.
Step 2. Understand the product's audience
To study the audience you can use several methods. Firstly, big companies often have market studies and you can ask for them. Secondly, look at/study people from the existing base. Thirdly, you can see the traffic sources in the analytics and the requests that users use to get to the website.
Step 3. Analyze the clients 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.
Step 4. Examine the product
  • What user's 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?
  • On what stages do the users fall off?
  • Why do the users leave?
  • Why do the users stay?
Step 5. Analyze competitors
In order to understand how to address the users, what to offer them, 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.
Step 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 product's features.
For example, pregnant women, women with a child younger than 1 year, from 1 to 2 years and etc. register on a forum for moms and future moms. The forum itself makes money on advertising. The more precisely the advertising corresponds to the audience's interests, the more they will be interested in it. So, it is important for the forum to take care of precise targeting, which is not possible without information about the users.
After registration 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.
Step 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 realization budget and implement. 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 is needed to develop the 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. For development you need an email marketer or at least an internet marketer, a person that knows the company's product, understands the audience and knows the clients' demands. Depending on the solution's difficulty, you will need a designer, a copywriter and a programmer for implementation.
If you want to launch as quickly and simply 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. You won't need a programmer under this approach, but the beautiful email layout and setting up trigger abilities will be severely restricted. Such an approach is good for a quick launch and a channel test. If you see that you can't cope with it, try working with an agency. For example, with us.
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