Planning Your Email Marketing Strategy

Do you currently have an email marketing strategy? Several years ago, my idea of such a strategy was sending an email anytime we needed a little boost in sales. Once we developed an email marketing strategy, we sent more emails at regular intervals, resulting in a major long-term increase in revenue.

Planning your email strategy should coincide with your overall marketing strategy. If you’re running a big promotion, you will most likely want to send an email about it. When you coordinate all your marketing efforts together, you’ll find they’re much more successful.

Determining Your Primary Goals

Your email marketing strategy will depend on the type of website you run. An ecommerce website will send emails distinct from those emailed from a content website or blog. Every website is different, with different goals. Let’s look at various goals, and how they might affect your email marketing strategy.

Lead Generation

You may want to start a "drip campaign," where you set up a series of autoresponders starting from when a visitor subscribes. You might send out daily, weekly, or even monthly emails in a specific series as part of a campaign intended to build trust and eventually generate leads.

Product Sales

An ecommerce business might send out product promotion emails at key times throughout the year, such as major public holidays, the holiday season, or when seasonal products arrive.

Website Traffic

Content websites and blogs often just want to generate repeat traffic to their website. You might send a weekly newsletter showing the most popular new articles or posts from the previous week, or feature an article and ask for feedback using your website’s comment system.

It’s very possible (and likely) that over the course of time you’ll have more than one goal with your email marketing. Even a content website may eventually want to sell a product, or perhaps promote a product through an affiliate program.

Developing an Email Marketing Schedule

Planning out your schedule is one of the most important tasks of your email marketing strategy. Without knowing when you’re going to send emails, you’ll only send them when you "have time" (which is seldom). Every January, as our business is recovering from the crazy holiday season, we sit down with a calendar and plan our email marketing for the entire year.

You can plan your email strategy in a calendar application, like Google Calendar, or by using a simple spreadsheet. We put the emails on a calendar, then go back and add them to a spreadsheet with all our marketing efforts. (Note: My Email Marketing course will include all the documents and spreadsheets I use to plan and implement our email marketing.)

Of course, some email marketing campaigns aren’t necessarily on a schedule. It’s impossible to always know when you’ll have a great new product, so be sure to leave some room for spontaneous emails throughout the year.

Consider Time Requirements

It’s easy to sit down, create a calendar, and fill it with dates to send email newsletters. With all the holidays, regular promotions, and spontaneous emails, you could easily send an email weekly, or every other week; but you should also consider the time required to actually create, proofread, test, and send each email. If the average email campaign takes you three hours, and you send them weekly, you have to allot three hours of your time per week to email marketing. I’m not saying that’s bad at all (in fact, just the opposite), but you still have to account for that time.

Avoid Procrastinating

If you have an email scheduled for Wednesday morning at nine o’clock, don’t wait until seven that morning to start working on it. It’s amazing how many things can come up at the last minute to put you off schedule. Try to have your email done at least one day ahead of time, and use the email marketing software to schedule it to send at the necessary day and time. That way, when the inevitable happens, you’ll still be able to send it out on time.

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  • Kelley

    Just an FYI, which I tried to convey to emailroi.com as well. When you go to the link that’s included with the newsletter version of this article, the download links at emailroi.com don’t work – primarily because the site registration form is broken.

  • Kelley

    should be eroi.com. sorry about that.

  • http://www.brandoneley.com Brandon Eley

    Kelley, we’re not associated with eROI, but I will definitely let them know their registration form is broken.

  • Dylan Boyd

    Brandon or Kelly can you share with me the link please.
    Thanks
    Dylan at eROI
    VP of Sales and Strategy

  • http://www.brandoneley.com Brandon Eley

    Dylan,

    We got the following error:

    You don’t have permission to access /resources/register.php on this server.

    After submitting the registration form on this page:

    http://www.eroi.com/online-marketing-resource-center/resource-center/

    Hope that helps,
    Brandon

    • Dylan Boyd

      Thanks. Hope we got that taken care of. Internet Gremlins.

  • Alvaro

    I’m really considering purchasing The Email Marketing Kit
    http://www.sitepoint.com/kits/email1/
    BUT I have a few concerns. I’m worried on the timeliness of its delivery. Is this reprinting a second edition? Is this material outdated? This might be a question better suited for customer service, but I figured I would try my luck here first. Thanks!

    • http://www.brandoneley.com Brandon Eley

      Alvaro, I haven’t read the Email Marketing Kit but I doubt it’s outdated. I’ll let someone else from SitePoint chime in and provide a more detailed answer, though.

      However, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my new course on email marketing coming really soon. Email Marketing Live will cover everything from planning your email marketing to choosing a software package to designing and testing emails for effectiveness.

      • Alvaro

        Cool. Thanks for the reply Brandon! I will definitely keep an eye out for that.