Before you launch any email marketing campaign, make sure every element is in place to make your campaign as successful as possible. From defining your campaign goals, to reviewing email marketing best practices and strategically timing your sends, follow this checklist to ensure your campaign will drive real results for your business.
Identifying your audience and goals
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers and build relationships with them, so you need to be strategic and thoughtful when you're creating your plan in order to make the most of the opportunity you have each time someone clicks open one of your messages.
If you have a larger audience, it helps to consider segmenting your subscribers into different categories. Doing that helps you adjust and focus your messaging on the needs and interests of specific audiences. If you take this route, make sure you've given careful consideration to the audience for each and every message you intend to send. That includes whether you want to send emails to your entire email audience, or craft targeted emails for smaller subscriber segments.
Planning your timing is also key: You'll want to determine how often you contact your customers—whether it's weekly, monthly, or less frequently.
Designing a successful email
After identifying your audience and goals, the next step is planning out the look and feel of your emails. This is one of the most important parts of an email marketing campaign because, ultimately, it's going to dictate the type of impression you're leaving on customers.
Most email marketing platforms give you pre-designed templates or let you build your own email design from scratch. No matter which path you choose, make sure every element of your email campaign is focused on fulfilling the goals you've set.
Here are key email design elements to consider.
Apply the same color schemes and logo you use on your business website to your email, so you're communicating a unified brand.
Write a compelling subject line that makes people want to open the email.
Determine what content you want to share with your audience. Add eye-catching photos or other graphic elements to highlight products for sale or blog posts from your site.
Add a call to action (CTA) that reinforces the goal of your email and makes it easy for recipients to know what next steps to take.
Make sure your social media accounts are clearly linked.
Include an unsubscribe link.
Add clear headlines or dividers within your email to delineate different sections.
Be sure the font you use is big enough so that the text is easy to read, even on a mobile device.
Defining your sender details
Crafting well-written, well-designed messages is only one part of the equation. It's also crucial to define your sender details, or the name and email address that appears in the “From:” line of emails sent to a list. This is how your email appears in someone else's inbox.
Issues arise if your customer doesn't recognize an email sender, or if you haven't set up your domain name properly. For email campaigns, it’s best to use an address associated with your custom website domain, as this signifies legitimacy. Some people opt for a dedicated email address that matches your business name, in order to differentiate your email list from a personal inbox. For the sender name, opt for something simple and professional: either your own name or your business name.
Without taking these formatting steps, your emails might get snared in a spam filter or be rejected by an email server and not reach its intended destination. Recipients might assume an email isn't relevant and react by unsubscribing from your list, deleting messages without reading, or marking an email as spam.
Learn more about setting up email for your small business.
Writing compelling subject lines
Your email subject line should capture your audience's attention and stay true to your message.
With subject lines, a good rule of thumb is that shorter is better. Many people receive hundreds of messages a day—meaning they are quickly scanning through their inbox, or checking emails on a mobile device—which offers less space for subject text.
Subject line context is just as important as length. Consider how many times you've received emails from favorite retailers or brands, but didn't open or even deleted the email. Was it because the subject line didn't spark your interest or wasn't relevant? Was it because the subject line was so long it got cut off in your inbox, so you didn't even know why the email was important?
When a subject line misrepresents an email's content, you risk disappointing recipients, who might get a negative impression of your business. Stay on message with your subject line, and keep it brief.
Testing and previewing emails
As with any other public-facing marketing channel, it's important to test content before it goes live. Send yourself a test email so you can check the accuracy of your links, ensure the message has an unsubscribe option, and make sure the domain name is formatted so emails don't land in the spam folder.
Testing the email from a user experience (UX) standpoint is also key. Preview how your entire email looks on a mobile device. For example, you'll want to make sure the email preheader, which is the preview text that sits below the subject line in the emails in your inbox, isn't cut off.
Lastly, ask your business partner, a friend, or a fellow professional to check your work before you send it to customers. Having a second set of eyes look over your emails before they're sent can help your business avoid a potentially embarrassing mistake.
Still setting up your email lists? Learn how to collect emails on your website.