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The 10 Steps of a Successful Email Strategy

Every email strategy starts somewhere. Today we'll take a look at 10 steps any email creator can use to craft a successful email strategy.

Black and white faded image of a chess board

Email strategy, you say?

The great news about email marketing is that anyone with a solid plan in place can create email success. However, many email creators may not know where to begin.

The goal of today's article? To help you get back to basics and work on an email marketing strategy that creates ongoing email success.

Regardless of if you're an established email expert, or just starting out, these tips can help you ensure you remain consistent on your journey to email magic.

Grab your notebook, it's time to begin today's email learning as we discuss The 10 Steps of a Successful Email Strategy🎓

Step 1 - Define your objectives

You often hear of different ways to set goals and objectives

There's the SMART goal-setting framework, goal pyramids, the OKR method and a ton to choose from.

Regardless of your preferred method for setting goals, one thing is clear: You need a solid objective in your email strategy.

Where to begin with this? Here are a few key objectives you can set based on the type of email campaigns you'll be sending:

  • Increasing sales

  • Driving website traffic

  • Building brand awareness

  • Nurturing leads

  • Winning back readers or customers

  • Creating referrals

And the list goes on.

If you're intentional in every action you take in your email program, you'll create opportunities for incremental successes, leading to the eventual long-term success of your email strategy.

Step 2 - Understand your audience

Every piece of email advice that we give emphasises that your audience's needs ALWAYS come first.

So, how do you cater to the needs of the various members of your audience?

It begins with segmentation.

We covered this in a previous Volume of our newsletter, which you can read here, but you have two ways to broadly segment your list:

  1. Known data: This data includes everything you learn about your audience when they first enter your email list. These known data points often include what you've asked for initially, such as where your subscribers are situated, which channel they signed up from, what incentive they signed up for and other factors such as which types of emails they've signed up to receive. Based on this, you have an idea of what type of content to share and how to funnel them into taking the action you'd like them to take.

  2. Learned data: Once you begin sending emails, there are tons of ways to use the emails you send to learn about your audience. I'm not only talking about asking them to update their preferences or tell you more about them (which are both effective strategies) but also the way they interact with the emails you're sending. Use what they're clicking on in your emails, what they're buying when you promote your offer, how they respond over time and even which types of emails are being opened and clicked (or not).

When you consider the data you have and apply this to your email strategy, you'll show your audience that you care about who they are and what you're sending, building loyal fans over time, not just members of your audience.

Step 3 - Build a quality list

This is one of the biggest challenges for any email sender (and may also be one of the main reasons you signed up to join our community).

We share in our Ultimate Database Growth Playbook (which you can grab here) how to begin doing this in detail, as well as in this previous Volume too, but what's the point of sending emails if you don't have an audience to share them with?

There are so many ways to grow an email audience, but this would wind up being an insanely long email if we covered even a few. So let's chat about some quick principles to follow when growing your audience:

  1. Always have an incentive: Sending pretty emails isn't enough. Ensure your chosen strategy entices new subscribers with real added value.

  2. Make it easy to join: When designing your database growth strategy, refrain from making it difficult or time-consuming. Do you really need someone's surname when asking for sign-up details?

  3. Look for entry points everywhere: Wherever you engage with your potential audience, find ways to feed them into your list. If you don't ask, you won't receive. Make sure your audience everywhere has an opportunity to sign up.

Growing an audience doesn't need to be difficult. Your strategy simply needs to ensure that you're consistent in your efforts to do so.

Person pointing at a whiteboard with a strategy and sticky notes on it

Step 4 - Choose the right email marketing platform

There are so many great platforms out there! So, how do you choose?

Different email platforms cater to different needs. Here's how to assess what's right for you:

  1. Features: Think of the types of emails you send. If you aren't selling products, is an e-commerce platform right for you? Most platforms have great features, but choose function over features.

  2. Cost: If you can, choose a local platform. You'll pay in your native currency and not be affected by fluctuating exchange rates. Be careful though. You pay for what you get. There are also cheap and nasty platforms out there.

  3. Support: This is also where the locality of your email provider benefits you. Support in your time zone helps you solve immediate issues. The last thing you want is to deal with a chatbot and wait for days to speak to a human.

I can't recommend TouchBasePro more. No, I'm not paid to say this, but the levels of support, and the functionality of the software have helped us scale our emails far beyond where we thought capable.

Step 5 - Create compelling content

This may seem obvious, but the continued success of your email strategy will always be linked to the value your emails carry over time.

How to do this? We shared tips on creating an effective email way back in Volume 2, but you can use these 3 key points as a checklist:

  1. Write clear, compelling copy: Our friend Matt Thomas recently wrote about this for us, but if your copy is well structured, you're already halfway to email success.

  2. Make it visually enticing: People buy with their eyes. Unless your strategy is to use plain-text emails, include relevant images, animated GIFS, video content and consistent colours in every email you send.

  3. Make it personal: I don't mean just adding someone's name into your emails. Tell stories, personal anecdotes and share your failures too! Your audience will relate to your content which leads to an emotional connection and inevitable email success.

It's not about the next email your readers receive, it's about the next ten. If you keep them hooked and engaged, your email strategy will lead to business growth and a happier, more engaged audience.

Pnael boards painted in watercolour to showcase panels for an email campaign strategy

Step 6 - Implement responsive design

If your emails don't look good on mobile, you're in trouble. We discussed email design in Volume 4, but it's critical to ensure that your emails are mobile-friendly and look good on all devices.

To do this doesn't have to be difficult!

  1. Test: Send tests and check them on your mobile phone. This also goes for your sign-up forms and automated emails.

  2. Analyse: Use your damn email metrics! Most email platforms let you see which devices your readers are using, so cater for the big ones (think Gmail, AppleMail and Outlook on mobile).

  3. Adapt: Many phones are also set up in dark mode. Don't forget to check that your emails cater for dark-mode users too.

We live in a mobile-centric era. If you're going to neglect your email strategy for mobile devices, you're doing so at your own peril.

Step 7 - Automate your emails

Automated and transactional emails are the backstop to your email program.

If you set these up strategically, you can guide and nudge subscribers taking specific actions in your email environment to the next point in their email journey.

We covered this in Volume 7, so you can come back to read that too, but here are three automated emails any email sender can use off the bat:

  1. Welcome sequences: As discussed in Volume 8, welcome email sequences can be a powerful tool to nurture readers and create a solid introduction to your email world.

  2. Re-engagement sequences: If subscribers are ghosting you, why not set up automated ways to try and win them back? These include engagement triggers and emails sent automatically when readers disengage.

  3. Educational sequences: Whether you provide a product or service, there's always an opportunity to educate your readers. Setting up a series of automated emails containing valuable teaching adds a ton of value to both prospective and existing customers.

You also get transactional emails such as abandoned cart emails, lifecycle emails and a plethora of additional opportunities. Start with the basics and build up your automated email strategy from there.

Step 8 - Monitor and analyse results

How do you get feedback from your audience without asking them? Your email metrics do this for you. But only if you analyse them well enough.

We're planning on covering this in future Volumes, but the premise is simple: Use your email statistics to adapt your email strategy.

Regularly track key email metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates.

Use these insights to refine your email strategy and make data-driven improvements.

Your email metrics are also a great early-warning system to help you adapt if you're missing the mark.

And the numbers don't lie. If your emails aren't creating the returns you're expecting, the first place to look is at your email metrics, so prioritise this and remain consistent in your analysis of your email metrics.

Top view of a chessboard with pieces in play

Step 9 - Maintain privacy and compliance

We wrote about this in a previous blog, but staying on the right side of email laws is going to save you a heap of time and hassle down the line.

You may be familiar with POPIA, GDPR, CAN-SPAM and other local data privacy and compliance laws, but the premise remains the same: Respect your subscriber data and keep their best interests at heart.

Here are 3 quick ways to do this in your email strategy:

  • Always respect consent: Whenever a new subscriber joins your list, or an existing reader is looking to leave, respect their wishes. Don't be disingenuous when collecting new subscribers, and always give them a way to opt out of any emails you send.

  • Protect data at all costs: If you're irresponsible with subscriber data, not only are you putting yourself at legal risk, but you're putting your audience at risk of bad folks on the internet. Keep their data safe and secure at all times.

  • Keep up transparency: Let subscribers know what you're doing with their data, how you're protecting it and how they can amend or request deletion of their data. This builds trust and shows you actually care about keeping their best interests at heart.

You don't need to be a legal expert to get the basics right in your email strategy. Maintain good practices over time and hey, treat the data of others how you would like your data treated.

Step 10 - Consistency is critical

Whether you choose to send weekly newsletters, monthly updates, or special promotions, maintaining a regular cadence is crucial.

This isn't limited to your emails.

  • Remain consistent in finding new ways to add value to your audience.

  • Remain consistent in the content you share and how you position your message across any channel your audience is part of.

  • Remain consistent in growing your audience and understanding their needs.

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Email is not a 'one-and-done' practice. It's a relationship that, if nurtured like any relationship, will blossom over time leading to the results you seek.

A summary to success - The 10 Steps of a Successful Email Strategy

Phew, that's a lot, isn't it? 😅

Like with any elephant you eat, take things one bite at a time.

Remember that email marketing is an ongoing process. Continuously optimise your strategy based on the performance of your emails and the evolving preferences of your readers.

You can do this!

We cover these 10 topics in detail in our Expert Email Guide. There's a button to get a copy to help you extrapolate your email results at the end of this section too.

To get knowledge like this sent directly to your inbox, sign up today and get more in-depth knowledge to help you scale your email strategy.

We hope this blueprint has helped you today in some way.

In case you missed the link, click here to grab a copy of our detailed Database Growth Playbook for Email Marketing to help you grow your database further and support your efforts 👇

Preview of the Ultimate Database Growth Playbook for Email Marketing by Email Expert Africa

Want more tips like these? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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