Create an email marketing plan
Not sure what your email marketing plan is? Don’t sweat it—we’re here to help.
Running a business isn’t easy, and we know you’ve got a lot on your plate. To make the planning part easier, we’ve highlighted some best practices you’ll want to consider when devising a strategy for your email marketing. We promise the payoff for the time you set aside to create your email marketing plan will be worth it.
Define your audience
No matter what you sell, you need to have a clear idea of who your audience is in order to effectively communicate with them. This might sound like an easy task—after all, one of your most important jobs as a small business owner is understanding your brand’s demographic inside and out. But Mailchimp lets you dig a little deeper to identify segments of people within your audience so you can send them personalized emails that help increase engagement and generate greater ROI.
As soon as they’re added to your list, subscribers start providing a lot of useful information about their interests and buying behavior. With our signup forms, you can customize fields to collect everything from age and gender to interests and subscription preferences. Maybe you have customers who are only interested in receiving emails when there’s a sale on a specific group of products, or subscribers who would prefer biweekly updates to weekly ones.
Some of the most valuable data your signup form has to offer is how and where subscribers sign up for your list. Here are some tips to help you build an email list. If you’re an e-commerce business with your store connected to Mailchimp, knowing where your customers joined your list can give you a better idea of how to communicate with them and where you might want to focus your marketing efforts going forward.
For example, if you see that the majority of your signups are being generated from forms you’ve shared on Facebook and Twitter, then you might want to focus on connecting with your customers—and potential customers—through social media. You can even create segments to target people who joined your list through a specific method, whether it’s an integration like Facebook, an app like Mailchimp Subscribe, an e-commerce integration, or a hosted form. And if there’s a specific page on your website you want to track signups from, you can add a hidden field to your embedded form and place it on multiple pages.
Segments and groups
Once you’ve identified smaller collections of people within your larger audience, you’ll be able to create groups and segments to send more relevant campaigns to your recipients—and the more relevant the campaign, the better the results.
Groups are an easy way to organize your list into categories so that you only need to maintain a single list in your account. Let’s say you have an e-commerce website and use your Mailchimp account to communicate with sales representatives, retail locations that sell some of your products, and customers. The logical step might seem to be creating separate lists to track these three audiences, but adding them to groups on one list is a similar concept that can save you money. You can then build segments for these groups and send campaigns that are relevant to them.
There are times when you’ll want to send to your entire list, but taking advantage of Mailchimp’s segmentation tools can significantly increase the click-through rates and e-commerce orders your campaigns generate. Create custom segments from data you’ve collected for your subscribers—like e-commerce activity and email engagement—or, if you’re new to segments, use one of our pre-built segments to make targeting people on your list even easier. And with our predicted demographic tool, you can zero in on who is opening your emails—their gender and age range—and let that guide how you segment and what content you send.
Decide what to write
Now that you know who you’re writing to, it’s time to think about your content. What do you want to say to your audience? You’ll want to send emails with purpose, that really speak to your subscribers, so always keep in mind what they signed up for. It might be helpful to outline some general content types you can include in your campaigns, so you can refer to it when designing your emails.
Here’s an example of a content list:
- Upcoming events
- Recaps and photos from previous events
- Popular posts from social media, like Instagram or Facebook
- News coverage
- Details about featured or new products
- Holiday shopping guides
When it’s time for you to send a campaign, you can choose a few pieces of content you’d like to showcase based on who you’re sending to. Before you start creating content from scratch, think about what you already have that your customers might find interesting, like a popular Instagram and Facebook post or an article written about your company.
But you’ll also want to think about content you want to create specifically for your audience or certain segments on your list, and reward them for caring about what you do. The nursery art company Gingiber, for example, uses pre-built segments to reward their most engaged subscribers.
Tips for creating and gathering content
It can be tough coming up with compelling content your subscribers love on a regular basis, and the pressure to do so can be fierce. But keeping these tips for creating and gathering content in mind when you’re creating a campaign will help you find the best way to talk with your readers.
Treat your subscribers like VIPs
People who subscribe to your list are so interested in what you have to say that they’re willing to invite you into their inbox. This is a privilege. Honor it by letting them be the first to know about new products and sales. Or, go one step further like the company Oui Shave that asks its best customers to participate in product surveys and rewards them by making them beta testers for new products.
Keep it useful
It’s good to think about which emails in your inbox you open and which ones you delete immediately when you’re creating your own campaigns. What makes you want to open an email? Our guess is a piece of information you don’t already have. Make sure you’re sending subscribers new information that’s useful to them.
But it’s not just what’s inside your email that you have to think about; it’s also your subject line. Most people quickly scan an email before they decide whether they want to open it, so you’ll want your subject line to make it clear that a campaign is worth your subscribers’ time.
Our best tip is to keep your subject lines descriptive and straightforward, but testing different variations is a good way to find a winner.
Show some personality
No one wants to read an email that drones on and on. So, inject some personality! Chances are your voice, tone, and sense of humor are all reasons why your customers signed up in the first place. Try to write the way you would speak to your customers, and keep in mind the personality of the people you’re talking to.
Keep it short
Most people are bombarded with emails every day, so keep yours to the point to make it easy for your subscribers to scan them quickly if they need to
Apps like Pocket, Evernote, and Pinterest are great for saving and organizing content you’d like to use in your campaigns. Check out Really Good Emails, too. They feature the most beautiful, elegant, and thoughtful emails companies like you are sending.
Establish your sending frequency and goals
There’s nothing set in stone about how often you should email your customers, but if you send too often, your subscribers are likely to tune out what you have to say or unsubscribe altogether. Some users that run a blog or news website might choose to send daily updates to their subscribers, while other users like Bee’s Wrap only send twice a month so subscribers stay excited about their emails.
We suggest sending an email at least once a month to keep your subscribers engaged, but don’t feel you need to commit to this immediately. And be sure to look ahead and plan accordingly if you think your sending frequency will change for special events and holidays—you don’t want to surprise customers if you typically send once a month but suddenly start sending a stream of emails leading up to a Black Friday sales event.
Make a schedule
Not everyone has a regular schedule for sending campaigns, but it can be helpful, especially if you need to collaborate with a team or wear a lot of hats as a small business owner. One way to make sure you’re staying on track is to create a content calendar to schedule your campaigns, blog posts, social media posts, and more.
Your email marketing schedule will depend on your industry, the types of content you send, and your sending frequency, but here’s an example of a schedule you might set up for yourself:
Day 1: Jot down content topics, art ideas, and other basic elements for your upcoming campaign.
Day 2: Write out what you’d like to say about each topic and pull any photos or artwork you’d like to use into a folder.
Day 3: Log in to Mailchimp and create your campaign. Be sure to proofread for any errors and grammar, and send a few test campaigns to make sure everything is just right.
Day 4: Send your campaign.
Here are some more email marketing campaign tips to get you started.