You always get a few people saying how important email marketing is, but you’ve been putting it off. I understand. It’s not easy to do. You can’t just think about the first email you send – you should be thinking about the last email you send too. If you don’t start planning that out, you’ll lose readers and they won’t be a part of your email marketing campaign. That’s why I’m here to tell you what’s the best format for email marketing.
There is no doubt that email marketing (along with social media marketing) has now become the most effective form of digital marketing. For sure, traditional forms of advertising such as PPC or TV ads are still relevant and valuable, but it requires careful and continuous planning and analysis in order to get the result you want and monitoring. Meanwhile, it’s very easy to master the art and science of email marketing for you can do it manually or feed your subscriber list into a professional email campaign manager like MailChimp or Aweber for automated email delivery. The best format for email marketing generally could be determined by two key factors: the design and content of your email. Both are equally important because both are usually focused on your subscriber acquisition goal.
1. Use an email planning template.
It’s imperative to make a plan before you start emailing your entire customer database. That’s why HubSpot created this free email planning template to help you iron out who you’re emailing, who you’re suppressing from your contact list, and what the email’s message is. Download the template now to get your email campaign planning organized.
2. Identify your goal for the campaign.
Figure out the outcome that you want:
- Is it to clean up your list?
- Promote a new product?
- Follow-up from an abandoned cart event?
- Stay top of mind with your audience?
Different email campaigns will have different outcomes, requiring different tactics to get there. Once you determine the purpose of your campaign, you can then create the targets you want to hit. Include specific metrics in your goal so that you can determine if your campaign was a success based on quantitative data.
3. Understand who you’re emailing.
Have you ever heard the saying from Meredith Hill, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one”? What Hill is getting at here is that if you’re watering down your message to apply to your entire audience, you’re leaving opportunity on the table — opportunity for creating high-value, specific, relevant content that speaks directly to the recipient.
With this in mind, the key to a great email marketing campaign is identifying your audience and using email segmentation to ensure you’re delivering to the right people at the right time. If you can accomplish this and build it into your strategy, you can get more creative and specific with your messaging.
4. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer persona.
After you’ve identified the outcome and the goals you want to hit, you now need to strategize how to provide value to your buyer persona so that they convert, engage, or take the action you want them to take. Some things to ask yourself might include:
- How did they subscribe in the first place?
- What matters to them?
- What can I provide that will engage and delight them?
5. Build a targeted list and define enrollment criteria.
You know who you’re targeting and what you want them to do. From there, you must build the segment. Thinking about your buyer persona, what properties do they all have in common? How does your CRM describe those properties?
Your software is smart, but it’s not smart enough to automatically know which recipients you’re sending to. Will the recipients receive the emails at the same time, or is there certain criteria they have to meet before they are enrolled in the sequence or campaign?
6. Determine the timeline you want the campaign to run.
You may be running a seasonal campaign that only requires one or two emails, or you might be building a long-term top-of-mind nurturing campaign. Tailor the length of your email sequence to the length of the buying cycle and stage the persona is at in the buyer’s journey. In other words, deliver the right message at the right time.
7. Plan your emails and follow-ups.
Once you know who you’re emailing and why, it’s time to strategize how to move them from A (where they are) to B (where you want them to be, the goal of the campaign).
Over the course of the campaign’s timeline, you may want multiple touchpoints. You may also even consider follow-ups based on the actions that each recipient takes. Plan these emails out, outlining the core message and take-away for each email.
Keep in mind that you can’t expect a single email to do everything. Your email campaign can be made up of multiple emails, so consider taking your email recipients on a journey with each email serving a single purpose. This will increase the odds of each email being successful in its role toward reaching your goal.
For example, if you’re doing a lead nurturing campaign, you might have a few educational emails to take them from the awareness stage to the consideration stage before providing more conversion-focused content.
The longer the buying process and sales cycle, the more emails you’ll need.
8. Write click-worthy subject lines.
The subject line is the gate keeper of the rest of your email. Your buyer persona will not be exposed to your content unless they first click the subject line. With that in mind, use this precious real estate for copy that compels them to read further. You can do that by:
- Piquing their interest
- Promising value
- Opening a loop (that will be closed in the body of the email)
- Using your unique voice to start the conversation
- Using personalization
9. Write copy that’s suited for them.
Once you know the purpose of each email you’re sending and you have the subject lines, you can write the copy that will engage your list. Consider where your audience is in their buying journey and provide the type of content that they’ll find useful. For example, it doesn’t make sense to promote products if you’re emailing a segment of subscribers who are largely in the awareness stage of the buying journey.
10. Create your brand assets.
Few people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand the point of the email. In fact, intentional and well-placed imagery can increase click-through rates, so put thought into not just what you want to say but how you want to say it, using visuals to support your message.
Pixelbuddha (15 free email templates)
PixelBuddha is an online community dedicated to providing free and premium design resources all in one place.
In addition to the website templates and other graphic design assets available, the site also has 15 email templates in their ‘freebies’ section that you can download.
BEE (200+ email templates)
BEEFree is an email editor with over 200 professionally designed email templates. Choose your template and customize it to match your brand. Then simply download a ZIP file containing the email HTML to be sent from your ESP later.
If you’re a Sendinblue user, you can export templates directly to Sendinblue once you upgrade to BEEPro.
99Designs (45 free responsive email templates)
99designs is an online graphic design marketplace that works to connect businesses with freelance designers.
As part of their resources, the site offers a gallery of free email templates that you can download from their blog.
The gallery consists of 3 different themes with 3 types of email templates for each theme. Each type of template also comes in 5 different color options.
Antwort (3 free email templates)
The theory behind the design of these templates is that you shouldn’t sacrifice the look of your emails just to optimize for mobile. Most responsive designs just focus on adjusting the width of the message to fit the device, but Antwort adjusts the entire layout.
These emails will render as either multiple columns, or a single column with rows depending on whether the reader is using a desktop or mobile device (respectively). This eliminates the need for design compromise.
Everyone knows that when it comes to email marketing, it is a better option if you send an HTML or text/html type emails rather than plain text messages.