Email marketing is becoming increasingly common, as more and more people realise that it gives real results. Studies show that digital newsletters are one of the most cost-effective tools for marketing today, on a par with search engine optimisation.
The question is – how do you do it? Just randomly sending out offers and information in cyberspace is not a good method. An email newsletter should be well thought out and carefully balanced - you must know when, how and to whom you need to send it. For this, it may be a good idea to have some form of marketing plan. But that sounds complicated and time-consuming to many of us. How can you find the time for this, along with everything else you have to do?
It doesn't actually need to be difficult or time-consuming. This guide takes you step by step through the design of a plan for your email marketing.
It's about working effectively, strategically and systematically so that your newsletter reaches the right target groups with the right information, whether by newsletter, special offer, or a combination of both.
Step one: Define your target group
The very first thing you should do is think about who you primarily want to receive your email campaign - that is to say, define your target group. When you have done this, it will be easier to determine what your mailing should contain.
What is your target group? Is it managers and executives? Customers - existing and/or new? Members of some organisation or association?
When you have decided who you primarily want to reach with your mailing, it may be helpful to describe them with a few words. Who they are - and what it is that you want them to get out of the campaign you are planning. This is so your mailing matches the recipients - and in the end leads to your email marketing giving results.
You are planning a newsletter for executives and managers. Some things they can benefit from:
- Company news and trends in their field of activity
- Information about what's going on in marketing and interesting results from current market research
You want to mail existing and new customers. Some things that can get their interest:
- Information and reviews of current products
- The very latest product news
- Special offers and promotional sales
Step two: Identify the aim of your email marketing
When you have defined who you want to reach, it's time for the next step - determining the aim of your e-marketing. That is done by answering these two questions:
- what is the goal of your email marketing?
- What benefit do your readers get from the information you give them?
Remember that both points are equally important. It doesn't matter what information or which offers you send out if the recipient doesn't find the content relevant and interesting.
By thinking through and defining the aim of your email marketing, you get a basis for how to design the content of your mailing. When you are thinking about if something should be included or not in, for example, a newsletter - consider if it is in line with your aim. If not, don't include it.
Step three: Set a number of objectives
Defining a number of goals is an important part in the planning of a marketing plan. By then following up the goals, you have the opportunity to see if your marketing effort with digital newsletters is successful or not.
Goals can vary over time. A first goal may be, for example, to increase the number of recipients of your mailings. In the longer term, the goal could be to increase sales and/or the number of faithful/return customers.
You will probably not see any immediate dramatic effect. The initial period is about strengthening the base of loyal subscribers you have, and getting more. But eventually you will see results. The prerequisite is that you create good quality mailings and that you make them known by highlighting them in different contexts.
Think about what you hope to get out of your email marketing in the next six months. Then formulate it in three points
Your goal. For example, to increase the number of subscribers by 40 percent, or to increase sales by 20 percent.
Resources to achieve the goal. For example, through newsletters, special offers, and - not least - through the promotion of the newsletter in marketing material, on various websites and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, so that you can reach new readers/customers.
Measurement of goal achievement - that is, to what extent you have reached the goal. You can get some idea through, for example, sales figures. But to measure the specific effect of the e-marketing itself, you will probably need to use some of the analysis tools available on the Internet, such as Google Analytics or Analytics 360
Step four: Decide how often you will do mailings
It's important to decide how often you want to do email send-outs to your customers. A level of contact should be maintained that both you and the recipients feel is functional. If the newsletter comes too often, it can be perceived as tedious and, in the worst case, as spam. If it's the other way round, with big gaps between mailings, the risk is that the recipients will forget you and, in the worst case, again see the mailings as spam.
In many cases mailing once a month is about right, but frequency will, of course, depend on what you have to say. If, for example, there are sales results or news which come every other week, and which your recipient has benefit of, the frequency should be adapted accordingly.
If your recipients are very short of time like, for example, senior managers, you can choose either very brief newsletters that come more frequently or slightly longer ones that come less often.
Whatever publication frequency you decide on, it is important, in most cases, to stick to it. Recipients should know that they will get the information they need when they expect it. But, of course, you can make exceptions. If there is important news or an offer sent out on a certain day, the recipients should get them the same day, or preferably a day or so earlier as a VIP treatment (read more in the Content section).
On the other hand, if one month you don't have anything special to say, it may be better to skip the mailings rather than bother the recipients with "the same old stuff". But don't make such gaps in publishing a rule, they should be the exception.
Read more here about our tool for newsletters
Step five: Make a timetable
Now you have the basis for your email marketing. You have set out the target group, aim and goals, and you have decided how often you should contact your email recipient.
Now it's time to make a timetable for the production of your mailings. E-Marketing is based in most cases on regular contact, and a timetable will help you to allocate sufficient time to be able to do regular mailings.
Exactly how your timetable looks will, of course, depend on content and frequency, but here is a suggestion to work from.
Write down the subjects and any offers you want to bring up in the mailing, consider appropriate images, graphic illustrations and so on. This can be a good thing to do a few days before you start on the actual work of the mailing, so the ideas have time to mature and perhaps be added to.
Formulate the content of the mailing in the form of running text, articles or notices. Download images from your own photo archive, from photographers or other sources. (Note: Make sure that you have the right to publish the picture, merely downloading an image from the internet without permission is an infringement of copyright).
Design the newsletter by using professional tools for email marketing.
Read through the finished mailing and also ask a colleague or friend to read it. It is usually difficult to see both errors in writing and thinking in what we have written ourselves. Correct, change or add to as necessary. Send a test copy of the newsletter to yourself and someone else via email, to ensure that both typography and content looks as you intended.
Do your mailing!
Based on this planning, you can reserve time in your calendar for each mailing. You can decide yourself if you want to spread out points 2-4 over two or more days. It should feel like the material is still relevant when you do the mailing, but don't be too hasty. Careless mistakes and factual errors damage the impression of both the mailing itself and what you want to promote.
Don't forget to take into account public holidays and vacations when you make your timetable. You might want to send out a special offer for the Christmas season or the holidays. Avoid, however, doing mailings when most companies and organisations are closed for holidays. The risk is that your newsletter will either drown in all the other email that has to be read after the holiday, or it will seem out of date.
Tips on the content of your digital email newsletter
Making an e-marketing mailing is about collecting information and designing the content in a way that captures the reader's interest. Of course, this differs from area to area and from branch to branch, but here are a few tips.
Always have the reader in focus
It is essential here, as in all communication, to have the reader in focus. What information does he or she want, and in what form?
Think about which e-letters you open yourself and which you throw away directly. The letters that you read with interest are most likely those where you feel that you will get some benefit from the content. A newsletter can, for example, contain:
- Company news and company information
- Questions and answers
- Current market research, useful tips
- Special offers
If you don't have enough material, use search tools on the internet. Here you can find current company news, for example, at Google News, and also subscribe to, for instance, Google Alerts and Google Reader. Also, make it a habit to bookmark interesting and relevant web pages.
Most people nowadays are bombarded with emails and have neither the time, desire nor opportunity to read everything. By keeping your newsletter short and concise, the chance is greater that it will be read.
Sometimes you still might want to include a longer interview or article that you think might interest some of your target group. You can manage this by making a title and a short presentation in the newsletter and then linking to the article. Then your readers can decide for themselves if they want to spend time reading it or not.
Nobody wants to read a text that is dry and boring. Try to find your own way of expressing yourself. A newsletter in email form is less formal than one in print. So, you can use a more personal tone - as if you are talking directly with your reader.
Give your readers VIP treatment
Your readers have actively chosen to receive information from you, for example by registering to be recipients of your newsletter. Make the most of this confidence by giving them VIP treatment. This might be done by making them the first to get information on, for example, interesting industry news, new products or promotional sales. It might also be through giving them special offers.