The 5 Keys to Build a Successful Email Strategy

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Every business is told they need to build an email list from the get-go. If you don’t have a successful email strategy, it’s easy to fall flat and create a stagnant list. A stagnant list does not respond to what you have to say.

Instead of a large list, building an engaged list is the way to go. In an engaged list, you nurture a community of loyal fans who eagerly await everything you have to offer. When you consider that email marketing drives more conversions that any other marketing channel and that, according to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than social media, it’s easy to see how important it is.

So what does a successful email strategy look like? It:

  • Has high open rates
  • Answers your audience’s questions
  • Creates a community that loves your brand and products

But where do you even begin building a list that’s this successful and that ticks all the boxes? It all starts with a successful strategy.

The Ingredients of a Successful Email Strategy

Know Your Audience

The very first building block in a successful strategy is knowing who your audience really is.

Without that knowledge, you won’t know what to send them, what they need, and how you can help them.

Before you even consider drafting and email sequence (something you can easily do with Sendlane), or putting together your strategy, you need to figure out exactly who you’re talking to.

It’s not enough at this stage to simply say, “I’m targeting women between the ages of 25-40.”

In order to know what problems they need solutions for, you need to dig deeper than that. Think about what their biggest daily struggle is, how they spend their spare time, and what they’d like their life to look like.

Learn from your metrics. Don’t just glance at your open and click-through rates, figure out the click-to-view ratio for each article in your newsletter or offer in your promotional campaign. Of those who opened, how many of them clicked on article A? Article B? What if you sent the same or a similar topic to those who clicked on article A? Were they more likely to click through on the matched topic or on another topic in your next email?”Jessica Best

Once you have an idea of who it is you’re speaking directly to, you can connect with them on a personal level and start creating really strong relationships with your readers.

Timing and Frequency

A successful email strategy isn’t a one hit wonder. It’s not a case of hitting send on sporadic emails whenever you have something to say.

Your subscribers signed up for a reason, so they’re actively expecting to hear from you. If you only drop into their inboxes every blue moon with a new product, you’ll slip their mind and they’ll start thinking you’re only interested in them for a quick sale – which absolutely isn’t the case, right?

Instead, you want to nurture them from the moment they sign up, sending them regular emails at times that suit them.

email frequencySource: DMA

You can easily test this out by experimenting with the times you send your emails and measuring the open rates and click-through rates at certain times.

For example, if you’re in the UK and sending out your emails in the morning but the majority of your subscribers are American, they’re going to be receiving your lovingly crafted messages when they’re asleep.

According to a survey by MarketingSherpa, 86% of consumers said they’d prefer to get emails from a brand “at least monthly”, while 61% said they’d like emails “at least weekly.”

A Solid Goal

Once you’ve figured out who exactly you’ll be speaking to via your emails and how frequently you want to be reaching out to them, it’s time to start thinking about the actual content of your emails.

To really nail down your strategy and make it successful from the start, it’s time to start thinking about goals – or, more specifically, what you want your emails to achieve for your business and your subscribers.

Think about:

  • Why you should invest in email marketing (what is the ultimate goal of your business and how will email marketing fit into that?)
  • How it will benefit your business (will it increase awareness? Boost sales?)
  • What you want subscribers to know you for (epic content? Great discounts? Honest pieces?)
  • Who you are helping and what help they need (how will your subscriber’s lives be different and better by receiving your emails?) 

Having specific goals in mind will help focus your strategy and ensure your subscribers get a solid outcome from reading them – a key aspect of building a loyal and engaged list.    

     email strategy goals

A list showing the goals of email marketing for a number of businesses.

A Story

The problem with a lot of email marketing strategies is they are simply a series of one-off emails sent one after the other with no real link that joins them together.

As humans, we love a good story, especially one that we can relate to and connect with. It’s just human nature, which is why it’s worth tapping into this with your strategy.

email story

An example of a story that stirs the subscriber’s imagination from Orbitz.

You don’t necessarily have to craft an epic tale about your business. Instead, you want to make sure your strategy has a relatable beginning, middle, and end, and that there’s a narrative or plot that runs through each email. This creates a sense of cohesion and gives your subscribers a familiar structure that they’re used to seeing every day.

A Promotion Strategy

Now, it’s all well and good having a great email marketing strategy all setup and ready to go. But what is it worth if you don’t have any subscribers to send it out to?

If no one is signing up for your great automated sequence, it is a complete waste.

So how can you get people on your list? This is a whole other kettle of fish entirely, but when you’re planning your strategy, you also need to think about how people will find you and what will make them sign up for your list. Will it be:

  • A lead magnet that relieves their fears about a certain topic
  • A set of Tweets and Facebook posts scheduled each month
  • A “sales” page for your list that promotes the benefits of signing up and what subscribers will get once they do so

email sales strategy

An example of a “sales” page for an email list

Think about what your target subscribers struggle with and how you can best help them off the bat.

For example, if it’s something they need urgent help with, maybe a lead magnet would be the best bet. A lead magnet is something that they can download instantly and get started with.

What now?

Building a successful email strategy boils down to knowing your target and what you want to help them with. Once you know this, you can start building out your emails, linking them together with a relatable story, and putting together a promotion strategy that will reach the right people and show them why your list is one they need to be a part of.

Ready to turn that stagnant list into a thriving, successful one that generates sales and builds a loyal tribe?

If so, the last step you need is a top notch autoresponder software to organize and deliver your marketing campaign. Lucky for you, Sendlane™ is offering a free trial of our email marketing software right now!

free email marketing software

Have you used any of the keys mentioned in this article to build your email marketing strategy? What has worked well for you, and what has been problematic?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

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Dave Bender

Dave Bender

Project Manager at Sendlane
Dave is Sendlane's Project Manager. Raised in sunny San Diego, he has worked in all aspects of Internet Marketing for the last 12 years. He has acquired a deep understanding and knowledge that covers SEO, PPC, Social Media, and Digital Marketing.
Dave Bender