Three Easy Ways to Set & Achieve Your Email Marketing Goals

If you’re like most marketers, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about email marketing goals is probably… 

I want to grow my email list.

Fair enough, but if you simply focus on growing your email list for the SAKE of doing so, you’ll be firmly stuck in mediocre-email-campaign-land. 

Think about it this way:

So what if you hit 5,000 email contacts?

Or 50,000 contacts?

Or 5,000,000 contacts?

Yes, having 5,000,000 people on your list is super impressive, but it doesn’t actually do anything for your company… It’s how you monetize your list, and use your list to grow your revenue that makes ALL the difference.

So if you want to come up with a successful email marketing campaign, it’s important to define meaningful goals before doing anything else.

Feeling a little lost? Not to worry!

In this article, we will walk you through:

  • How to use the Backward Goal Setting technique to come up with email marketing goals that fit into your bigger-picture objectives
  • How to set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals 
  • 3 email marketing goals that will help you improve your campaigns, and… 
  • Tips and tricks on how to achieve said email marketing goals

By the end of the article, you’ll be an absolute WHIZ at crafting and optimizing your email campaigns to achieve meaningful goals… 

And your customers will be wondering:

What the heck happened? How did this company’s email campaigns suddenly become so amazing?

How to Use The Backward Goal Setting Technique 

Here at Sendlane, we like to use something we call the “Backward Goal Setting” technique.

This helps us work out our overarching marketing goals, and figure out how our email marketing campaigns comes into the picture.

The technique is pretty self-explanatory…

You basically start with your end goal, and work backwards from there.

First, you break your end goal into smaller, more manageable milestones/objectives.

Then, you list out daily actions that you can take to achieve those objectives.

This way, you can tackle a large-scale, ambitious project, WITHOUT feeling as though you want to pull your hair out or you’re going to start hyperventilating at any minute.

If you’re having trouble envisioning how this all works, here’s an example:

Let’s say Sam is a freelance Facebook Ad Specialist, and she wants to make $80,000 this year from her business.

End goal = Make $80,000 this year.

In order to reach this goal, she needs to accomplish the following milestones, all by the end of the year:

  • Increase conversions on her main landing page by 7%
  • Make 50+ sales on her course for DIY customers
  • Drive 5% more sales to her eBook about FB ads for entrepreneurs

Objectives = Increase landing page conversions, make 50+ sales on course, drive 5% more sales to eBook.

Now, after sitting down and brainstorming for a bit, Sam comes up with a list of strategies that she can use to achieve her objectives…

  • A/B Test her landing page
  • Using FB ads to send warm traffic to this page
  • Drive all cold traffic to free email course
  • Increase click through rate of email campaigns by 100%
  • Add affiliate options
  • Promote affiliate options to email list and online friends
  • Add book to tripwire in her funnel
  • Send paid traffic to the landing page for her book

Daily actions = Above list of strategies.

Of course, you can break down these daily actions even further, but we’re already off to a good start.

After coming up with this list, Sam knows that her marketing goal is to increase click through rate of email campaigns by 100%…

And she ALSO understands how this fits into the larger picture (it helps her increase her landing page conversions, which in turn contributes to her aim of making $80,000 this year).

All systems go. Sam’s now on her way to making her $80,000!

Setting SMART Goals

Notice how the goals and milestones listed above were all clearly defined?

Sam didn’t just say she wanted to increase conversions on her website…

She narrowed it down, and specified that she wanted to increase conversions on her main landing page by 7%.

Now, being specific is actually one of the “best practices” when it comes to setting goals, and this is REALLY important to keep in mind (regardless of what type of goal you’re working towards). 

To illustrate our point, let’s put all the marketing talk aside for a second, and pretend that you want to lose some weight. (No shame – who hasn’t been a little chubby at one point or another in their lives?)

Now, simply stating “my goal is to lose weight” isn’t REALLY gonna help.

Why? Well, because it’s not specific.

You don’t have a clear idea of what you’re working towards…

So you might lose 5 pounds, then celebrate by stuffing your face with your favorite dessert, promptly undoing all the hard work you’ve put in. 

If you state “I want to lose 5lbs, and keep it off”, on the other hand, you’re much LESS likely to find yourself in the above scenario.

Simple enough, right?

Being specific inside, other best practices include:

  • Setting measurable goals (M)
  • Setting attainable goals (A)
  • Setting relevant goals (R)
  • Setting time-bound goals (T)

When you put the different keywords together (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), this gives you the SMART acronym.

We know, we know… this is all sounding a little pre-school, but deal with it. It’s a handy way of remembering those best practices!

Now, let’s walk through each of these best practices individually.

S = Specific

You already know what specific goals look like, so we won’t dwell on this. 

M = Measurable

To ensure your goal is measurable, make sure you’ve got your tracking and attribution set up properly on the backend.

If your goal is to generate $2,000 worth of revenue from your XYZ email campaign, you’ll obviously need to set up your email software to track your revenue generated, and tie it back to your campaign!

A = Attainable

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to hit 100% open rates and 100% click through rates. That’s the dream, right?

Unfortunately, we’re not living in that dream world, and we know the chances of us achieving those results are ZILCH. 

So don’t be unrealistic when it comes to your goals – strive for something attainable instead!

R = Relevant

This one’s pretty straightforward…

The idea is that your email marketing goal should always be relevant to your bigger-picture goals.

If your larger priority is to generate more revenue, sure, it makes sense to strive for a higher email click through rate.

But if your larger priority is to reduce customer churn, and increase retention, then you might want to focus on reducing your number of email unsubscribes instead. 

T = Time-bound

Last but not least, your email goals should also be time-bound.

Basically saying I want to increase my average open rate from 15% to 20% isn’t enough.

Take it a step further and say I want to increase average open rate from 15% to 20% within 3 months.

Alright, now that you’re familiar with how to set SMART goals, let’s move on to talk about the various email marketing goals!

Identifying Your Email Marketing Goals

In the above example, Sam identified “increase click through rate of email campaigns by 100%” as one of her daily actions and email marketing goals.

You might have a similar goal, or you might want to work towards something else, such as increasing open rate, or decreasing the number of unsubscribes.

In this section, we’ll walk you through each of these goals, and share tips that will help you achieve said goals.

1. Increasing open rate

Focusing on improving your open rate is a great goal to start with.

After all, if contacts aren’t opening your emails, all the effort you’ve put into crafting your campaign basically goes down the drain. (If your heart doesn’t hurt just a teeny bit here, you might not be human).

Now, here’s the question…

What’s a good open rate to aim for?

Well, open rates fluctuate pretty wildly, so you should benchmark your target open rate against that of your industry.

Keeping track of your open rates is easy inside of your Sendlane dashboard: 

Once you’ve decided on your target open rate, use these tips to help you achieve that target: 

Write Better Subject Lines

You probably already know this, but your subject lines affect your open rate A LOT.

On average, about 47% of people say they open an email based on the subject line alone.

So here’s the harsh truth:

If your email subject line is something generic and non-compelling, such as…

  • Welcome to XYZ’s newsletter
  • New arrivals for XYZ
  • XYZ’s April blog round-up

Then your readers probably won’t give it the time of day. (Just like how you delete those emails from the sales reps that bug you, without giving THEM the time of day).

How do you write more engaging subject lines? 

We’re actually written about this at length – check out our article: 10 Subject Lines Proven to Boost Open Rates.

Check Your Deliverability

Already nailing your email subject lines?

If that’s the case, it’s possible that you’re having deliverability problems, and that’s what’s affecting your open rates.

For instance, say your emails often land in your contacts’ “Promotions” tab (instead of the “Primary” tab).

Here at Sendlane, we call this the Mother Of All Black Holes.

Basically, this is where emails go to die. Most folks don’t check their “Promotions” tab, so you’re probably missing you on a lot of opens, right there.

If you suspect you’re having a deliverability problem, read our article on 6 Tips to Avoid the Dreaded Gmail Promotions Tab.

2. Increasing click through rate

Open rate aside, it’s important to work on your click through rate as well.

After all, you don’t want your contacts to simply skim through your email, then move on with their lives.

Instead, you want them to click through to your landing page, and take whatever action you’re asking them to take! 

Similar to your open rate, the average email click through rate varies according to industry.

Again, Sendlane users can easily view all their click through rates on their dashboard:

If your click through rate isn’t up to par, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of tried-and-tested strategies that you can use to boost your click throughs.

Here are a few of our personal favorites:

Include Interactive Content in Your Emails

Interactive content, like GIFs, videos, scratch cards and more, really help when it comes to your click through rate.

Check out this fun email from Moo:

Who could resist clicking that?

Now, there’s a ton of different ways to implement eye-catching, clickable content in your emails. So if you want to learn more, check out Interactive Emails – Four Ways to Make Your Content Pop!

A/B Test Your Offer

When marketers struggle with their email click through rates, they often attribute this to their copywriting and/or messaging.

Maybe the tone they used was too formal. Maybe it was too informal.

Maybe they used certain words that alienated their readers. Maybe they used jargon which intimated their readers.

Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t experiment with different tones, and switch up your email copy. 

What we’re saying is:

If you keep doing this, AND it doesn’t seem to be helping your click through rate, then you might be barking up the wrong tree.

What if, instead of your copywriting, it’s your offer that’s the problem?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how persuasive and compelling your copy is…

Your readers will ONLY click through and convert if your offer is both relevant and attractive to them. 

Okay, let’s tackle each of these individually.

First, you need to make your offer relevant to your audience.

In order to do this, make sure you’ve nailed your segmentation. (We’ve got two guides that will teach you how to do this: check out Segmentation 101 right here and then there’s another one for those who own eCommerce stores).

Once you’ve gotten your segmentation down pat, it’s time to focus on making sure your offer is so attractive, your audience can’t resist it.

Think kid in candy store.

Think basic girls and Pumpkin Spice Lattes. 

How do you do this? Simple: A/B test various offers, and see which one works best. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Offer a free trial
  • Offer an extended trial
  • Offer a money back guarantee
  • Offer a price match / price guarantee
  • Offer a promo code / discount
  • Offer a gift with purchase
  • Offer a bundle deal

Figure out what appeals most to your contacts, and then run with it!

3. Decreasing the number of Unsubscribes

Plenty of newbie marketers don’t realize they should keep track of their Unsubscribes… but this is actually a metric that’s worth monitoring.

What’s the big deal about unsubscribes?

Well, when someone unsubscribes from your list, you’re missing out on their entire Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Uh-oh. BIG mistake there.

Say your Average Order Value (AOV) is $100, and your average customer makes 9 purchases over their entire lifetime.

This means when ONE single person unsubscribes, you’ll lose out on $900 worth of revenue.

Plus, statistics show that it costs you anywhere from 5-25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.

You can see how this makes sense…

It obviously takes a lot LESS effort to market to an existing contact/customer, as opposed to acquiring a new customer from scratch.

So, how do you decrease your number of unsubscribes?

First up, don’t spam your audience unnecessarily.

78% of consumers say that they unsubscribe when brands send them too many emails, so make sure you don’t go overboard.

Again, this boils down to segmentation.

You shouldn’t be sending generic campaigns to all your contacts, and hoping that something will stick…

Instead, craft specific campaigns that are tailored to each individual segment you want to reach out to.

On top of that, make sure your emails are mobile-optimized.

Seriously, it’s 2018, and you can’t afford to let this slide anymore.

30% of consumers unsubscribe from emails that are tough to read on mobile devices, so you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if your emails still aren’t mobile-optimized!

Need a hand? Check out our article on How to Create the Perfect Mobile-Friendly Email.

A Final Word on Setting Email Marketing Goals

We’ve covered a lot in this guide, so here’s a quick recap…

First things first, the main takeaway is that you shouldn’t just say you want to grow your email list, and call it a day. 

Instead, you need to come up with email marketing goals that fit into your bigger-picture strategy, and you can use the Backward Goal Setting technique to do that.

Common email marketing goals include increasing open rates, increasing click through rates, and decreasing your number of unsubscribes.

If you want to learn more about how to achieve these goals, click through to the articles that we’ve linked to in our guide.

Alright, that’s all there is to it!  

You’re now equipped with all the skills you need to set meaningful email marketing goals that fit into your bigger-picture marketing strategy.

Now, time to go forth and conquer! 😉

Kristen Dahlberg

Content Manager at Sendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!
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