“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!”
Email marketing is one of the best marketing strategies a business can employ today and shows no signs of slowing down. This email marketing checklist will help you build a successful email campaign. The first thing you will want to decide before starting new email marketing campaigns is what type of campaign you are doing. We break these down into a marketing email or an email newsletter, which we classify as branding or stay-in-touch campaigns. Most of what follows applies to email marketing campaigns, but several elements also apply to an email newsletter. Here are the basics to constructing an email marketing checklist for your business.
The email list could be a business’s most crucial marketing asset, which is especially important to small businesses. Building and maintaining an email list should be one of the top marketing goals of every business. With a list, email marketing is possible, and it all starts here.
The best way to begin building a list is to create a lead magnet and give it away in as many ways as possible in exchange for someone signing up for your email list. You must develop a lead magnet and strategies to give it to your target audience. Having people on your list with no interest in your product or service won’t do you any good.
To determine your core audience, you need to develop a buyer persona. The obvious first step is to add your existing customers to your list. Presumably, if someone is your customer, they find value in your product or service and, by self-selection, have indicated they match your buyer persona. Once you develop proficiency in email marketing, you can segment your list based on specific interests or behaviors. This ensures you use the right list for the right people. Once that is finished, implement strategies to grow the list. Here are two techniques to build your list.
Website Opt-In Box
The most obvious place to build your email list once you have added your customers is those who will likely become future customers. These individuals are the people that visit your website. When visitors visit your website, you should offer up various opportunities for them to join your email list. One of the tried-and-true strategies is an opt-in box that pops up based on a predetermined event and offers visitors an opportunity to join your list, typically in return for a lead magnet. Add these opt-in boxes to any page or post on your website. Each can be the same lead magnet or offer a lead magnet related to the page they visit. For example, suppose you are a manufacturer offering lawn mower blades and door hardware. In that case, the people visiting pages on lawn mower blades don’t want to see a lead magnet related to door hardware or vice versa. Having multiple lead magnets related to each product or service on your site makes sense, and linking them to the appropriate pages or posts is good marketing.
Landing pages are exactly what they sound like, a page that someone lands on when coming to your website or, in many cases responding to a PPC (Pay Per Click) ad. These pages are sometimes called sales funnels, and their sole purpose is to move a prospect to a customer or at least a lead. Today with the sophistication of search engines, a page on your site that is NOT your home page will be indexed and bring in people searching for something very specific to your site. This is a landing page, and while there are many ways to get to it, i.e., site navigation, a direct link from a search engine, email marketing, or PPC ad, at a bare minimum, you should use it to build your email list. Put an opt-in box on the page, either one that pops up at a predetermined event or just on the page as a call to action. Offer something of value, such as a lead magnet or a promotion code, whichever seems appropriate.
Another type of landing page is an isolated page, which may still be on your website but is typically not accessible from your main navigation or internal links. An isolated page would be used for a specific campaign, such as an email marketing or PPC campaign. Building effective landing pages is a broad topic and will vary depending on your marketing campaign and goal. For example, a lead generation campaign will use different elements than a sales page to drive immediate sales. SaaS programs such as Lead Pages will help you develop high-quality landing pages.
Once a landing page is built, you drive traffic to it. That traffic may come from website visitors, email marketing, PPC, or social media promotions. The goal of list-building landing pages should focus on collecting email addresses for your email marketing list. Don’t add anything to that page that detracts from this single goal.
Email Marketing Platform
Next, you will need an email marketing platform such as Constant Contact. Many other platforms are out there, and all will vary in cost and features. Email marketing platforms give you the tools you need to build and manage an email list, set up a campaign, choose an email template, campaign monitor dashboard, test email, and help you stay on the right side of the law with built-in tools like an automatic unsubscribe link. Finally, many platforms offer a built-in email checklist that will go through your email and score it for key elements all campaigns should have. Most platforms provide an evaluation tool that will score your email and give you the probability that it will get snagged by a spam filter. This is very helpful in ensuring delivery. Only try and do email marketing with a platform. Here are some features you want to look for when choosing a platform:
- Email Templates
- Landing Pages
- Robust Campaign Monitor Dashboard
- Marketing Webinars & Resources
Also, review the various plans to see which plan gives you the most features and list size for the monthly price. Finally, check the various platforms to see any advanced features they offer, like surveys, online registration, payment gateways, and other tools that will be helpful as you grow.
Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign
Every successful email marketing campaign has many common elements. The next stop on our email marketing checklist is the items every email campaign must possess. Make sure your campaign has each of the following elements to ensure you get a return on your efforts.
Email Subject Line
The email subject line is the first thing a recipient will see after the sender name, and it will make or break a campaign. A quick look at your email box will show you several messages with various email subject lines, which you undoubtedly use to filter important or interesting emails from non-important. A good email subject line will create an almost irresistible urge in your recipient to open the email. If your email subject line falls flat, your message will likely be deleted without being opened or read.
Conversely, a well-written subject line will create high open rates. In the old days of advertising, marketing experts focused almost all their efforts on a high-quality headline. The headline would cause a person to stop and read the ad or story. The subject line is the headline for email marketing. A good copywriter can help you devise a great subject line that will entice your prospects and customers to open the message.
Once someone is intrigued enough by an email subject line to open the email, the next thing you need to have is relevant content. The right content is something that carries through from the subject line. Don’t write a clever headline followed by unrelated content, as that will not work. Your content must be relevant to the audience, your subject line, and well written. Again, this is where a copywriter comes in. A good copywriter can write copy that holds the reader’s attention and carries them through the email to take the action you want. Good copywriting should use the motivational sequence, which any good copywriter should know how to apply.
Clear Call-To-Action (CTA)
Your email subject line aims to get a recipient to open the message. The email content engages the reader and smoothly transitions from the subject line. The copy, if well written, will pull the reader through the message to a clear call to action. A call to action is required to get a recipient to do something. To take action. That action could be clicking a link to a landing page, product page, the first step in your sales funnel, a sales page, a video, or any number of other things. When a reader acts on a call to action, it triggers what email marketers call click-through rates or conversion rates and can be measured. The higher the click-through rate, the better the campaign. Never send an email campaign without a clear call-to-action because you are wasting your energy if you don’t give a recipient an action they can take. Plus, how do you know if your campaign is successful since you have nothing to track?
We discussed this earlier, but this is the destination of someone that has received your email message, opened it, read it, and taken action by clicking on your call-to-action. They will be taken to a landing page. As previously mentioned, that landing page can be constructed in various ways, from a page on your site you want people to see to a sales page. It might be used to promote a lead magnet to generate leads, build your email list, or start a prospect down a pre-defined sales funnel. It might have a video, graphics, and additional copy. Again, many strategies go into building a landing page, and these pages must be well-planned. Whatever you do, don’t just dump someone on your home page. Getting someone to go through the entire process we have discussed only to end up on your home page is a massive waste of time and likely will anger your recipient, who will feel cheated for having followed your carefully laid out process only to end up on your home page. Landing page goals will be different depending on what you are trying to accomplish, but it has many elements you have already used, including:
- Powerful Headline
- Relevant Content
- Well Written Email Copy
- Clear Call-To-Action
- Design Elements
- Easy Read Font
- Nice Color Pallet
- Possibly Video
Once someone is on your landing page, guide them to another clear call to action. Don’t leave them hanging and wondering what they should be doing next. If you are taking them to a product page, have a clear next step or, at the very least, have an opt-in box slide in that asks them if they want to schedule a sales presentation, assuming that is an appropriate action for your product or service. Whatever you do, please don’t leave them at a dead end. Make sure they have a next step. Think of everything we have covered as a journey that you are taking them on with a firm, clear conclusion.
Email Marketing Performance
The items you must measure for success are the next stop on our email marketing checklist. The ultimate measurement of a successful email marketing campaign is that you earned a sale, lead, or new name on an email marketing list or other action you wanted from a recipient. However, there are several performance guidelines that you can monitor to ensure that you reach your ultimate goal and perfect future campaigns.
An email bounce happens when an email is not delivered to a recipient. A bad email address typically causes this, but it can also be caused by technical issues on the recipient’s email server. A high bounce rate is a clear indication of poor list maintenance. You have several people that should be removed from your list. A good benchmark for a healthy list is a delivery rate of 95% or above. The ranges we typically see are from 92-97%. If your bounce rate falls below 90%, you must do some list cleanup and maintenance.
High Open Rates
We have already discussed this, but a low open rate is almost always the result of a poor email subject line. If you send out a campaign and get a low open rate, the first thing you should be analyzing is your email subject line. Try re-writing it and sending the campaign again. If you still get a poor open rate, a couple of other possible causes are that the recipient didn’t recognize the sender. Make sure your name and email are known to your list. Don’t use strange Gmail account addresses or names your prospects might not recognize and cause them to delete the message. Finally, you might have an unresponsive list; if that is the case, you should do what email marketers call win-back campaigns to revive inactive subscribers.
High Click-Through Rates
Remember that an email campaign aims to get someone to open it, read it, and take action. When someone follows that sequence in that order, you will generate a click-through rate, which is how you measure if the next step in your campaign is working. A low click-through rate can be caused by needing a clear call-to-action or an offer that didn’t appeal to the recipient. If you are experiencing low click-through rates, analyze your email for these variables and change them.
Perfect Email Campaign
As you can see, an effective email marketing strategy has many moving parts. Let’s review our email marketing checklist. You need to have a responsive email list. You need a powerful email subject line to get a recipient to open the message. You want to use relevant content, well-written copy, and effective design elements to guide readers to a clear call to action. If you do all these things right, you will have a campaign with a low bounce rate, high open rates, and increasing click-through rates that will improve over time. Ultimately you will get more leads, higher sales, and a growing email list, which will continue to deliver value to your business for years to come.