Create a perfect email planning overview in 5 steps
Are you responsible for the email marketing in your company? We suspect that drawing out the timeline and planning the best possible mailing schedule will be one of your least favorite tasks. Email marketing planning has the reputation to be complex, time-consuming, a bit intimidating even. But really, it doesn’t have to be. This easy 5-step approach will help you do it without too much hassle…
Everyone who has planned an email marketing campaign has run into planning issues. Having trouble nicely spreading your e-mails in time? Difficulty to find a good balance in the topics? Lack of time to properly segment your lists? No worries, the best way to stay on top of things is to carefully manage all the ‘moving parts’ of your email campaigns. That way you can follow the provided strategy, resulting in impactful campaigns that generate opens, clicks and qualified leads.
Your secret weapon: a perfect email planning overview
Here is how you can create your own in just 5 simple steps.
Step 1 | Define your readers
Before doing anything else — such as designing, writing and sending your campaign — always start by defining who you’ll be communicating with. Once you get a grasp on who you want to read your emails, it will be much easier to decide what to say to them.
Who are the subscribers in your list? Split them in some segments based on:
- demographic data (age, gender, job title, industry, …
- behavioral data (interests, past purchases, buying frequency, email activity, …)
Want to find out more about segmentation? Check out our earlier blogpost.
Step 2 | Determine your goals
Before you can start brainstorming about the topics of your email campaign, start by setting a clear goal. Determine what you would like to get out of your email marketing. Are you looking to:
- generate extra traffic to your website?
- help your sales team shift their products?
- get more visitors for an event?
Be as specific as can be when you set your goal and try to stick to that one goal per email. Once you’ve defined that, you can keep track of your progress over time.
Step 3 | Outline your content
Now that you know who you're talking to, it's time to think about what you’re going to say to that specific target group. Create a list with content you have:
- product information
- blog posts, divided into topics
- upcoming events
- recaps/photos from past events
- popular posts on your social media
Now that you’ve determined your audience and your content, you can start matching both. Determine which type of content you want to provide each group and/or segment in your database with.
Step 4 | Choose your sending frequency
Not every company has the same sending frequency: some send on a daily basis, others send out an email every week or month. Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you and, more importantly, for your contacts. We recommend that you don’t wait too long between different send-outs. Consider splitting a lengthy monthly newsletter with several items into weekly newsletters built around just one or two relevant topics.
Step 5 | Make a schedule: your email planning overview document
Have you wrapped up steps 1 to 4? Then you are ready to load your secret weapon: your email planning overview document, that can be used and checked by all of your colleagues. With all the information you gathered in the first four steps, you can easily fill out the first sheets/tabs of your document.
But the main part of your overview document is your email planning and tracking overview. Use it to list all planned emails (rows) and collect all related information (columns).
What to include and how to organise this data?
Not every company sends its emails the same way. We encourage you to customise your overview to fit your and your organisation's needs. Here are some essential data and sections to get you started with yours.
1. Email Planning
- Send Date: when do you want your contacts to receive this email?
- Topic: what is your email about? e.g.: specific new product, event sign-up, general news update, …
- Owner: which team member is responsible for this email?
- Status: e.g.: not started, in progress, ready to test, scheduled, sent.
- Subject Line: which subject line(s) are you going to use?
- Email (Draft) Link: paste the link to the online version of your email here. This makes it easy to check the actual email at any given time or to let your colleagues review the draft.
- Goal: what’s the one single thing do you hope to accomplish with this email
- Target Segment: who did you create this email for?
- Send List: name of your email list. Include some segmentation rules if needed.
- Suppression List(s): names of lists/segments you want to exclude from your send.
- Sender Information: write down the sender’s name and email address, as well as the reply address.
- Personalisation: which elements of your email are you going to personalise for the recipient? Name and company name are quite common, but also think about adding specific product offers or content blocks.
- Google Analytics Tracking Code: are you using a specific tracking code in your links for this mailing?
- Social Share Links or Buttons: If you want email recipients to tweet or share an element of your email, create and keep track of the social sharing links.
2. A/B Testing & Results
There are numerous ways to put your emails through an A/B test. And it’s always a good idea to do so. You can test your subject lines, your visuals, your call-to-actions, layout, the placement of social sharing links and buttons ... Pretty much any element you want. It will always give you a better insight in your readers’ interests and preferences. More info? Dig into our blogpost on this specific topic.
Use this section to record the A/B test(s) you did on each email:
- A/B Test Description: describe any A/B test you're conducting with this email and which metrics you use to measure its success.
- Summary of A/B Test Results: what were the results in numbers? Which version won?
3. Email Results
Last, but most definitely not least: reporting. It’s important to take a look at the performance of your campaigns, so you can monitor whether they achieve the desired goal, and adjust wherever necessary. Start by creating a basic report, including the following metrics:
- Total Emails Sent: how many contacts did you send your email to?
- Total Emails Delivered: out of your total number of emails sent, how many successfully landed in an inbox?
- Total Emails Opened: out of your total number of emails sent, how many were opened?
- Total Clicks: how many unique individuals clicked a link in your email?
- Deliverability: total emails delivered / total emails sent.
- Open Rate: total emails opened / total emails delivered.
- Click Rate: total clicks / total emails opened.
- Successes: this depends on the goal you set earlier.
Click-through: how many contacts visited a specific link via this e-mail or purchased the product you were referring to?
Event sign-ups: how many contacts registered for the event via this e-mail?
*These figures represent unique contacts. They are fictitious and serve only as an example.
Once you’ve gained more insights into the basic metrics, you can monitor more advanced results, such as GA tracking.
It’s not only important to write down the results of your campaign, be sure to dig deep into your reports: make analyses, draw conclusions, set up test plans, ... anything that can help you to better achieve your goals.