How to Create an Email Marketing Plan

How to Create an Email Marketing Plan

With so much business conducted online these days, it’s no wonder that so many businesses now embrace digital marketing approaches. Yet, not all strategies deliver the same kinds of results. Email marketing offers one of the highest returns on investment of all digital strategies at around 4200 percent.

Of course, that’s based on email marketing strategies that performed well. If you’re new to digital marketing in general or email marketing specifically, you probably wonder how to create an email marketing plan that will deliver for your business.

Keep reading. We’ll cover the essential ground that you need to know to build a plan that gets results.

Set Goals

Before you even think about things like content or technology, you need a clear understanding of what you want from the email campaign. Most business owners will think in terms of revenue, but that’s not the only or even necessarily the best goal.

Email marketing can help you in a number of areas, such as:

  • Brand building
  • Relationship building
  • Traffic generation
  • Lead generation

You must decide which of the available goals makes the most sense for your right now. Once you know that, you can build a campaign that hones in on that goal.

Set Objectives

By nature, goals are often a little vague. They often take the form of a general idea or purpose.

For example, let’s say you set a goal of running a half-marathon. That’s big on ambition but short on detail. Objectives are where details enter the picture.

Objectives establish concrete achievements you want to see on the way toward your goal. So, let’s say you set your half-marathon date at six months away. You might set the objective of running 2.5 miles three to four days a week by the end of month one.

For month two, you might set the objective as running 5 miles three to four days a week. You keep increasing the end-of-month objective by 2.5 miles until you’re running 12 to 13 miles three or four days week at the end of month five.

You’ll need similar objectives for your email marketing goal, such as increasing site traffic by 30 percent or boosting sales by 10 percent.

Create Segmented Lists

You need at least a small list of email subscribers before you can really start email marketing. If you don’t have a list yet, consider options like a subscribe button on your site. You can entice subscribers by offering free, valuable content or discounts.

Just makes sure you follow all applicable laws regarding opt-in permissions.

Once you have a list in hand, you’ll want to segment it into different categories. A few potential categories include:

  • Leads
  • Current Customers
  • High Ticket Customers

You can also break it down by demographics, psychographic, or location, depending on how much information you glean.

Created segmented sub-lists let you target content and offers to the subscribers who are most likely to want them. High ticket customers probably won’t care that you’re running a sale on toasters. Suburban dads probably won’t show much interest in your sewing machines.

Excluding or including segments can generate higher open rates and click-through rates for emails.

Develop Content

Email marketing content can vary wildly from one business to the next. An author, for example, might focus nearly all of their energy on a substantial monthly newsletter with full-blown articles and updates.

A retail business might send out one or two weekly email blasts with current sales, coupons, or links to a digital version of their weekly flyer. A service business will take a different tack and send out a weekly email with some helpful tips or advice. Then, they’ll follow that up with a monthly newsletter that offers content and encourages sales.

You should do a little research about what the norms are in your industry for email marketing. While you want to be a little different, your email marketing should follow the general patterns that customers expect in your industry.

If you’re not comfortable writing the content yourself, you can always outsource the writing to freelancers or agencies.

Find a List Management Service

Managing your email subscriber list and segmented sublist in-house is asking for a lot of headaches. You can find several well-established list management services online. Most of them even offer low-price or free services to anyone with a small list to help you get started.

These services make list segmenting easier with built-in software options. They often offer templates and tools for building legally compliant emails that include unsubscribe options and business address information.


Good marketing comes out of good testing. One of the most common tests digital marketing use is the A/B split test.

In essence, you send out two versions of the same email to parts of your list. You only change one thing about the email and measure which one generates better results. You can continue this kind of split testing until you land a version that maximizes response.

You can also do more basic testing, such as using an email preview service that lets you view what customers will see when they get/open the email. For more about this kind of service, click here.

Seeing what your customers will see can help you spot potential problems in the display before you deliver the emails to hundreds or thousands of people. For example, you might find out that your CTA button doesn’t display the color you expected.

Fixing these kinds of problems before customers see them can often dramatically improve your results.

Email Marketing and Your Business

Email marketing can deliver astounding results for your business if you take the time to do it well. Find out what the industry norms are for email marketing and adopt them.

Set a goal and build specific objectives that will serve that goal. Segment your list so you can deliver targeted content and offers. Use an email subscriber management service to help you deal with the list and email delivery.

Test your efforts and revise as necessary.

Looking for more marketing tips? Head over to our Business section for more posts.

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