Create an Email Marketing Strategy: That’s how it works step by step!

E-Mail Marketing Strategie

An email strategy is the overarching plan you follow when sending your newsletters to your customers.

The challenge in every company is to attracts and retain customers. This is not only true for the B2C sector such as for online shops and hotel. The right measures for customer loyalty and increasing sales are also required in B2B communication. The right email marketing strategy is one of the most promising measures.

Is your email marketing strategy ready? Then let your strategic considerations be followed by practical planning – with an email marketing concept.


Definition: What is an Email Marketing Strategy?

An email marketing strategy is the overarching plan you follow when sending your newsletters to your clients. To do this, you define your goals and target group and set your parameters for success. Based on this, you create the content for all your newsletters. In order to check whether the content of the newsletters is relevant to the target group and conducive to the goal, you regularly evaluate the performance of the mailings. The creation of an email strategy is never complete, but rather a process in which you continuously adjust, improve and adapt, so that you have the chance to optimize your newsletter content with regard to the interests of the target group.

That’s why creating an Email Marketing Strategy is worth it

Small and medium-sized businesses in particular are very reluctant to send out newsletters. Yet email marketing offers them some advantages, especially in comparison to other marketing channels: Compared to dialogue mail, you need less time and costs for the production of a digital newsletter. At the same time, thanks to comprehensive reporting, you can better understand how effective a mailing actually was. Your newsletter also wins against social media. Not only do you reach almost every recipient directly and without an intermediate algorithm, but you can also count on higher click rates. The return on investment of an email marketing campaign is also beatable, because with a strategically well though-out newsletter you can get a good forty times the return on your investment. This is one reason why you should definitely include email marketing in your marketing budget plan.

Then why don’t all B2B and B2C companies count on email marketing? Often the reason is that occasions and ideas are missing or simply not recognized, for which emails can be sent. It would be worthwhile for everyone to use newsletters to reach out to customers on a wide range of topics:

  • Inform your customers about new products in your online shop
  • Point out your upcoming event
  • Draw the attention on your new non profit project
  • Send a reference to your current blog post or send your blog post directly via RSS feed. This can also be done conveniently via automation, so that your readers are regularly informed about new posts and no longer miss any of your valuable content.

Let’s imagine you are director a small music school. Newsletters would enable you to welcome new customers directly with a welcome email containing all important information for newcomers. Or you can inform the recipients of your mailing list when new courses start or new teachers join your team. It is also possible to point out special arrangements due to holiday periods or to advertise special courses!

Not only professionals should develop an email marketing strategy. Even as a beginner, you will benefit from an email marketing plan because it will make your work easier in the long term: holidays are no longer a spontaneous surprise, and you will also be well prepared for launches and events. Thanks to email automation, you can plan your campaigns for the long term and thus have all your energy left for your actual business during the final phase of your promotional period. Your newsletter strategy therefore makes it easier for you to keep an eye on all content and events such as planning them in advance.

Define Marketing Goals and Create Suitable Concepts

Determining the Current Situation and Core Objectives: Paving the Way for your Email Strategy

No one does email marketing as an end in itself. Online shops aim to increase sales, bloggers aim for more views and organizers aim for a full house for advertised events. But before you simply send out newsletter after newsletter and only have the current campaign in mind, define higher-level goals that you want to achieve with your newsletters. Your email marketing strategy goes hand in hand with your marketing strategy and supplements or expands it with the email marketing channel.

To begin with, you make a stock-check: Have you already send the newsletter? How did you go about your newsletter marketing so far? Which topics did you include, how often did you send? What do open and click rates look like? From this basis, it will be easier for you to set improvement measures and targets. For example, you can define:

  • By how many percent your open rate should be increased in the future
  • How often you send newsletters
  • Which sale goals you want to achieve with your email marketing strategy
  • That you want to encourage existing customers to make more purchases
  • That the newsletters should promote your social media channels

In the example of the music school mentioned above, the main feature of the email marketing strategy would be geared towards filling new courses with participants quickly and avoiding idle time.

You don’t send out newsletters yet? Then you probably at least have an idea of where you want to go with your email strategy. Depending on the purpose for which you send newsletters, you can determine which goals suit your company and design your email workflow accordingly. Determine whether you want to promote sales with your emails or focus on customer loyalty and control the content of your mailing accordingly. Create different email marketing concepts that focus on these different goals.

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Perform a target group analysis

If your own name in the subject line is already so attractive to the recipient, how great must the performance of target group-specific content in your newsletters be?
A normal newsletter has an average open rate of about 20%. With personalized subject lines, it’s already 47%, more than twice as many openings! The “one for all” principle is not particularly effective in newsletter marketing. It is better to go for less, but targeted content that actually interests your target group(s). To achieve this, first create a target group analysis.

But where do you find information about your users? For these purposes, there are different sources of information that you can use when defining your own target group(s). There is nothing wrong with not having all the information about your users at the beginning; collecting data takes time and involves looking at a wide variety of data sources, such as, for example:

  • Google Analytics
  • Reporting in the Newsletter Tool
  • Purchasing behavior
  • Tags and data fields: Gender, age, place of residence, interest…
  • Tests, e.g. AB-Tests of subject lines or content
  • Feedback from customer support
  • Market research, e.g. online surveys or live in the pedestrian zone
  • Social media follower: Who else do they follow, what do they do in their free time…?
  • All the contact points you have with your customer!

You see: The sources are very divers and provide you with all kinds of information about your target groups. Someone following your Instagram channel may never have bought anything from you. And website visitors leave traces in Google Analytics but may not yet have tags and data fields in your CleverReach account if they haven’t interacted with your newsletter yet.

You may even still have collected data in analogue form. Our example music school still records the name, address, contact details and musical level of new students with pen and paper. Why not add a newsletter registration to these analogue registration forms for music lessons in paper form, with which the pupil can subscribe to newsletters. In this case, the recipient’s data would have to be transferred manually to CleverReach, but data collection is also possible in this way.

This is where segmentation in email marketing comes into play. Use segments and tags to divide your entire list of recipients into smaller recipient groups and then only deliver newsletters to them that are of interest to these groups:

Information about your recipients that is stored in the respective recipient data record, such as the post code or gender, is usually used for segmentation. This allows you to segment according to these criteria and target, for example, only your male recipients in a certain post code area.

Tags are attached to your recipient records after an interaction such as a click on a link or a purchase. The click or purchase reveals which topics or products are interesting for your respective recipient. In the future, you can offer them products or articles in your newsletters that are tailored to them.

Over time you collect lots of knowledge that you can use purposefully for your newsletter strategy. For example, the music school operator would like to advertise different courses for the different instruments.

More examples for segmentation of your target group:

  • Division in customers and non-customers
  • Division into interests, e.g. different blog categories such as food, interior and DIY
  • Division into male and female recipients, e.g. for fashion and cosmetics shops

Extra tip! Get an idea of the people you want to address from all the information; this is how general target groups become tangible personas. In marketing, this is the name given to fictitious people who stand for your target group and help you to have a face in front of your eyes for everything that is communicated. As an example, you can look at personas in the tourism industry with different travel behavior: Someone who is single and into adventure travel, ticks quite differently than someone who likes to book package holiday with his family.

Or let’s stay here in our music school: The music student who takes lessons in your school in addition to his studies, in order to become a professional musician later on, needs different lessons than the mother who wants to have an hour of music lessons for herself as a leisure compensation to her daily work and family life.
These examples show that depending on the persona and segment, the content of your newsletter should also look different in order to ensure a targeted approach.

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Create a content marketing concept

You have now defined your target group and perhaps even created personas. As already indicated, this is important in order to send relevant content according to the different interests of you recipients.

So if you now what information interests your target groups, you can use this knowledge to create content for your email marketing plan. To do this, first tick off the following points to get an overview of all the content you could include in emails:

Are there recurring occasions that are relevant for your business? Christmas, Eastern, Black Friday or Valentine’s Day , for example, are very grateful occasions for online shops. However, this does not apply to all companies that send out newsletters.

Are there any industry-specific events you would like to point out? Particularly in the B2B sector, trade fairs and congresses are good occasions to come into personal contact with customers. However, such events can also include product launches that you would like to announce.

Are there events in the lifecycle of your recipients that you can cover with automated mailings? You can handle newsletter sign-ups or reactivation after a long period of inactivity with simple newsletter automation without having to manually take care of the mailing.

What problems or wishes do your target groups have that you can cover with suitable newsletters? For example, if you offer software that requires explanation, other tips on how to use the program will be of interest to the recipients depending on their level of knowledge.

Define which content is suitable for which target group. Perhaps the same event will be exciting for different target groups, but with different content? As soon as you start to set up an email marketing plan and create target group-specific concepts for mailing campaigns, the initial lack of communication events will no longer be noticeable.

Extra tip! When planning all your newsletter content, it can quickly become confusing. Therefore, create your email marketing plan in a form that gives you an overview of all content. This can be an Excel table in which you map all newsletters with the corresponding key figures. But there are also project management tools such as Trello or Zoho, with which you can keep track of all planned newsletters and distribute responsibilities to different team members. Whatever you decide is up to you – the only important thing is that you make the newsletter plan visible!


Determine how often you want to send newsletters in your email marketing plan

How often it makes sense for your company to send newsletters depends entirely on you. For a magazine with daily topics, sending newsletters every day can be a good idea, but for an online shop it would be rather annoying. You can simply test the frequency of your mailings and see how open and unsubscribe rates behave. And don’t blame yourself if the capacities in your company don’t allow you to send out a newsletter every week or even every day. The main thing is to just start – sending a newsletter once is better than never!

With email automation, you can also conveniently plan simple automation work flows in advance and set them so that your emails are sent automatically on certain occasions. This is useful for example for:

  • Welcome emails directly after the newsletter subscription
  • Birthday mailings
  • Purchase confirmation
  • Shopping cart abandoners mails
  • Reactivation mails after long periods of customer inactivity

These autoresponders fit (almost) all companies and cover many occasions in communication. Automated mailings also offer the advantage of maintaining customer loyalty and even increasing sales without having to do much. All that is needed is an email marketing plan, on the basis of which the corresponding autoresponder emails are projected and implemented.

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Set goals that you want to achieve with your individual newsletters

Do you want to call the recipient’s attention to new blog articles, events or new products? Are you looking to win new customers with a new email workflow, or deepen relationships with existing customers? Just as your entire email marketing strategy follows an overarching goal, each individual email also has a goal that you define before creating it. The subject lines, the content and the call-to-action (CTA) of the newsletter should be entirely based on the goal you have set:

  • Buy product XY now!
  • Register here for the next workshop!
  • Download new white paper for free!

To start with, it is better to concentrate on one core message per newsletter. This makes it particularly easy to build up the content of the mailing according to the predefined purpose without losing focus. In order to implement your overall strategy in concrete terms, it is helpful to develop an e-mail marketing concept based on it.

I vs. You Communication

Your recipients only open your newsletters because they expect additional value for themselves from them. Therefore, always keep your target group in mind when writing your newsletters. Your customers are not interested in your “I communication”, especially if you want to use it to increase sales. So if you write “Our product can do all these wonderful things” in order to sell it, this is not a buying argument for the recipient. Instead, you can rely on a “you communication”. This makes your recipient the centre of your statements, i.e.: “Your needs and wishes can be fulfilled with our product”. Here the recipient discovers an additional value for himself and will be more inclined to click on the purchase button.

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Evaluate Email Marketing Key Figures

Now it’s time: You have defined target group-specific content, written newsletters and sent them to different segments. The key figures in newsletter reporting now show whether your email marketing strategy is working. The most important key performance indicators (KPI) of newsletter marketing include:

Usually, an average open rate is around 20 % – but this can vary greatly per industry and email. The best reference point is still your own newsletter marketing. How did the open rates of your mailings look so far, and has it improved with the current mailing?

High open and click-through rates are desirable because they indicate that your subject lines and newsletter content have struck a chord with your target group. Do the figures for the current newsletter leave a lot to be desired? Low open and click rates and high unsubscribe rates give you an indication that the newsletter content is no longer as relevant and should therefore be adjusted. For example, an offer of free summer courses at the music school could be a good newsletter opener, but if click-through rates are low, the course offer may not have been thematically well chosen.

You can also test two different subject lines or contents against each other in an A/B test and see what entices your recipients to click. For online shops, the conversion rate will also be of interest – this shows whether sales were also generated via the newsletter sent. In contrast, you want to keep your unsubscribe rate as low as possible.

Overall, the motto is: before the reporting is after the reporting. Everything that the key figures tell you about the success of your email marketing strategy can be used for the further processing of future content. In this way, your email marketing strategy is continuously improved and adapted to the needs of your target group.

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These Newsletter Strategies are having an Impact: Best Case Studies

You are looking for more inspiration and want to learn more about how other companies implement their CleverReach email marketing strategy? Our case studies show how online shops, small and medium sized companies or even agencies write their success story with CleverReach:

The software company Ashampoo Systems GmbH & Co. KG brought the new B2B product “Vacationizr” closer to its customers with a simple newsletter strategy:

The natural cosmetic brand Annemarie Börlind relies on a newsletter strategy that strengthens customer loyalty to the brand:

To the Case Study of Annemarie Börlind

The small medium sized handicraft company Handlauf Meyer has made its B2B customers aware of a new sales program and deepened customer loyalty to many partners:

The Italian agency tt-consulting centrally manages all of its clients’ newsletter accounts and pursues very individual email marketing strategies for them:

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Conclusion: Develop a Successful Email Marketing Strategy Step by Step!

Newsletters are an inexpensive medium to reach out to your customers. Use it in a smart way! When used in the right way, your emails will not only improve customer loyalty of your recipients, but also increase sales – with minimal budget.

Your checklist for creating your newsletter strategy:

  • Defined core objectives of the marketing strategy?
  • Analyzed target groups and created personas?
  • Compiled content based on the interests of the target groups and relevant occasions?
  • Planned newsletter schedule?
  • Made newsletter plan visible to the team?
  • Defined goals of your own mailings?
  • Measured success of the newsletter by key figures?
  • Used reporting as a basis for improving the strategy?

Put your email strategy into action: Register for free at CleverReach and send your first newsletter today: 

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