How to Develop an Email Marketing Plan

Believe it or not, it can be easy to write a good email marketing plan. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to write a strong email marketing plan that will help guide your efforts and get clear on the results you want.

Planning is not in my nature. I used to view it as something that got in the way of action. So I had to learn how to plan.

The act of writing a plan is important because in writing a plan you are forced to consider all elements of the campaign and how they work together. Having a written plan can also help save you lots of time and keep your campaign launch on schedule. Completing an email marketing plan helps you define your purpose. Think of an email marketing plan as a problem-solving document and a blue-print for your campaign.

If you’ve ever placed an email campaign with an experienced media sales representative, you’ll know they ask you a number of questions to best help you. They may not realize it, but their questions come largely from their need to understand your plan, so they can help you.

Here are some of the basic questions you’ll need to answer in your plan.

1.) Who Is Your Target Audience?

What is your target audience member’s title? Geographic Location? Company size? Age? Industry?

A great way to decide your ideal target is to look at your best current clients or customers and ask; “What do they have in common?” “What interests or industries are similar?” “What titles typically make the decision or recommendation that leads to the purchase of my product or service?” Do your best to describe the ideal target for your message.

2.) What Do You Want Your Customers To Do?

Every email should have a call to action. Why are you sending this message? Answers to this question can range from “download a white paper so I can collect their email address” to “click a link and buy my product.”

What do you ultimately want your audience to do?

· Download a trail software package
· Register for an event
· Sign up for a newsletter
· Complete an information request form

3.) What Is Your Ultimate Outcome?

This question asks you to view the big picture. Imagine that your campaign has been completed. What results would lead you to say the campaign was a success?

Be very specific here. Make sure you quantify this in numbers so that it is measurable!

Here are some examples:

· For this campaign to be viewed as successful we will receive 3 new consulting contracts.
· For this campaign to be a success we will receive 50 completed lead forms.
· For this campaign to be a success we will generate 600 directory sign ups.

What’s your goal? Be realistic. Be specific.

There are some outcomes that can be equally helpful that may not be as easily quantified. Don’t forget to write them down. These elements include: What are we trying to learn? What other benefits are we seeking from our exposure?

4.) What Incentive Will There Be for Visitors to Complete the Desired Action?

How do you plan to get visitors to your site to complete the desired action?

· Are you offering a gift?
· Are you offering a free white paper download?
· Are you offering a discounted price for signing up before a specific date?
· Are you offering 20% off their registration fee for signing up online?

If possible, you will want to offer something to increase your chances of getting the action you want. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will help to motivate your audience.

5.) Will You Use Your Own Email List or Will You Rent a List?

Do you have a house list that you wish to promote to? If so, this is an incredible asset. If you don’t have the luxury of your own house list, you will need to rent a list. For a complete list of rental companies in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets, see the References section at the end of this book.

6.) Where Will the Rented List Come From?

If you have decided that you need to rent a list for your campaign and don’t know where to begin, ask yourself, “What magazine publishers are best for this offer?” A surprising number of magazine publishers are receiving permission from portions of their audience to send them occasional email offers. Start here when looking for a list rental.

If you have an offer that is targeted to the general consumer you can start with any number of list brokers and list management companies.

You may also ask yourself, “What websites does my audience frequent?” In finding the right email list or newsletter to carry our message, websites geared towards a specific industry can provide some real gems. If a website has an audience you are interested in, start your list search here.

When I look for sites with lists I’ll usually start with a site that I’m familiar with and then go to a site called makes it easy. All you have to do is enter the name of a website and it will return for you a host of other related sites that are frequented by the same audience. You can also learn a great deal about the sites you may wish to advertise with.

7.) Where Have You Seen Your Greatest Marketing Success?

Where have your past marketing successes come from? What audiences have responded most favorably? What offers have done well?

Think of ways to leverage information gained from past successes. How can your upcoming campaign use this information to build on that? This may sound obvious, but I’m often shocked at people who overlook past successes when moving forward with an email campaign.

If this is not your first email campaign, what have your past email results been? Why do you feel your campaign was successful or unsuccessful?

Think very hard about this question. Here’s the shocker. Often I ask clients what their prior results were on email campaigns. If the campaign didn’t perform well, more often than not, I can see why and will help them to make adjustments. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. And don’t be too quick to blame the list of email addresses you send to.

Recognize and fix any shortcomings in your email offer, copy or target audience. Unless you take this step, you run a risk of making the same mistake twice.

8.) What Is Your Budget?

You need a budget figure. Even if you need to pull a number out of the sky, do so and write it down.

Your budget should cover the following costs:

· List Rental – If you plan to rent a list $__________ The average minimum fee to rent a permission-based list is $1,500 – 2,000.

· Email Creative – You may wish to develop an email in html that can’t be done in house or hire a copywriter. $_________

· Landing Page Development – A landing page is where you send people who click on your link within the email. This could be a software download page or an event registration page. If you intend to seek outside help to develop a landing page, indicate your budget here. $__________

If your budget is $1,000 or less, I recommend looking for ways to build your own list or market in an email newsletter.

9.) Who Will Develop Your Offer/Landing Page?

To get the most out of your campaign, you need to send your email recipients to a website that describes your offer or prompts them to take action. This site is also called a landing page. Who is going to develop this? What will the address be?

10.) When Will You Launch Your Email Campaign?

Deadlines help people get on track and submit things on time. This is something that you can change later, but it’s good to set a tentative date so that you can get accurate availabilities on email lists. You also want to calculate for lead time. Depending on where you are renting your email list, the necessary lead time can be two to five business days.

11.) Will You Use HTML or TEXT?

The answer to this question may depend on the nature of your message and the requirements of the company you are renting your list from. We go further into this question in a later chapter.

12.) Who Will Write the Copy and Design the Creative Piece?

A campaign’s success depends largely on the power of the subject line and supporting copy. We will give you many tips and techniques in this report to give you the skills to write a successful email offer. However, if you prefer to have a professional copy write develop your email, it can be money well spent.

That’s It.

You’ve got a basic plan. These answers will be a tremendous help in securing the right list and getting started.