Email marketing is still the best channel to market in 2021. You are guaranteed a high return on investment (ROI), and if it doesn’t work out well, you don’t lose much.

But with an increasing number of businesses jumping on the email marketing bandwagon, it’s becoming harder to engage your contacts.

Today, the key to crafting a successful email marketing strategy lies in creating trust with contacts and building genuine, long-lasting relationships with them.

No matter how small or big your company is, we want to show you how to create a winning email marketing strategy that will deliver a high, measurable return on investment for your business.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Start with an inbound email marketing approach.
  2. Segment your contact list and maintain your list health.
  3. Create high-performing emails every time.
  4. Optimize your emails to drive conversions.
  5. Pick the right email template for your campaigns.


1. Start with an inbound email marketing approach.

Email marketing helps you connect with your audience and nurture your business relationships.

But successful email marketing doesn’t happen on it’s own. It depends a lot on how well you can implement and execute a relevant and customer focused email marketing strategy that keys into your broader business strategy.

It helps to understand where exactly email marketing sits in your sales funnel. Email is the perfect channel for engaging with and delighting the contacts you have already attracted – making them genuine promoters of your products and services.

Before you create a new email marketing strategy or optimize your existing one, there are a few fundamentals you’ll need to get right from the start:

  • Implement the right email marketing software: Set up a solid CRM so you can track the qualities and behaviors of your contacts, run segmentation and send personalized messages.
  • Clearly define the right goals: Setting goals for your email marketing strategy and for each individual email campaign you send will help you check if your emails are successful or not.

2. Segment your contact list and maintain your list health.

From our experience, the highest conversions come from segmented, targeted, and drip campaigns/journeys. Segmenting your email list helps you send the right message to the right customer at the right time. Also, the more relevant your message is, the more likely your subscribers are to engage with it.

However, during this stage you might be tempted to jump straight into segmenting your database or tweaking your existing segments. But creating the right segments for your contextual messages requires laying the right foundations. Here are some tips:

  • Have a clean and organized database. 
  • Collect the right information that will help you create the segments you need for your emails.
  • Make sure you can collect the right explicit and implicit data. 

NOTE: Please ensure you’re complying with email regulations, like the NDPR, CAN-SPAM and GDPR, when collecting data.

The segments you create have two important functions:

  1. To send the right email to the right customer/user/lead at the right time and 
  2. Every customer is different so you’ll need to tailor your segments to your business goals.

Here are 6 Email segmentation and targeting options three types of segments every business should start using:

  • Profile characteristics (demographics).
  • Customer Value – current and future.
  • Multi-channel behaviour (channel preference).
  • Buyer personas including psychographics

If you need help setting up your specific segments, you can reach out to us here for a quick chat and we will help out.

3. Create high-performing emails every time.

Studies show that for every dollar you spend on email, you’ll receive a $38 ROI. Additionally, 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. Not bad, right?

But that ROI isn’t guaranteed simply by drafting an email and pressing “send”. Your contacts need to see genuine value in the conversations they’re having with you before they convert to customers, purchase from you, or promote your product or services.

So, how do you and your team consistently create impactful emails? Here are some key principles to guide you:

  • Set a SMART goal.

Define why you’re sending each email and set a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goal each time. Then, make sure each piece of the email supports that goal.

Here’s a sample SMART goal: 

“In six months, we’ll increase the number of trial sign-ups from our lead nurture campaigns by 10% by making them more valuable and targeted.”

  • Send the right email, to the right person, at the right time.

When you send the most contextual message, you have a better chance of getting your contacts to take action because you’re providing them with the most value. Let’s examine each of these three components:

    • The right email: this means delivering the right contextual message to your contacts. Put simply, your content needs to make sense to whoever’s reading it.
    • The right person: this comes down to creating targeted segments, which we talked about earlier.
    • The right time: Different content will appeal to different buyers at different stages of the buying process. So, to send a perfectly timed email, you’ll need to take into consideration where your contacts are in the buyer’s journey and pair the right content with that stage.


4. Optimize your emails to drive conversions.

Once you’ve set your goal, you’ll want to drive conversions towards it. The most important things to look at are:

  1. your email opens, 
  2. and email clicks. 

How well your subject line and personalization is written will improve your email opens. How well your email content and call to actions are written and how good your images look will improve your email clicks. 

Use these techniques to improve your email marketing effectiveness:

Optimize for opens: Spend time crafting an engaging subject line to boost emails open rate. Consider this, how does someone that doesn’t open your email even know if there is a gem inside? Focus on the value you’re providing upfront. And where relevant, use personalization tags (first name, last name, business name, etc.) to create some connection with your audience.

Optimize for clicks: Provide relevant and compelling call-to-actions to encourage customers to click on your link and follow through on the goal. Also ensure that your message is short, concise and drives the idea home as attention span grows shorter by the day.

This re-engagement email from Help Scout, below, is the simple and relevant. The call-to-action is clear, compelling, and speaks to the customer directly:

5. Pick the right email template for your campaigns.

Your business will want to send different types of emails to your contacts for different types of jobs. For example, promoting your products and services and sharing your blog updates will require different formats. So define the different email types your business needs to send, then create a set of consistent, on-brand templates.

The best templates are clean and straightforward and you can download some of our for free here.

Email Marketing Strategy

Next, let’s dive into a few tactics and best practices you should employ in your email marketing strategy to ensure long-term success.

1. Strengthen Relationships with Nurture Campaigns

Nurture campaigns are time-based emails sent to your customers in order to inform them of a special offer and, with time, encourage them to make a purchase. Lead nurturing, in this sense, helps you build solid relationships with your prospects with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.

According to a recent study, 39% of marketers said that “automatically sending emails based on triggers” is the most effective tactic for improving email engagement. The best way to engage your leads is to create automated email campaigns that send to your prospects based on the interactions they have with you.

It can be tricky to know what types of emails you should send to nurture your leads, but you can reach out to us for free details on what and when to send.

Regardless of your business goals, there are four key types of emails you should send in a lead nurturing campaign.

You’ll notice that each of these emails have a clear goal tied directly to the reason you’re sending them — another top tip for impact:

  • Emails that establish trust. These emails create relevancy and value that will help your contacts trust you and open emails from you in the future. For example, a welcome email, a permission email or an email that educates your customers on a topic they have shown interest in.
  • Emails that provide valuable resources. These emails educate your leads and give you valuable insight into which topics and information resonates with them most. Here, you could create an email that provides a valuable, relevant download (like an e-book or cheatsheet) and share some relevant tips in the body of your email, too.
  • Call-to-action emails. Call-to-action emails position the goal of your campaign as the next logical step for a prospect to take. It should be direct and to the point. While all emails have call-to-actions, this type of email will be specific to the goal of your workflow. For example, you could encourage your prospect to schedule a demo or chat with a sales rep.
  • Opt-out emails. These emails make it clear it is the last time they will hear from you after a period of inactivity. The goal is to keep these leads engaged or to learn why you missed the mark with your messaging.

2. Make Sure Your Emails are Getting Delivered (Email deliverability)

In the past, getting your emails delivered was largely a result of creating valuable, non-spammy content. Today, it’s that and so much more. Email providers have gotten a lot smarter and now primarily use engagement factors (like opens, replies, etc.) to determine whether your email makes the inbox or not.

Plus, email marketing regulations (like NDPR, CAN-SPAM and GDPR) are stricter than ever.

It’s never been more important to create an effective email deliverability strategy that focuses on engaging the right customers and providing relevant, genuine value to them. Email marketing is a lot like a funnel — if you don’t make it to the inbox you won’t get the open, click, revenue, or customer loyalty.

So, how can you ensure your emails get delivered to your customer? Here are some tips to follow:

  • Make Sure Your IP Address Is Trustworthy.  ISPs have email filters that are designed to block emails from untrustworthy addresses and sources. So what you have to do is to warm up your email when you are just starting out
  • Register a Subdomain and Use It Only for Email Activity. This is important because most email spammer-blacklist organizations treat subdomains separately. So, even if your automated e-mail subdomain gets blocklisted (PC term for blacklist), your main domain will still be able to continue sending emails.
  • Implement a Sender Policy Framework (SPF). A sender policy framework (SPF) increases your trustworthiness from the receiving email server. 
  • Monitor hard bounces and unsubscribes.  If there’s an upward trend in your unsubscribes or hard bounces, you may be doing something wrong that needs to be fixed.
  • Check Your Sender Reputation. Having a low sender reputation is the No. 1 reason your emails may get rejected. You can work with an Expert to get this monitored and fixed where issues exist.
  • Stick to a Consistent Send a Schedule. By maintaining a regular schedule, you can avoid, “sending spikes,” which can lower your sender score.
  • Use a Double Opt-in or Confirmed Opt-in Marketing Method. This ensures that only the people who want to be on your email list are actually on your email list. This leaves a pool of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
  • Clean Your List Regularly. Do this by clearing out people who are nonexistent or haven’t engaged in a long time. 
  • Conduct re-engagement campaigns.  If a large percentage of your list stops engaging with your emails, you’ll run a greater risk of damaging your sender reputation and your email deliverability rates. Define a cut-off point. If you can’t win your contacts back with your re-engagement campaigns, call it quits.
  • Check for Blacklistings. Make sure you have not been blacklisted. The lists are created based on DNS servers and are designed to protect people from IP addresses that have received a high number of spam reports. Your job is to make sure that you’re not on this list.

3. Analyze and Continually Optimize Your Emails

What gets measured gets improved. Measuring, analyzing and adjusting your emails will help you see what’s working and what isn’t, so you can make tweaks to optimize your strategy.

Here are the key metrics to pay attention to and how to dig deeper into the data, so you can take actionable steps to improve your strategy:

  • Delivered. Your ’emails delivered’ metric is the number of valid email addresses that accepted your email. If there’s some fluctuation in the number of emails that are getting delivered over a specific time period we recommend revisiting your email deliverability strategy (we’ve outlined some tips on this above).
  • Opened. Look at the number of emails your contacts ‘opened’ to assess whether they found your email relevant and valuable enough to open it. If you have a low open rate on a particular email, consider tweaking your subject line and your preview text to better convey the value your contacts will receive from engaging with the email.
  • Clicked. Sometimes you may see a high open rate on an email, but the clickthrough rate is low. This may be because your email is trying to do too many things at once and isn’t clearly communicating your goal to your contacts. Instead, focus on one, clear call-to-action.
  • Conversion. Your ‘conversion’ metric helps you see who made it all the way to your goal and engaged at the level you were hoping for. To achieve your goal, contacts need to open your email, click it and then take your desired action.

The Best Email Marketing Strategies Evolve With The Customers

As your business grows, your customers’ needs and expectations will also change. The best thing you can do for the evolution of your email marketing strategy is to keep getting to know your customers and prospects. Regularly talk to your contacts and get their feedback to unlock new insights, test new and fresh ideas to engage them, and then optimize your strategy to focus on what’s working.

Even though your email marketing strategy should evolve, one thing will always remain the same — creating a successful email marketing strategy is about building trust and fostering genuine, long-lasting relationships.