Handy "How Tos"

How to create an email marketing strategy: Your 7-step guide for better campaigns with examples

  Gregg Blanchard     May 24, 2023    

An effective email marketing strategy can be a game-changer for businesses. According to Salecycle's 2022 survey, 59% of respondents stated that marketing emails have influenced their purchasing decisions. Not to mention, the average ROI for email marketing is an impressive $42 for every $1 spent. It's clear that a well-crafted email campaign can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

A strategic approach is essential for this level of success. Surprisingly, nearly half of consumers (49%) are happy to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis, highlighting the potential of email marketing to engage with your audience effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll discuss the importance of having a thorough email marketing strategy and outline the four key types of emails you might include in your campaigns. We'll also provide a seven-step framework for developing a winning email marketing strategy tailored to your business needs.

Finally, we’ll explore the seven best email marketing strategies with real-world examples of their implementation, designed to help you optimize your ROI. By the time you’re finished with this guide, you'll be able to create successful email marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive conversions. Remember, always provide value and keep your messaging consistent with your brand image. Now, let's dive in and start crafting winning email campaigns!

What is an email marketing campaign?

An email marketing campaign is a strategic series of promotional messages that are sent to a group of people using email. The goal is to build brand awareness, promote a product or service, or encourage customer loyalty. 

An email marketing campaign is made up of a series of emails sent over a period of time tailored to the interests of the recipients. Measuring the success of an email marketing campaign typically involves evaluating the open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate of the emails sent.

How do you use email marketing to promote your products?

By consistently sending emails to subscribers, businesses can use email marketing to establish a brand voice, connect with their consumers, and promote products meaningfully. Great email campaigns use segmentation to ensure subscribers only receive content they’ll actually be interested in.

Businesses can use different types of emails to nurture their audience before promoting their products. That way, their subscribers are warmed up and ready to buy when they do launch. They can also offer coupons and promotions to boost sales.

What are the 4 types of email marketing?

Most marketing emails fall into one of four categories. Here are the types of emails you can use in your marketing campaign and what each is best for.

Welcome emails

Best for: Nurturing subscribers, top-of-the-funnel audience

Welcome emails are a series of emails that greet new subscribers. They can offer simple promotions and more information about a company's products. On average, welcome emails can generate up to 320% more revenue per email than other promotional emails. They have, on average, four times the open rate and five times the click-through rate of a standard email marketing campaign.

Welcome emails are useful because they:

  • Establish a positive first impression
  • Set expectations for future communications
  • Provide important information, such as account details or instructions to get started
  • Encourage the recipient to take action
  • Increase engagement and reduce churn

Newsletter emails

Best for: Regular updates and relationship building

Newsletter emails provide consistent updates about a company's products, services, or industry news. Newsletters can come from one person at your company to give them a personal feel and “voice.”

Newsletter emails are useful because they:

  • Provide regular updates and news
  • Promote exclusive deals, promotions, or discounts
  • Build a relationship between the brand and its audience
  • Offer helpful and informative content that subscribers may find valuable
  • Keep subscribers engaged.

Promotional emails

Best for: Sales boosts and winbacks

Emails that offer discounts, promo codes, or special deals to encourage sales. 50% of people buy from promotional emails at least once a month. These can include abandoned cart emails, upsells, launches, and other sales pushes.

Promotional emails are useful because they:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Promote new products or services
  • Provide exclusive offers and discounts to customers
  • Drive website traffic and increase sales
  • Build and nurture customer relationships
  • Can win back inactive subscribers with promotions

Event invitation emails

Best for: Live events and relationship building

Event invitation emails let subscribers in on virtual or in-person events, such as webinars, workshops, or conferences. These events help you bond with your audience even more while nurturing them with valuable information. Events like these make your subscribers far more likely to buy from you, especially if you follow up after the program.

Event invitation emails are useful because they:

  • Provide all the necessary details about the event
  • Include additional information about the event, such as the agenda or featured speakers – making it more approachable
  • Generate excitement and interest in the event
  • Serve as a convenient reminder for attendees
  • Help manage guest lists.
  • Include links for subscribers to share the event with their network
  • Increase buying power when an automated follow-up is sent

What is an email strategy?

An email strategy is a plan for how a business will use email to communicate with its audience. Creating a comprehensive email marketing strategy can help companies to increase engagement with their audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales.

A strategy is a framework for email campaigns; it’s different from email marketing tactics. We like to think of tactics like email marketing tips. They’re small schemes you can use, like personalized emails, segmented audiences, and mobile-friendly designs. A strategy is a larger plan that achieves an end goal.

An email marketing strategy typically includes the following elements.

  • Goal: The purpose of the email campaign
  • Audience: Who is the demographic?
  • Email content: What will be included in each email?
  • Email design and layout: How the emails will look.
  • Frequency: How often will emails be sent?
  • Metrics and analytics: How will the email campaign's success be measured?

Read on to learn our seven-step process for creating winning email strategies!

How To Create a Winning Email Marketing Strategy in 7-Steps

Create a strong email marketing strategy with these seven steps. Keep reading for examples afterward, too!

1. Clarify Intentions

Every great marketing campaign begins with a goal. What’s the purpose of your email campaign? Are you promoting a product or service? Offering valuable information? Building relationships with your subscribers? Onboarding new subscribers?Consider which part of the funnel you’re trying to target so that your emails have enough information for those readers.

Focus on one goal at a time with strategies. You can puzzle together a few different strategies for an overall quarterly or annual plan. But if you’re trying to target making more sales, nurturing your audience, welcoming new subscribers, and winning back inactive folks, you’ll end up with a hodge podge that achieves nothing. Instead, focus on one goal and make a plan for that goal. You can layer multiple strategies at once for the best results.

2. Segment Audience

Who is the target audience for this campaign? Pick a segment you’ve already created or create a new one that fits this target audience. Ensure they’re in the proper funnel stage for your goals.

3. Create Content

Now, it’s time to write the email copy and sort out what information that will go inside the email(s). If it’s a series of emails, brainstorm a list of everything you want to get across throughout your campaign. Then, break it down into individual emails.

Ask What are your target audience’s needs and interests? How much do they already know about your business? Start with these questions to decide how the content and call to action (CTA) will appeal to your readers. Distill your information into one to three bite-sized pieces of information and try to make them as interesting and personality-packed as possible.

Include promotional offers, blog posts, information about your business, social proof, or snippets of news. Whatever you do, keep it short and only use one CTA per email.

4. Design and Layout

Determine how you want your emails to look. You could mock it up in a tool like Figma, on a digital whiteboard, or directly in your email marketing software (EMS) tool. Think about where headers, buttons, images, and footers will go. Create a consistent format or template so your brand is evident throughout the campaign.

Gather images, videos, and other multi-media elements to grab and go for each email as you schedule them or create the email automation. If you have a design team involved, create a schedule for completing the visual assets.

5. Plan Frequency

By now, you should have a list of the emails you want to create, their purpose, and the graphics you’ll include. You can begin creating a schedule or building your automation with this information.

If you don’t have the emails built into your email marketing software yet, you can create a sending schedule in a whiteboarding tool, a spreadsheet, or calendar. List the date you’ll send each email and the deadline by which you must approve each email to complete your series.

If your emails aren’t going to be sent based on a schedule, list the triggers for each email or add them to your email service provider as you build the emails. Every campaign and industry will have unique needs for sending frequency. Do some research and run some tests if you’re unsure how frequently you should send emails to your subscribers.

6. Target Metrics

Before you launch your new campaign, you need to define success. How will you know if your campaign is successful? The best part of a well-planned email marketing strategy is that you can reuse it.

Reusing an email marketing campaign without optimizing it based on its first run won’t yield the best possible results. Get to know what information you want to track and also how you’ll use that information to improve your next run of this campaign.

Here are some metrics you might want to track:

  • Open Rates
  • Click Through Rates
  • Email deliverability Rates
  • Sales
  • Unsubscribe Rates
  • New Subscribers
  • Inactive Subscribers

7. Analyze and Refine

Once you run your campaign, take time to reflect. Create a quick report of all the stats from your campaign you wanted to track. Then, see what tweaks you could make to improve it for next time. If your open rates were low, tweak your email subject lines or frequency. If your click-throughs weren’t optimal, improve your calls to action.

If you didn’t get conversions, work on the content. If your data wasn’t significant, try running some A/B tests to get real answers. Split tests can help you improve the content, subject lines, and email template designs.

The 7 Best Email Marketing Strategy Examples

Here are seven email marketing examples. These campaigns feature good emails that build audiences of loyal customers or reel in potential customers.

1. Welcome Series

A welcome series invites new subscribers into your email list. It lets them know who you are, what to expect from your email marketing, what other people say about your business, and how they can utilize it. These are usually automated campaigns that are triggered by new email sign-ups.

Welcome series are a great time to divert subscribers into segments that are right for them. You may send them a survey email that segments them, ask them if they want to receive your newsletter, or include calls to action that can help you segment them further.

A welcome series aims to help a new subscriber get to know your company. But you could also aim to gain more traffic, convert email subscribers to social media followers, get new subscribers to purchase with a promotion, or nurture your new audience with freebies.

2. Event Series

screenshot of ever after email

An event series is set up when a live event, webinar, workshop, or in-person event is coming up. This series can be sent on a schedule before, during, and after the event. It should include informational signup emails before the event, event reminders that are sent only to people who RSVP’d, and follow-up emails for attendees. You may also want to send a follow-up email to subscribers who RSVP’d but didn’t attend so that they can watch a replay.

The most effective event email series will have at least two emails scheduled for the day of the event, reminding those who RSVP’d to attend punctually. They’ll also include a follow-up thanking them for their attendance, encouraging them to take the next steps, or promoting an upsell.

3. Winback Marketing Automations

screenshot of fabletics email

Winback automations encourage inactive subscribers to interact with your emails again or make a purchase. These could be cart abandonment emails from retailers, emails asking for a reply, or special promotional emails. Campaigns like these can reactivate former customers or help you clean your list or encourage a few people to unsubscribe.

Winback emails are particularly useful for e-commerce businesses. They can reclaim 10% or more of potentially lost customers and have an absurdly high open rate at 44% on average.

If your CRM allows it, you can set triggered emails so that any time someone leaves something in their cart or becomes an inactive subscriber, they receive the proper email to win them back. Alternatively, you could send these emails quarterly to inactive subscribers in an attempt to win them back before you clean your list.

4. Revenue Generating Email Marketing Strategy

screenshot of pact email

Need a boost in revenue? Try sending some promotional emails. You could create a series promoting a limited-time offer to grab a cash injection in your business. Seasonal and holiday sales are a great excuse for these types of emails. Alternatively, you could do a launch if you’re a small business or you have a new product coming out. These are typically scheduled email campaigns rather than automated emails.

5. Traffic Generation

screenshot of zwift email

Traffic generation campaigns aim to get subscribers to click through to a business’ website. This could look like sharing helpful blog posts, releasing information about a new product, introducing a new feature, or running a sign-up promotion. 

Maybe you drive them to a landing page specifically for new customers. You could also boost social media traffic by sharing a giveaway or contest that you’re running on your social media via an email campaign. These series are usually scheduled, not automated.

6. Awareness Campaigns

screenshot of hotel drisco email

Email marketing shouldn’t just be used to make sales. It should also be used to stay top of mind with your subscribers and provide helpful content. Sending regular brand awareness emails lets you be seen as an industry leader, meaning more people come to you when they need more info or a specific product. This will give you an edge over your competitors.

With awareness campaigns, focus on promoting your brand as a whole and nurturing your audience. This could be educating them about your product in a fun way, keeping them up to date with new releases, showing them how your product could be used in their daily lives, and sharing social proof. Email newsletters are great assets to larger brand awareness campaigns.

7. Lead Nurturing Campaigns

screenshot of bloomscape email

Again, email marketing isn’t only for promoting your services or products. It’s for connecting with an audience that’s attracted to your brand. You can nurture your leads with resources, free webinars, weekly newsletters, discount codes, valuable information, and case studies. Whatever your email marketing strategy includes, be sure to nurture them at least once, if not with an entire nurturing campaign on its own.