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Strategy and tactics go together like Yin and Yang. Neither will be as effective as they could be if one is left without the other. Creating email activity without a strategy is a common case of running before you know where you’re going; where tactics are chosen before defining the why.
As a result, many email marketers are starting to crave a strategic approach, with a ‘lack of strategy’ being one of the biggest concerns when defining email programmes (DMA, Marketer Email Tracker, 2017).
It’s clear to see why. Sure, the email may look great, hours have been spent creating the imagery and copy, but was there as much time spent on defining the target audience, the objective of the campaign and identifying the value that email provides the recipients? Probably not. That’s a clear case of defining the ‘how’ of doing something, before establishing the purpose of ‘why’. Another factor holding back email marketers from a strategic approach is time and lack of it.
Strategy is there to help
The purpose of a strategy is to create a plan that defines how you’re going to achieve your goals and objectives. An email strategy should define what, to whom and when to send your email marketing.
Rather than staring down at a blank piece of paper trying to come up with new ways to engage your audience, with a defined email strategy you would have a plan detailing the types of campaigns to send, to who and performance targets.
Of course, there will always be the place of sending a last-minute ad-hoc unplanned email to your subscribers, but that’s exactly it. That ad-hoc activity should be a minority of your email activity, not the majority.
Consumers want relevancy too
It’s not only marketers saying that this is important, over half of consumers have considered deleting their email account to control the flow of marketing emails they receive because they continue to receive irrelevant emails (DMA, Consumer Benchmarking Report, 2016).
Relevancy occurs from taking a purely tactical approach to your email marketing. This is where defining a strategy is increasingly important, because to stand out amongst the noise and engage an audience you need to have a plan in place.
Planning an email campaign
The first question I ask any client, is what are you trying to achieve with your email marketing? What are you goals and objectives? Most of the time, those questions haven’t been answered. It’s generally a case of - there’s a new offer to promote and there’s a list of subscribers available to communicate with. There are two issues with this approach:
- Subscribers are people, they are human and should be treated as such. They are more than just an email address on a database.
- Email activity without a clear direction is doomed to fail. How can your customers and prospects engage with your communications, if you’ve not identified why you’re sending a message to them?
It’s been an interesting time in email marketing, as like all aspects of the marketing industry it’s easy to get carried away with the shiny shiny in the latest technology such as count down timers and image personalisation.
These ‘fun’ elements then get included in every email because, well everyone else is doing it. The fear of missing out, isn’t just amongst consumers, marketers are also succumbing to this fear. You notice your competitors are including emoji’s in their subject lines, instantly you think, ‘maybe we should try that!’. There’s nothing wrong with testing something new, and I actively encourage that approach but there needs to be a plan as to why.
Setting the foundation for success
Email strategy is like the process of building a house. To start the process of building a house, the site is prepared and the foundations are set. Translate this to email, and that is exactly what the research into formulating your strategy is doing.
It is setting the foundations for success. Identify your objectives, your subscribers needs, your ambition and create targets to fulfil your goals. Sure, it may be the less ‘sexy’ part of email marketing, but it is the difference between creating a successful and unsuccessful campaign.
The same goes for determining the technology to use to create and send your campaign. How many times have you chosen the technology before determining what you are using it for? That would be like choosing the interior of a car before settling on a budget.
When you’re planning your next email campaign, stop, and reflect on these key areas:
- What is the objective of sending the email?
- What are you expecting to achieve? What are you goals and aspirations?
- Who are you sending the campaign to and why?
- How does this campaign add value to the recipients?
- How will I engage the target audience with this campaign? Identify their interests.
Remember, define the ‘why’ before identifying the ‘how’ when creating your next email campaign and you’ll be taking your first step towards using a strategic approach.
To find out what my top 5 tips are on creating a successful email strategy, join us on 14th June at Email Marketing Day London.
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