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7 steps to email marketing success

If you are not already using email marketing as part of your outbound marketing strategy, perhaps it’s time to reconsider. Email has been cited as the third most influential source of information – particularly for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry specific thought-leaders. However, in order to reap the full benefits of email marketing, it is crucial that you set up your campaigns correctly – but where do you start?

Step 1: Define your objective

In setting up an email marketing campaign, the first and most important thing that you need to do is clearly define your objective. What do you want to gain out of your email marketing campaign? This is of utmost importance as it will serve as your reference point throughout all stages of your email marketing campaign, helping you to make decisions that will keep you on course. Without a clear objective, it becomes difficult to create and adjust your strategy and tactics down the line, and even harder to get your recipients to complete the actions that you would like them to.

To achieve this, you can start by asking yourself – am I sending this email to:

  • Promote awareness of my brand?

  • Encourage online sales?

  • Nurture leads to shorten the sales cycle?

The answers to these questions will give you a starting point in identifying your overarching goal, in addition to helping you identify the most important KPIs to track further down the line.

Step 2: Understand the content marketing funnel

Before embarking on your email marketing campaign, it is vital to first understand the content marketing funnel. The concept of the funnel is that your pool of potential customers becomes smaller and smaller as they inch closer to their first purchase with your company.

At the top of the funnel, you have a large pool of people who are becoming aware of your brand. Out of those people, a few are interested in what you have to offer, even fewer consider making a purchase and a handful actually take the action of buying your products. As a marketer, it is your goal to make the funnel as cylindrical as possible – guiding the maximum number of people from awareness to action.

So why is this important to your email marketing campaign? You will need to develop workflows, keeping in mind the different stages of the content funnel. It is important to provide your potential subscribers with content that will resonate with them through every stage of the funnel, guiding them towards an eventual purchase.

Step 3: Identify workflows

After defining your objective, the next step is to identify your workflow. Workflows are the flow of emails that your leads will receive. By attributing your leads to different workflows, you can ensure that they are receiving content that is relevant to their funnel stage. This can be done easily within your chosen marketing automation tool, such as HubSpot or Mailchimp, which offer step-by-step tutorials on how to set up a workflow successfully.

When setting up your workflows, you will need to segment your leads to tailor the right content to the right audience. You can segment your leads using various factors:

  • Lifecycle stage (e.g. Awareness stage vs. Consideration Stage vs. Decision Stage)

  • Title or department

  • Specific product or service they are likely to purchase

  • Customer size

  • Geography

  • A combination of these

If you are embarking on an email marketing campaign for the first time, it is recommended that you segment your workflows based on only one factor, such as lifecycle stage, to keep things simple and manageable. Here is an example of a sample workflow that is segmented based on lifecycle stage.

As you can see, the content starts off as more general, thought leadership blogs or whitepapers. As the lead becomes more interested and qualified, they move on to receive more detailed information about the company and the products or services that they offer.

Once this has been implemented and has been running for some time, you will have better insight into how you can further segment your email list to optimize the content you are sending to each subscriber.

Step 4: Map content to workflows

After having set up the skeleton of your campaign, the next thing you need to do is to flesh it out. You need to look at your existing content and determine which lifecycle stage it is suited for. HubSpot has created a graphic that outlines the appropriate content for each lifecycle stage, which you can refer to below.

In mapping your content to workflows, you will need to ensure that your content flows in a logical order and builds over time, so that your leads can be clear on why they are getting the email each time. Finally, leave some slots within your workflows that can accommodate new content in development (e.g. new blog posts, upcoming webinars and case studies), so that it can be easier for you to incorporate your new content down the line.

Step 5: Set up scoring and rules

The next step is to set up your lead scoring as well as your automation rules within your marketing automation tool. A lead score is an indication of how much the lead has engaged with your company, and is calculated based on various actions that your lead has taken, including email opens, clicks, downloads as well as website views.

The scores are arbitrary values that you can set, and it will take some time and some testing to get the scoring right. However, you can use common sense to set the values, for example, attending a webinar should be worth more than reading a blog, and filling out the “Contact Sales” form on the website should carry a high score as that means your prospect is strongly considering purchasing your product.

So why is lead scoring important? It helps you keep track of where your prospects are in the buying cycle. If your prospect has a low lead score, it becomes your job to “nurture” the lead and get their score high enough to be passed off to sales. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost.

After setting up your lead scoring, you will need to create automation rules within your marketing automation tool that will determine how often emails will send, the actions that a lead will need to take in order to trigger the next event in a workflow, (e.g. open an email about a blog post to receive an email about a new checklist) and when they will receive a sales call, among others.

Step 6: Write emails

Now that you have the base of your email campaign done, it’s time to get some writing done. Create actionable emails, based on the content that you would like to promote. Although very much debated, studies have shown that the ideal length of an email is 50-120 words. Try to keep your emails short and to the point, conveying the value that your prospect will gain from responding to your call to action.

Write from the reader’s perspective – what questions are they asking? What pains are they trying to solve? Keep these questions in mind when crafting your emails to ensure that you have the highest response rate possible.

Another thing – pay attention to the subject line! While it may be tempting to leave your subject line for the last moment and write it hastily, it is the part of your email that requires the most thought. According to HubSpot, 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone! After having written all of your emails, insert them into your marketing automation tool and let the magic happen.

Step 7: Test, monitor, manage

The final step in your email campaign is a continuous process – you will need to constantly test, monitor and manage your campaign. Don’t be afraid to A/B test your emails, playing around with the copy as well as the subject lines. Play around with the dates and times that you send out your emails to see when your recipients are most responsive.

Monitor the performance of your campaign and make changes and adjustments accordingly. Measure and keep track of important KPIs and such as open rates, click-through rates ad lead scores. You can determine which KPIs are most important for you based on your campaign objective.

It’s your turn

Now that you have all the tools you need for a winning email campaign, go ahead and set up yours. By sending your prospects emails, you are inviting them to engage with your brand and eventually make purchases. By launching an email campaign, you are ensuring that your prospects are hearing regularly from you, allowing you to remain top of mind with minimal effort.


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