Creating an email marketing strategy: a guide

Brands have a range of marketing channels they can use to communicate with their customers, but email marketing, (or as some people refer to it: “e-mail marketing”), continues to be the most favored by marketers and customers alike. Email marketing has an exceptionally high return on investment and is a cost-effective way for conversion and staying connected with customers.

Email marketing returns $53 for every $1 you spend, which is the highest ROI you can expect from a marketing channel.  Even with these high numbers, you might not achieve a lot if you keep sending your subscribers disconnected and impersonal emails. How engaged your subscribers’ are, depends entirely on the strategy you come up with.  

An email marketing strategy need not be a complicated affair. We recommend having an excellent fail-proof email marketing template that you can modify with your requirements. Here’s a guide to teach you everything about creating the perfect email marketing strategy.

Importance of email marketing

With 3.9 billion email users worldwide, emails remain the most personal way to connect with your customers. Marketers use emails for a range of reasons:

To nurture leads

Emails give you access to prospects on a very personal level. By continuing to communicate with them using great content, you nurture them and push them further in the marketing funnel, ultimately converting them. 

Drive website traffic 

By producing engaging content, you pique your reader’s curiosity. This works exceptionally well within transactional emails or even newsletters that direct readers to exciting blog content or their shop page. Leverage their high open rate to drive up your traffic.

Get platform ownership

Your mailing list is your own and under no threat of being deleted or hacked. You’ve full ownership of the mailing list and the kind of content you want to create. Aside from a few regulations, the sky’s the limit to what you can do with your marketing emails.

Improve brand retention

The mailing list you’ve built consists of subscribers who are interested in hearing from you through marketing emails. By creating personalized emails, you stand a better chance of improving brand retention. You want customers to remember you when a need arises.

Build credibility

The internet is a brilliant advent, but there’s no overlooking the possibilities of false information. When it comes to your brand, having communication channels that customers can rely on for authentic information, before you start sending marketing emails, is extremely important.

Improve sales

Given the high ROI of marketing emails, it’s only natural that they’re an excellent source for improving sales. This is especially true in abandoned cart emails, promotional email campaigns, follow-up emails, etc., because they directly appeal to the customers and their interests.

Developing an email marketing strategy

Creating a brilliant email campaign and sending out marketing emails need not be a daunting task. We’ve broken down the essential elements so you can design one that works for you.

Set goals

Whether you’re setting goals in your personal life, professional life, or marketing plans, they all have one thing in common -they must be SMART. Before you jump into creating a plan, think about why you’re putting it together in the first place. What do you hope to achieve? Here’s what a SMART goal stands for: 

  • Specific: Be clear about what you want to achieve. Which aspect(s) of email marketing do you want to focus on? For example, maybe you want more people reading your emails. For this, you need to ensure your open rates are high. So start there. 

  • Measurable: Your goals are only good enough if you can track and measure how well you’re doing. For instance, if you want to increase your email open rate, you can do that with Freshmarketer. Define the email metrics relevant to your goal initially, be it subscription rate, unsubscription rate, click-through rate, open rate, and more. 

  • Achievable: Consider the resources you have while coming up with your goals. Do you have the time, resources, and money to accomplish your goals? 

  • Realistic: While you can reach for the moon, don’t try to overachieve. Make sure your goals are within your reach and not something unattainable. Know what is possible as per your bandwidth, and set realistic goals.

  • Time-bound: Deadlines make the world go around. A goal is insignificant if you don’t have an end date for it. Study industry benchmarks while setting your goals, and give yourself a realistic timeline to follow through.

There’re many different ways to define goals, but these components are required for your marketing plans.

Define a target audience

Be clear on whom you want to address. While it can be tempting to send a blast email to everyone irrespective of their preferences, you only harm your brand by doing so. Understand the person you want to communicate with, and create a buyer persona. You could ask the following questions to understand who your audience is:

  • What are the designations/industries the ideal personal belongs to?

  • Which age group would be relevant? 

  • Where would they be geographically present?

  • What are their interests?

  • What are their challenges or pain points?

  • Which channels do they consume content on?

Grow your subscriber list

Brands build mailing lists in different ways and from various sources. While buying email lists can be a tempting option, we recommend creating an organic mailing list because it has people who want to hear from you. Some of the ways you can increase your subscriber list: 

  • Lead Magnets
    Attracting people to join your mailing list by offering them an incentive is known as lead magnets. The offer you make has to be irresistible and of immense value to your customers; only then will they trade it for their personal information. Some of the most attractive lead magnets/freebies used by brands are checklists, cheat sheets, ebooks, infographics, research/white papers, reports, templates, toolkits, tutorials, and webinars. 

    The lead magnet is usually placed on the website to attract visitors, give them valuable information,  and entice them to sign up with the brand. 
  • Opt-in form
    This is one of the ways your customers willingly provide you with their information. When customers fill up an ‘Opt-in’ form, they acknowledge and consent to receive your brand’s emails. These forms can be provided on the website as a pop-up, have a dedicated landing page, or as small widgets to enter their email address.

    While this may seem like an essential thing to do, the right to opt-in stays with the prospect and is required by law. You cannot send emails to people who haven’t subscribed to them.
  • Exit pop-ups
    Unlike opt-in forms, exit pop-ups must convert people who might be inching closer to exiting your page. It’s a tiny nudge, as a last try in case the visitor is genuinely interested. You can personalize exit pop-ups to only open for new visitors and not existing subscribers, and trigger it based on visitor behavior or timing.
Focus on content

Having a clear idea of whom you’re communicating and what kind of goals you want to achieve gives you clarity on the type of email content you need to create. Have a good mix of emails that would interest them in opening your email and engaging with you. Whatever type of email you’re choosing to send, make sure the email has one theme throughout, and not random pieces of information stitched together into a newsletter. Here are some of the most commonly used emails:

  • Newsletters: These emails contain a roundup of the best blogs/products, news of upcoming events, or any other information related to your brand, customized according to your subscriber’s preference. 

  • Drip campaigns: Emails are sent based on a customer’s interactions with your website or content. These are triggered emails, also called transactional emails. Their purpose is to engage with your leads and guide them through the marketing funnel. Some of the most common drip campaigns are welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, re-engagement emails, cross-sell emails, email courses, etc. These campaigns are designed to send different emails over time to ensure your customer stays on their brand journey. 

  • New product/feature email: When you launch a new product, you want the whole world to know about it, especially your existing customers. Emails provide a brilliant opportunity to educate and inform your audience on your product’s new features and up-sell or cross-sell. Since your subscribers are already interested in communications with your brand, they will likely be interested in your new products.

  • Feedback email: These are also triggered and transactional emails, but many companies skip sending them. Asking your customers for feedback and review is a great way to continue engagement post-purchase and ensure a thoroughly satisfying purchasing cycle. By sending these emails, you let customers know that you care for their opinion, and with the feedback you receive, you can modify your products to meet their needs. These can help you get testimonials and case studies, further helping you create brand awareness and credibility. 

  • Promotional email: Promotional emails sare essentially seasonal and packed with sales, offers, and great deals. These inform customers of steep discounts and offers that are currently available with a deadline. The limited period offer gives emails a sense of urgency. You’ll find these offers coming in around festivals and holiday seasons and rake up quite a bit of revenue, especially since most customers are in a jolly good mood!

Email frequency

There’re no hard rules on how often you can communicate with your customers. The number of emails you send your customers is something that would be unique for your brand. While you experiment with the right number of emails to send, there’s the danger of subscribers opting out of your emails. This is something that’s bound to happen, and marketers have to live with it. The number of emails you send will vary depending on the number of email campaigns you’re running, so make sure to account for all the emails. Creating an email content calendar will help keep track of the emails you’re sending.

Email copy and email design

Now that your content bucket list is ready, it’s time to focus on your writing and email design style. Your email should reflect your brand and have a similar design ethos and writing style to maintain a brand image. Incorporate your brand colors while designing the newsletter and other emails, and keep them crisp and simple. The more you complicate the design, the more you struggle with being consistent. Keep the email short and engaging. If it’s too long, you risk your customers dropping out of your emails halfway and not making it to your call-to-actions. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your reader, so make sure your design and copy are stunning and witty.

Schedule and automate

Create a content calendar, and set up the emails as a part of a journey builder to schedule and keep track of the content you’re sending out. By scheduling and automating your emails, you save a lot of time that you could otherwise spend creating more unique branded content. Automated emails, especially drip campaigns, ensure that your subscribers are continually engaging with your brand and stay customers for life.

Monitor and analyze email metrics

Now that your email has been sent, it’s essential to monitor its performance and analyze the results and ensure you’re living up to your goals. There are specific KPI’s that are important to achieve a healthy marketing strategy. Look at various email metrics and improve the performance of your next emails.

Essential elements to every email marketing strategy

While you may know the steps to creating a brilliant email campaign, here’s a look at some of the things you should do, and risks to watch out to jeopardize your campaigns.


A key to converting and engaging with customers is personalizing their experiences. This makes people feel special, and they know you’re taking care of their interests and needs. By understanding what’ is important to them and catering to their needs, you stand a better chance of converting your leads. This is also a great way to increase brand retention among customers because they’ll remember you better. 

Personalization leads to brand retention, and brand retention provides a great way to increase sales. According to research, it costs five times more to attract new customers than to keep an existing one. Personalized emails are a cost-effective and sure-shot way to nurture and convert leads.

Email lists

While it may be tempting, we strongly discourage buying a mailing list. It may seem like a great option when you’re starting or experiencing a slow subscription growth, but buying a mailing list can do more damage to your marketing campaign than good. 

Having a list of uninterested subscribers does your marketing campaign no good. That leads us to our second issue with buying a mailing list - you violate GDPR rules that clearly state that people should be willing to receive your communication. Grow your email list organically, and keep interested subscribers happy.


Triggered emails are one of the best things to happen to marketers. You now have enough information about your customers, their personas, and the stage of their customer journey to deliver personalized experiences. You can segment your audience based on shared traits and set triggered automated emails. This way, you send your customers relevant and personalized content at the right time.

Subject lines

Subject lines dictate if people will open your email and read them. Make sure you spend enough time coming up with a great line and not keep it to the last minute. Try keeping your email subject lines short(40-50 characters.) This is because more people are now viewing their emails on their phones, and you don’t want your content to get cut midway. Ensure your subject line is optimized through A/B testing.


Email autoresponders are a series of automated emails that are sent to your customers because of an action triggered by them. Most autoresponders are transactional emails and have a great open rate. These can be a complete game-changer for your email marketing strategy. Use email autoresponders to save time, nurture leads, convert them, follow up, and more without much effort from you. All of you have to do is create the content, set the triggers, and watch your autoresponders bring additional revenue.

Dynamic content

As we mentioned earlier, personalized emails have a better email open rate and conversion rate. To achieve this, it’s essential to make sure your emails are dynamic. Customize your content to suit different segments and boost the effectiveness of your emails. Add the variables that need to be personalized, and set it to change according to your segments commonalities based on demographics, location, buying behavior, etc.

Social sharing

Emails remain one of the most favored marketing channels, but social media is an excellent tool too. By integrating both channels, you can make the most of your marketing strategy. You can use social media to grow your mailing list and use your mailing list to increase your social media followers. The idea is that if people are interested in getting emails from you, then they should be interested in your social media content too.


Due to the billions of spam emails sent daily, and brands resorting to buying mailing lists, email regulations have been enforced to keep a check on these malpractices and ensure that authentic brands’ delivery rates are not compromised. CAN-SPAM and GDPR are two central regulating bodies. CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing and protects your subscribers’ right to receive emails they’ve willingly accepted. GDPR Compliance gives your customers the freedom to opt-in or out of your emails. It’s mandatory to allow customers to opt-out of emails if they no longer wish to receive communication from you. 

These regulations are in place to reduce spam emails and spam complaints, thereby protecting your delivery rates. Make sure you study these guidelines before forming your strategy.


With more people viewing content on their mobile phones, it’s important to ensure your emails are optimized to be viewed on various devices. If you don’t optimize your emails or even websites for phones, your subscribers will have difficulty reading your email. When readability gets affected, you can say goodbye to increasing your click-through rates. Optimizing your email means optimizing every email element, right from your copy, images, email subject lines, email design, till your call-to-action. An excellent way to make sure your email is good to go is to view it on your phone and make sure everything is perfect before sending it out.


Timing is everything. When you send your emails, timing can sometimes be the deciding factor of your email metrics. Sending emails when you know your audience is available is the best way to ensure an increase in email open rates. The recommended time to send emails is between 9-11 AM and 1-3 PM during the middle of the week. Of course, as with all other elements, the only right way to find out what time works for your audience is by testing. That brings us to our next aspect of email marketing – A/B testing!

A/B testing

It’s normal to be wondering which content, sent at what time, in which template will drive the best results. The only way to find out is to test the different variations and elements. Finding the perfect email template that works for your brand involves several permutations and combinations. That’s why A/B testing is by far the best way to narrow down on what works for you. You can test different content, email templates, subject lines, writing styles, buttons, timings, etc. A/B testing ensures you have the perfect formula for a brilliant email.

Selecting the right email marketing tool

Having a reliable and trustworthy Email Service Provider (ESP) is a great tool to have if you’re looking to maximize the benefits of your email marketing strategies. Make sure the email marketing tool you pick allows you to create, personalize, and optimize your emails effortlessly. You don’t want to spend too much time designing and redesigning every email, because that defeats the purpose of having an ESP. A good ESP should be able to:


An email has a lot to offer and can be a great source of increasing your revenues cost-effectively.  Create an effective and efficient email marketing strategy template that you can reuse, thereby saving you a lot more time and effort. The key takeaways from this guide are to ensure you know whom you’re talking to, know what they want, and give them just that. Keep your customer in mind while creating an email campaign, and you’ll have a lot more success.