How to Create a Winning Email Marketing Campaign

Marketing emails inundate many inboxes, so creating an email that stands out from the rest can feel like an impossible task. But the brands who have mastered the secret to building a killer email campaign can tell you it’s well worth the effort.


Why is Email Marketing Important?

Email campaigns encourage subscribers to take actionーwhether that be visiting the business’s website, making a purchase, or leaving a review. Email is the biggest source of ROI for 59% of marketers. The average office worker checks email 30 times per hour, and 58% of adults check their email first thing in the morning. Plus, a whopping 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. 

Effective email marketing can capitalize on this behavior, converting prospects and engaging existing customers. But to fully engage with your audience through email marketing campaigns, you have to provide substantial value to them. 


How to Start an Email Marketing Campaign

You can create the foundation for a powerful email marketing engine in ten steps. Let’s walk you through each one. 

1. Identify Your Goals

Before you set out on your email marketing journey, you should identify a few goals. These goals dictate which customer or prospect segments you’ll focus on, the format of your campaigns, and—perhaps most importantly—how you’ll measure results. 

Email marketing goals are often centered around making customers aware of new promotions, welcoming new subscribers, or re-engaging customers. Whatever goals you choose should directly connect to your business’s overall KPIs and objectives

2. Build a Targeted Email List

The simplest way to build a targeted email list is to import known contacts into a marketing tool. If you are already equipped with a roster of emails, start there and continue growing your list. However, if you are starting from scratch, you’ll need to find ways to get the attention of your customers and prospects.

The best way to entice visitors that land on your page to provide you with their contact information is to offer them something valuable in return. This could take the form of a free trial or demo, an eBook or guide, or a video tutorial. Take the time to determine what your customers will find most enticing, and then include calls-to-action on appropriate pages throughout your website.

Download the Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing

3. Identify Different Email Types

After you’ve pinpointed your email marketing goals, you must identify the different types of emails you want to send. These might include newsletters, new subscriber emails, order confirmations, or discount codes.

Each type of email should correlate to one of your goals. For instance, you can use newsletters to accomplish your goal of keeping existing customers up-to-date by highlighting customer success stories and announcing new developments at your company. 

To boost direct sales, you can develop promotional email types notifying customers of free shipping, recent price reductions, or freebies. If you suspect that customers who bought a certain product from you will enjoy your new product, send them a new product announcement and highlight its value to them in terms of what you know from their past buying experience.

4. Understand Your Audience

Your customers and prospects want to feel confident that you understand their needs and have created products or services that exceed their expectations. Tailoring emails to various segments of your audience is a great way to engage your customers and leads on a more personal level.

There are many ways to analyze your audience for free. Facebook and Instagram have insights on your followers’ locations, interests, and even the times of day they peruse social media. Google Analytics can show you how visitors browse your website and where they are accessing it from.

Use these details to add personal touches to your campaigns. Send emails at new times, insert a customer’s first name in an email subject line, or invite customers to events or meetups in their vicinity. Remember to customize messaging to appeal to specific demographics as well.

5. Leverage Email Tools

Keeping track of your email list, audience, and goals can get complicated quickly. Email marketing tools easily integrate with customer relationship management software you might already have. In addition, email tools can logically segment your audience, allowing you to craft email templates personalized to the attributes of each segment. 

Email marketing tools can also measure the effectiveness of each campaign. Use these analytics to experiment with your campaigns and see how changes you make affect metrics like open rate.

6. Plan your Email Cadence

It’s not enough to send one email to each person on your list. Your email campaigns should deliver multiple emails at different frequencies. These drip campaigns can be used to convert prospects into full-fledged customers and turn new customers into loyal fans. You can choose to begin your drip campaigns when customers subscribe to your email list, download a case study or white paper, or request a demo.

The first campaign you will likely need to design is one that orients new customers to your product or service. Generally, the first email in this campaign outlines best practices for using your product or service. 

A few days later, you can send another email asking if the customer needs any assistance, perhaps pointing them towards help pages, videos, or blog posts. Over the next few weeks, your customers should see emails demonstrating new features, and they should eventually receive one that links to another offering that matches their potential interests and needs.

7. Write Your Copy

Memorable subject lines and short, to-the-point copy are essential components of a great email. Subject lines should only be 40-50 characters, so use them to feature the key takeaway of your email. Then use preview copy to give some evidence or support to ease your readers into the selling portion of your email. Pitching right away can be off-putting, so save the sales talk for the latter part of your message.

At the end of the email, combine a compelling offer with an obvious call-to-action so it’s clear what you are proposing and the reader has easy access to it. You might also contemplate adding subtle calls-to-action at the start and mid-point of emails, just to reiterate what you are urging the reader to do.

Download the Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing

8. Plan the Email Design

Appealing visuals and intuitive design should be key elements in your campaign strategy. Your emails should be beautiful and easy to read and understand. Besides breaking up text, diagrams and pictures allow readers to more fully understand your product and messaging. 

Images should always include alt text to account for any user disability. And make sure that your email designs work well on every device. Users won’t bother adjusting their phones, tablets, or desktops to read emails properly.

9. Test and Track Metrics

There are many variables when it comes to email marketing. Everything from your subject lines to your calls to action to your layout can greatly affect the outcomes of your campaigns. Keep a close eye on how many unsubscribes, clicks, and forwards your emails get.

If email bounces start to rise, there could be something blocking your emails from landing in subscribers’ inboxes. If your open rates are low, your list could include too many inactive members who never even open your emails. Removing these people from your list may be a good ideaーit’s better to focus on active subscribers than a huge email list of inactive prospects and customers.

Use A/B testing to try out several versions of an email template on members of the same audience segment. These experiments can help you determine which design is the best fit for the audience you are targeting. 

Look at the timing of your emails as well, since some people check their email at specific points throughout the day. Monitor the devices your customers use, too. If a significant portion of your audience is checking their inboxes on mobile devices, you need to ensure every email you send is optimized for smartphone use.

10. Improve your Campaign

Continuously improving your campaign is paramount to email marketing success. Your audience and your brand are constantly evolving, so your emails need to follow suit. Use the metrics you measure to note which campaigns resonate best with certain populations, and compare the performance of campaigns that have different images or brand colors.

Something as simple as font choice can have an impact on customer engagement. Test new strategies such as third party endorsements, fun animations, and clever calls to action to see what sticks. And finally, always ensure that the tone of your copy and the branding of your emails match your posts on social media and on your website. Every member of your audience should have a seamless experience interacting with your brand across any platform. 


4 Great Email Marketing Campaign Examples

Any company can use email marketing to grow their business, regardless of industry. Below, we examine businesses in the SaaS, sports, finance, and engineering sectors that have all reaped the benefits of strong email marketing. 


Trimble is a B2B business that helps customers model and analyze building and civil infrastructure while improving compliance to building standards. When Trimble adopted a more unified marketing automation platform, the company was able to connect engagement strategies from all three of their major franchises. With their new tool, Trimble created robust email templates that welcomed, nurtured, and re-engaged their customers. The template library led to a $500,000+ reduction in martech spend and thousands of work hours saved through cloning and automation.


Redstone Federal Credit Union serves 370,000 members and handles more than $3.5 billion in assets. The credit union turned to an automation tool to drive awareness and capture more customers via their website. This platform enabled Redstone to introduce new drip campaigns and targeted messaging for each of their customer segments. In just seven weeks, this strategy yielded 5,500 new and upgraded accounts.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers—one of the National Basketball Association’s more innovative franchises—sought to encourage fans of all demographics to come to the 150+ events held at Portland’s Rose Quarter. To foster a more fan-centric marketing approach, the Trail Blazers used an email marketing tool to construct multiple email campaigns focused on different types of fans. These campaigns caused 96% of season ticket holders to renew, and a 9% year-over-year increase in season ticket sales.


Aconex is a collaboration platform for construction and engineering projects around the globe. To reach their multinational customers and reduce costs, Aconex developed several email marketing programs to revamp their approach to lead nurturing and scoring. A multi-pronged email campaign generated 20,000 leads over four weeks, which initiated 10 face-to-face sales meetings, and ultimately a $62,000 deal.


Build Your Next Best Email Campaign Today

Those who ignore email marketing are missing out on an enormous potential audience and an opportunity to foster customer loyalty, produce leads, and convert prospects. The success of your email marketing depends heavily on the strength of your email list, how well you know your audience, the relatability of your copy, and your ability to improve upon your campaigns.

That may seem like a lot to keep track of, but SaaS solutions such as Marketo Engage make it easy to stay focused and productive. Within Marketo, your marketing team can create automated customer journey campaigns, use machine learning to present the most relevant content to each buyer, and interpret metrics that will optimize campaign performance. 

Marketo Engage harmonizes your marketing and sales strategies by cross-referencing sales playbooks and connecting your marketing activities to your CRM. Get ready to radically transform your customer experience management with a demo of Marketo Engage today!


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