How To Create a Successful Email Campaign in 11 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 1, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An illustration of a pair of hands holding a smartphone, with icons floating above the screen to indicate email components

The use of email campaigns is a common marketing tool, as it has the power to reach thousands of people with minimal investment. They can help companies engage with consumers and potential customers directly and consistently over time. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in marketing or social media management, it’s important to understand what an email campaign is and how creating a wide-reaching campaign can benefit your venture. 

In this article, we define what an email campaign is, explain why companies use them and provide an 11 step-by-step guide you can use to create the most successful email campaign possible. 

Key takeaways:

  • An email campaign is a type of marketing tool where companies create a core message, typically to promote a product or service, and compile it into an email that they can send to a vast number of consumers at once.

  • Email campaigns can be valuable marketing tools for companies because they have the capacity to reach a large number of people and are easy to monitor in terms of progress and reach. 

  • When creating an email campaign, it’s important that you identify the purpose for your project, your target audience and your goals for the outcome of the campaign.

What is an email campaign?

An email campaign is a formal and organized effort of email marketing. Email marketing is a type of digital marketing technique involving sending mass emails to customers and prospective customers. The goals of an email campaign include announcing a new product or service, gaining new customers and prompting existing customers into new sales activity. Email campaigns can happen as one-off events or regularly scheduled marketing exercises that occur daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Read more: 7 Types of Email Marketing You Should Be Sending

Why do companies create email campaigns?

Companies use email campaigns because email is used regularly among many people, and it's a highly effective means of making sales online. Here are four key reasons email campaigns are so effective at both making new sales and increasing existing sales:

Email usage is widespread

Vast quantities of customers and potential customers are known to check their email at least once daily, making the chances of emails from an email campaign being seen highly likely.

A company's email list is proprietary

The list of customers and prospects that your company builds and maintains is entirely owned by your company and can't be taken from it in the same way that other social media contacts can be. Social Media accounts and in turn contacts can be suspended or canceled whereas email contacts cannot.

An email campaign's success is easy to track

Using data and analytics, companies can keep statistics regarding purchasing trends related to email marketing. If the stats show a consistent increased amount of spending by consumers versus those who have not been targeted in email campaigns, then the marketing team can use that data to inform their actions.

Inbox messages increase awareness

Sending customers and prospective customers regular emails is helpful for maintaining brand awareness. Increasing brand awareness and product awareness are crucial to generating sales and revenue.

Related: 12 Marketing Tips for Your Marketing Campaign

How to create an email campaign

Here are 11 steps to follow to create an email campaign to reach your audience and meet your goals:

1. Consider your stakeholders

Identify who the ultimate stakeholders of your company's email campaign are. Email campaigns are generally joint efforts between the sales and marketing teams, and these people are often ultimately responsible for the success of the campaign. Consider what tools, resources, and human capital are needed to bring the campaign to fruition.

Related: Q&A: What Is Email Marketing?

2. Meet with your creative team

Your creative marketing team will play a critical role in the execution of your email campaign. Schedule regular meetings and touch points with the creative team during the campaign drafting process to ensure that look and wording of the emails are consistent with your goals and campaign message.

3. Determine your purpose for your campaign

Email campaigns can have multiple simultaneous purposes and goals. They act as driving factors in the content creation and strategy of the campaign. Here are six common reasons for using an email campaign:

  • To entertain: An entertaining email campaign is one that produces engagement through exciting and captivating means such as humor, intrigue or celebrity endorsement.

  • To inform: An informative email campaign provides new and interesting information that can help convince the reader of the value of a product or service.

  • To persuade: A persuasive email campaign provides evidence and anecdotes of the effectiveness of a product or service, with the intention of persuading the reader into thinking that making a purchase is in their best interest.

  • To increase brand awareness: Email campaigns that center around brand awareness are used to bring a new company to the marketplace or to help launch a new sub-brand, product or product line..

  • To increase sales: At the core of most email campaigns is the goal to increase sales both by engaging existing customers and acquiring new customers.

  • To increase subscriptions: Email campaigns can also be used to generate increased numbers of new subscriptions or ensure existing subscribers renew or extend their subscriptions.

Related: What Is Rhetoric? A Guide to Persuasive Communication in the Workplace

4. Identify what products or services you're pitching

Clearly identifying the products or services that are being pitched in the emails, helps the target audience quickly identify and understand the intent and purpose of a message. Most people receive a large number of emails per day, so brevity and directness are important for connecting with customers and potential customers.

Related: How To Write an Email Pitch in 8 Steps

5. Know your target audience

Crafting language in your emails that speaks directly to the motivations and desires of your audience is critical to email campaign success. Knowing the target audience and how to best interest and entice them is an essential component of how to design an email campaign.

Read more: Defining Your Target Audience: What It Is and Why It's Important

6. Compile a recipient list

Mining your company's contact list of current customers, former customers and prospects is a crucial step in compiling the recipient list of the email campaign. Contact details are regularly found in internal customer databases or tools such as a customer relationship management system.

7. Decide the specifics of your campaign

It's important to clearly define the specific logistical parameters of the email campaign. Here are five elements to consider when designing your email campaign:

Length of time

Determine the length of time the campaign will last, as length may differ based upon the goal of a campaign. A campaign focused on a new product being launched may only run up to the day of launch for example.

Total number of emails

Decide how many total emails you want to send to each recipient throughout the campaign and the length of time between them. This way, you can monitor progress based on how long recipients have had access to your email campaign.

Time of day

Choose the best time of day for maximum engagement with your emails. Research existing data studies on the times of day that most people open and read their emails to determine this.

Overall message

Defining the overall message of the email through the careful choices of wording, length and tone is a crucial success factor in an email campaign. Consider creating a list of different mission statements that describe your campaign’s goals and ask other people on the team for feedback to choose the best one.

Design aesthetic

A visually catching and pleasing design to the email itself can be a decisive factor in the recipient's decision to engage with the message. If you have any graphic designers or creative individuals on your team, consider reaching out to see if they can create any custom logos, designs or any other visual content to elevate your campaign.

Related: 11 Essential Email Marketing Tips

8. Create enticing and engaging material

The words and images you choose to use in an email campaign are extremely important. They contribute to the overall effectiveness of your design aesthetic, and they play a crucial role in the success of your campaign. Here are four areas to focus on when trying to create an enticing and engaging email campaign:

Email subject lines

An attention-grabbing email subject is needed to ensure your audience is compelled to click on the message and read further. The exact number of words is less important than arranging the subject line in a way that communicates the most important information first.

Attention-grabbing copy

Content and copy represent the language used in advertising and marketing. It’s important that the people viewing your emails feel compelled to continue reading.

Images that evoke specific emotions

Imagery that evokes the desired emotion of the message, is a powerful tool for successful email campaign composition. It’s especially effective when paired with attention-grabbing text.

Easy-to-navigate links

Readers should be able to identify and navigate to embedded links very easily. Leverage these links to direct viewers to shopping pages, social media sites or your company homepage.

Related: 9 Steps You Can Take To Write Effective Sales Copy (Plus Example)

9. Review marketing regulations for email campaigns

Many countries have laws and regulations that companies must follow. These rules are designed to protect email users from unwanted communications and spam. Consult with the company's compliance team during the planning and design of your campaign to ensure proper adherence with rules.

Related: What Is a Compliance Program?

10. Test and review

Before officially launching the email campaign, it’s important to review, edit and test the message. Ensure that it is free of spelling and grammar errors, the layout is correctly being displayed across multiple platforms like mobile phones and tablets and that all embedded links work and direct to the correct place. Consider conducting a small focus group to see how people react to the text, images, links and layout of the email before going live with your entire distribution list.

Related: How To Build a Successful Email Funnel for Your Business

11. Track your performance

Keeping track of metrics and key performance indicators will provide insight into the level of success of an email campaign. Here are four key areas to track:

  • Open rate

  • Click rate

  • Website traffic from embedded links

  • Sales from embedded links

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