What does it take to put together a successful email campaign? It all sounds pretty simple when you think of it. Segment your list, create the email, send it out, evaluate results, repeat. Right? Well, not so fast.
I’ve now spoken to small business owners and startup founders and they have the same initial feeling that it should just work. But, when it comes time to actually execute, something is missing. Although “email marketing” is the name of the game, there are actually many pieces you have to put into play and organize in order to make the most of it. There are landing pages, thank you pages, linking all to a CRM system and ensuring you are capturing leads and nurturing them.
So in order to help those thinking about how to start their own email marketing programs, and also for those interested in looking at the whole process in more detail to see what else can be done to improve results, let’s take a moment to deconstruct a typical email marketing campaign. The following is like the anatomy of an email marketing process with the pieces each dissected and analyzed.
Anatomy of an Email Marketing Campaign
In general, most email marketing campaigns will look something like the image shown below. You have an Email that is created, which will have a link to a specific Landing page, which in turn will link (not always, but usually if you have a form) to a Thank You page, which typically triggers a final Thank You email.
The email is the message you are sending out to a segment of your list. It contains the following key elements:
- Subject line
- Content / Offer
- Call to Action
- Unsubscribe link
Things to consider when crafting your email are:
- Time of day
- Day of week
- HTML vs. Text
- Send yourself vs via third party
- Design the email with the message in mind
- Dynamic content based on job title, role, industry, etc.
- Personalization (i.e. “Dear John…”)
All of these combined will influence well your email will perform.
The Landing Page
The landing page is the web page that holds the offer you talked about in your email. It doesn’t need to be an “offer” like in sales promotion, it could simply be a piece of content that you download or watch online.
The landing page contains usually the following elements:
- Offer / Content
- Registration Form
- Call to Action
Things to consider when crafting the landing page:
- Taking out website navigation
- Don’t just restate the email text, add more compelling reasons for the person to proceed with what you want them to do (i.e. what is the call to action)
- Short registration form instead of lengthy form
- Having no registration form at all (give away the content/offer)
Having people click on an enticing offer in an email is only half the battle. Will they actually go through with their intent and do what you want them to do, whether it is downloading the whitepaper, watching the video, or filling out a form? The design and content of your landing page is critical.
The Thank You Page
If your landing page has a registration form, you will need one of these. What happens after the person fills out your form? They should get access to the content they registered for. Your thank you page typically has:
- Thank you text, acknowledging the user’s time and interest
- The offer itself or a link to download it
Things to consider in your thank you page:
- Make it simple, people want to see their content right away
- Show them another offer after the links to their content (people who downloaded this are usually also interested in this other thing…)
- Tell them what to do if they have a problem downloading or accessing the material. Usually just an email address should do.
The Thank You Email
Not doing this one is a missed opportunity. After someone registers for your content, make sure they are able to download the offer by emailing them a quick “thank you” email containing a link to the material they were promised.
Your thank you email will typically consist of:
- Subject line
- Content / Offer
- Link to download
Other things to consider when crafting the thank you email are:
- Be brief. You are not trying to sell them on something they have already expressed an interest in
- Make the links to download/access the material very obvious
- At the end, you could tell them about another piece of content they might be interested in, with the appropriate link
- HTML vs. Text
Leveraging Email Analytics
You can also leverage your email marketing analytics to further enhance your campaign. After that first email goes out, you may want to craft a follow up email to people who didn’t take any action. For example:
- People who didn’t open the email
- People who didn’t click in any links in the email
- People who clicked but didn’t complete the registration form
The follow up email is a good opportunity to re-think the message and craft a different email that might entice those who didn’t take any action after the first one went out.
The image below shows the process taking into account the new email you may want to add to your email marketing process flow.
What Happens Behind the Scenes
As people click through your email, register on your landing page, and download your offer, you will want to make sure it is all being captured in a database somewhere. There isn’t a single email marketing software vendor out there that won’t have at least the simplest of analytics. From the moment you schedule your campaign to go out the email software is tracking everything. It will tell you who it was delivered to, who opened and didn’t open, which ones bounced, etc.
The next step, the landing/registration page should also have a way to communicate back to you the registrations. The least you want done is to have a way to get that information back to your CRM system so that you can track which prospects or customers interacted with the campaign and registered or downloaded your offer.
As you get to a point where Email Marketing becomes a key ingredient in your marketing toolbox you will want to start investing in a Marketing Automation solutions, because most of the MA solutions out there will give you some way to make this whole process a bit easier. The Marketing Automation software can not only track the email responses, but also the registrations from your landing page (if you used a form) and the downloads. In addition, the Marketing Automation software will help get people who responded to your email campaign into a lead nurturing process. In fact, many of your email marketing campaigns, once you have a Marketing Automation solution in place, will start looking very much like part of a bigger nurturing process themselves!
The image below shows the process flow with the Marketing Automation solution component.
And how about scoring? As you start playing with Marketing Automation, that’s the next step in thinking through your email campaign process. How will you score different interactions between all components? What score will people receive for opening but not downloading your offer? What score will you attribute to different offers on your landing page? And what score will you attribute to different fields in your registration form (if you have one)?
Where To Go From Here
Don’t worry if this sounds like too much to digest. Start small and go slowly. Don’t have a Marketing Automation solution yet? No worries.. use your Email Marketing system and just make sure that you have a way to get the results back to your CRM or whatever contact database you are using. Then, as you get more comfortable and grow your list and the frequency of campaigns, you can start looking at Marketing Automation.
The important thing is to use this anatomy of email marketing to think through all the steps and components and make sure that you are crafting compelling, consistent messages and that each step of the process is being optimized. I hope this brief exercise helped you get a better understanding of what goes on in creating an email marketing campaign.