Digital envelopes coming from computer screen
Email marketing campaigns help cement relationships with customers. — Getty Images

While creating and managing an email marketing campaign is a complex and sometimes cumbersome beast, grappling with it is made easier by keeping certain fundamentals in mind. The three keystones to running a successful email marketing campaign are:

  • understanding your goals
  • identifying your audience
  • measuring your effectiveness

Marketers have to leverage talents from a variety of skill sets to create and maintain an effective campaign: market analysis, graphic design, copywriting, and sales.

Know your goals

Your goals create the context for the campaign. They inform the campaign’s overall strategy as well as the metrics used to determine the campaign’s effectiveness. With a solidified purpose, the message for your audience comes into focus. By keeping a finger on the pulse of your campaign’s impact, you can assess when and where changes need to be made.

Earn subscribers

Getting subscribers to sign up for your email list is a wonderful accomplishment, but is ultimately meaningless if you don’t retain those subscribers. Creating impactful emails for first-time subscribers is essential to retaining them. That first email will say a lot about you to your new subscribers and give them an idea of what to expect from future messages from your company.

Take advantage of this opportunity to put your best foot forward. It’s important to make sure your messaging invites interaction with your company without being pushy or insistent. Give your audience a reason to look forward to receiving more messages from you.

Engage lapsed members

Every email list has its fair share of members who haven’t unsubscribed but who also aren’t engaging with your messages. These lapsed audience members are prime targets for testing out new messages to see what might have an impact on viewer engagement. Subject lines can play a large role in attracting the attention of your audience. You can also provide incentives within your email such as coupons or more direct and personalized invitations for feedback.

Categorize current subscribers

You can use your email messages to offer your subscribers choices in the form of multiple links or questionnaires. These campaigns will allow you to narrow down a larger list of generic members on your email list into more specific categories enabling you to create more targeted messages. Constantly monitoring engagement with your messages will allow you to sort and organize your audience.

Speak to engaged subscribers

Craft your messages for the engaged and loyal members of your audience, showing your acknowledgment and appreciation for their engagement. These audience members are superior targets for social media outreach. Making references to past communications and messages can help strengthen the feeling of a bond between your company and this group of engaged subscribers.

Make sales

While the overarching goal of marketing is to make sales, not every piece of correspondence should place that idea at the forefront of the messaging. Providing value to your audience in ways other than selling is an excellent way to earn the respect and loyalty of your customer base. For example, providing educational resources on certain products, industries, or current trends would be beneficial.

However, at other times, making a direct sales pitch may be appropriate. When this is the case, creating succinct sales messaging targeting your key audience is critical.

Take advantage of this opportunity to put your best foot forward. Give your audience a reason to look forward to receiving more messages from you.

Identify your audience

Regardless of the kind of product or service you offer, each member of your customer base is a unique person with specific ideas for what they want to get out of their relationship with your company. While it’s impossible to custom tailor a marketing campaign to each unique member of your mailing list, you want to attempt to address the various personalities within your customer base.

Different members of your audience are more likely to view different versions of your emails based on the devices they prefer to use. Formatting an email for a phone compared to a desktop screen is different. Make sure your messages are readable in various formats. It’s important to provide a link where the receiver can access a web version of the email in case formatting errors occur on certain devices.

Understanding your audience will also help you create a system for placing each subscriber on your list into a meaningful category. Categorization of your audience allows you to target them directly with messages and offers that will appeal to them while creating points of engagement.

Monitor your effectiveness

Monitoring is the third fundamental of effective marketing campaigns, but all three of these core aspects (goals, audience, monitoring) go hand in hand. Monitoring your effectiveness requires keeping data points throughout the process of researching and marketing. However, you also have to assess these data points to determine success rates for your email campaign.

Tracking tools provide valuable feedback for email marketing. You can view whether users open the emails, or you can track any links they click inside the message itself. Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes allow you to track where traffic to your page originated. Utilization of these codes enables you to get a deeper understanding of what’s working and what’s not.

The ability to see when you are succeeding can be equally, if not more, important than finding where you’re failing. Different audience members will respond in varying ways to your messaging. Failure to convert on your messaging might not be a failure on the part of the message itself, but rather a failure to accurately categorize the audience. The messaging may be extremely effective for some users while failing to impact others.

Keeping detailed data of your marketing efforts will allow you to understand better what the issue is you’re having. There are a lot of metrics you can be tabs on, but some tend to be more valuable than others.

Key metrics to track

  • Delivery rates – Just because you have an email list full of entries doesn’t mean each entry is a legitimate email address. Tracking delivery rates allows you to see the overall health of your subscription list.
  • Open rates – Keeping an eye on emails that are successfully delivered but never opened will give you a good idea for when your subject lines are in need of work or the overall frequency of your messages might be too high. If you send out too many emails, you run the risk of annoying your subscribers and diluting your messages.
  • Click-through rates – The effectiveness of the content of each email can be accurately assessed by seeing how many of your customers are receiving, viewing, and interacting with your emails. If you have a significant number of people reading your emails but never acting on the links, then your content or your design may need some work.

Tracking these metrics will help you better understand where and why your messages are failing or succeeding. Experimentation is often the only way to find out how to capitalize on each opportunity.

Just keep repeating

Repetition is the only way to improve upon past efforts. Take the information you glean from your monitoring and make changes accordingly. Track how those changes impact your metrics. This form of developing your message will guide you down the right path. In addition to repetition, A/B testing (also called split testing) is a wonderful way of finding out what works best.

A/B testing combined with refined metric tracking and analysis allows you to quickly test new ideas and analyze how well they work. The general concept is to craft emails that are similar, but with key differences—sometimes as simple as using different subject lines. By experimenting this way, identify your results and see which version performs best.

Utilize these tracking and repetition methods. Adhere to the core fundamentals of focusing on your goals and your audience. Measure your email campaign’s effectiveness. By staying on top of your messaging, you’ll make the most out of your email marketing campaigns.

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