Most people start email marketing with the right goals in mind.
They want to increase revenue, attract new customers, and strengthen relationships with their existing audience.
But then they struggle.
They feel lost, not knowing what to send or when to send it.
In the end, they send out an underperforming email or just give up without sending at all. Either way, they’re leaving money on the table.
People fail at email marketing because they don’t have a plan.
An email marketing plan helps you stay focused, motivated, and accountable.
This means you never have to wonder what and when you’re going to send.
If you need a little help getting started, we’re here with the tools you need to plan your email marketing strategy in 15 minutes or less.
Ready to get started?
3 Simple Steps to Planning Your Email Marketing Strategy for the Year
Before you begin, make sure to print out the worksheets below to guide you through the process.
Using these worksheets and the directions below, you’ll create a simple plan designed to make your email marketing a success.
Note: Steps 1 and 2 should take a total of 15 minutes, with step 3 taking another 15 minutes.
Step 1: Start with the important dates for your business
For this step, use the 2017 Email Marketing Opportunities worksheet.
This worksheet lists all 12 months of the year, along with some blank spaces next to each.
Take a few minutes to jot down the important dates for your business to give yourself a big-picture view of the year ahead.
Do you hold an annual summer sale? What about special events to promote your nonprofit? Fill in those important dates now.
Step 2: Fill in the gaps with holidays
Do you have any months without much going on? Use the 2017 Holidays worksheet to give you ideas for open months.
Are there any holidays on this list that would be a good fit for your business?
Fill in any empty months on your 2017 Email Marketing Opportunities worksheet with major or little-known holidays — like World Chocolate Day or Book Lovers Day.
Hint: Even if the holiday doesn’t directly relate to your business, you can still use it in a promotion. For example, on World Chocolate Day you could offer free chocolate to everyone who visits your retail store.
Here’s an example of what your worksheet might look like:
By taking a few minutes to jot down your ideas, you’ll have a plan to communicate with your subscribers at least once a month.
Step 3: Plot your emails into your calendar
For this step, use the 2017 Email Marketing Calendar worksheet.
This calendar may look simple, but it’s essential to achieving your email marketing goals.
Use your completed Email Marketing Opportunities worksheet to mark the important events and holidays from each month onto your Calendar worksheet.
Then, decide if the event is a time-based promotion or a non-promotional email.
Hint: A good email marketing calendar should include both.
Time-based promotions contain time-sensitive information and encourage your subscribers to take a specific action, such as buying a discounted item, registering for a new class, or buying tickets to an upcoming show.
For time-based promotions, plan on sending a short three-part email series to get the word out, themed around:
- An Announcement (of the event/desired action, 2 weeks before)
- A Reminder (to attend event/do action, 1 week before)
- The Last Chance (to take part in the event/do action, 1-2 days before)
Here’s how you could start filling in your calendar to plan for this promotion.
Non-promotional emails, on the other hand, will be less sales-driven and timely, and more focused on building relationships and providing value to your customers.
Think of this as a regular monthly update to your audience.
Tip: For non-promotional emails, try offering an educational video or a blog post with advice.
This might seem like a lot to do all at once, but don’t worry. Even if you aren’t able to plan the entire year in one sitting, having just three months planned will help guide your email marketing strategy and reduce your stress.
Putting it all together
We’ve gone over a lot in this post, so let’s summarize:
With your first 15 minutes, use your Marketing Opportunities worksheet to fill in important dates specific to your business/nonprofit.
Then, use the 2017 Holidays Worksheet to fill in any gaps with major and little-known holidays that relate to your business.
With your second 15 minutes, fill in your Email Marketing Calendar with the dates from the Marketing Opportunities worksheet, scheduling a mix of time-based promotions and non-promotional emails.
Creating a plan for your email marketing strategy may seem challenging at first, but by following the steps above you’ll have an effective and easy-to-follow plan in no time!
Looking for more email marketing tips? Sign up for our newsletter! Our Hints & Tips newsletter delivers our best marketing resources straight to your inbox.
Ready to give email marketing a try? Sign up for a free, 60-day email marketing trial!