Planning Your Email Marketing Content
I am an organizational junkie. There is a special place in my heart for Google Docs and calendars. My fondness for planning makes me especially well-suited for managing effective email marketing campaigns. If schedules don’t make your own heart go pitter-pat, this blog post is for you. We’re going to figure out how to make it painless for you to create e-newsletters that are chock full of juicy, irresistible content.
For starters, don’t just recycle old news because you don’t know what else to put in this week’s newsletter. Plan ahead. In my past life I was an email marketer for a family owned craft business that sent weekly emails for their quilting, knitting, and tole painting brands (yes, tole painting is a thing. Google it.) I planned our content at least eight weeks in advance to coincide with our six week print catalog cycle. Maybe you don’t send your emails weekly, or maybe you’re tied to an awkward schedule; it might make more sense for you to plan quarterly or monthly. I’ll admit, planning in advance can be tricky, and you may have to stay flexible so that you can make adjustments based on inventory, revenue goals, or unforeseen circumstances.
The glorious benefit to planning ahead is that it gives you time to create strong content or to figure out how you can incorporate existing content from other marketing campaigns into your email marketing. You can also use email marketing as a tool to ramp up sales during slow periods if you can predict them using year-over-year trending by scheduling sales, product launches, or special promotions during slow times.
Promotions, sales, and coupon codes generally yield high click through rates, high conversion rates, and they’re usually the most frequently forwarded emails. However you can’t offer sales and discounts in every email, or you’ll train your customers that they should always wait for bargains and never pay full price. Customers who are trained to wait for deep discounts are not going to help your margins or your bottom line. You need to get a little crazy and mix things up a bit. Don’t become a discount-dependent marketer.
When you’re creating your plan, think about new products, planned sales, and any other special promotions you’re already scheduling for social media, print campaigns, or other marketing pushes. OK, now pencil those in first. Now let’s look at the spaces that are leftover that you need to fill. If your sales have a set end date, add “last chance to save” or “last week of sale” messages to your calendar too. Now we’ve got a good idea of the times in your sales cycle that are slower and will require stronger content. Here’s the point where the planning process gets a little more creative. Cue the caffeine and pull-and-peel Twizzlers.
If you’re stuck for content, seasonality is a good place to start. Mark every holiday on your calendar so that you can plan around them. Include wacky holidays like Groundhog’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Month (it’s in May, you knew that right? Wouldn’t it be fun to give teachers a discount for the month?) Planning your email content is pretty easy right now since we’re in the midst of the holiday season. You can talk about gift cards, create lists of most wished for items, link to a blog post about what your staff wants for Christmas or Hanukkah this year, and feature gift ideas for Moms, sorority sisters, members of your quilting guild… you get the idea. But we’re planning in advance, remember?
What are you going to do in February? Maybe you can work with your purchasing department now to schedule a one week sale on pink and red items during the first week of the month for Valentine’s Day. Feature organizational items or work out gear to help your customers keep the New Year’s resolutions they made last month. Start planning a Super Bowl, President’s Day, or Mardi Gras themed email. Or create a special campaign to celebrate International Condom Day (which coincidentally falls on Valentine’s Day, who knew?). Maybe you can partner with a non-profit to create a cause marketing campaign for the month of February and give your customers the warm fuzzies when they think of your brand. SheerID can help you create and manage awesome cause marketing campaigns, and in addition to being Black History Month, February happens to be Children’s Dental Health Month, American Heart Month, Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, and Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month. I’m hoping the organizations heading up Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month get a little help from some big corporate sponsors, because they have their work cut out for them. Do you know what Marfan Syndrome is? (Turns out, it’s a genetic disorder of the connective tissue.) Point is, since you’re planning ahead, you have time to create special product categories, talk the purchasing team into ordering extra stock, make landing pages or blog posts that fit into your theme, or take new photos of an existing item to make it seem fresh and new.
Be sure to plan some content that makes your customers feel valued. Customers who have subscribed to your email list should be treated with care. Odds are good that these are your most loyal customers. They are your repeat customers and your brand evangelists. Show them they’re special. Consider giving them sneak peeks of upcoming products (but don’t give them too much advance notice, if they like what they see, they may hold their orders!). Create interactive content like polls and contests just for them.
Here’s another idea. You could also give them exclusive discounts, coupon codes, or special offers once in a while that can only be redeemed by your subscribers. I know, I know, you can’t do that because then the codes or discounts will go viral. I’ve been there. But I’ve got news for you. You can use SheerID to verify that anyone who tries to redeem the offer or use the coupon code is actually on your email list. It’s an email marketer’s dream come true. If your company offers new customer discounts, offering the occasional exclusive discount to your subscribers can go a long way towards pacifying your existing customers and preventing them from feeling like new customers are more important to your company than they are. Exclusive subscriber offers also give your readers one more reason to open your emails and to stay subscribed.
So that should give you plenty to do today. Go plan your email marketing content for February and March. Post your ideas in the comments, maybe you’ll inspire your fellow blog readers or get featured in a future SheerID blog post!
Then check back next week because I’m going to blog about how to create awesome subject lines. If you can’t stand the suspense, you can request a copy now of our white paper, How to Get the Most of Your Email Marketing.