Effective Email Marketing Strategies: Planning Your Content

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If you want to send more effective marketing emails, start with a roadmap. A clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish will help you reach your objective.

Are you hosting an event? Make sure you’re focused on driving readers to register.

Are you introducing a new product? Create energy and interest that leads readers to learn more (and buy).

Are you trying to enlighten your readers so you are considered a market leader? Deliver great content that showcases your brand


We use 4 key factors in planning email marketing campaigns (in this order):

What is the main call to action (CTA) that we’re hoping to get?
You’ll get better results if you think of one action in any email (yes, there may be some other optional actions, but one should clearly dominate): BUY, LEARN MORE, REGISTER, TELL A FRIEND, WATCH.

What is the most concise and useful way of communicating your message?
If it gets too long, your readers probably won’t keep reading.

What is ‘the hook’?
Ah, creativity comes to the forefront… You won’t get solid results without a compelling subject line, offer, endorsement or motivation.

How can we make this message look its best?
What looks better – the 4-color ads in Vanity Fair or the classifieds in the back of the LA Weekly? Looking good matters.


It’s always best to study from examples, so we’ll highlight some emails we’ve received recently that showcase these key points.


Call to Action

Three newsletters that we read religiously about online marketing come from CoSchedule, ConversionXL and SumoMe. Each of these respected companies uses a solid call to action in the subject of these emails:

From: Garrett from CoSchedule
Subject: Free Webinar: How To Keep Your Email Subscribers While Building Your List

From: Peep at ConversionXL
Subject: Join my conversion coaching program

From: SumoMe
Subject: Give me 30 minutes, I’ll give you a best year ever

See how the subject line points where the email is headed? Each of the authors are subject matter experts in their area, which makes it easy to believe they’re going to deliver on the promise if you open the message.


Communicating Your Focused Email Marketing Message

Speaking of subject matter experts, each of the next three examples have amazing credibility in their fields, and the content of their newsletters regular lead to discussions at the office or around the dinner table. That is, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas.” These emails are packed with useful information (not selling you anything), positioning the company as THE go-to resource. Moz is one of the best resources of best practices with search engine optimization (offering a subscription service to monitor SEO); Wistia leads with information, teaching companies to create better engagement with videos (it just so happens they have a business video platform); and Smart Classroom Management teaches teachers how to teach, with a weekly blog post (and they have written a series of how-to books for teachers).

From: Meredith at Moz
Subject: The Local Search Shake-up and The New Google Plus – Moz Top 10

From: Wistia
Subject: Filming your laptop for better screencasts

From: Smart Classroom Management
Subject: How To Be Consistent From The First Day Of School To The Last


The Hook

If you’re a startup founder trying to raise capital, one of the most colorful mentors in the space is Oren Klaff, author of Pitch Anything. If you saw this subject in your InBox, would you open it?

From: Oren Klaff
Subject: If you want or need venture capital, this interview contains gold

If you’re looking to optimize your life and build good habits, James Clear shares tons of useful ideas. He frequently bridges cultures with language, as shown in this subject line introducing a new word (from Japanese) that creates intrigue:

From: James Clear
Subject: Shoshin: This Zen Concept Will Help You Stop Being a Slave to Old Behaviors and Beliefs

On the flip side of the coin, you may want to make sure you aren’t using some of these bad subject lines:

Subject: we had an idea
Subject: Introducing the brand new…
Subject: Announcement
Subject: Newsletter v15.08 August 2015
Subject: We need your help…

For the record, these were easy examples to find – in the deleted messages folder.


Great Looking Message

Unsurprisingly, newsletters featuring solid typography, clean design and well-done photos can deliver a more effective message.

Twisted Puppy: Email Marketing Strategies

When looking for good examples, we found a number of photography emails that provide insight into what makes something stand out. Newsletters like COOPH, Death to the Stock Photo and iStockPhoto aim to please the eye.


Twisted Puppy: Email Marketing Strategies

Photos aren’t the only visually-compelling tool. As shown in the well-designed email offer from Evernote, a simple, clean, targeted offer can be just as appealing.
Twisted Puppy: Email Marketing Strategies

One other example worth pointing out comes from Business Rockstars, who drive traffic to their video content with little text and graphical “covers”.


Make sure you prepare better marketing emails using our four fundamentals:

Pick one call to action (CTA) per email.

Write simple, concise text to support your message.

Deliver an attention-getting hook.

Create a clean, attractive presentation: one or two typefaces with attractive images in a simple design.


Make your next message count!