Email marketing is about driving results.

Like many marketing professions, email marketing requires a multi-disciplinary approach.

Every email marketing professional drives those results through a variety of methods:

  • Copywriting
  • Design
  • Optimization
  • Automation
  • Strategic Consulting

Given the variety of skills – and technologies – needed for any email marketing plan, the marketer must develop a solid strategy for implementation.

Developing a Results-Oriented Email Marketing Strategy

Since the goal of any marketing plan is results, the marketer must develop a step-by-step cycle that can be split-tested, analyzed, and refined.

When every element of a plan is tied directly to the end result, it becomes easy to solve problems, identify opportunities, and make big gains.

There are four essential stages to any effective email marketing program: lead generation, lead nurturing, conversion, and recirculation.

Let’s look at these steps in detail.

1. Lead Generation

The top of any marketing funnel is the widest portion of the funnel, called “awareness.” At this stage, we make customers aware of our services and begin communicating with them.

As you might expect, common lead generation tactics include everything from websites and SEO to display advertising, PR, outbound marketing, and so forth.

In many cases, email collection comes via a landing page or other website form.

So it’s vital for every email campaign to test tools and metrics such as the following:

  • Landing Pages and Websites – Split testing isn’t the only way to test a landing page. Usability tests in laboratory settings, via surveys, and user feedback are also effective.
  • Outbound Campaigns – These can range from direct mail to telemarketing and “social selling” (via social media), and all should be tested and optimized.
  • Paid Advertising – Virtually every paid advertising campaign is tested and optimized by the advertiser who implements it. As with other elements of the campaign, it’s vital to ensure that the campaign qualifies the right types of leads – otherwise the email marketing campaign will suffer.

2. Lead Nurturing

In this phase, you connect with your leads through autoresponders and other automated communications.

Remember that the quality of the leads will have an impact on the dropout rate of this phase. So it’s important that you properly target and qualify leads if you want to effectively measure the success of this stage.

Tools and test metrics for this phase include:

  • Copywriting – Headlines are one of the most important elements to test, though it’s important to test body copy strategies as well.
  • Design – It’s vital to test the layout of any user interface, from websites to app interfaces to emails.
  • Email Sequences – Depending on your budget and the size of your email list  – since you’ll need to generate statistically significant results – you can test sequences in conjunction with other elements. Or, if you have the right-sized list and the resources, you can test them separately.

Metrics to analyze include open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. These should be used to aid list segmentation as well as overall campaign goals.

3. Conversion

The conversion, of course, can range from opt-ins to appointments, purchases, and up-sells.

This stage will also include inbound marketing interfaces, such as landing pages and opt-in forms.

Here are a few campaign elements that should be tested and refined:

  • Landing Pages, Opt-In Forms, and Appointment Forms – Remember that leads who stay in your funnel are still part of your marketing funnel. So even if they don’t convert, you are always free to test follow-up offers.
  • Overall Campaign Construction – The follow-up offers and responder sequence should integrate well with the content marketing program. Abandonment rates are good indicators of campaign weaknesses.

4. Recirculation

Once leads have converted, they are now a part of your customer base. While the major phases of the marketing funnel may be over, the customer relationship is just beginning. Any successful revenue model will focus heavily on up-sell chains, subscription revenue, and so on.

And the email marketing campaign is critical to successfully maintaining ongoing customer relationships.

Here are a couple tools to maintain long-term profitable customer relationships:

  • Content Marketing – A good content marketing campaign, delivered via email, helps to keep your customers “warm” for the duration of your relationship with them. An effective content program ensures that automated campaigns don’t deliver offers that are too “cold.”
  • Segmentation and User-Driven Content – Newsletter segmentation will improve retention rates. And multiple content feeds – see Business Insider newsletters as an example – can give users more control over what they receive.


Rather than viewing email marketing as a simple one-phase plan can make big differences in campaign results. By breaking up an email strategy into a systematic, multi-step process, you can earn more qualified leads, learn more about your customers, and drive more results.