Starting an email marketing campaign can boost your business and help you achieve your goals. However, there’s more to a marketing campaign than just typing what you want to say and hitting send. You will be required to organize your database, make sure not to land in spam, access your CRM’s capability and create the perfect content, and let’s not forget the subject line.

This article will cover how to set up an email marketing campaign from start to finish. Our goal is to guide you into setting up successful email marketing campaigns, and learning what to look out for when creating them.

1. Build an email list

Let’s start from the beginning; the foundation of any marketing campaign is the contacts you will be emailed. Emails can target past clients, current clients, or prospects. The key here is that they will all need their own individual emails and automation, all directed to their specific category. 

One tool I highly recommend using is ZeroBounce. This tool allows you to clean your contacts before you email them. Cleaning your contacts will enable you to erase any bad contacts; this can mean they have either shown no interest in your past emails or their emails are no longer active. This step is vital for emails that will be delivered to people you have never spoken to as it ensures you won’t land in their spam folder. You need to remember that with email marketing, one bad email sent to a bad list of contacts can be the final time you can enter their inbox. 

2. Choose an email marketing service and build your campaign

Now, let’s discuss CRM’s and their capabilities with email marketing tools. They usually range from ‘free’ and cheap, medium-sized to Enterprise-grade solutions. If you’re new or experienced with email marketing, I’d highly recommend you look into ActiveCampaign. This CRM tool allows you to create automation, set up email marketing, understand metrics, and build a great relationship with your audience.

If you require assistance, you can consult an independent CRM specialist to help you set this up. 

Once you have your CRM ready, you can start setting up the automation. Every automation begins with a trigger, then actions are based upon that trigger. This trigger could be something simple. For example, if a contact viewed your website in October, they will now receive “email A”. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. This is a sample automation I’ve made using CRM, ActiveCampaign.

As you can see in Figure 1, my tag is “Clients”.  By this point, I have all my contacts’ details in their contact records in both custom and standard fields. This allows me to bring them into automation and utilize triggers based on client spending, the month they started working with us, and final project date. I can use their data for the A/B routes, or even to show within emails allowing an extra personal touch.

Figure 1 shows automation for our launch, and it excludes anyone with the “@upwork.com” email from getting any of our ‘client’ emails. We believe every email should be not only personal but also relatable to the recipient. Following the 99-day wait, you will add in additional emails, which will be dependent on the contact’s actions.

ActiveCampaign allows a whole array of features within automation, and I’ll list a few that stand out to me—we call these “actions”.

  • Send Email
  • Send SMS
  • Wait Timer (Date, or a timed date)
  • Send a site message – Allowing you to show custom site messages depending on tags.

In terms of triggers, they can be from the following key sources:

  • Lists
  • Tags
  • Read your last email.
  • Viewed your site recently

3. Create your email template

Finally, let’s talk about the actual email. You should aim to be personal, relatable, and most importantly yourself. A well-designed email template will save you time and allow you to keep consistency with your brand. You can start with just a basic template or go for a more sophisticated design that will elevate your subscribers’ experience.

You can find professionally designed templates at ActiveCampaign, or use their email designer to create your own.

Email marketing best practices to keep in mind

Choose your email address carefully

A common mistake to avoid is sending out your emails from a “no-reply”, “info@” or a “contact us” email. I highly suggest emailing an actual or made-up person. I normally use Ross from DigitalME; my name isn’t a household name. 

Don’t use too many images

Instead of overcompensating with images, it’s important to let your personality sell. If you email in a personal tone; you don’t need to hard-sell every email. I use little to no images in my emails, aside from the odd button depending on who it’s targeting. This goes back to the funnels and campaigns explanation. 

Know your audience

In the past 11 years of being in email marketing, I’ve learned the importance of understanding your audience. For example, B2B audiences prefer text-based and very precise emails. In this instance, not only does the content matter but also ensures you’re targeting the decision-maker in the company (I use RocketReach for list targeting). 

An example of a B2B cold email template could look something like this:

Subject: Mary: Your site isn’t optimized!

Hi Mary: 
I was looking into your site, and I noticed it isn’t optimized for mobile and could be losing potential customers.
What if I told you there is a plugin that can optimize your blog and website for handheld devices? This plugin can quickly improve the reading experience of your readers on smartphones and tablets. 
We have a product that can help you with that.
We would love to talk over the phone for a few minutes and get this fixed for you.

Best Regards,
Ross Jenkins

In terms of B2C, image-based emails work just as well as text-based. However, too many images can make your emails end up in the spam folder (at least temporarily).  Images take time to load, and some email clients don’t even load images. This can lead to a high unsubscribe rate, or worse, a high spam complaint score. Always test the emails by sending them to yourself first before sending them to your database.

Here is an example of a B2C cold email template:

Subject: John: This closes TODAY!

Hi John:
Today is the last day to register for my online training course that teaches how to create high-converting sales funnels for your digital products. 
If you enroll before midnight today, you will receive my free eBook called: Advanced Sales Digital Strategies.
We go over anything you need to know about the course on this page.
We would love to have you join and learn the best ways to grow your business
See you soon!

Ross Jenkins


Always use a short and simple email signature

My final tip with email marketing campaigns is to always end the email with a short and simple signature. Personally, I prefer getting direct email replies to link clicks, it’s a much more efficient way to build a relationship with the client. But for the likes of e-commerce shops, I’d suggest using subtle CTA’s using plaintext. 

An email marketing campaign allows you to build relationships with your customers. Take advantage of this useful tool to speak to them, directly in their inbox, and whenever it is convenient for them. If you are able to come up with the perfect message, you can make a greater impact with a well-planned marketing campaign.

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