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The Ultimate Content Strategy Planning Guide for Email Marketing

Developing content strategy plans for your digital marketing program can be a bit tricky, but with email’s unparalleled 4300% ROI, it’s completely worth it. Having your email marketing content planned will keep you from feeling like a toddler separated from their mother in the grocery store: a plan prevents that feeling of being lost for both you and your readers.

Here’s how to construct an email content plan that will make everyone happy without having to get that store manager on the intercom for you.

1. Establish your target audience. Without a target, you’re just firing arrows into the void (and possibly sending your audience running for shelter). Your target audience should be the center of everything you write and send; keep them in mind at all times. Ask yourself the question, “Will this benefit my audience?” and if the answer is yes, then great! Also, don’t be afraid to ask your audience the same question! The beauty of email is that it’s a personal means of two-way communication.

2. Create personas by going more into depth with your research. Personas are basically the nitty-gritty breakdown of your target audiences. There are multiple categories that are found within a persona. These categories include any of the following: title, company, salary, hobbies, age, gender, and more. By dividing up your audience, you can get a better feel for your content strategy to ensure that you’re sending relevant content to the segments that will benefit most.

3. Choose a topic. This is where knowing your audience starts to come in handy. Identify a need or that your audience may have, and start brainstorming ways to address that need. For example, make sure that your topic addresses a business metric or customer pain point. Find a gap that may be in your buying cycle and create content that you can use to fill it.

4. Speak in their language. This goes along with creating personas. Once you know your target audience, make sure to use their lingo. You don’t want to pass along a piece of content to a CEO that’s better meant for their day-to-day marketers, or vice versa. CEO’s don’t want your white papers about technical solutions; they just want to know how those solutions will affect the bottom line.

5. Know your key metrics. Always create content specific to certain areas of the funnel and distribute them accordingly. You want to make sure that you are writing content for specific objectives that can be found in the marketing funnel. Once you’ve created content to correspond with your funnel, you can automate your email program to ensure segments receive the most relevant content.

6. Create Engaging Content.
Most marketers will tell you that this is the most time-consuming part of their strategy, but it’s also the most important. If your content doesn’t compel your reader to keep clicking, email’s revenue potential is wasted. Creating an engagement with your audience is proven to result in amazing ROI. Since this is one of the more difficult parts for writers, we have included a few tips on how to create engaging content:

  • Create a sense of urgency with your language with active voice and action words
  • Use audience-centered wording that logically leads towards your call-to-action
  • Break large text blocks into smaller pieces to make them easier to read
  • Revise your text until you’ve achieved maximum readability
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread
  • Keep up with the latest email and content creation trends by reading industry news

7. Design for mobile. You’re probably tired of hearing this one, but there is a HUGE mobile push in technology these days, so make sure that your audience is able to read your content easily on any device. Now that the majority of emails are opened on mobile, failing to optimize your emails for smaller screens can alienate your core audience. You can use render testing to see how your content will appear before you send. Speaking of testing…

8. Test your content. Fine-tuning the tiny details of your email strategy can make a big difference. Use A/B split testing or multivariate testing to experiment with:

  • Timing: What time are subscribers most likely to open your email? What day of the week?
  • Target audience: Are people opening your email, but not clicking or converting? Maybe your messaging needs an adjustment.
  • Subject line: Do shorter subject lines drive results? Does your audience like humor or straightforward subject lines? Are you using preheader text to catch your audience’s attention?
  • Sending frequency: Does your audience respond better to daily emails? Weekly? Have you tried segmenting your email list by how often they open your email so you can send more email without exhausting your entire list?
  • Design: Have you tried a single-column layout? Two columns? Layouts with and without images?
  • Friendly from name: Do your subscribers respond to email from your brand, a person associated with your brand, or both?
  • and many more!

Need more help with email testing? Check out this handy guide to develop a more effective email testing strategy.

9. Deliver. Even if you deliver a killer campaign, deliverability might keep your emails from ever making it to the inbox. It’s important to remember that an email being delivered isn’t the same as an email getting delivered to the inbox. If your email goes to spam, all your hard work will be for naught.

To truly deliver on your campaign, keep an eye on your inbox placement rate. If you send a lot of email, consider a dedicated IP address. That way, you can take total control of your deliverability. If low inbox placement rate is still derailing your content strategy before it even leaves the ground, download this Deliverability Solution Guide to get in the inbox again.

10. Measure and refine. Once you reach your audience, you’re not done! A successful content marketing program is continually refined, tweaked, and optimized for maximum performance. For insights into your campaign’s success, look at these metrics:

  • Inbox placement rate
  • Bounced
  • Open Rate
  • Click Through Rate
  • Unsubscribe Rate
  • Marked as Spam

If your email campaign performance falls short of your goals, then I would return to step eight and test some factors and refine your content until you’ve reached your definition of email success.

Putting a content plan in place is no small task, but no email marketing program is complete without one. Happy planning!

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