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How to Devise a Strategic Email Marketing Plan for 2011

Email Marketing Planning

One way to get ahead of the curve is by attending MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit ’11: Tackling the Top Email Challenges with All-New Research, Case Studies and Training . The conference, which takes place in January, will offer advanced training workshops and tons of networking opportunities with marketing thought leaders. Among the speakers this year are Sue Coakley with Yahoo!, Mike Volpe , HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, bestselling author David Meerman Scott and Matt Nichols , Director of Marketing at Pandora.

If you are unable to attend, don’t worry. HubSpot will be reporting live from the event and passing on the lessons we learn together. To get us started now, here are some ways to devise a strategic email marketing plan for 2011:

Explore Top Challenges

In order to improve your email marketing results in 2011, you will need to know what problems to focus on. What have you had most trouble with? Increasing deliverability? Developing a better email creative? Now is the time to identify your top challenges in order to address them effectively in 2011.

Brainstorm Ideas for Content Offers

You should be constantly asking yourself how to craft emails relevant to your target audience. Good offers drive active interest and keep you subscription rates high. Are you considering producing webinars or launching surveys? Have you thought about writing an ebook or creating an interactive video? Make sure your email is well incorporated with other channels, such as blog posts and press releases. Reports suggest that email marketing is much more powerful when supported by other marketing channels.

Find the Right Tools to Use

Figure out what is the best Email Service Provider (ESP) for you. Is your current provider making it easy for you to comply with the CAN SPAM Act? Can you easily create A/B tests of your email offers? Is the reporting comprehensive enough to track open rates and click-throughs? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when choosing the right tools to use for email marketing. Some of the most prominent email service providers are Constant Contact , Mail Chimp and Exact Target .

Learn from Industry-Specific Case Studies

Find email marketing success stories in your industry and learn from them. Seth Godin, for instance, wrote about the importance of earning permission and building trust. In one of his blog posts, he shared the newsletter success from Paul McGowan, founder of PS Audio: "His newsletter is anticipated, personal and relevant. I signed up for it and I look forward to it... If I hit reply, he writes back." MarketingSherpa has also put together a list of award-winning email marketing campaigns , including best email opt-in, best email newsletter, best welcome letter and more.

Set the Right Performance Metrics

The meaning of certain metrics can vary across your company, so you should take the time and decide what metrics are truly important to you . While email list growth is generally a good indicator, is that what you are ultimately looking for? Maybe your email marketing program should be more ROI-driven, where you explore not only click-through rates and percentages, but see how these translate into leads and customers. It is easy to retrieve information about open rates and click-throughs, but seeing how an email send results in leads is what often poses a challenge.

As mentioned above, these planning questions will be tackled in great detail during the Email Summit ’11 . But if you are unable to make it, stay tuned for HubSpot’s live updates from the conference!


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