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How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign from Scratch

Even with the rise of social media and other online platforms, email is still one of the most important ways to communicate online. When you are in the process of developing an email marketing campaign, there are some email marketing best practices (and worthwhile products) to keep in mind. According to the experts at Marketing Cloud, a number of marketers are still sending bulk emails to their lists without properly segmenting. This is a sign of a larger issue: Many marketers may not truly understand all the best practices for creating email campaigns. Email marketing is a top priority for companies, so it’s important to know how to build a campaign from the very first step. In this article, you’ll get a good, clean list of some email marketing best practices to help you better connect with your customers.

Email Marketing Best Practices: 10 Steps to Email Marketing Success

Jar Creative, an agency specializing in online marketing, outlines 10 important steps for building an email marketing campaign from the ground up. Each key aspect is highly detailed, but integral to success in email marketing. Consider referencing these steps every time you launch a new campaign.

  1. Create a clear goal.

  2. Segment your audience.

  3. Create a compelling headline.

  4. Pay attention to timing.

  5. Optimize for your brand.

  6. Focus on design and compatibility.

  7. Create a clear call to action.

  8. Create an effective landing page.

  9. Set up tracking.

  10. Test, test, and test again.

1. Create a clear goal.

The first thing to do before launching an email campaign is to decide what the goal will be. What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? Why is email the best way to achieve it? Once you answer these questions you can strategize.

Establish your email list.

A clear goal means very little if you don’t know who you’re sending emails to. When you first build your email list, you must have permission to email your customers and subscribers. Initially, there are many ways to get people on your list. You can offer a discount on a first purchase, advertise your newsletter subscription, or offer a free e-book. But in any scenario, you need to be sure you have a very strong call to action (CTA).

According to Kissmetrics, you need to ask the following questions. They’ll help you get into the shoes of your prospective customers so you can create something appealing to get those addresses.

Questions email receivers will ask.

  • Why should I give you my email address?

  • What is the benefit?

  • Is this going to be a bunch of spam?

  • Send frequency: How frequent are the emails?

  • Will I get discounts?

  • Will you send me relevant offers or junk?

Being able to answer these specific questions will be the key to getting subscribers. Simply asking for someone’s email address is not enough.


2. Segment your audience.

Segmenting your audience is high on the list of email best practices. Segmentation is the practice of splitting your email list into more targeted groups. This can be extremely helpful when it comes to analytics and post-campaign reflection. It will be clear which groups benefit the most from your emails.

The following are ways to segment a large email list by the kind of subscription people receive:

  • Customers only

  • Product updates

  • Newsletter

  • Daily updates (compared to weekly, biweekly, monthly, and so on)

  • HTML (some people prefer this option for text-only emails)

One way to master segmentation is by using your CRM to build and segment email lists, as well as import leads for sales. Pair your CRM with your marketing automation software to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout your relationship with subscribers.

Segment and personalize each email.

To be successful in email marketing, you need to segment and personalize your campaigns for those on your email list. Certain members may want to subscribe to get offers while others may want to read every update you send, even if it’s a few times a week. You must give options.

  • Personalization at sign-up: Give people options for what kind of emails they want to receive, and be very clear about how often they will be receiving them. Allow users to specify these preferences during sign-up. This helps users understand what exactly they are agreeing to. In addition, have an option to update their settings or unsubscribe. It may be best to make them aware of this even as early as the welcome emails stage.

  • Attempt to unsubscribe: If someone tries to unsubscribe, it may be because they receive too many emails from you. Give people the opportunity to personalize their experience and select the type of emails they want to receive. This can potentially halt that unsubscribe. You can learn more about optimizing your unsubscribe process here.

Once you establish your email list, create properly segmented campaigns, and personalize user experience, it is time to construct the email for your campaign. Here are some important things to remember when creating the email:

3. Create a compelling headline.

You want to keep your content fresh. While people may be very interested in the beginning, you need to keep them interested over time. If readers can’t tell what the email is about from the subject line (or headline), they may not open it.

Keep your subject line to 40 characters. People want to know what your email is about before they open it, but they want to get it in a concise, effective format. Subject lines are crucial.

Use promotional emails effectively: You do not want to overwhelm your email list, but you want every email you send to be used effectively. For example, you can promote contests and giveaways in your campaigns to reconnect with inactive subscribers, or send subscribers a poll or survey to find out what type of content they’re most interested in.

4. Pay attention to timing.

Welcome emails should come quickly after sign-up. After that, it’s obvious that you’ll want to ensure that send frequency doesn’t become obnoxious. Timing is key. Avoid sending your email in the middle of the night. You will also want to be wary of time zones. Studies have found that 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. send times result in good open rates, as well as 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Also be sure to monitor send frequency. You don’t want to bombard people with emails.

5. Optimize for your brand.

Don’t keep the reader in the dark. Make it clear that the email is from your brand by including your brand name in the email and ensuring the email is reflective of the branding on your website.

6. Focus on design and compatibility.

Email marketing campaigns should always include take into account mobile users. Responsive design, and design in general, is a big topic, so check out this guide and infographic for building a responsive email design in your next marketing campaign.

7. Create a clear call to action.

When you design your campaign email, use a clear call-to-action button embedded in the format. This way people can easily access your site or take the action you want. Customers should never have to copy and paste an HTML link or search for your site.

For help in building your emails, and to consider all the personalization options, look into Marketing Cloud, which specializes in email marketing automation. It also allows you to engage with messaging, social platforms, and advertisements in a unique way.

8. Create an effective landing page.

To best direct traffic from your email campaigns, you’ll want a landing page dedicated specifically to your email campaign. This will not only ensure a cohesive user experience tailored around the email, but also provide a way for clear and unmuddled tracking.

9. Set up tracking.

Establishing proper tracking is critical if you plan on measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. Be sure you measure the time spent on a page, engagements on the page, bounce rate, and conversions. Google Analytics is a great tracking tool, but there are others that also work.

10. Test, test, and test again.

After you launch your email marketing campaign, use the fresh, incoming data to help create more successful campaigns in the future. Check both the standard reports and those you can customize to your needs to analyze these numbers.


How many people opened your email? If this rate is low you need to revise your plan to get through people’s spam filters. Try adjusting your subject line. Your open rate is critical: Only when the recipient opens your email will they ultimately be able to follow the CTA of your campaign.


There are two kinds of bounces: Hard bounces are when the email is no longer active or is in some way invalid. For example, someone may have changed their email, or the email was not recorded accurately and doesn’t exist. Soft bounces happen when someone’s email inbox may be full temporarily, or something else prevents the email from getting through. To combat bounces, include a short paragraph on each of your emails letting customers know that if they change their email address, they should let you know so you can update your contact list. You also want to make sure you record emails accurately in the first place.


Your click-through rate (CTR) shows the percentage of people who received your email and followed through with the call to action you suggested. This metric can provide valuable insights for reformatting and planning future campaigns. You can also compare email campaigns to see if one did better than another.

Lead Generation

The data you receive from each campaign can help you with future lead generation. Figure out and gauge the success of how users have segmented themselves and personalized their experiences. This information can help you launch forward with future campaigns.

Of course, there are many more ways to get more advanced with email marketing. You can, for example, incorporate Salesforce email marketing solutions or email automation. The steps and information in this article are meant to give you a good foundation to build on. As you grow your email marketing, you’ll figure things out and learn what email marketing best practices work for your audience and which metrics are most important for your company’s bottom line.

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