Create a 2013 Email Marketing Plan

There in no better time than the beginning of a year to get strategic about your marketing efforts…and no better way to do it that by ceating a plan for the year ahead.

If you’re like most small business owners, email marketing is just one part of what you’re doing while running your business. By creating a plan now, you can make your life easier when trying to juggle everything that come along with running your business—filling orders, waiting on customers, and the million other things that demand your attention.

Think about your approach to email marketing. When you sit down to create an email, are you as prepared as you’d like to be? Do have a clear understanding of what you’re looking to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, and how you’re going to measure your results?

Or are you—like a lot of small businesses—doing most the work last minute? Planning, brainstorming, designing, writing, creating, and sending emails at a single sitting without much preparation?

Having a plan can help you stay better organized throughout the year, while also helping you make better decisions about the type of content you create. Create a plan so you’ll have a resource to refer back to each month and improve the likelihood you’ll follow through. All it takes just a few easy steps:

Choose a goal

Start by understanding what it is you hope to achieve from your email marketing. Do you want people to shop online, come into the store, and share a sale with friends via Facebook or Twitter? There are a number of factors you’ll need to consider.

Start broad, why did you start using email marketing in the first place?

Then you can look at months individually—what will be your top priority in February? What is your biggest challenge in March? Start with your goal and let that guide your email marketing decisions.

Determine frequency

Once you’ve figured out what you hope to achieve, then you’ll be able to choose a frequency that’s right for your business.

How often should you be sending emails to your customers?

Once a monthis a good starting place, but pick a frequency you know you can stick to. If you decide to do more than you can handle, your plan won’t do you any good.

Pick a date

Figuring out when you’ll send an email each month sets expectations for yourself and your customers. It will also help you avoid missing any emails, which can often happen during busy times of the year. A great way to pick the right date for your email marketing is to look at your reports from past emails. Identify which days of the month had the most opens and which days had the most engagement from readers.

Put it together
While it may seem like a lot to consider, most of what will go into creating your email marketing plan is stuff you’re already thinking about each and every day. If it helps, you can start small. Plan out your next three emails and see if having a plan makes things easier. You’ll find yourself better prepared and with more time to spend doing what you enjoy most—running your business.

Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9’s Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.