(Part 1 of a 5-part series on email marketing strategy)
By Bria Sullivan
Each year around this time, I make a plan for the coming year.
I cross off goals that I accomplished in the previous year and circle the ones I didn’t.
Sometimes the circled goals make it back onto the coming year’s list for a second attempt.
Other times I just accept the fact that I’m never going to quit eating sugar, so instead I bite the head off my last snowman cookie with a mixed sense of defiance and defeat.
Let’s face it: most people have a hard time sticking to a plan.
Research shows that only 9.2 percent of people feel they are successful in achieving their New Year’s Resolutions.
And when it comes to creating an email marketing plan for your business or organization, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked by pressing day-to-day responsibilities.
Tip: Is your business new to email marketing? Test drive a Constant Contact account free for 60 days.
Here are some of the reasons small business and nonprofit email marketing plans fail:
• You don’t take the time to create an email marketing plan in the first place.
• Creating a year-long email marketing plan seems too time-consuming and complex, so you start the process and then give up part-way through.
• You create a full plan, but then abandon it after a few months when your priorities change.
Then allow me to show you how to get started creating your own email marketing plan.
• Limit yourself to 15 minutes
As with most things, the anticipation of getting started is more daunting than the actual task. Take control of your tendency to procrastinate by limiting the time you’ll commit to your marketing plan to 15 minutes at a time.
Print out this simple email marketing plan template and take 15 minutes to jot down dates and events that are important for your business or organization throughout the year.
Do you have an annual fundraiser? Do you participate in a community sidewalk sale each year? Whatever it is, write down the major events that you’ll be involved in during the year ahead.
Here’s an example of what your plan might look like:
Once you fill in these initial dates, take a break. Come back to your plan when you’re fresh and have another 15 minutes to spare.
• Aim for consistency
While you’ll likely have times in the year when you’re busier than others, your goal should be to communicate with your audience on a regular basis.
If you’re noticing gaps in certain months when you have less going on, use the second page of your email marketing plan template to help select standard and non-traditional holidays that you can incorporate into your plans to ensure you’re consistently reaching your subscribers.
You don’t have to hash out the details here. You can tackle that as those months approach.
• Write your plan down
Research proves that you’re more likely to reach a goal if you write it down.
Whether you use an online calendar or have a calendar hanging up by your desk, take the time to plot out when you’ll send emails during individual months.
Tip: If you need a calendar to work with, you can download and print this free 2017 Email Marketing Calendar.
Now, use your email marketing planning template to begin filling out your calendar. Starting with the event or sale date you want to promote, work backward from there to plan out your marketing campaigns.
• Send your Last Chance email 1-2 days before your event/sale.
• Send your Reminder email a week before the event/sale.
• Send your Announcement email two weeks before the event/sale.
Here’s what your calendar might look like if you’re running a Valentine’s Day Sale at your store.
Again, don’t try to do this all in one sitting unless you can spare the time.
Just take 15 minutes at a time to fill out as many months as you can.
• Focus on what matters most – sales/donations
As we move deeper into the year, it’s likely that your plans will change. Don’t let these changes derail the marketing plan you’ve laid out.
Once you’ve created your plan in full, take a fresh look and make sure all your campaigns are aligning with your major business goals.
Whether you’re looking to drive sales, increase donations, or boost event registration, consider your bottom line and make sure you are feeding these goals.
Create an email marketing plan you can stand (and stick to)
So there you have it — an easy-to-follow formula that will help you create an email marketing plan that you can actually stick to this year.
Make this year the year you finally make a plan instead of winging it and hoping for the best. Take control of your email marketing so your business or nonprofit can succeed this year and every year after as this becomes part of your New Year’s tradition.
Bria Sullivan: Content Developer at Constant Contact. You’ll find me designing and hosting marketing and social media educational webinars, soaking up new marketing information like a sponge, writing or dancing hella salsa and planning my next travel adventure. I curate a wide range of interesting nuggets of internet goodness. Follow Bria @msbriasullivan
This post was first published by Constant Contact, here. For more help building your marketing plan for the year, check out these related posts on the Constant Contact blog:
Watch Constant Contact’s FREE webinar: Plan Your Email Marketing in 15 Minutes or Less. Register to watch the 30-minute presentation on how to write an email marketing plan that you can use all year.
Constant Contact is a longtime supporter of the SBDC network, providing an easy-to-use Email Marketing tool and free education to all chapters and clients for over 10 years.