Checklists to Help You Better Plan Your Email Campaigns

By Mar 28, 2011

Email is one of the most effective measurable marketing tools for customer communication and retention as well as for creating correspondence quickly. It is, when done correctly, a list of people who have opted-in to hear what you have to say. These folks expect what you are saying to be relevant to them and their needs. When it is, they read your words…and respond.

But, how do you create email communications that are on-point and resonate with your target audiences?


If you anticipate email being a part of your ongoing marketing, it is smart to have a plan dedicated to it. This will save you time, prevent you (or your associates) from being too reactive and will deliver a roadmap that will help you achieve your stated goals.

The plan helps to put you and your email subscribers on the same page. They will understand what they are going to get from you and what they aren’t. Having a plan from the beginning allows you to set expectations to your subscribers and what they are signing up for (i.e. “Sign up to receive industry news and updates” or “Sign up to get the latest exclusive offers and product reviews”). This is imperative as people don’t like to get emails that they aren’t expecting. If they sign up thinking they are going to receive industry news and instead get promotional messages about your latest products, there will be a disconnect and they will opt-out as a subscriber.

To help you get your plan started, here are four simple steps to help you create a plan that will resonate with your email subscriber base:

Step 1: Identify Your Readers
You need to understand who your readers are and what they are looking for, and make sure that your email is segmented by attributes that reflect what each target audience is seeking. A survey to each subscriber is a great way to collect meaningful data that will help you deliver exactly what they are looking for.

Step 2: Identify Your Purpose and Goals
Once you know who you’re talking to, you can outline the overarching purpose of your email marketing and the goals you want to achieve, keeping in mind that you may have several goals.

Your purpose is the reason you’re sending people email communications in the first place and your goal is what you hope to achieve, whether it be number of subscribers, clickthroughs and/or sales attributed to each campaign.

Ask the following questions:

1. Why does this audience want to hear from me?
2. What useful information can I provide to this audience?
3. What do I want to accomplish with my email marketing?

Step 3: Determine Your Email Frequency
Ideally you do not want to force frequency on your subscribers. It’s better to allow them to tell you how often they would like to hear from you—bimonthly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually.

Finding your frequency sweet spot is essential to your on-going email success. You don’t want to communicate infrequently, but if you send too often your subscribers will feel overloaded with your emails and may unsubscribe or, worse, report you as a spammer. Keep in mind that over emailing is much more common than under emailing.

Step 4: Establish a Timeline
As the saying goes, plan your work and work your plan. Establish detailed steps, day-by-day, and make your daily tasks manageable so you can hit your deadlines. Create a monthly content calendar for the next 12 months and establish end goals for each week prior to distribution.

Your timeline and steps will vary depending on your industry, type of content and calendar.

Email has emerged as a critical measurable marketing tactic. Therein lays many of the issues that email faces. It is not viewed or treated as a strategic discipline and, more often than not, it should be.

Robust campaign analytics are critical to your email success. Testing, of course, plays a vital role in your ongoing success, so make sure you incorporate subject line, from line, headline and copy tests, along with messaging and creative tests in your campaigns. To help you plan and monitor the progress of your email campaigns & newsletters, use the email marketing and production checklists provided below.

Email Marketing Planner

Goals/Metrics to Consider:
• Sent Date
• Time of Day
• Day of Week
• Delivered*
• Delivery Rate
• Hard Bounce
• Soft Bounce
• Opened
• Open Rate
• Not Opened
• Most Popular Open Date
• # or % Opened on That Day
• Unique Clicks
• Clickthrough Rate***
• Total Clicks
• Average Clicks
• Unsubscribes
• Unique Forwards
• # of Transactions
• $ or Value of Transactions

*delivered divided by sent
**opened divided by delivered
***unique clicks divided by unopens


Segmentation Strategy & Parameters Checklist:

Test Variables:
• Contact Frequency
• Copy/Message
• Creative
• Subject Line
• Day of Week
• Hour of Day
• Demographics
• Email Type
• Geography
• Historical Behavior
• List Source
• Landing Page
• Method of Response
• Offer
• Personalization
• Psychographics
• Subject Header
• Target Segments
• User Details

Grant A. Johnson ( grant.johnson@johnsondirect) is the founder and ambassador of fun at Brookfield, WI-based Johnson Direct LLC.