Answer 5 questions to help define your email marketing goals

Nail down your objectives

You’re getting excited about the launch of your email marketing program. You have story ideas coming out your ears. (OK, maybe not, but you’re set for at least a few months.) Your team is having a blast brainstorming, and you’re working with your designer to choose colors and fonts.

There’s nothing wrong with getting psyched about the creative side of email marketing. But business goals come first. That’s because whether you plan on investing $5 or $5,000, you want to know that your money and — just as importantly — your time are going to be well spent.

So, before you dive head first into email marketing, you need to define your goals. These five questions can start that process.

1. Who is my audience?

As you strive to set goals for your email marketing program, it’s important to know whom you’re talking to. What are your audience’s demographics or psychographics, and what impact might they have on your expected outcomes?

For example, if you’re looking at open rates, you might have different expectations if your list is comprised of chief technology officers for Fortune 500 companies versus a list of 10,000 consumers.

2. What do I want them to do?

There are a number of reasons to use email marketing. It’s important to know what you want to see happen as a result of sending a marketing email. For instance:

  • Are you trying to increase sales?
  • Do you want more people to attend your events?
  • Are you hoping to increase brand awareness?
  • Maybe get more website hits?
  • Do you want readers to click a link to download a whitepaper or other piece of content?

As business owners, we tend to focus on the bottom line. And yes, for some companies, the goal might be an immediate uptick in sales. Then again, that might not be your goal.

And that’s OK.

Perhaps you want to see an uptick in sales in a year, but to lead prospects to the sale, you want to use email marketing to raise awareness of your brand. Your written goals should reflect this.

3. How will I measure my results?

Without measurement, you won’t know if you’ve succeeded. If your goal is sales, reporting on open rates doesn’t help make the case for email marketing. But if your goal is awareness, open rates could be a good measurement tool. What if you’re trying to encourage content downloads? Then, you’ll want to track clicks within your email — as well as where those prospects go next. Unique landing pages (i.e. mydomain.com/whitepaper1) and phone numbers can help.

4. What is my expected timeframe?

For your marketing goals to be meaningful, you need a deadline. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight (10 pounds, right? It’s always 10 pounds), then you know the value of a deadline. If you have 10 years to lose 10 pounds, you might behave differently than if you have 10 weeks.

Email marketing is no different (except you can eat all the cupcakes you want). A realistic time horizon can help you set realistic goals and smartly assess your progress.

5. What resources can I devote to email marketing?

As you set your email marketing goals, remember that they should be commensurate with your budget. Companies that aren’t willing to commit resources to a strategic and consistent email marketing program should be especially conservative in their goal setting. After all, if you are devoting very little time or money to email marketing, you can’t reasonably expect it to generate millions of dollars in revenue. On the other hand, if you’re ready to commit the resources to a strategic plan and the accompanying tactics, you can set loftier goals.

With these questions answered, you’re ready to set the goals that will define your email marketing program. Good luck!

Image by: justinbaeder via Compfight cc

Stephanie Conner
Stephanie Conner is an award-winning writer and editor who helps organizations create content that gets read. She has taught writing at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, her alma mater. When she’s not chasing after or wiping food off of her soon-to-be-toddling son, she enjoys yoga, cooking and wine (not necessarily in that order). Find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.