Developing an Email Communications Plan

In many companies, the launch of an email marketing effort is right out of an old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movie:

"Hey, gang, let's do a show!"

"Yeah, great idea!"

The next thing you know, the gang is cavorting around the set in beautifully choreographed dance moves, singing in perfect harmony. That's the way it works out in the movies, anyway.

But without a plan, don't expect your email marketing effort to get a standing ovation. Here are the elements we include when developing an email communications plan for a client:

  1. Marketing Objectives
    What are we trying to achieve, in measurable terms?
  2. Audiences
    Who are we trying to speak to? Who are we trying to serve? What are their characteristics and their needs? Keep in mind that you may be trying to reach multiple audiences.
  3. Value/Benefits
    What can we offer for each audience we're trying to reach? How will they benefit, what will they get out of the email communications we'll be sending them?
  4. Messages/Information to Communicate
    What do we want to get across to each target audience? What will be the content of the communications we send out to them? Consider both marketing and editorial content.
  5. Media/Vehicles to Use
    What form should our communications take? What kind of list? An announcement list? A discussion list? A newsletter? News items? Daily tips? A series of brief commercial messages? Keep in mind your various audiences and what format will be most appropriate for their needs.
  6. Resources Required
    Who's going to do the work of building the list or lists, setting up the technology, creating content, writing copy, composing messages, managing lists, sending out mailings? What software will you need? How about hardware? And how much of this are you going to do in-house versus seeking outside vendors?
  7. Budget
    How much will it all cost, and where will that money come from?
  8. Schedule
    Set out a timeline for all phases of the project -- setting up the technology, promotion, list-building, content creation, mailing. Work out a production schedule that will allow you to have your messages all ready to send on time.
  9. List Development
    How will you promote the list and gain new subscribers?

If you're going to market by email, be sure to develop a workable plan. You don't want your show to be a flop!

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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