ActiveCampaign Expert

Guide to Creating Email Marketing Strategy

Ready to nail down your email marketing strategy and begin converting new customers daily?

This in-depth email marketing guide will teach everything you need to know about this powerful digital marketing strategy.

What is Email Marketing?

One of the earliest forms of digital marketing, email marketing and continues to be one of the most effective strategies today. In its most basic form, email marketing can be defined as the email communication used to convert prospects to customers.
But it can also be a powerful relationship-building tool with your existing customers — especially converting one-time buyers into repeat customers.
Overall, email marketing is the process of creating and sending a targeted message to a contact, or group of contacts, and strengthening your relationship with them. Combined with other marketing initiatives, it can be a very powerful tool to grow your business.

Email Marketing 101

Have you ever received a promotional email offer from a brand you purchased from? That’s a prime email for marketing example.

Email marketing lets you build a database of contacts, including existing and potential customers, that are open to receiving your emails.
It’s a highly effective form of marketing because the customer has personally invited you into their inbox — meaning they’ve already established some sort of relationship with your brand.
You’ll build your email list by offering your website visitors an incentive to opt-in to your list, which is known as a lead magnet or “freebie.” After opting in, your new contacts will receive targeted messages that will move them along to their buying journey.
While email marketing is extremely effective in nurturing leads into conversions, it’s also a an effective way to keep existing customers engaged. Your emails won’t just contain promotional offers but also include value-based content that engages your entire audience.
This can range from an informational welcome email series that makes your new contacts familiar with your brand to monthly newsletters updating them on what’s new.
The best part? You can automate it all with the right email marketing tools.

How to Select Your Email Marketing Tool

The beauty of email marketing is that it can be fully automated, meaning you can grow your list while you sleep.
It’s one of the many reasons why email marketing is so widely used by big businesses and entrepreneurs alike.

There are several email marketing automation tools available on the market, and all of them aim to make your life a little easier. That being said, one of the toughest tasks for any new entrepreneur is figuring out exactly what tools to use.

Many times, I see new entrepreneurs opt for a cheaper or free tool only to outgrow it a few months down the line.

My two cents? Investing in the right tools today can save you loads of time, effort, and money down the line.

Sure, free email marketing tools do exist. But they’ll likely lack the additional features you’ll need as your business and email list expand.
And trust me when I say that migrating to a new tool can be a big hassle.
That’s why I always recommend getting started on ActiveCampaign, one of the leading email marketing services on the market. ActiveCampaign is a user-friendly, intuitive email marketing software that offers plenty of integrations with other tools, which you’ll benefit from as your business continues to grow.

Get Started with ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is widely used by established businesses and new entrepreneurs alike. Don’t just take my word for it: You can try it yourself! ActiveCampaign offers a free trial before you commit.

I’ve gone ahead and put together some tips to ensure you get the most out of your free trial:

  • Explore the Email Campaign Designer: This will be one of the most used features on your account. Play around with ActiveCampaign’s email templates and personalization features. Then try designing your own to see if you can achieve the look and feel you’re going for.
  • Check out Deals CRM: This is your sales pipeline. It allows you to forecast and track your customers’ buying journeys.
  • View ActiveCampaign Reports: Reports will give you valuable data on your campaign performance.
  • Set up an automation: Consider your workflows and how you’ll build them out in automations.
  • Organize your contacts: Sift through the organizational aspects including lists, tags, and custom fields.
When your free trial ends, you’ll be promoted to choose a plan. I recommend the Lite Plan if you’re just getting started with email marketing. It features unlimited sending, subscription forms, and marketing automation.
Businesses that are expanding their marketing automations and integrations, however, should consider the Plus Plan.
The Professional Plan is for businesses that have an established marketing automaton and are looking to optimize results. The highest plan is called Enterprise, which is meant for businesses that depend on email marketing and CRM functionality for their everyday operations.

Crafting Your Email Marketing Strategy

Email is one of the most effective marketing channels for online businesses – in fact, it’s 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined!
Email marketing is a great way for customers to get more familiar with you and your brand, build relationships and support them along your customer journey.
As you’re crafting your email marketing strategy, keep in mind that you’ll be organizing your contacts into three lists: a master list, a customer list, and a special offers and promotions list.
You’ll send weekly blog and other updates to your master list, which will include all of your contacts. Your customer list will receive customer-only communications, and your promotions list will be targeted with new offers, sales, and discounts.
You can then use “tags” to group contacts into different categories on ActiveCampaign depending on their interactions with your business.

Next, you’ll want to set up your subsription forms. Subscription management allows contacts to tell you what they’re interested in.

You can set up a form in ActiveCampaign that lets them opt-in and out of different email campaigns, as well as specify their interests and how often they want to receive your emails.

When you’re ready to begin designing your campaigns, you can make use of ActiveCampaign’s custom templates to stay on brand. Once you create your template, you can reuse it as many times as you want. Remember that your email marketing is an extension of your brand, so it’s important that your emails visually reflect that.

Finally, if you have an existing contact list elsewhere, you’ll want to add them to your new list.

You should only manually add contacts who have opted into your list themselves. For example, if someone simply handed you a business card at a networking event, without giving written consent to subscribe to your email, you should not add them in.

ActiveCampaign has strict anti-spam policies, and you don’t want to risk being penalized.

Creating & Improving Your Opt-In

The best way to grow your email list is to brainstorm different lead magnets like a free resource or service that appeals to your target audience.

You might promote your opt-ins across a ribbon bar at the top of the page, a pop-up, or linked within your blog content.

When contacts fill out the form and subscribe to your email, they should be taken to a new landing page known as the thank you page. Your thank you page should thank your contacts for joining your list and let them know what to expect next.

The most important component of a good thank you page is the confirmation message. This reminds contacts that they’ve signed up for your email list and lowers the chances of them marking your emails as spam.

Your thank you page should also make the contact excited about what’s about to arrive in their inbox. Whether it’s a free video or template, show your customer how much this resource will help them. You could even go the extra mile and record a personalized video giving them more details about the freebie they’re about to receive.

Make sure that after reading your thank you page, your contact knows when and where to expect your freebie. You should encourage them to open it as soon as it arrives.

Sending Campaigns & Promotions

An email promotion campaign is composed of a series of automated emails that aim to generate a conversion. You can use different campaigns for sales and lead generation, as well as to build customer loyalty.

There may be several automations going on at once, and your contacts might enter them in different ways. They could click a link or open an email that triggers an ActiveCampaign automation based on their action.

If you want to promote a product or service to a segment of your group, such as people living in a specific location, you can manually add contacts into your automations, too.

Lastly, your contacts can enter your promotion automations based on their interests. You can ask your contacts what they’re most interested in, and their response will trigger the proper automation sequence.

Every promotion should have the following core components: the offer, evidence supporting that your offer works, and an expiration date enticing contacts to make a purchase sooner than later.

While this process is automated, you shouldn’t just send them and forget them.

It’s important to always monitor how your campaigns are performing. Are your contacts opening them? Clicking them?

Split-testing is a great strategy to see what kind of messaging your audience is most receptive to. When you split-test an email, you create two identical messages with minor differences like a different subject line or call-to-action. It’s a great way to see what best engages your audience.

Email Marketing Tips & Tricks

Creating an effective email marketing strategy can take some trial and error. Here are a few actionable tips to help entrepreneurs improve their email list performance. 

Tips to Boost Email Open Rates

Your email open rate is an incredibly important metric to track in email marketing – it gives you an overall sense of how engaged your contacts are (and if your subject lines are working!)

Additionally, you will want to track click through rate, click to open rate, unsubscribes and spam rates. 

Need help knowing what your metrics should look like? Here are some benchmarks.

If you aren’t hitting the benchmarks, you may want to looking to how to help your emails stand out more in your reader’s inbox.

Try Predictive Sending

Looking to increase your email open rates? Predictive sending might do the trick.

Predictive sending uses machine learning and artificial intelligence tactics to identify the most likely time for a contact to open an email. This means that your email service will identify the best time to send the email and only send it at that time.

It’s an effective strategy to increase your email open rates. The more your contacts open your emails, the better your email deliverability becomes.

Monitor Your Email Deliverability

Email deliverability determines whether your email reaches your contact’s inbox. Spam complaints, bounces, unsubscribes, open rates, and click rates can all impact your deliverability score.

Keep an eye on these measures to ensure your emails aren’t at risk of being blocked. 

Split-Test Your Emails

A healthy email open rate should be in the 17%-20% range, and you should shoot for a click rate of 3% or greater.

Split-testing your subject lines is an effective way to increase click-through rates. Subject lines directly impact your click-through rate since the rate is calculated based on all email sends, not just opens.

Make sure to always use an enticing subject line that lures your contacts in.  

Avoid Spam Contacts

You should also stay on the lookout for spam contacts, or fake contacts added by a non-human bot or computer. Spam contacts can flood your list with fake email addresses and bring down your open and click rates.

The easiest way to curb spam contacts is to offer a double opt-in, meaning your new contacts will have to confirm their subscription in a follow-up email. 

Prepare for ActiveCampaign Outages

System outages are inevitable, and you want to make sure your company is prepared to deal with one. You should have a smart backup strategy in place to avoid losing data and new leads if one occurs.

Make sure you and your team are aware of all of the systems you use to run your business, and which of those systems are connected to your email marketing platform. This way you’ll know exactly where to check for damage during an outage.

It’s a good idea to subscribe to ActiveCampaign status updates so that if an outage does happen, you’ll be the first to hear about it. 

How Do You Know If You Are Successful?

Your email deliverability will determine how successful your email marketing strategy is. There are five key metrics you should track every month to gauge your account’s performance:

  1. Your account-wide open rates should be at least 17%-21%
  2. Your account-wide click rates should be at least 3%
  3. Your contacts should be engaged beyond the first 30 days
  4. Your spam and bounce ratings should be below 1%
  5. Your contact growth should increase over time

Contact engagement — or your open and click rates — is the best indicator of how your account is performing.

When your contacts open and click on your emails, you know that they’re connecting with the information you’re sending them. This also tells their email service provider that they like receiving your emails, in turn, boosting your sender authority.

You should track your account-wide click and open rates, as well as campaign-specific campaign stats. If one campaign is outperforming another, you can model future campaigns after it.

Another incredibly important metric is your contact engagement over time. You should use what we call nurture campaigns to keep your contacts engaged after their first 30 days.

Finally, you want to make sure you’re always gaining more contacts than people unsubscribing. Ideally, your email list is continually growing while your unsubscribes are decreasing over time.


I hope this guide has made you feel more confident about your email marketing strategy.

It’s no secret that email marketing is one of the best strategies to gain new customers and increase your sales. The right email marketing tools can help you grow a list full of engaged contacts who convert to loyal customers.

Now it’s your turn to craft an effective email marketing strategy that helps your business grow to new levels. 

Do you need additional help getting your email marketing up and running? Please reach out to learn more. 

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