July 16, 2021 Abeer Mohamed

Email Marketing Strategy: A Step by Step Guide for 2021

How do you develop an email marketing strategy?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

An Email Marketing Strategy is a set of procedures that a marketer identifies and follows to achieve desired marketing goals with email advertising. This plan of action gives the businesses a direct channel of communication with prospects and customers for brand promotion.

What Is Email Marketing Strategy?

Email marketing is the highly effective digital marketing strategy of sending emails to prospects and customers. Effective marketing emails convert prospects into customers, and turn one-time buyers into loyal, raving fans.

This guide is for those who’re ready to commit to email marketing. If you’re unsure, you may want to read our guide on why you need to build an email list RIGHT NOW!

Create an Email Marketing Strategy

Each of your customers receives 121 emails every day. That means, if you don’t take the time to develop a strategy, your emails will get lost in crowded inboxes, or worse, be sent to the spam folder.

You can learn how to build an effective email strategy and send emails that people actually want to read. It just takes a plan (one that can be broken down into a few key steps).

Think of the following five steps as an outline for your email strategy. We’ll dive deeper into some of these in a moment.

1. Define Your Audience

An effective email is a relevant email. Like everything else in marketing, start with your buyer persona, understand what they want, and tailor your email campaign to your audience’s needs.

2. Establish Your Goals

Before you come up with your campaign goals, gather some context. Research the average email stats for your industry and use them as benchmarks for your goals.

email marketing mean open rate by industry
email marketing mean click through rate by industry

3. Create a Way for People to Sign Up

You need people to email, right? An email list (we’ll cover how to build your email list in the next section) is a group of users who have given you permission to send them relevant content. To build that list, you need several ways for prospects to opt in to receive your emails.

Don’t be discouraged if you only have a few people on your list to start. It can take some time to build. In the meantime, treat every single subscriber and lead like gold, and you’ll start to see your email list grow organically.

4. Choose an Email Campaign Type

Email campaigns vary and trying to decide between them can be overwhelming. Do you send a weekly newsletter? Should you send out new product announcements? Which blog posts are worth sharing?

These questions plague every marketer. The answer is subjective. You can start by learning about the different types of email campaigns that exist, then decide which is best for your audience. You should also set up different lists for different types of emails, so customers and prospects can sign up for only the emails that are relevant to them.

5. Make a Schedule – Email Marketing Strategy

Decide how often you plan to contact your list, inform your audience upfront so they know what to expect, and stick to a consistent schedule to build trust, and so they don’t forget about you.

6. Measure Your Results – Email Marketing Strategy

This should come as no surprise. As marketers, we measure everything. Being meticulous about every key metric will help you make small changes to your emails that will yield large results. We’re going to touch on the exact KPIs to monitor in a bit (or you can simply jump ahead).

Techniques to Improve your Email Marketing Strategy for eCommerce

1. Provide an incentive in exchange for an email address

This is called a lead magnet. With this tool, you can significantly increase the number of subscriptions and make a lead’s first purchase a less stressful experience. Give your site visitors an incentive they can’t pass up. Remember that it should be valuable for your potential clients. You can offer free shipping on users’ first order or a coupon to get a discount on their first purchase. To speed up your leads’ decision-making process, create fear of missing out and limit the duration of your offer.

Gap uses this technique as well. The brand offers a 25% discount for signing up for their emails. They also promise to tell subscribers about new arrivals and exclusive deals via emails.


2. Segment subscribers right from the subscription form

Segmentation is a must for eCommerce. Your store may have a variety of categories for men, women, and kids. If you send emails promoting kids’ wear or women’s stuff to men, your email open rate and user engagement will suffer. With segmentation, you can send targeted and relevant campaigns to each user on your mailing list. Provide some additional fields to get the information you need. You may request users’ gender or information about the categories of goods they’re interested in.

After subscribers fill in your form, this data will be added as a variable to your mailing list. Then, you can choose either a specific variable or a mailing list segment to send your email campaign to. As a result, every subscriber will receive the offers they’re interested in.

Look at the Puma’s subscription form. They provide a first-purchase discount in exchange for an email address and invite users to share their date of birth and shopping preferences to receive special offers.

Puma subscription form

3. Send a welcome email

A welcome email is your chance to make a positive first impression on your potential clients. You can send either a single email or a series of three messages to better educate your audience.

There are so many goals you can achieve with a welcome email series. You should set a friendly tone of communication with your brand, tell subscribers about the benefits of choosing your company, share top-rated goods, or make a special offer.

Сheck out this sweet welcome email from Petco. Every sentence and every image in this email is all about loving animals. The message starts with a cute greeting that definitely brings a smile to your face. The brand shares links to the most important categories and encourages subscribers to complete a pet profile to receive customized news, offers, and even a free birthday gift for a pet. This welcome email won’t leave anyone indifferent.

A welcome email

4. Segment clients based on their behavior

Go beyond standard segmentation based on information about your subscribers. Hundreds of customers visit your online store every day, browse product cards, add items to their shopping carts and wishlists, and make purchases, of course. You can track their behavior and create corresponding segments for cart abandoners, for users who view the same pages and add the same goods to their shopping carts. Then, you can send them promotional campaigns and increase sales.

SendPulse provides pre-made segments if you don’t want to specify the conditions manually. Divide subscribers into groups based on their actions and engagement: users who joined your list in the last 30 days, active users who opened five recent emails from you, and inactive subscribers.

You can also divide users into groups based on their interaction with your campaigns: opened an email but didn’t click the link, didn’t open an email, opened it, or followed a particular link.

With this information, you can send highly targeted campaigns, increase customer retention, and boost sales.

Here’s how segmentation based on behavior looks.


Follow this step-by-step guide to send emails using segmentation.

5. Upsell and cross-sell

With these marketing techniques, you can build customer retention, loyalty, and increase sales. Both tactics imply selling more than a customer intends to buy.

Marketers use cross-selling to encourage users to buy complementary products in addition to their order. For example, brands often offer a case or earphones together with a smartphone. These items are used together, so this promotion is always to the point.

Upselling means promoting more expensive, upgraded, and better products instead of the customers’ initial choice. For example, marketers promote TVs with larger screens, the latest iPhone, or a paid plan instead of a free trial. The challenge here is to explain why this product is a better choice and cover the benefits a client will get after purchasing it.

Below is an example of a cross-selling email sent by Amazon.


With Sendpulse’s Automation 360 system, you can send cross-selling and upselling emails automatically right after the purchase.

6. Send milestone emails

Milestone emails help build long-lasting relationships with clients. This type of email usually indicates a certain stage of the customer lifecycle. It can be a client’s birthday or an anniversary. These campaigns have great open rates and CTR due to their personalized nature. To send a milestone email, you need to collect data such as customers’ birth dates; date of subscription, first purchase, or any other significant events.

With this data, you can congratulate your client on these important events and thank them for being loyal to your brand. Reward them with a unique offer. They will definitely appreciate your care and come back to your brand.
Mud Pie sends this milestone email to celebrate a users’ anniversary and give $10 off on their next purchase.

Anniversary email| Email Marketing Strategy

You can easily set automated milestone email sending with SendPulse Automation 360.

7. Run re-engagement campaigns

This is a critical task to keep your mailing list healthy. Your subscribers may lose interest in your brand, no longer need your services, or simply forget about you. But don’t hurry to remove them from your mailing list. You can win them back with a re-engagement campaign.

Use this email to find out why your subscribers aren’t interacting with your brand. After users follow the unsubscribe link, you can provide a form with multiple reasons for them to choose from. If you’re not ready to give up, offer an incentive to win them back and remind them about the benefits of being a part of your community. It can be an exclusive offer or a discount.

Virgin Experience Days sent this re-engagement email and supported it with a special offer — 20% off the next order.

Reengagement email| Email Marketing Strategy

8. Reward loyal customers

These people help your business grow, bring you much money, and spread good reviews of your brand. You keep such clients and reward them since it’s much more difficult to acquire a new customer.

You can create a special loyalty club for those clients who make more than X orders, give them points for each purchase depending on their check and offer to exchange them for a product or a discount.

PetSmart encourages subscribers to join its loyalty program to earn points and get exclusive treats for every $1 spent. Besides, they promise to give each pet a surprise on their birthday and send special deals via emails.

A rewarding email| Email Marketing Strategy

Conclusion – Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing continues to deliver results.

But email marketing has evolved. It’s no longer as simple as sending the same email to all.

It’s time to update your email marketing strategy.

Now, you need to send targeted messages. Messages that are personalized, and optimized for multiple devices.

You also need test new elements. Trends change quickly, and what worked 12 months ago may not be successful today. Be open to testing. And when you understand what works, find ways to automate it through triggered emails.

If you implement these new changes into your email marketing strategy your customers will be more responsive, your campaign performance will improve and your business will continue grow.

What do you think makes a modern email marketing strategy successful?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

To take advantage of Email Marketing services we have. you can get started with Imbassy

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Abeer Mohamed

Lead Data Analyst at Imbassy. — I help businesses make better business decisions. 🎯

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