Ultimate Guide For Planning Your First Email Campaign

Planning is a crucial part of an email campaign. You might already have a good idea about how to create an email campaign or create your first email. 

But preparation and planning are required to make sure, you have everything in place before you get into the process of creating your first email campaign. 

Especially if you have just started with an email marketing tool or software, you will need a set direction to move towards.

how to plan your first email campaign step-by-step 

For Whom This Guide is For

This ultimate guide is exclusively helpful for the users who have a basic understanding of how email campaigns work and going to set their first. 

It will help you streamline the required planning for creating your first ever email campaign whether you’re using an email marketing tool or just started with one. 

The guide includes the step-by-step process of planning your campaign starting from choosing the right email marketing tool towards creating your first campaign. 

Choosing The Right Email Marketing Platform 

The very first step is to choose the right email marketing platform because it has a tremendous impact on the performance and efficiency of your email campaign. 

Email marketing platforms are what make email marketing accessible for marketers to great lengths. It provides you with tools and avenues to operate and manage. 

It is a necessary investment for marketers and small businesses which can help grow your business. 

Here’s what email  marketing platform or software can help you with : 

  • Creating your email campaign 
  • Sending your emails on automation
  • Crafting and designing your emails 
  • Building contact list 
  • Creating and Ulizing sign-up forms for email collection
  • Email templates 
  • Email automation, segmentation & personalization 
  • Email reporting, analytics and support
  • A/B Testing 

These are only a few but primary features of email marketing software. 

To make sure you have selected the best email marketing platform or software, you have to go through whether they’re offering all the required features or not. 

Establish You Email Marketing Goals 

Having so many great options in email marketing software or platforms in the market might be tempting to rush in towards creating your first email marketing campaign.

But, you need to go step-by-step to make sure you are well-prepared and have everything aligned to run a successful email campaign. 

So, you start by thinking about what are your goals here. 

Remember, your email marketing goals are going to be milestones for the success of your campaign. 

That’s how you are going to measure your email campaign success using the goals as performance metrics. 

Think about what you want to achieve with your email marketing campaigns. There must be some specific goals that you seek for your business or website. 

These goals are going to dictate : 

  • What kind of campaign will you be creating?
  • Who you will be targeting ?
  •  What content do you put in there?
  • How do you measure your campaign success? 

And so much more. In fact, all the customization and marketing efforts will be dedicated to achieving your marketing goals. 

It is something that gives you an email marketing campaign a direction to lead on, otherwise, you wouldn’t know where to focus. 

Now, since you know the importance of email goal setting for your first email marketing campaign, you also need to know how to establish it.

Key To Decide Your Marketing Goals 

Well, the key to deciding the email marketing goals is aligning them to the overall marketing goal of your company. 

The overall marketing strategy of your brand including promotions, advertisements, content marketing, sales – from top to bottom must be aligned towards a singular mission statement. 

Your goals for marketing can be : 

  • Getting more and more signups to build a large contact list 
  • Generate direct sales 
  • Want more attendees for a particular event
  • Generating regular leads to nurture and convert them into sales 
  • Increasing engagement 
  • Boosting your website traffic 

Email marketing goals must be an integral part of your entire marketing strategy for your brand, and it plays a crucial role in almost all kinds of other marketing strategies. 

Example : Buzzfeed 

Let’s take an example of how popular brands such as BuzzFeed utilize email marketing, and what are their goals with it : 

It is a popular news and entertainment website that generates revenue through its advertisement, so its aim is to get more and more traffic. 

That’s what is the integral goal of their marketing strategy – to drive website traffic. Now, when it comes to their email marketing goal, it aligns with their marketing goals as well. 

BuzzFeed created an email marketing campaign where it regularly sends its newsletters with a collection of the best and trending stories on the website. 

The goal is definitely here to bring those subscribers to their website to engage and read their stories. 

And that’s pretty much it, apart from the communication to their subscribers, they primarily used email marketing to drive traffic to their website, just what their core marketing demands. 

Now if you compare it with another global surfing brand called Rip Curl, their marketing efforts are about generating sales through selling their products like t-shirts, wetsuits, etc. 

So their email marketing strategy is also focused on promoting those products regularly, some of them are on heavy-discount or newly launched products.  

The idea is to send the subscriber to the product page to buy them and increase their business revenue. 

Building A Targeted Email List 

Once you’ve established your email marketing goals and you know which email marketing service to use, before you set out to start your campaign, you still need something. 

Well, that is the contacts, the relevant potential customers or users, to which you will send them the emails. 

Building the contact list is a crucial step in creating your email marketing campaign journey. 

Where to get your email contact list? 

So, the first question you get from where you will get your potential users or contacts? 

Building A New List From Scratch 

When you’re starting to build your email list from scratch, it is crucial to start collecting email addresses from the targeted user from early on. 

You have to understand that collecting email addresses takes time, so the earlier you start, the more you will have until you create your first email campaign. 

Also, it is an ongoing process where you regularly get new subscribers or get new email contacts over time. 

There are different ways to build your email marketing list, but only one is legit and highly convertible, which is opt-in email sign-up. 

You don’t need just any contact list but a highly relevant and quality-driven one. Email opt-in sign-ups ensure that very well. 

Opt-In Email Sign-Up Forms From Your Website or Blog 

Opt-in email means when you ask for permission to send your emails to potential subscribers or users. 

The simplest way to build a large email list can be boiled down to this easy formula. 

Valuable incentive ( lead magnet) + subscribe opportunities (sign-up forms) = email list 

Sign-up forms are used as the subscribe opportunities using which you will give your visitors a chance to subscribe to your newsletter or emails. 

Now, why will they do it?  You can certainly share the benefits and value they will get from your subscription, mention it in the sign-up copy or on your website. 

But they need more encouragement to give their email address. Hence you present them a valuable incentive, also known as a lead magnet to encourage them to sign-up. 

This valuable incentive, a lead magnet, is what you give your visitors in exchange for their email address. 

It certainly needs to be something your target audience values; lead magnets are usually content-oriented, such as PDF, guides, and cheatsheets. 

However, it also can be a free trial or access to your software or tool. You can also offer heavy discounts or free gifts as well. 

Here’s how you build your contact list through opt-email sign-ups step-wise : 

  • Step 1:  Create your lead magnet, an incentive to give their email address something valuable and content-oriented for them. E.g., ebook
  • Step 2:  Crafting a sign-up form using email marketing tools based upon where you want to place them, what information you want etc.
  • Step 3:  Create multiple sign-up or subscribe opportunities, meaning multiple sign-up forms of all kinds and placements to maximize the point of contact.
  • Step 4 : Decide the sign-up form behavior as when it will show up, such as exit intent, pop-up, or full-width after a few seconds of website loading. 

Some Most Effective Incentive Ideas To Encourage People To Join Your Email List 

High-quality content freebie:  Send the value-driven content-based freebies resolving a particular problem or pain points of your target users. 

Free Shipping:  Offer your visitors a free shipping offer on their next purchase with you, as they only get it if they join your email list. 

First-order & Subscriber-only discount:  Offer them a first-order heavy discount which they can only get access to if they subscribe to you. 

Free-Trial: If you’re selling a software or platform subscription, allow them to get a free trial of 30 days if they sign-up with you. 

Types Of Subscription Or Sign-up Forms

Header Bar 

The header bar is a bar-shaped compact sign-up form that sits at the top of the website. It only contains the text box to enter email addresses and call-to-action buttons for people to subscribe to. 

You can also write one or hardly two lines to tell what the website visitor needs to do with this sign-up form. 

Your email marketing tool or platform can put this header bar on your website. 


A slider sign-up form ‘slides in’ from the bottom corner of your homepage or other web pages encourages people to sign-up for the newsletter. 

It is usually in the form of a small box with some headlines and copies, along with a text field and call-to-action button encouraging visitors to subscribe. 

You can also list the value your visitors get from the sign-up when they enter their email addresses. 

Scroll Box is one of the best tools to make it happen on your website, which is part of the SumoMe suite. 

You can customize the slider sign-up form, which is also easily integrated into your email marketing campaign on your email tool or software. 

Slidebar Top

A sidebar is very useful to spot on your website, which appears at one side of the blog or website while they’re reading the content on the other. 

It is highly visible and gets maximum exposure on the website so you can put a sign-up form at the top of the sidebar; that’s always preferred. 

The top of the sidebar sign-up form appears as the blog pages load to read for the user. It ensures you that your sign-up form will be one of the few things that are seen first. 

To make it even more effective, use the right-aligned sidebar because users are generally habitual of scanning the content in an ‘F’ pattern. 

End or Amidst Of Your Blog Posts 

This is another hotspot for placing your sign-up form, as the blog page is the most engaging page on any website. 

If you’re offering good content, chances are the readers are going through it with sincerity. So putting your sign-up form in the midst of your blog, preferably at the end of it, comes to notice. 

Also, if they enjoy your content, chances are they will be highly motivated to get more of it, so they will sign-up for the newsletter. 

This has higher chances of conversion or email contact collection from your website. Using a valuable incentive, this proves to be a convertible subscription opportunity to build a new audience for your campaign. 


Popups are often considered a bit of an intrusion and even to the extent of annoying and disturbing the readers. 

But there are countless research studies conducted to prove otherwise as to how effective it can be for conversion as well. 

All you have to do is focus on valuing the right offer to the right type of audience at the right time with a strong call to action. 

Timing is everything when it comes to lightboxes or popups. Depending on your audience and niche, you must set the right trigger for your website pop-ups. 

According to Neil Patel, the SEO expert increased his website conversion by 46% using opt-ins and exit-intent sign-ups. 

Focus on trying on the new marketing messages and different types of light boxes and even sign-up form content to see what drives more conversion. 

Importing a List Of Your Known Contacts 

You can greatly build your email list by importing your existing customer information using your email marketing software or platform. 

This will be especially perfect for brands or businesses that want to keep tabs on their existing customers. 

First, it can give a good headstart to your contact list as having some relevant subscribers into the campaign. 

Not to forget, strategically, having existing customers who already know your brand can increase the overall email open rates and engagement. 

Even better, these contacts can be your repeat customers as well, so there are you can still gain so much from them, and in exchange, you can help them with the product that they’re using. 

Having existing customers on your email list will improve your communication with them. 

It will put you in a good light in a customer’s perspective as you will still be in touch to help them. 

Before injecting these contacts into your email list, ask for their permission to send them emails. 

Tips To Build A High-Quality Email List 

  • Understand your audience, their desire, pain points, challenges, and more. Try to know their buyer’s journey and set up a buyer’s persona for your email targeting.
  • Focus on the strategic use of variations of pop-ups such as  exit-intent, blending it with good quality copy & valuable lead magnet
  • Create a personalized call-to-action (CTA) to target your audience for more sign-ups.
  • Make the value of your CTA extremely clear to your visitors and show what it can do for them if they sign-up for your email list.
  • Integrate a pop-up or slide on each page of your website. Or any other form of sign-up forms with good timing.
  • Share your sign-up opt-in URL to your social media page targeting the audience there to convert into your subscribers.
  • Make your sign-up process quick, easy, and smooth. Do not overcomplicate it by asking for too much information. Make sure it is prompt and fast to sign-up.
  • Offer a valuable and targeted incentive that is meaningful for your target audience, a high-quality lead magnet.
  • Use humor in your sign-up forms to draw people in and make them comfortable to provide their email addresses.
  • Tell them exactly what kind of content or value they will get if they sign-up for your newsletter. Set a promise exciting enough to get them hooked.
  • Use referral marketing to bring more email contacts. Ask your existing customer to refer your products to their friends, and don’t forget to incentivize them.
  • Use loyalty programs to generate more leads for your contact list by encouraging your repeat customers to act as brand advocates and share positive reviews about your brand.
  • Create compelling landing pages with high-quality copy to increase your lead magnet or sales conversion rate. 

Segment Your List 

Once you have built your email list, and grown it for a while and hence, end up with a large one, the next step to optimize your email list is to segment it. 

List segmentation allows you to divide your email subscribers further into smaller groups specified on the basis of particular criteria, creating segments. 

These segments are even better in targeting, making it easier to craft tailor-made and personalized content for them for higher conversions. 

Segmentation is one of the powerful methods of getting more open rates and conversions through your contact list. 

Why Email Segmentation?

Email Segmentation takes away the worst aspect of traditional email marketing: they are sent to very generalized, impersonal, and/or even irrelevant audiences. 

Moving towards the future of marketing, one of the popular trends is email segmentation which allows you to categorize your subscriber list for further personalization and targeting smartly.

This means you know their specific pain points, desires, reasons behind sign-ups, what they exactly seek from your content, their preferences, and so much more. 

When you segment your list on the basis of a particular or set of criteria, it becomes the focal point basis on which you customize your whole email designing strategy and approach. 

The primary benefit of segmenting your list is: 

  • More personalized content aiding better open rates 
  • Better targeted email marketing strategy boost conversion 
  • More specific content means high engagement 
  • Personalized offers mean more sales conversions. 

And these are the primary ones that impact the performance of your email marketing campaign. 

How Do You Segment Your Email List? 

Using email segmentation tools or your email marketing platform, you can segment your tool on the basis of various metrics or factors. 

These different target criteria also help you focus on crafting much more personalized email content and marketing strategy. 

First, you must identify the four primary types of segmentation that are known above all to begin with. 

Segmentation By Industry 

If you are selling a tool, program, or software, how powerful will it be if you know that your target audience comes from which industry? 

It can help you pitch your product or make connections faster. 

Knowing their industry, you can craft the content on the pain points of that particular industry, something they can relate to instantaneously. 

So, that’s what segmentation by industry means, you can segment your contact list on the basis of their respective industry. 

When you craft your email, you can customize it for subscribers or potential buyers from a particular industry, the same as you do for all of them. 

Even the change in your subject line can do wonders in terms of improving open rates if you know something to relate to them. 

Segmentation By Intent 

Another popular method or criteria for segmentation is the intent which means you need to know whether there is an intent behind your potential buyer for the purchase. 

Segmenting your contact list on the basis of their intent helps you create customized content for those who are willing or ready to buy the product at this moment. 

It will prevent you from sending marketing emails to those who’re ready to buy, but since they are still lead, they might require nurturing, more information, and convincing to do. 

You segment your list on the basis of signals for the intent that your potential buyer shows. It can be knowing the questions like – 

  • Are your leads actively searching for the product or related products? 
  • Are they spending too much time on the payment page? 
  • Are they visiting the price page over and over again? 
  • Are they searching through buying-intent keywords? 

These signs clearly depict that subscribers with these signs are ready to buy, so you should send marketing emails with compelling offers. 

Rather than sending a particular email to all of your subscribers, irrespective of whether they are ready to buy or not, you better send those who are and are more likely to. 

Segmentation By Sales Stage 

Another method to segment your contact list is through the sales stage. 

It basically allows you to send out customized and tailored emails to answer your leads’ questions and concerns. 

For this, you must know where your leads stand in their buyer’s journey, your last interaction with them, previous purchases, if any, and more. 

For example, if the last time they asked you about the product, pricing, and everything but didn’t buy, you have to send them emails, giving them more confidence to complete the purchase. 

Or maybe leads who already received the marketing materials from you, the proposal, and everything but never responded back need a separate kind of email to help their case. 

Segmentation By Customer Lifecycle

Email marketing campaigns don’t end with potential buyer converting to customer, rather it quite starts from there. 

Your email campaigns must focus on the overall customer lifecycle and further engage with the customers. 

You would want to keep them in the loop and regularly send emails with new product releases, updates, discounts, and much more. 

So you can segment your list by customer lifecycle

Choose What Type Of Email Marketing Campaign You Want 

Not all kinds of emails aim to achieve one particular target; different email types bring their respective agendas to particular email marketing campaigns. 

It is about what are your email marketing goals, as we figured out in the earlier steps. Depending on what you need, you will choose your campaign type. 

Here are some known email marketing campaign types : 


An email newsletter is one of the most common yet highly effective email campaigns where emails are regularly distributed over one particular topic. 

These are primarily focused on developing connections with your audience. It helps in staying top-of-the-mind of your prospects. 

A high-value newsletter also helps you boost your email engagement. It is essential to set an expectation for your audience regardings its frequency and timing. 

This increases the open rates of your email campaign as well. 

One of the primary goals for using a newsletter is also to develop your brand and bring your audience to your website. 

So if your goal is to keep in touch with your existing customers or others and drive traffic to your website, a newsletter email campaign is the way to go. 

Marketing Offer 

Marketing offer emails are just as it sounds; they are not about the content but about promoting your product or services. 

The aim of these emails is to drive direct responses from your prospects and existing customers. 

Again, marketing offer emails can further have different and more specific goals, such as some might intend to purchase, whereas others could be to increase your brand awareness. 

These emails are about your special offers or discounts on a particular product.

Just as what you receive in your emails from Pizzahut about a 10% discount if you click on the CTA button ‘Order Now’. 

Or maybe a special discount from Amazon about their ‘sales’ days going on, encouraging you to click on Claim Your Offer Now. 

All of these emails you often receive in either your inbox but mostly in the ‘promotion’ tab or sometimes in spam are marketing emails. 

Marketing emails allow prospects to access direct purchases. 

It sends out a particular offer or discount or a product you’re offering along with a direct call-to-action button to click through to your website and buy it. 


Another form of email campaign where the sole purpose is to communicate with your audience, to deliver a particular message, or to give information to your email list. 

The information is always about your product, service, some new feature, or a product update, or sometimes related to industry changes. 

These emails sent by the brands are to make announcements to their respective customer and prospect base. 

There is not much that goes in these emails, but they’re necessary evil really capable of increasing engagement and communication with the subscribers. 

Such email campaigns are aimed at building communication with your customers. Anything, in particular, you want to tell your audience can be put through these automated emails. 

However, you can always add a CTA allowing your audience to click through to your site to increase your website traffic and engagement. 

Event Invite 

An event invitation email doesn’t need much of an explanation as the name clearly depicts what it means. 

It is to invite the subscribers or the audience to the event you want them to attend. Basically, you are promoting an event you are conducting through email marketing. 

Such emails must contain all the details of your event, including the date, time, venue, and other information like what it is about and what can be valuable for them.

You also need to put information on how they can RSVP to the invite. 

Controlling Who To Target 

Targeting your email list is as essential as any vital step in creating and optimizing your email marketing campaign. 

You must understand how email marketing works and what kind of marketing form it is for the audience. 

To begin with, it is the most direct form of marketing, giving you a significant amount of control over who you want to target for sending emails. 

A great level of targeting is already done for you just by the fact that they sign-up for your emails; they are somewhat already interested in your products or services. 

At least they connect to your brand or the content you’re sharing. Email marketing tends to be highly efficient in targeting your audience to generate leads. 

And since you’re controlling your leads, you can generate traffic toward your website without consistently reaching out to them.  

Now, you have everything in place to finally start creating your email marketing campaign, which includes  

  • Planning & Structure 
  • Designing 
  • Required Copy 
  • Personalization 
  • Setting up frequency 

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