Posted 12th February 2010 by APSIS

Creating a plan

One of our most popular series of articles in Sweden has been our E-mail University. The articles highlights different aspects of e-mail marketing and newsletters to help our readers get better results from their own marketing efforts. This is the first part of E-mail University.

Part 1 – The plan

Let us get off to an easy start by taking five minutes from your – most likely – busy work day to think some things over. Start by taking a look at what you have done in the last year when it comes to e-mail marketing. What was successful? What could have been better? Make a short list (5-10 bullet points on each side) that sums up your experiences from the past year. Now, it is time to look at the plan.

I suggest that you plan as far ahead as the next year, but you do not necessarily have to be too detailed – you need to be open for unexpected opportunities that arises. If you – like we do – publish a newsletter every month, plan the coming three months in detail, have about half of the content ready for the three months after that, and a rough sketch for the rest of the year. It is called a newsletter, but it does not have to be all news – a lot of content may be produced in advance and if necessary be updated before a sending.

By being well prepared you will not have to deal with the last-minute stress that often cause newsletters to fall short of being readable and interesting to a large audience.

It is hard to create good content – here are a few tips that may help you:

• Take a look at your most popular articles from the past year. Can you expand and elaborate further on these articles?
• Do you have to write everything yourselves, or could external writers give your readers new knowledge?
• Are there topics that warrant a series of articles?
• Is it possible to give your readers access to something practical (maybe on the Internet) that help them in their daily work?
• Ask your readers about tips and experiences
• Carry out an investigation in one newsletter, and report the results in the next newsletter.

Look at other newsletters. Is there anything that might inspire you and that may be adapted to your line of business? Perhaps it is time to try out using video in your newsletter? It is a powerful tool that will help you improve click-through rates. Try it out – but be sure to have content that is good enough to attract viewers a second time!

When creating content, try to be on schedule and preferably write more than you need (if you have planned for four articles, write five). You will have the possibility to add new content easily or to remove something that seemed like a good idea but did not live up to your expectations.

Write your plan, leave it for a while and look at it again tomorrow. I promise you this: to work with an elaborate plan rather than to put everything together at the last minute is an excellent way to to evolve and improve your e-mail marketing.