In any digital marketing tactic, it’s easy to fall into autopilot.

Most of us are creatures of habit. Hello, email template from the early 2000s! 

How often is the reason for doing something, “we’ve always done it that way?”

The truth is, we should spend no time or resources on any task without understanding the goal for it. This should be your main task for any marketing strategy. Develop an objective for content marketing and then you can move forward with creating an email marketing strategy.

Why Set a Goal for Your Email Marketing Strategy

When it comes to email marketing, do you know the reason behind each and every email you send? Whether you focus on metrics such as open rates or click-through-rates, there should a purpose for each message that you send. Are you attempting to gain new customers or working towards retaining previous purchasers?

Making this decision first will allow you to develop successful email marketing campaigns and provide real value towards your current marketing efforts.

Factors to Consider When Setting a Goal

For your email marketing, the needs of your subscriber should almost come first and foremost. This is what makes an email great. Of course, we’re all doing email marketing because it’s great for our business too. Balancing these two is sides of a goal is what leads to great emails.

Most email marketers stick to setting S.M.A.R.T Goals. When developing your email marketing strategy ensure that your goals are:

Specific – ex: “I want to grow my email subscribers by X% by Q4.”

Measurable – ex: “Increasing my new subscribers by X% would equal X email subscribers total.”

Attainable – Is your goal something that can be reached within the terms allowed?

Relevant  – Is your goal something that makes sense for your overall marketing strategy?

Time-Bound – Set a deadline. Stick to it.

Effective email marketing happens when email marketers take this valuable information into consideration.

Why Setting a Goal Makes for Great Emails

When you understand the ultimate goal of an email, you can reverse engineer the steps it takes to achieve that purpose. Keeping a goal in mind puts every aspect of your email into focus and will consistently produce good emails.  Building out purposeful email marketing campaigns will successfully turn new customers into loyal customers in no time.

When a new customer receives one of your email campaigns with a clear subject line, whether it comes as a welcome email, follow up or a email newsletter, it should be clear what the email strategy is to make your emails truly great. Similar to CTAs, you want it to be directly clear what this email content will provide for the customer. Adding in some personalization to your email subject lines never hurt either!

When your goal is clear to the email subscribers, they will likely interact with your email content as intended.

Choosing Your Goal

Yes, there are many different things that you achieve with email marketing. You can build trust, further your branding, increase your sales and so much more. In reality, it’s really just whether it’s a slow play or a long play towards boosting your bottom line.

Knowing that the end game is always going to be sales, even if it’s hard to see how that email will impact sales in the short-term, you can pick your goal based on where that email plays into your overall sales funnel.

Marketing is always about micro wins.

You won’t go far if your only move is “here buy this.” You have to do the work and approach each small step (or goal) that will lead you towards that ultimate goal of a sale.

Using email marketing tools, you should be able to analyze your deliverability and email open rates to develop a proper goal to focus on for your email marketing campaigns.

So how do you do it?

How To Achieve Your Goals

As mentioned above, to achieve your goals work backwards from your end point.

It’s important to gain a complete understanding of each of these levels, in order to truly make your emails great. Without this knowledge, you’re playing a guessing game and you cannot expect to achieve your goals.

So, what are the steps a customer or subscribe must take for you to achieve your goal?

Step 1: Provide a Clear Call To Action

We’ve often shared the sage words of Flint McGlaughlin, Founder and Managing Director of MECLABS, who likes to say that you cannot sell anything with email marketing other than a click.

The final goal will likely take place on a product page, landing page or another location outside of your email. That means that Call To Action (CTA) that compels a subscriber to reach that page must be on point.

If you have properly identified a goal for your email, the CTA should be obvious. Your CTA should be clear and easy to follow.

In fact, that there are impressive stats that demonstrate the benefit of only having one CTA in an email campaign. Recently, Toast tested having one clear CTA in their email campaigns. This test yielded increased clicks to the tune of 371% and boosted sales 1,617%.

H&M Email CTA

H&M used one clear and simple CTA.

H&M used one clear and simple CTA.

Most subscribers are busy or in some cases just lazy. Marketing automation is great but if there’s no personalization, subscribers may feel disconnected to your brand.

Don’t ask too much of subscribers. At this point, you may be thinking, “but Andy … there are more than one things I may need a subscriber or customer to take action on!”

That’s perfectly fine. Just use more than one email to achieve this.

What makes a great CTA?

A great CTA does three things well:

  • Creates urgency. A subscriber should feel the need to act right away.
  • Provides clear instructions on what you want the email recipient to do next.
  • Gives confidence. Avoid friction or anxiety. There’s no risk when something is free, right?

Here’s an example of those points in action:

Don’t wait another minute to make a great email! Start email marketing free today.

If you don’t already have one, click here to get your Free Plan now!

It’s important to test the various CTAs that are available to you, to find out what works with your audience.

Test what is more successful for you between buttons for CTAs or using linked text.

If you opt for using buttons, the design of your button is another factor to consider.

Color, size, placement and even something as simple as adding an arrow graphic, like a mouse cursor, can have a significant impact on your email marketing success.

Don’t forget about designing your email marketing content for mobile devices. Your CTA should be as high as possible on the screen so users can convert as easily as possible.

Simply adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons gave Helzberg Diamonds a 26% increase in clicks.

The copy you use to motive in your CTA is also important.

One company, ContentVerve, used first-person phrasing and saw a 90% increase in Click-Through Rate (CTR). For example, “Start my free 30 day trial” vs. “Start your free 30 day trial.”

Step 2: Write Compelling Email Copy

Your CTA isn’t the only place that copy is important.

Write compelling email copy that causes a subscriber to read your entire email through to the CTA.

Follow these tips for writing quality email copy:

  1. Write quickly. It will help your enthusiasm and personality shine.
  2. Be brief. Write like each word costs you money. Subscribers have a short attention span. You don’t want them to lose interest.
  3. Write conversationally. Craft your emails as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with one subscriber. Look back at your copy and ask yourself if you would talk that way if you were in a conversation.
  4. No boilerplates. Being too formulaic will result in a one way ticket to Boring Town.
  5. Break from the norm. Throw away things like “Sincerely,” “Best” or “Thanks.” Use your own personality. You might just see an email from Benchmark end in “With regards from sunny Southern California.”
  6. You want to use “you.” It’s among the most persuasive words in the dictionary.
  7. It’s not about you. Care and compassion for your subscribers will take your email marketing a long way.

Step 3: Write A Great Subject Line

Now that you know you can write a great email, let’s make sure that email gets opened.

Enter subject lines.

According to a case study by Convince & Convert, 35% of subscribers will open an email based on the subject line alone.

Follow these tips for great subject lines:

  1. Be concise. With so many emails being viewed on mobile first, they’ll only see your subject line in its entirety if it’s around 50 characters.
  2. Deliver on your promise. Make sure your subject line is an honest representation of what follows within the email. The point of great emails is to build trust!
  3. Begin with an action-oriented verb. Your subject line is similar to a CTA and beginning a subject line with an action verb will help your email get opened.
  4. Give a sense of urgency. Same logic behind a subject line being like your CTA applies. Make them want to open your email. NOW!
  5. Ask a question? One that your subscribers will want the answer to and open the email to find the answer or consider the answer for themselves.

In case you still need extra help with subject lines, Sumo has 62 formulas for great subject lines.

Other factors that should be considered here are From Name and the email address from which you are sending as well as the Preview Text.


These are the important steps for creating great emails.

Yes, they are in reverse order from how your subscriber will experience them.

However, it’s always easiest when you understand what your goal is and then work backwards from there. That way you can make sure that you’ve set yourself up for success at each level of your email.

Before you create any great email, you must first know your goal for that email. AND ensure your customers have decided to opt-in to your subscriber list!

Then you have you make sure that the CTA in your email is great enough to get them to act on it, ultimately achieving your goal.

To get them to your CTA, you have to first craft great email copy. This will make them read through your email to the CTA.

For your email to be read in the first place, you need to write a great subject line that inspires your subscribers to open your email.

Share Your Ideas

What do you do to make your emails great?

We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments your favorite marketing tips for making great emails.

Want to Learn More?

This post is only one part of what goes into making a great email.

That’s why we wrote a new guide called What Makes a Great Email.

There you can gain a better understanding for great emails and learn practical strategies to create them.

Click here to download What Makes a Great Email.

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