How to Create a Winning Email Marketing Campaign

There are so many marketing emails in people’s inboxes that creating an email that stands out from the rest may seem impossible. But the brands who have mastered the art of developing a successful email campaign can tell you it’s well worth your time.

In this article, we take a top-level look at what email marketing is, how it works, and how you can go about setting up your first successful email campaign.

In this guide to email marketing campaigns, you’ll discover:

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience and connect with them in a meaningful way. It blends both traditional direct marketing, in that you’re marketing to individuals, and the latest digital marketing technology and techniques, such as personalization and segmentation.

Email marketing has been around for a long time. But in recent years it has become increasingly sophisticated in its ability to tailor communications to specific people and focused on individuals’ privacy and consent in line with legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR in Europe.

Why email marketing is important?

Email campaigns encourage subscribers to act ー whether that be visiting the business’s website, making a purchase, or leaving a review.

You can use email marketing for many things, including to:

And people check their emails, lots, according to Adobe research, going to their inboxes:

No wonder email is the biggest source of ROI for 59% of marketers.

Effective email marketing can capitalize on this behavior, converting prospects and engaging existing customers. But to fully engage with your audience through email marketing campaigns, you have to provide substantial value to them.

How to create an email marketing campaign.

You can create the foundation for a powerful email engine by following a simple step by step guide.

1. Identify your email marketing goals and objectives.

As with any marketing activity, it’s important to outline your ultimate objectives for your email marketing campaigns before you get started.

So, before you set out on your email journey, you should identify a few goals. The goals will help you to decide:

Goals can often be centered on making customers aware of new promotions, welcoming new subscribers, or re-engaging customers.

Whatever goals you choose should directly connect to your business’s overall KPIs and objectives.

2. Build a targeted email list.

The simplest way to build a targeted email list is to import known contacts into a marketing tool. If you are already equipped with a roster of emails, start there and continue growing your list. However, if you are starting from scratch, you’ll need to find ways to get the attention of your customers and prospects.

The best way to entice visitors that land on your page to provide you with their contact information is to offer them something valuable in return. This could be:

Everyone on your list must have opted in and want to hear from you. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) set strict rules around opt-in and opt-out. Learn more about GDPR.

Download the Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing

3. Identify different email types.

After you’ve pinpointed your email marketing goals, you must identify the different types of emails you want to send. These might include:

Each type of email should correlate to one of your goals.

For instance, you can use newsletters to accomplish your goal of keeping existing customers up to date by highlighting customer success stories and announcing new developments.

To boost direct sales, you can develop promotional email types notifying customers of free shipping, recent price reductions, or freebies.

If you suspect that customers who bought a certain product from you will enjoy your new product, send them a new product announcement, and highlight its value to them in terms of what you know from their past buying experience.

4. Understand your audience.

Your customers and prospects want to feel confident that you understand their needs and have created products or services that exceed their expectations.

Tailoring emails to various segments of your audience is a great way to engage your customers and leads on a more personal level.

For example, someone that has never bought from you but signed up to your email on Facebook will have different needs to a loyal customer that purchases from you every month. The types of email they receive from you should be different.

In addition to capturing the ‘lead source’ against an email address, many email service providers (ESPs) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools can hold other data such as:

Set up an email preference center to allows recipients to define the type of marketing they want to get from you. And consider what you can learn from platforms and tools.

5. Leverage tools for better campaigns.

Without the right tools, keeping track of your email list, audience, and email campaigns can get complicated quickly.

There are many email marketing tools available. Some of these can easily integrate with your existing customer relationship management software.

When looking for the right email service provider (ESP) for your business, it’s important to consider:

Adobe’s Marketo Engage makes it easy to get started and stay focused, efficient, and productive with your email marketing activity.

Within Marketo Engage, you can connect your email marketing activities to your CRM and create automated customer journey campaigns. This will help present the most relevant content to each of your recipients and ultimately improve the effectiveness of your email marketing.

6. Plan your cadence.

For successful email marketing, your email campaigns should deliver multiple emails over time, in a cadence (or a ‘flow’ or ‘drip’).

Email drip campaigns can be used to convert prospects into customers and new customers into loyal fans. You can choose to begin your drip campaigns when customers:

Consider this example of a drip campaign:

1. Generally, the first email in this campaign outlines best practices for using your product or service.

2. A few days later, you can send another email pointing them towards help pages, videos, or blog posts.

3. Over the next few weeks, your customers should see emails demonstrating new features.

4. They should eventually receive one that links to another offering that matches their potential interests and needs.

7. Write your copy.

Memorable subject lines and short, to-the-point copy are essential components of a great email. Follow these tips for how to approach writing and structuring email copy:

1. Subject line. A powerful email subject line is really important. Subject lines should only be 40-50 characters, so use them to feature the key takeaway of your email.

2. Preview copy. Ease your readers into the selling portion of your email. Pitching right away can be off-putting, so make sure you save the sales talk for the latter part of the email copy.

3. Call to action (CTA). At the end of the email, combine a compelling offer with an obvious call-to-action so it’s clear what you are proposing, and the reader has easy access to it.

You might also contemplate adding subtle calls-to-action at the start and mid-point of emails to reiterate what you are urging the reader to do.

Download the Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing

8. Plan the design.

Appealing visuals and intuitive design should be key elements in your campaign strategy.

Your emails should be beautiful and easy to read and understand, but also be effective across all devices. Users are unlikely to adjust their mobile devices, tablets, or desktops to read emails properly.

Diagrams and images within your emails can help readers to understand your product and messaging. However, most email clients typically have images disabled as default — so it’s important to make sure users can understand the main takeaway of your email message even if their images don’t download.

Images should always include alt text to account for any accessibility issues.

There are many tools available to help you test your emails, and review how your email will appear across a variety of devices, and how well it scores on accessibility and SPAM.

9. Email marketing metrics and measurement.

There are many variables to measure when it comes to email. Everything from your subject lines to your call to action to your layout can greatly affect the outcomes of your campaigns.

If your open rates are low, your list could include too many inactive members who never even open your emails. Removing these people from your list may be a good idea ー it’s better to focus on active subscribers than a huge email list of inactive prospects and customers.

Here are some tips:

Monitor the devices your customers use, too. If a significant portion of your audience is checking their inboxes on mobile devices, you need to ensure every email you send is optimized for smartphone use.

10. Improve your campaign.

Continuously improving your email marketing campaign is paramount to achieving success. Your audience and your brand are constantly evolving, so your emails need to follow suit.

Use A/B testing to try out several versions of an email template on members of the same audience segment. These experiments can help you determine which design is the best fit for the audience you are targeting.

Use the metrics you measure to note which campaigns resonate best with certain audiences and rationalize why you feel different campaigns had stronger open rates than others or weaker click-through rates.

Look at the timing of your emails as well, since some people check their email at specific points throughout the day and this can help optimize your activity.

Once you get an understanding as to why you feel different email marketing campaigns performed better than others, you can start testing in the spirit of continuous improvement.

Test new strategies such as third-party endorsements, fun animations, and clever CTAs to see what improves your email campaigns.

As a side note, it’s important to ensure the tone of your copy and the branding of your emails match your posts on social media and on your website. Every member of your audience should have a seamless experience interacting with your brand across any platform.

4 great email marketing campaign examples.

Any company can use email marketing to grow their business, regardless of industry.

Below, we examine businesses in the SaaS, sports, finance, and engineering sectors that have all reaped the benefits of strong email strategies.


Trimble is a B2B business that helps customers model and analyze building and civil infrastructure while improving compliance to building standards.

When Trimble adopted a more unified marketing automation platform, the company was able to connect engagement strategies from all three of its major franchises. With its new tool, Trimble created robust email templates that welcomed, nurtured, and re-engaged their customers.

The template library led to a $500,000+ reduction in martech spend and thousands of work hours saved through cloning and automation.


Redstone Federal Credit Union serves 370,000 members and handles more than $3.5 billion in assets.

The credit union turned to an automation tool to drive awareness and capture more customers via its website. This platform enabled Redstone to introduce new drip campaigns and targeted messaging for each of its customer segments.

In just seven weeks, this strategy yielded 5,500 new and upgraded accounts.

Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers, one of the National Basketball Association’s more innovative franchises, sought to encourage fans of all demographics to come to the 150+ events held at Portland’s Rose Quarter.

To foster a more fan-centric marketing approach, the Trail Blazers used an email marketing tool to construct multiple email campaigns focused on different types of fans.

These campaigns caused 96% of season ticket holders to renew, and a 9% year-over-year increase in season ticket sales.


Aconex is a collaboration platform for construction and engineering projects around the globe.

To reach their multinational customers and reduce costs, Aconex developed several email marketing programs to revamp their approach to lead nurturing and scoring.

A multi-pronged email campaign generated 20,000 leads over four weeks, which initiated 10 face-to-face sales meetings, and ultimately a $62,000 deal.

Build your next amazing email campaign today.

Those who ignore email marketing are missing out on an enormous potential audience and an opportunity to:

The success of your email strategy depends heavily on the:

That may seem like a lot to keep track of, but SaaS solutions such as Marketo Engage make it easy to stay focused and productive.

Within Marketo, your marketing team can create automated customer journey campaigns, use machine learning to present the most relevant content to each buyer, and interpret metrics that will optimize campaign performance.

Marketo Engage harmonizes your marketing and sales strategies by cross-referencing sales playbooks and connecting your marketing activities to your CRM.

Get ready to radically transform your customer experience management with a demo of Marketo Engage today.

Frequently asked questions about email marketing campaigns.

How do you create email marketing content?

To create email marketing content, you need several things. First you need an objective and a target audience. What are you trying to achieve and how are you trying to communicate with? Then you need to email marketing software to create and distribute the emails. Then you have to write the email copy and build the email with any imagery or creative.

What is meant by email marketing?

When people talk about email marketing, they are referring to a form of direct marketing where brands email customers with details of new products and services, exclusive discounts and offers, and information about upcoming events. Objectives of email marketing include boosting web traffic to key pages, increasing open rates, driving sales of key products and more.

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