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Companies don’t become masters of email marketing by chance. Developing an email marketing and notification strategy is a long journey, but it’s one that ultimately leads to higher engagement, profitability, and customer loyalty.
Back in 2018, leading tech advisor Casey Winters introduced a three-phase approach to email marketing. That strategy still holds true today, acting as a useful guideline for any company that wants not only to send email more effectively but to do so in a more meaningful way.
We believe that this phased approach is the key to developing an email marketing strategy that not only helps you connect with your audience but allows you to personalize it at scale, thanks to the help of automation and software.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into a three-phase email marketing journey to discover what each stage involves and how to adapt the way you approach email as your company grows.
Phase 0: Get Started With Email Marketing
You can’t become brilliant at email marketing without first getting started. Whether you’re starting completely from scratch or want to head in a fresh direction, before taking your first step, you must plan, write, and send messages to your audience.
Overcome your fear of sending emails or notifications
In Casey’s post, he points out that marketers or leaders are reluctant to send emails because they hate receiving them. The reality is that most of us don’t hate email, we just don’t like receiving bad ones.
If you want to start building a relationship with your customers through email, you need to let go of this fear. The best way to do that? Start thoughtfully sending emails or notifications, one message at a time.
Decide the right medium
While our focus is on email marketing strategy, email isn’t the only way to communicate with your audience. Depending on your relationship and the product or service you offer, you might decide to start with SMS messages or push notifications instead.
Analyze what you already know about your customers and wider audience, then decide the best way to start communicating with them. This won’t be the only method, but it gives you a foundation to start from.
Choose a type of message to share
Start small with the first email, SMS message, or mobile push notification that you send to your audience. Start your journey with a message that introduces a new promotion, explains a new feature, or shares a piece of content.
Don’t expect your first emails to get an overwhelming response. The goal here isn’t to immediately drive sales or product awareness but to warm up your audience for future engagement.
Phase 1: Establish a routine and start automating
You’ve sent your first few emails, now it’s time to get into a routine and start developing your own email marketing strategy. This next phase is all about organization, automation, and the basics of personalization.
Send emails at a regular cadence
Introduce good habits and set a schedule for your email marketing strategy. Appearing in your customers’ inbox at a regular cadence helps you build a relationship with them and motivates your team to stay consistent and focused.
Establish a regular cadence for your newsletter-type updates like ecommerce newsletters, product release notes, company updates, and educational content pieces. Remember to focus on quality over quantity, and don’t overwhelm your subscribers with too many messages. If you’re a Vero user, our professionally designed templates can help you streamline your process and produce great emails at scale.
Introduce aspects of personalization and segmentation
At this stage, your focus should be on consistency and delivering high-value messages to your audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t start to personalize your messages or segment your audience, though.
As personalization increases clicks by 50%, set yourself up for success by building early. Experiment with simple ways to create personalized moments, like sending an anniversary email or segmenting your list by customer type or interest.
Automate the basics
Once you have created the habit of sending emails and notifications to your audience, you can start exploring automation. With the help of marketing automation, you can send messages at the right time at scale so you or your team can focus more on strategy.
A great place to start is to automate welcome messages or transactional emails like post-purchase emails. Our guide on B2B marketing automation has everything you need to develop your own approach to email automation.
Phase 2: Develop a fully automated program of personalized messages
Reaching phase 2 means that you’re confidently sending emails and know what to send at the right times to your audience at scale. Now you are ready to start turning what works into a fully automated program that steers your audience towards a defined user journey.
Map out your ideal user journey
The key to success in this phase is guiding your audience down a carefully curated path to becoming a paid user or customer. When they veer from this path, your automated messages are designed to help them find their way back. To make this happen, you first need to define your user journey and all the steps along the way.
Decide what lies at the end of your ideal customer journey. From there, use email metrics and your expertise to identify potential moments where you can engage with your audience and motivate them to take action through email, SMS, and push notifications.
Develop a series of automated emails and notifications
With your user journey mapped out, you can start planning your automated emails and notifications. Each interaction should feel intentional, with the goal of turning that lead or user into a customer.
Start right at the beginning with a powerful email onboarding sequence that introduces your company and what you do. Introduce email retargeting to close sales from abandoned carts or inactive subscribers, and plan a series of cross-sell emails that promote additional products, services, or add-ons to drive additional revenue.
Increase the levels of personalization
You’re already using personalization in your emails and notifications, but now it’s time to ramp this up. Increase the amount of personalization in your email marketing strategy to drive more engagement, and ultimately more sales.
Refine your segmentation to create a series of data-driven SaaS onboarding emails that are highly personalized. Use behavioral targeting to send unique messages in response to users’ actions like website, email, or payment activity. Create more meaningful customer experiences with recurring emails that share personalized moments with your users every week or month.
Phase 3: Develop a next-best-message strategy
This is the final stage and the one that’s hardest to achieve. This highly personalized, resource-intensive approach to email marketing is reserved for the top 1% of companies sending close to millions of messages a day. You might not reach this stage, but knowing the end goal acts as a powerful motivator.
Say goodbye to your predetermined user journey
The previous phase involved mapping out your ideal user journey and developing a series of messages to guide your audience towards one goal. This phase asks you to instead embrace the concept that this journey is not universal but instead can (and should be) bespoke.
This email marketing strategy requires you to shift from automated email series to delivering the next best message, based on individual user behavior. It might feel like a step backward, but the end result of adopting the next-best-action approach is an improved customer experience that’s intentional and effective.
Build a library of potential messages
To be successful at this scale, you need a large number of potential messages to send to your subscribers based on multiple scenarios. Now’s the time to start building a library of messages that you can align with user activity, promotional periods, seasons, and other factors.
Embrace lifecycle marketing and create messages for every stage of the customer journey from awareness to advocacy. Craft emails and notifications for any given moment including onboarding, referrals, anniversaries, milestones, behavior triggers, purchase decisions, and more.
Take a highly personalized approach to email marketing
This final stage of effective email marketing mimics the feel of a one-to-one experience between your company and an individual subscriber. To make this happen you need to invest in email software that’s capable of analyzing data on a regular cadence to send the best message at the right moment.
Your email system will work out the best message to send, which version of that message is likely to work best, and exactly when to send it. The end result is an intentionally useful message, tailored to that user’s preferences and behavior, received at a time when they’re most engaged. It’s personalized email at scale, and it’s incredibly powerful.
Use these phases to guide your own email marketing strategy
Reflect on these three phases of email and notification marketing and decide where you’re at right now. Understand what it takes to make it to the next stage, and what you can prioritize now to start driving a better return on your email marketing investment.
Wherever you are in the process, using the right software can have a huge impact on your success. With Vero, you can execute your data-driven marketing strategy to send thoughtfully designed, personalized emails to your audience based on behavior triggers or a set cadence. Explore a better way to connect with your subscribers and try Vero today.
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