The Step-By-Step Guide to Running a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is nothing new but are still a favorite among savvy marketers in their marketing campaigns. The right content at the right time landing in someone’s inbox can break through the noise, capture their attention, nurture their interest, and convert.

The question, then, is this: Do you know how to run a successful email marketing campaign?

If not, it’s time to learn. Yes, it’ll take some research and planning, a little snooping into your audiences’ behaviors and preferences. But the results can repay you in dividends.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Email doesn’t just generate awesome revenue, it also has the power to facilitate genuine connections and build long-term relationships.
  • Email marketing can help businesses of all sizes achieve a variety of goals. Start by having an overarching goal for each email campaign.
  • Pay attention to the subject line, body content and design of your emails.
  • The metrics you choose to track and report are critical to email marketing success.

We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to running a successful email marketing campaign. But, before we jump into it, some background.

Why Run Email Marketing Campaigns?

Every day, an estimated 306.4 billion emails are sent and received worldwide, and this number is only set to increase over the years. The graph below shows the number of sent and received emails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2023, in billions.

The numbers are clear – email is going nowhere fast. If your business is to remain competitive now and into the future, it must learn how to use email to its advantage to secure more leads and sales.

It’s not just about generating revenue, either. Email marketing earns $44 for every dollar spent – higher than any other marketing tactic.

Email is a tried-and-true avenue for personalization, too, and we all know by now how critical the individualized customer journey is in today’s business landscape.

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Email Marketing Campaigns

Step 1: Set Your Goals

All marketing efforts should start with setting goals – email marketing is no different. Before you can plan and execute your campaign, consider what, specifically, you want to achieve. Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

  • Boost engagement with your brand, which might include inviting subscribers to a webinar or prompting them to connect with you on social media
  • Nurture leads, which will likely involve delivering high-value content
  • Re-engage subscribers that haven’t been active
  • Segment subscribers so you can send more targeted campaigns in the future
  • Make sales

Step 2: Know Your Audience

You probably already have a vague idea of who your audience is, but vague won’t cut it when it comes to producing successful email marketing campaigns that help you achieve your goals.

“Consumers are constantly being inundated with emails, so yours has to stand out. It is important that your audiences are segmented properly. You want to avoid the “spray and pray” method.” – Forbes

Segmentation is critical. Your audience can be segmented into groups according to their demographics, behaviors, and the stage of the customer journey they’re in. You can use past campaigns and data from analytics, social media, and even third-party data collectors to improve the accuracy of your segmentation.

Step 3: Determine Email Types

So, you’ve set a goal and identified your audience. Now it’s time to bridge the gap between the two. You’ll want to select an email type that aligns with both your objectives and your audiences’ needs and wants.

Here are some of the most common email types:

  • Promotional emails: These share information about sales and special offers, new products, events, and other company news.
  • Relational emails: These give subscribers what you’ve promised, such as a monthly newsletter, a discount code for signing up, a conversational email, or relevant information they have requested.
  • Transaction emails: These are typically triggered by an action on your website and might include:
    • Signup confirmations
    • Welcome messages
    • Acknowledgment of changes to account or subscriber information
    • Purchase and shipping confirmations

Step 4: Plan Your Emails

Emails need to be timely, interesting, relevant, and valuable, regardless of their type, goal, and audience. A connected campaign should also be consistent and unfold in some sort of narrative. In other words, it should make logical sense and stand as a whole – it’s a common tactic to reference past emails in your campaign.

In the rough stages of planning, trying noting down the following:

  • Frequency
  • Type of email(s)
  • Overall theme
  • A basic outline of content for each email
  • The action you want subscribers to take

Here’s a process and template for a more detailed email marketing plan.

email marketing process

Step 5: Craft Your Emails

An email is comprised of three components: the subject line, body content, and visual design. Let’s take a look at each.

Subject line

The subject line is critical – if it doesn’t resonate or capture your subscriber’s attention, the entire campaign is lost on them. Your subject line should be short and intriguing but must be relevant to what’s actually inside the email.

Body content

The length of your email isn’t necessarily significant. What’s critical is the content itself. It must be valuable and in line with your brand’s voice. It’s also a good idea to address the reader by their name and include one clear call-to-action.


Your email should be legible and on-brand. Before you hit send, be sure your design looks good on your mobile device.

Step 6: Send, Test, and Track Key Metrics

Your email is ready. But hitting send isn’t the last step. It’s crucial to collect data to optimize future campaigns. Test everything from the subject line to the design and layout. Monitor your analytics, too, including clicks, unsubscribes, and forwards.

Create Your Successful Email Marketing Campaign Now!

Email marketing is a process – the more you do it, the more data you collect, the higher your ROI. Use this step-by-step guide as a starting point and see what works for your brand and audience.

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.