Plan Before You Send: The 4 Elements Of A Strong Email Marketing Strategy

Sara Kappler
5 min readNov 21, 2023

In a world where inboxes are battlegrounds for attention, a strong email strategy is your secret weapon. You may have heard of the elusive ROI from email, where marketers agree it’s consistently one of the highest-performing marketing channels. But how do you get there?

You mean not sending promotional emails, right? Well yes, that’s a good starting point.

Our team at Centric Squared specializes in email marketing. In this post, we share the basics of a strong email marketing strategy. Consider these before you hit send, and you’ll be on your way to doing more than sending promotional emails, you’ll connect with the people in your audience and see better ROI.

By our math (and we math a lot), there are 4 elements to a strong email marketing strategy:

1. Technical Setup: The Foundation

Take a look at your Email Service Provider’s account settings with a magnifying glass.

Is your account setup complete?

Are your integrations and events firing correctly?

Is data flowing from point A to point B?

Do you have a dedicated sending domain?

Are your UTM tracking settings serving you?

These are a few of the 20+ questions we walk through and set up as part of every new account we onboard. Those who may offer to skip this step end up not only wasting time troubleshooting preventable issues but, worse, missing opportunities. Building this email marketing foundation is not only so your emails “do not land in spam” (though that’s part of it); it’s about ensuring you’re poised for growth.

This starts with making sure your data is accessible and accurate to use for insight, and that will vary from business to business depending on your products, services, and tech stack. In today’s digital marketing landscape, where data-driven decisions are paramount, having a technically sound setup is crucial. It’s the bedrock upon which successful email marketing strategies are built.

2. Segmentation Strategy: Understanding Your Audience

Segmentation is a key driver of email marketing success. In our agency, we use our established and streamlined protocol to create segments that support email marketing growth. We focus on a number of parameters to create segments, including engagement levels, customer lifecycle stages, and consent types.

Here’s a few segments most businesses can make use of to grow their email marketing effectively:

Engagement-based segments: 1-month engaged, 3-month engaged, 6-month engaged, 12-month engaged. For each of these, determine what “engaged” means — opened emails, clicked emails, visited website, viewed product pages are all good metrics to use.

Customer-lifecycle based segments: Past purchasers, recent purchasers, likely to re-purchase, window shoppers. Using a combination of metrics (Placed Order, Viewed Product) as well as some predictive metrics like “estimated date of next purchase”, you can get very granular here and create strong segmentation strategies.

Consent-based segments: Having clear segments for who’s opted in and who’s opted out to Email and/or SMS is an often overlooked part of strong email marketing strategies. Ensuring compliance is an important part of maintaining good deliverability and domain reputation.

Once you have your segments in place, use that to not only identify opportunities for high performing flows (nurturing first-time customers, educating customers, nurturing repeat customers, building brand awareness, etc), but also to support regular list cleaning best practices that keep your email marketing game strong.

Effective segmentation translates to messages that get delivered to the right people at the right time, fostering a deeper relationship with your audience. It can help personalize your marketing messages and improve email ROI. It’s about using your understanding of your customer’s needs and interests to identify high opportunity flows and campaigns.

3. Flow Strategy: Creating High-Converting Touchpoints

An effective email marketing strategy involves automating as many touchpoints as possible to engage the right segment at the right time with compelling offers. Once you have your technical foundation in place and your segments identified, it’s time to create a series of high-performing flows.

With our clients, we usually spend about 3 months designing and developing a series high performing flows. Each client and business is slightly different on what’s a high opportunity and what timing and content each flow should include, but here’s the top 10:

Welcome Flow

Browse Abandonment Flow

Abandoned Cart Flow

Abandoned Checkout Flow

Thank you/Post Purchase Flow

Upsell Flow/Crossell Flow

Rewards/VIP Program Flow

Re-Engagement Flow(s)

Automating your email marketing not only saves time but also ensures consistent and timely communication with your growing audience. It’s about creating a mindful and seamless experience that guides your audience towards taking the next step with you, whatever that may be.

4. Campaign Strategy: Creating high-converting content

In our agency, we strongly believe in sharing value, educating, and building a relationship via email. Email campaigns are not just coupon codes. No one wants to be sold to 3 times a day, and ultimately constant promotions and discounts can cheapen the brand and lead to high unsubscribe rates.

So what content should you develop? There’s a few places to look for potential content in your business: your website, your events/press, your stories, your testimonials, your frequently asked questions, for example. If you don’t have a blog already, consider creating one — that’s an excellent way to create meaningful content that you can refer back to over and over again. Keyword research can also tell you what kind of questions people have in your industry — allowing you to create content that’s pertinent and useful.

One thing we preach to our clients is that the beauty of a strong email strategy lies in the ability to test, monitor, and learn from what your audience is telling you. Email metrics are rich (click rates, open rates, conversion rates), and we see these not just as numbers in a spreadsheet, but as a way to listen to your audience at scale.

For our clients, we encourage regular campaign sending, and are always designing A/B tests to help inform future campaigns. No one hits a home run on their very first campaign, and no one has to either. The beauty of email marketing is that it gives you insight and the possibility to optimize and continually improve, lean into what’s working and let go of what’s not working. Over time, you’ll be able to create high performing campaigns and keep your list engaged with your brand.

Each email campaign is an opportunity to connect with your audience in a highly personal 1:1 way. It’s also an opportunity to test, learn, and continually optimize on your campaign strategy to make them high performing and high-converting.

Closing.

Email Marketing has a lot of potential to be a powerhouse in your business, if done right. If there’s anything you’ve learned from this post, please: don’t only send out promotional emails and then wonder why “email isn’t working”. Yes, there are 4 key elements to a strong email marketing strategy and No, you can’t skip them if you want results.

Are you ready to take the next step?

If you’re interested in support to make your email marketing performant, reach out and we’d be happy to see how we can help. Schedule a no-strings consultation today.

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Sara Kappler

I run a CRM-Driven marketing agency. Mom of three. Flexible work advocate. Data nerd. Overachiever.