Determining Your Email Objectives

What do you actually want your email to do?

Whether you’re looking to increase sales, grow your email audience, or just support awareness of your brand, email can do a variety of things for your business. It may seem like a difficult question to sort out, but by using the techniques below it can be quite simple.

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What do you want your email audience to do?

This is a big question. Ultimately, the answer is most likely that you want your audience to purchase your products or services.

To answer this, you need to decide how you want to support your products with email: Do you want your audience to come to an in-store event? Do you want them to share your email with their friends? Or click through to send more traffic to your website? Here are some possible goals for your email marketing strategy:

Build awareness: Whether you want to build awareness for your brand, product, or event, email marketing allows you to create a stronger relationship with your customers by consistently and respectfully showing up in their inboxes with engaging information about your business.

Send business and product updates: Let your customers know what’s new with your business and any upcoming products you think they would like to know about. Also, this is a great way to share “behind the scenes” glimpses of your business. For example, if you make lamps, a short video on your process might be something your customers would enjoy.

Cross-sell and upsell products: Your goal can also be to cross-sell, which is getting your customers to spend more by showing them a product similar to what they’re buying –– think “frequently bought together” — or to upsell by encouraging your customers to buy a higher-end version of what they’re purchasing.

Collect reviews and feedback: If you’re asking your customers for reviews to use as testimonials, make sure you get their explicit consent to use their review as a testimonial. Also, when asking for feedback, it’s important to reply to customers who take the time to respond –– a simple but sincere thank-you email can work.

Invite customers to events: Email is a great way to invite your customers to both in-store and online events. Offer them an incentive to come in or visit online with a promotion or coupon to use during the event.

Increase your social media presence: Let your email do double duty for you by including your social media channels to make it easy for your customers to follow you.

Once you’ve decided what you want your audience to do, then you have to decide what success looks like.

What does success look like?

Let’s say your goal is to drive customers to come into your store and purchase products. After you start using new email marketing techniques, your sales begin to increase. That sounds good, but does it mean you’re reaching your goals for your business?

If you don’t have goals with tangible measurements, then you won’t know for sure. For instance, if you want to increase your sales, but don’t decide how many sales you want to add per week, you’re setting yourself up for measurement failure.

Instead, a possible goal against which you could measure your success might be getting five more online sales per week than you currently are. By setting actual numbers against your goals, you can better measure whether you are on the right track.

Do you want to improve sales numbers?

Of course you want to – what kind of business owner would you be if you didn’t? Exactly. To increase your sales, you could offer coupons and promotions, and even promote in-store events, all via your email.

Do you want to introduce a new product?

Say you’ve been working for months on a new product — or it struck you last night — and you’re ready to move it today. In either case, you have something you want to share with your customers. But what’s the best way? By sharing via email, you’re able to introduce your new product to everyone on your email list, and even encourage them to share with others by offering coupons to share with friends.

Do you want to increase your email list?

Let’s say you want your users to send your email on to their friends and family so you can grow your email list. If this is the case, then make sure you include a link to sign up for your newsletter in each email that you send. It doesn’t have to be the focal point of each email, but most businesses keep their sign-up link in the footer of their email where it can easily be seen.

Using the S.M.A.R.T. criteria

Now that you’ve set your objective, you need criteria to nail down the details. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria, which have been attributed to many different authors, including Dr. Edwin Locke and George T. Doran, can actually help you determine your email objectives. What is S.M.A.R.T.?

S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Assignable
R — Realistic
T — Time-related

Specific: Decide what area of your business you’d like to improve (sales, newsletter numbers, etc.) with email marketing.

Measureable: Quantify what success looks like for your email marketing. Open rates? Increased sales numbers? A larger social media following?

Assignable: Who is responsible for seeing this goal happen? Is it you? Your right-hand woman? A sales manager?

Realistic: This is important. If you’re just starting out, and make it your goal to grow your email list by one million people by the end of the month, you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure (we hope, of course, that we’re wrong here and you do grow it by one million).

Time-related: When do you expect to meet this new goal?

Once you’ve taken the time to go through and answer all of these questions, you’ll have your first email objective. You don’t have to have just one email objective for a full year, but it is important to give your objective time to succeed before switching to another objective.