newsletter strategyOnce upon a time, back when emails were still relatively novel and people opened just about anything they received, direct email marketing was wildly successful without much analysis or strategy. But those days have gone the way of the dinosaur. These days, people receive upwards of 50 to 75 emails a day in their non-work email inbox. As any marketer will tell you, achieving a high open rate is often an accomplishment in and of itself.

Preparation and analysis are required if you want to execute a successful email marketing campaign. Fear not. Below are the five components you need to consider in order to do just that.

#1:  Audience

When sitting down to plan a campaign, the first thing any marketer worth their salt will do is to consider their audience. Who are you trying to reach, and with what product? What does your audience want? What do they need? By understanding your audience base, you will be able to target your message subject lines, headlines, content and offer to ensure maximum response.

Even if you are selling the same product across all demographics, it is still important to identify and segment your audience. If you are selling a subscription to a publication, you wouldn’t want to offer a multi-year term to someone who just signed up. No, you’d want to reserve that offer for a seasoned subscriber and offer the new subscriber a discount on a subscription extension.

#2:  Headline

Okay, I should have titled this article 5 Important Components because technically I consider subject line and headline equally important. Your subject line is a headline in miniature – but more than that, it is your “in” with the potential customer. So, for a successful campaign, both your subject line and your headline need to be powerful, interesting and spur action. That’s not too tall of an order for just a few words, is it?

In all seriousness, a headline is what will keep people reading. If you have a very offer-driven message–see Component #3–you could use a to-the-point headline such as “Widgets-Half Off!”

But if your reader isn’t in need of any widgets, you may lose him or her right off the bat. The other option is to create interest – entice them to read more. “What Ben Bernanke Doesn’t Want You to Know” is interesting and can hook the reader into reading your content in the body of the email. That’s where the offer—Component #3—and call to action—Component #4—come into play.

#3:  Offer

A case can be made that without a seductive offer, you won’t make a sale. That’s, well, pretty much true. I’d wager that many a sale has been made of less-than-stellar products based entirely on the appeal of the offer. Just about every infomercial I’ve ever watched comes to mind.

The offer needs to speak to readers (and if you have properly researched and segmented your audience, it should). Will a lifetime subscription really pay off for older folks? Or, will 50% off dentures really, ahem, stick with a Twenty-something? Obviously, these examples take my point to a very basic level, but consider your product and apply the same principle.

#4:  Call to Action

Your call to action needs to give express, easy-to-understand direction. People want an easy, immediately recognizable directive. No one has time to figure out what to do next – so just tell them what to do. “Click here now to order.”

But, why are they going to click right now? That’s where a sense of urgency comes into play. “This offer is only good for 24 hours.” Or “Only 17 copies are still available!” To get your compelling offer, they MUST act now.

#5:  Frequency

The timing or frequency of your email broadcasts is extremely important. What are you promoting? Research open rates for your genre and act accordingly. Personal finance and entertainment emails have the highest open rates in the evenings, when consumers are home relaxing. Business-related product emails are more likely to be opened early morning or during the workday. No one is opening emails on a Friday night.

Aside from the actual timing of deployment, the frequency – time between messages – is equally important. You don’t want your prospective customer to have too much time in between messages. You want to hit them several times within a set period of time. I like to stagger my broadcasts over the course of one to two weeks. An introductory email, a follow up email, a last chance email – and possibly a deadline-extended email can all be sent within a two week time frame, creating recognition and feeding a sense of urgency.

The bottom line? Marketers need to do their research these days. Consumers are savvy and demand a higher level of content and more enticing offers. Give that to them and see your results soar.