How to produce an email marketing campaign

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According to research from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) the popularity of email marketing is growing, with 30% of consumers saying that half of the email promotions they receive are of interest to them, up from 9% last year.

Here we take you through each step of creating an email marketing campaign and give you a handy checklist to make sure you're ready to click that 'send' button.

Content – what do you want to say?

The text content of your email should be as targeted and relevant to its recipients as possible. For example, clothing retailers often split their customer base into male and female, then market to each group accordingly.

This could potentially mean creating a different email for each segment of your market, but the rewards you reap from sending more personalised messages can be worth it.

Plan your content thoroughly. What do you want to get back from sending out your email:

  • Increased sales?
  • Registrations for an event?
  • Clicks through to an article?

Your content should be engaging, persuasive and contain clear calls for the reader to perform this action (i.e. buy now, click here, download your free report). The reader doesn't have time to work out what you want them to do – so tell them!


An email can be sent out as text only, HTML or both. If you want your email to have colours, images and different fonts, you need to use HTML format. If you do you use HTML, you MUST also provide a text only version or your email will be recognised as spam.

Similarly, never send an email that only uses images and no text as this is also a technique used by spammers. If you don't have the expertise in-house to build HTML emails, don't worry. Many email marketing providers also provide templates and design services as part of their packages.

Alternatively, you can keep things as simple as possible with a plain text format and use calls to action to direct readers to visit your website.

Mailing list

When trying to grow your mailing list, it can be tempting to buy in a list from a third party.

However, the truth is that the best list you can get is the one that you build up over time. Subscribers on a self-built list will have chosen to receive emails from you, so they will expect and welcome them. It is much easier to build relationships with these potential customers than those that have never heard of you.

Ways to grow your mailing list include :

  • Adding a sign up box to every page of your website
  • Adding an opt-in box to online shopping baskets and registration forms
  • If you make a sale in person or over the phone, asking if they'd like to stay up to date with your company news
  • Adding a link to your sign up form into your email signature
  • Encouraging subscribers to 'forward to a friend'
  • Including the link in printed materials you produce.

If you do buy a list, always do some research on the company selling the data. Check to see if they are members of the Direct Marketing Association and always ask for references. Any list should come with a written guarantee that everyone on the list has opted in to receiving emails from third parties. 

Beware of any company that says they can guarantee response rates or 100% deliverability. These claims are always too good to be true.

Email marketing checklist

So, you've decided to try out email marketing, chosen a provider, built a mailing list and put together all the elements of your campaign. Before you click send, take a few minutes to make sure you have the following:

  • Permission to email your contacts
  • The most up to date information about your contacts
  • Relevant, engaging content that gives your customers some value, i.e. a special offer or an exclusive piece of content
  • Clear calls to action
  • No broken links
  • Accurate content and no typos, especially in the subject line
  • A compelling subject line
  • No 'spammy' phrases where they can be avoided, i.e. cash, money, credit
  • A clear design that doesn't impair reading
  • A text version of your email, if you're using HTML
  • Your registered address and registration number
  • An unsubscribe link.

If you're new to email marketing, why not read part one of this article: Getting started with email marketing and check that you're staying on the right side of the law.


There are three main elements to any email marketing campaign: content, design and a list of people who have requested to receive emails from you. Here we take you through each step and give you a handy checklist to make sure you're ready to click that send button.