Email Marketing

Defining the Purpose of Your Email Campaign: Strategize Before You Send

minute read

Post Image

Stop! Before you design your next email campaign, I challenge you to develop a clear purpose and measurable goals for it.  

Are you sending a simple batch and blast with a ton of products because that’s what you always do on this specific day?  

Or can you narrow down your content to focus on a specific product, with a specific goal? I want you to look critically at the purpose of your email campaigns. Subscribers expect more these days than marketers throwing products at them and hoping something will catch their eye. It’s time to be strategic.  

Today’s email marketing landscape has changed drastically from where it was just a few years ago. Subscribers don’t want to scroll through endless graphic-heavy emails that take a long time to load. They don’t want to see the same designs every day in their inboxes.  

They want content that’s relevant and quick to scroll through. They also want content that is clearly defined and tells them exactly what you want from them. Nowadays, people will click out of anything that requires too much time or effort.  

We all lead busy lives, so your campaigns need to have a defined purpose and clearly communicate that purpose to resonate with subscribers. 

Use a creative brief 

Before you get too deep into campaign planning, you’ll first want to organize your thoughts with a creative brief. There are tools and software you can use for this, but if you’re new to the world of creative briefs, you can start simple with a Word or Excel doc. A creative brief is created around a content calendar. You may know that in May, for example, your company is going to have a sale on outdoor furniture. This helps you plan ahead.

In this example, the purpose of your campaign will be to showcase outdoor furniture. Below is a very simplified example of a creative brief. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but you’ll want to fill it out with more details specific to your industry and what your team needs to have available to put together your vision. 

  • Purpose: Feature new outdoor furniture sets (more on this next) 
  • Goal: Drive online sales and in-store sales 
  • Metrics: Revenue, clicks on primary and secondary CTAs, time on website 
  • Header: Feature one outdoor set, headline about new sets, percentage off discount
  • Description: New sets in stock, be the BBQ house this summer 
  • CTA: “Shop Outdoor Sets”
  • Secondary CTA: “Find Your Store

In this example, the email has a clear purpose. It doesn’t matter within the context of this campaign if your store sells dining room sets, televisions, lumber, food, or anything else at all. You just want to get people looking at one specific product category.  

You can feature the other items your store sells in other campaigns. This focus keeps it short and sweet. Retailers with store locations can track clicks to see who is more interested in shopping in-store rather than online. This adds another simple metric to track. 

Why are you creating this campaign? 

A key part of that creative brief should be defining a clear purpose for your campaign. 

Are you using this campaign to drive traffic into stores, encourage clicks to your website, raise brand awareness, build excitement for an upcoming event, or sell a specific product? There are so many reasons that you can be sending an email—and it gets muddy for subscribers if you try to accomplish too many things in one campaign.  

The email below from Reebok has a clearly defined purpose. This campaign is designed to bring awareness and create excitement for a new collection. The only call to action is simply, “Preview the Collection.” Subscribers can still click through to the website and make purchases, so you aren’t losing the ability to build ROI with an awareness campaign like this.

But it’s simple, clean, and tells subscribers exactly what to do without a ton of extra content.  

Once you define a clear purpose for your email, then you can move on to the next steps.  

Establish a goal 

With a clearly defined purpose, you’ll need to set goals to measure your ability to meet that aim. In other words, how do you determine if your campaign is successful?  

In the Reebok example, the email is trying to raise awareness of a new collection before it launches.  

I don’t know exactly what their team came up with, but one idea could have been by tracking click-through metrics. Perhaps the landing page had a special sign-up to get an email or SMS notification to be the first to know when the product has launched, then new sign-ups could be part of their KPIs.  

The example below from boohoo shows a different type of campaign focus: a flash sale. There is a banner promoting a Valentine’s Day promo, but the entire rest of the email is focused on one main purpose. I can assume their KPIs for this campaign revolved around ROI and clicks.  

The examples from Reebok and boohoo showcase two completely different purposes—and likely have two completely different goals and measures of success.  

But they have one thing in common: Both have just one, clearly defined purpose. 

Choose the right channel 

I know this blog focuses mainly on email. But to be honest, an email campaign isn’t always the best option for every purpose.  

If your clothing store just dropped a new collection, for example, it might be better to rely on SMS or social media campaigns to spread the word. If your company wants your email program’s goal to stay revenue-based, you might need to make sure your campaign’s purpose is always on products instead of building brand awareness. Awareness campaigns could be a better fit for social media if this is the case. You must find a way to balance your goals as an email marketer with those of your leadership team. Make sure to collaborate with your other digital channels to make sure all needs are being met in the way that works best for your KPIs.  

Simple is best 

Making your campaigns look simple and effortless usually takes a ton of strategy work and planning. However, it’ll be worth it when you’re able to drive more focused campaigns to your audience.  

A defined email purpose can also help with your segmentation strategy. Sending purposeful campaigns to audiences that have used a preference center or have relevant shopping history will give you the right metrics to help better clarify the success of a campaign.  

For more insights on how to get ahead in the current email marketing landscape, check out Validity’s brand-new report, The State of Email in 2024: Keeping Ahead of the Curve.