How to Build Your Email Marketing Process Starting from Scratch

overhead shot of woman at table typing on laptop to represent new marketer doing email marketing process

To succeed with email marketing, marketers have to automate the process and focus on scaling the channel. It is imperative to any form of growth.

Well thought out processes that are tested and documented will allow brands to creates banks of ideas and years of accumulated know-how for inspiration.

As a store owner, you might not have years of email marketing experience under your belt.

However, by creating some basic processes using an email marketing automation platform you’ll hit the email marketing track running!

Using Fuel Made’s (agency) email process as a building block

Fuel Made, defines email marketing projects as four recurring phases: Audit, Strategy, Implementation, and Analysis. 

Everything works hand-in-hand. The audit informs the strategy, which informs the copy, which informs the design, which informs the Klaviyo set up, and each step in between.

For example, knowing what’s technically possible in an email marketing platform helps decide how to structure the copy and how to build the email. Or, seeing great results from one type of email leads to the addition of similar emails. That’s why these processes are iterative.

You can’t learn all these skills overnight. And you likely can’t hire all of these experts on your team without breaking the bank.

Even if hiring an agency isn’t an option, you can do a lot on your own with a marketing platform like Klaviyo!

To help you take action, we’ll illustrate each email marketing phase using examples from one of our clients in the beauty industry.

This client came to us when they were still just using an entry-level email platform to blast campaigns to their full list. Sound familiar?

Today, Klaviyo automated email flows generate 27% of their monthly revenue!

We’ve cycled through the four project phases multiple times together and built systems for many different stages of their customer journey. However, to keep things relatively simple, we’ll focus on their Post-Purchase systems to help you use the same logic.

If you apply these processes to your own brand, we guarantee that you’ll have a clear and successful plan for launching and expanding your email marketing

half circle chart showing the 4 Phases of Email Marketing: Audit, Strategy, Implementation, and AnalysisStart the email marketing process with an audit

The key to email marketing success is automation. However, the first step to start the process if with a thoughtful Discovery Audit. To think like the audience, you need to learn everything about the product, brand, market, customer, marketing, and goals.

You might be thinking: “Well I know my brand, I’m the founder! I don’t need no audit.”

Think again.

You are knee-deep in your business all day, everyday.

By reflecting on your business before diving in, you’re going to unearth the logical opportunities and have a much better idea of what to do next.

This phase is crucial to create a successful strategy. Otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark.

So start by asking yourself some of the following questions to get your wheels in gear for the strategy phase.

What is the main goal for your business today?

  • More leads?
  • Fewer abandonments?
  • Sharing your value proposition?  
  • Increased lifetime value?
  • Fewer customer support requests?
  • More client feedback?
  • Better Social interactions?
  • More subscriptions?

Our client sells beauty products, so it goes without saying that repeat purchases are important. They also offer subscriptions and have a loyalty program. Because of this information, we dedicated a lot of time to their Post-Purchase experience which we’re using as an example today.

Do you have a detailed persona to address? What questions do they ask? What problem do they want to solve?

In our example, we know we are talking to young women who shop at Sephora, who are active on Instagram, and who are looking for high-quality, natural products.

Knowing this, we show their audience plenty of Instagram photos. We also adopt a playful friendly tone, share education, talk about specific ingredients and invite them into a community of strong confident women.

What marketing assets and resources do you already have available?

For this project, we had access to  a lot of product videos. These are wonderful assets!

For example, we share product education videos right after an order is placed to help the customer know exactly how to use their new goodies. Each product type has its own video so their experience is extremely personalized.

If you don’t have videos, you can do the same with blog posts, ebooks, product information, photos… anything evergreen! Just be aware of what you have available and mold your email strategy around this amazing content you’ve already spent hours creating.

What is the current customer experience with emails?

Do you have apps sending emails from every direction? Review requests, Net Promoter score questions, back-in-stock memos or shipping notifications?

During our client’s audit we made sure to understand exactly what is being sent at what time. You don’t want to build a beautiful email only to find that it never gets opened or sent because another one of your emails is stealing it’s thunder. Your full email experience needs to work as one machine.

Do you have special programs you can promote?

Referral programs, loyalty programs, VIP programs, subscription programs, charity programs… if you have any type of program, you should advertise it in your emails.

For example, we gradually included many of these in the Post-Purchase flow. If you bother putting together programs that benefit your customers, let it be known!

Alright, I’m sure these questions have given you a lot to think about. Now it’s time to make a plan.

Start building your email strategy

Many brands start their email marketing by “doing” before “thinking” or “planning.” You already did a fair bit of thinking in the Discovery phase. Now let’s plan.

At this point, we know where opportunities lie, but we don’t know how to best address them. That’s why we want to create a detailed blueprint.  

Depending on your Audit, decide which stage of the customer journey to prioritize. Welcome, Abandoned Cart, Post-Purchase, Winback… where can you add the most value and get the best results?

Today we’re focusing on one brand’s Post-Purchase experience, but you’ll see that “Post-Purchase” casts a wide net. It can grow to include many different communications that make sense after a customer placed their first order.

Take a look at the diagram below to see what a Post-Purchase experience might look like after many rounds. Thanks to Klaviyo, we’re able to build some incredibly precise segmentation and create a very personalized experience for every customer.Post-purchase email flow chart for placed orders and submitting Net Promotion Scores

Think back on what you unearthed during your audit. Then create a customized blueprint that matches your brand goals and your customer’s needs.

Begin the email process implementation

During the implementation you can finally let your creativity loose.

Copy and design are very important for a successful implementation and you’ll want to follow some basic best practices.

You might not have access to experts in all these fields, but to help you along, we created this handy email checklist that will guide you as you get started. [click here to download!]

Before you dive headfirst into creating a sea of emails, we’ve got one word of advice for you: Focus.

The Post-Purchase blueprint strategy above didn’t get built in a day.

First of all, pick out a few emails without worrying about the rest of the picture. You can’t build 30 emails at once, so start gradually. This seems obvious, but you can easily get overwhelmed, and end up doing nothing at all.

Secondly, don’t try to say everything at once. Each email has one goal and one goal only. Thanks to your strategy, you know exactly when you’ll say what.

If you know that the first email you’re focusing on talks about Instagram, don’t be tempted to throw in a note about your subscription and loyalty programs. You’ll touch on those in the next emails – one topic at a time.

For our client, we focused first on a few early Post-Purchase emails (Product information emails, account creation, and cross sells).

Then we decided to add winbacks, and eventually, more winbacks (for 30, 60, 90 days). We saw an opportunity for Product and Collection Browse Abandonment emails, so we added those too.

When they finished building a robust loyalty and referral program, we built relevant emails to support it. When they decided to grow their Instagram audience, we promoted it more aggressively in email.

Then we decided to single out VIP customers with their own email experience. And finally, we wanted to collect feedback so we added a Net Promoter Score email with follow up.

One opportunity leads to a new one and so on. We also learn as we go and apply our new knowledge as we grow.

Post-Purchase email examples from Fuel Made (and Klaviyo) clients

Repeat Customer Thank You and Social Media highlight
Timing: 1 day after a purchase

animated gif of PaleoValley email with reader's name in copy & links for social

Personalized Product Information
Timing: 5 days after purchase

email "How to Style Your 'Stache" with image of man's beard & moustache

Timing: 15 days after purchase

Monkeybar Buddies email with copy 'You're invited to our annual 15% off flash sale"

Constantly do the analysis

Each stage of our client’s Post-Purchase implementation informed and educated us about what to do next. As we work, we implement, review and go back to auditing, and strategizing.

We review conversion rates and if we know we can do better (comparing to industry averages and experience), we try a win-back 30-days out. If we see that many customers aren’t ready to buy yet, we add one 60-days out and another at 90.

Over the past five months, the Post-Purchase experience gradually grew from converting 1.20% to 5.17% of customers. This is a significant boost in automated monthly revenue!

post purchase conversion rate graph showing conversion rates increasing from 1% before April to almost 4.75% in July

Email Marketing is a fluid process. It involves a lot of experiments and learning as you go.

You can build and forget. But to do it right, you build and expand.

So even if you’re starting from nothing today, this is a great opportunity to set up your email marketing correctly from the get-go. In fact, it’s easier to start from a blank slate than having to go back and clean up a mess of emails accumulated over time without a deliberate strategy.

Keep in mind that Email Marketing isn’t the end goal, it is just a communication tool that enables you to forge a strong relationship with your audience and create loyalty. Now go create a clear, helpful and smooth set of email flows for your audience to experience!

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