How to Create An Email Strategy

Creating an email strategy feels like you’ll need a whiteboard, 5 different colored pens, your entire team, and 4 cups of coffee each.

It feels like a *big* task—something that your team needs to work on at *just* the right moment. 

We have some news for you…it’s actually the opposite. An email marketing strategy is less about an over-the-top, “started from the bottom now we’re here,” type of strategy and more about taking one step forward. Then, another. And, another.

There are 5 steps to creating an email strategy that encompasses your organic, newsletter content (that isn’t overly promotional), and your promotional content (that sells products).

And each one can be situated within a week (maximum!).

Your email marketing strategy doesn’t have to wait until things slow down, you “know more,” or you’re finally ready. It just requires taking the first step…choosing your type of newsletter.

Step 1: Choose Your Type of Newsletter

Our favorite part of email marketing is the relationship we can build with our audience without selling them anything. Using a weekly newsletter, we can create 52 touchpoints a year with our subscribers with the goal of giving them useful marketing information that helps their launches, campaigns, and business endeavors.

There are 4 types of newsletters to choose from:

#1: “Letter-from-the-editor” or “Featured Article” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with something to say and/or points to make
  • Companies wanting to take a stance on something happening in their industry (have an opinion, provide tactical advice, etc.)
  • Businesses willing to dedicate more resources and time to create a valuable newsletter

#2: “Link” or “Curated Content” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands and businesses who want to provide quick value to their customers
  • Companies strapped for time and people power

#3: “Blog” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with a dedicated blog and/or content repository
  • Companies that want to drive A LOT of traffic to their content

#4: “Hustle” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with a dedicated content team that can really put pen to paper
  • Companies that are big on the affiliate side of marketing
  • Businesses that want to establish themselves as THE AUTHORITY in their industry

Action: Choose the type of newsletter you’ll send out on a regular basis (1-3x per week). If you’re having trouble deciding what your audience would like most, ask them!

Step 2: Create an Editorial Calendar for Promotional Content

Your promotional calendar is a big part of your email marketing strategy. We’re not saying you need to have your entire year planned out without any room for flexibility. You just need at least 3 months of a *decently* solid idea of what you’ll be promoting. Of course, as those weeks play out and if anything needs to shift, you can. But, your promotional calendar shows you what you have coming up and where your organic content can help you with campaigns.

Not only will our promotional content (email campaigns with copy specific to purchasing the Digital Mastery Certification) cover the offer, but we can also add it into our organic content.

The DigitalMarketer Insider newsletter can support this promotion by talking about the importance of being a T-Shaped marketer and linking out to our article explaining what it is and why marketers should care.

Action: Create a promotional calendar, so you know when offers and products are launching. Then, use that calendar to correlate your organic content with those offers and products to help support your campaigns.

Step 3: Schedule When Your Emails Will Go Live

Remember, your email marketing strategy is just as much about nurturing your audience as it is about selling your products. Here’s the rule of thumb we like to follow: publish a newsletter consistently (1-3x/week) and only run 3x promotional offers per month. If you run more than that, you’ll “fatigue” your email audience. This means they’re so bombarded with promotions and offers that they start to delete your emails the second they show up in their inbox.

Your open rates decrease, your click-through rates are minuscule, and your profits suffer. 

Since this is the worst-case scenario in email marketing, you need a plan to avoid it. That’s why you’ll schedule when your emails go live for your newsletter and promotional content.

For example, let’s say you have a weekly newsletter that goes out every Monday. You have 3 offers you’ll promote between November 29th-December 31st, and you have 3 emails per offer for a total of 9 promotion emails. 

These are general numbers, though. You can send more (or less) promotional emails depending on how many promotions you’re selling, when the final purchase date is, and how your campaign is doing (poorly = send more emails).

Action: Create an email calendar that shows when each email you plan to send each month will go live. You can also use this calendar to figure out when to have newsletter content, and promotional copy written, edited, and uploaded to your email platform.

Bonus Tip: Make sure you have someone on your team dedicated to email. It’ll be their job to make sure newsletters go out on time and promotional copy is written and scheduled for campaigns. This is the *only* way to avoid email falling through the cracks and reaching Q3 of 2022 and wondering what happened.

Step 4: Use Email for Market Research

In 2021, we lost a lot of data thanks to Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes. This isn’t a bad thing (people should be aware and able to choose where their data is shared), but it did require a pivot in marketing. Instead of relying on third-parties to capture and use data in our campaigns for us—we need to start doing it ourselves.

And email marketing is the perfect place to start. Your email audience is more than hot leads. They’re a direct connection to your customer avatar and what they’re thinking, feeling, and looking for when it comes to your brand and products. They can tell you what type of newsletter they’re looking for, the products they want you to create, and how they feel about your current email strategy.

But, you have to ask them first.

Use your email platform to ask your subscribers market research questions. Now, here’s where we create an email marketing strategy out of this. Tag the subscribers based on their answers, build funnels for your specific products related to their interests, and send subscribers down funnels for products they actually care about. 

Or, as your promotional calendar starts rolling out, you now have lists of subscribers interested in those products or topics. Let’s say we surveyed our email subscribers and asked what they were struggling with the most and one of the answers was SEO. Every subscriber who answered SEO could be sent a DigitalMarketer Insider personalized to help them learn more about SEO, with content like this:

Action: Personalize your email strategy by surveying your audience to see what they’re most interested in and sending topic/product-specific content and funnels based on their answers.

Step 5: Test, Optimize, and Stay Flexible

If there’s one piece of overarching marketing advice that any business could take and apply, this is it. Marketing is all about testing, optimizing, and staying flexible. Great marketing plans aren’t written in stone. They’re adapted as needed based on the story the metrics tell them.

For example, if you start sending out an email newsletter with 4 curated links every week and your open rate goes from 30% to 10%—there’s a problem. Your audience doesn’t want curated links…they’re looking for something else. This is your sign to ask them what they’d like to see more of and integrate that into your upcoming emails.

Every year we take a look at our best performing email subject lines to figure out where we could do better and which subject lines to leave behind in the new year.

Action (Test): Try out different sections in your newsletter to see what your audience loves the most (keep tabs by looking at open rates and click-through rates on links in that specific section).

Action (Optimize): Ask your subscribers what they’d like to see more of through market research and tags, and pay attention to what topics get the most opens and clicks.

Action (Stay Flexible): Don’t take it personally if the marketing strategy you created doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped. Stay flexible and change it based on the new data you have. 

Email Strategy is a ‘One Step at a Time’ Game

Each step of creating your email strategy takes a week—maximum. That assumes your team is completely bogged down with other work and only has a minimum amount of time to put towards it. 

If your team has remotely a decent amount of time to allocate to your email marketing strategy, you’ll have it live in less than a month. And you don’t even have to feel overwhelmed by the process, because email strategy is a ‘one step at a time’ game. 

Step 1: Choose Your Type of Newsletter

Step 2: Create an Editorial Calendar for Promotional Content

Step 3: Schedule When Your Emails Will Go Live

Step 4: Use Email for Market Research

Step 5: Test, Optimize, and Stay Flexible

Once you’ve gone through these 5 steps, the next step is creating an Email Indoctrination Series that introduces your brand to your subscribers, tells them what to expect from your emails, and gives them a free gift. 

Ryan Deiss, CEO of DigitalMarketer, teaches the 10-Point Indoctrination Email Playbook: How to Welcome New Email Subscribers inside of DigitalMarketer Lab. Get access to the 10-Point Indoctrination Email Playbook, and Insider Trainings, Workshops, and Playbooks covering marketing topics like:

  • Email marketing
  • Building out your agency
  • Copywriting
  • And more…


The lovely content team here at DigitalMarketer works hard to make sure you have the best blog posts to read. But some posts require a group effort, and we decided to stop the rock-paper-scissors tournaments that decided the byline so that we had more time to write. Besides, we all graduated from kindergarten: we can share.

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