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How to Create An Email Strategy

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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.

For example, our promotional calendar shows we’re promoting our Digital Mastery Certification the week of 12/13/2021. Here’s part of a promotional email we sent our audience:

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. Here’s an example of what your email schedule will look like:

In this example, you have a weekly newsletter 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…

See what else you get inside DigitalMarketer Lab here.



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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One

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What It Is & How to Build an Effective One


In the business world, professionals are obsessed with tactics because they can help them meet their short-term goals. But if all you do is focus on the short-term, you won’t spend enough time or energy figuring out how you can succeed in the long-term.

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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders

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the second key persona for modern marketing operations leaders


This 4-part series presents a framework that helps rationalize the roles and responsibilities modern marketing operations leaders are taking on. This installment summarizes the framework briefly, and dives into how MOps leaders are now “orchestrators.” 

In case you missed it, part 1 is here.

Inspiration for this framework

Two years ago, marketing technology pioneer and chiefmartec.com editor Scott Brinker outlined the four key responsibilities of marketing technologists, summarized here.  

That work espoused the view that you could be both a marketer AND a technology leader. They are not mutually exclusive! It was my inspiration for this framework, explaining how today’s MOps leaders are instrumental for marketing and business success.

X-Axis:  A range of skills from a focus on technology to creativity and arts

Y-Axis: A range of decision-making skills, ranging from emotional to rational approaches

The resulting grid captures four MOps archetypes or “personas.” MOps leaders exhibit characteristics across all parts of this framework and will operate in multiple quadrants, similar to Brinker’s frameworks.

Modernizers – Are most likely to be the “original” technologists, constantly modernizing their martech stack.

Orchestrators – Are the closest to Brinker’s Maestros and the focus of this article. He described this archetype in 2020 as the “Operations Orchestrator — MAESTROS who design and manage the workflows, rules, reports, and tech stacks that run the marketing department.

Psychologists – Are now increasingly responsible for “reading customers’ minds,” i.e. interpreting customers’ interest through intent data and digital engagement.

Scientists – Are constantly testing and evaluating. Experimentation is their specialty.

Orchestrators: Leaders of the band

Now that you’re familiar with the framework, let’s dig deeper into the Orchestrators!

I’ll start with a personal story. My exposure to orchestration started with 8-straight years of practice in violin and trumpet during my formative years. Each week was literally a blur of private lessons, group lessons, orchestra and/or band practice. I probably spent as much time with music directors as I did with my family.  

It was painfully obvious to those conductors when we hadn’t prepared or practiced. Moreso, we would get – literally – an “earful” from the conductor when we were not listening to the other instrument sections. If we were not coordinating our efforts and timing, the outcome was awful for anyone listening.

Source: Unsplash

This orchestration metaphor is powerful because there are multiple levels for MOps leaders:

  • As a project management team within marketing, and often as a conductor across external agency partners.
  • As a cross-function business partner and primary contact for IT, compliance, and legal, in addition to the traditional MOps role of achieving marketing/sales alignment

Notably, all marketers have to be project managers for their own tasks/deadlines. They must be aligned with overall campaign and program timelines. 

However, as organizations scale they are more likely to have dedicated project management teams to handle coordination across the specialist teams within marketing. The orchestration responsibility may include timeline, scope, and capacity trade-offs even after campaign briefs have received approval. 


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The orchestration responsibility multiplies when agency execution teams are delivering on individual tactics and media buys. Last year, Optimizely described these evolving orchestration duties as a “transformative shift and approach towards how marketing synchronizes their teams, content, channels, workflows, and data!”

I believe the shift is even more impactful, with orchestration benefits being felt beyond marketing. The highest value “program orchestration” responsibilities occur when MOps leaders are representing marketing’s interests in enterprise-wide programs with other functions within the organization, including product, compliance, and IT. Examples of orchestration duties with these other key functions can include:

  • Product teams – Coordinating campaigns with major product feature/functionality launches, and managing brand standards.
  • Legal/Compliance – Overseeing compliance with Can-Spam, GDPR, and CCPA, and customer preference and data privacy initiatives that may be initiated by a marketing touch-point. 
  • IT/Procurement – Technology stack management, vendor evaluations and negotiations, platform integrations and data management.

All of this departmental and cross-departmental coordination requires skill sets that can be analogized as the difference between a chamber orchestra (marketing) and a full symphony. It’s the highest level of conducting across the enterprise. 

MOps leaders are holding individuals and teams to target timelines while managing the scope of a particular campaign and business initiative. They do this while also overseeing targeting of customer and prospect segments.

In order to accomplish this complex segmentation and coordination, MOps leaders are now responsible for cross-functional data – embodied by the modern martech stack imperative: integration. Integration across systems has been the #1 issue for marketers since the modern marketing tech stack started exploding in the early 2010’s, but software and solutions providers finally listened. A tipping point was reached in 2020. Marketers reported that we were finally working within an integrated, multi-system environment, according to a CDP Institute member survey analyzed here.  

Continuing with the orchestration analogy, the conductor is the integration “synchronizer,” deciding if/when the data flows across the stack. The sheet music is the data model standard showing how to map common attributes. 

However, just because we now have this more integrated environment does not mean our work is done. The instruments do not play themselves (yet!) and they require configuration and deliberate training to play effectively — both individually and in groups. 

Training was one of the top responsibilities for marketing ops leadership, ranking it in the top 5 of MOPS tasks by percentage of work, according to the 2022 MarTech Salary and Career Survey, published jointly by MarTech and chiefmartec.com (free, ungated download here). conducted by chiefmartec.

In the 2020 version of that same study, training was highlighted as one of the top two responsibilities for many of the primary marketing technologists personas, and 91% of operations orchestrators reported that training and supporting technologies were among their top priorities.

MOps leaders are never done

Finally, under the category of “MOps leaders are never done”, the last several years have also forced a whole new category of orchestration duties – a combination of conducting, training, and martech growth: marketing work management.

The largest growth (67%) over the last several years was in the category of “work management”, according to the 2022 edition of the Martech Landscape. Established entrants such as Adobe expanded with the acquisition of Workfront, while newer players like Trello and Monday gained traction.  

Although this was already a prevailing trend BEFORE the pandemic, the hybrid/remote work environment brought on by the last 2+ years forced these project management and agile-planning tools to the forefront.  The marketing work management category grew to over 1000+ tools, according to the State of Martech 2022

Source: State of MarTech 2022 – chiefmartec.com and Martech Tribe

MOps leaders are Maestros

In summary, modern MOps leaders are indeed Maestros. They are skilled orchestrators, conducting a symphony across multiple levels. They lead:

  • Omni-channel campaigns within marketing and across business functions
  • Integration across an ever-growing, integrated martech stack
  • Training and deployment as one of their primary responsibilities 

Editor’s note: In Part 3 of this 4-part series, Milt will expand on MOps leaders’ growing role as Psychologists. For background on this framework, see Part 1 of this series here


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.



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How to Calculate Your Web Traffic to Increase Website Revenue

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How to Calculate Your Web Traffic to Increase Website Revenue


You want to know how to calculate website traffic. That’s smart since your website’s value is both the traffic AND the revenue it can bring in.

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