Email marketing can be one of the most effective forms of direct response marketing. It’s highly targeted and the results are relatively easy to track. Your audience made the effort to sign up, so you can assume that they actually want to hear from your brand, which few other marketing outlets can claim. What’s more, it’s inexpensive and, done right, delivers measurable ROI.

Despite all these benefits, many companies end up driving their users away by using poor etiquette and not thinking about the needs of the target audience. The key to avoiding list attrition is creating a strong content strategy that delivers relevant messages to the right audience segments.

Here are a few tips on how to develop an effective email content strategy:

  • Define Your Goals: It’s important to go into an email content strategy with clearly defined goals. Are you looking to make sales? Grow your list? Raise awareness? The more specific you can get, the better. Once your goals are in place, you can craft your content around accomplishing them. For instance, if your main goal is sales of a product, you probably want to develop a content strategy that centers on promotions and deals.
  • Target Your Message: A good email list should be well-organized and segmented, allowing you to tailor your messages to the most relevant audience. Generic mass emails will typically result in very low open rates and click-through rates.
  • Keep an Editorial Calendar: Although it may seem like a hassle, an editorial calendar is incredibly useful for helping to define a content strategy and keep all team members on the same page. You don’t have to live by it – there are occasions where it makes sense to deviate, like a timely message related to something in the news or pop culture.
  • Test Your Content: No matter how much you think you know about your brand, test out different types and formats of content. The results may surprise you.
  • Balance Promos with Entertainment: Because email has such immediate and measurable response, it can be tempting to pump out promotional messages relentlessly. With a big list, you may achieve a few sales for each email, although you will probably have a pretty low open rate and high unsubscribe rate. If you want to maintain the size and quality of your list, consider including non-promotional messages in your strategy. This may sound counterintuitive, but the more interesting and relevant content you send out, the more likely your recipients are to open your emails and the more likely you are to make sales when you do send out your promotions. Nobody wants to be sold to, but everybody likes to be entertained. Keep that in mind as you develop your content.