According to Stefan Pollard, these are the steps marketers often overlook as part of the planning process:
1. Align the goals.
Define the marketer's/sender's message goals.
Define the goals you expect the readers had when they signed up.
Do these match? If not, you aren't meeting your readers' expectations. What happens when readers' expectations get bypassed or violated? They delete without action, unsubscribe or report as spam.
Example: Your message goal is to boost a last-minute cruise sale by offering free airfare. Your subscriber signed up to receive New York and Las Vegas destination news. If you don't have a creative brief that states the list will be segmented so that only members who signed up for cruise news will get it, you could alienate that subscriber.
2. Define the audience.
You, as the marketer overseeing the creative process, need to understand who the message is aimed at, and whether it goes to your whole mailing list or a segment of it. However, your copywriters need this information, too, so that the words they choose speak directly to this group.
Share as much information as you can about this targeted group: its general likes, dislikes, needs and wants, key drivers of previous responses, any data you collected from earlier messages on which links collected the most clicks, any A/B split-testing that yielded dramatic differences in outcomes, and anything else that appears relevant.
3. Decide which features and benefits to promote
Your knowledge of your audience will guide which features and benefits the copy will promote. Having this information clearly spelled out in advance will prevent your copywriter from lavishing hours on one angle, only to discover the customers really don't care about it.
4. A clear call to action
The last thing you want is to have a reader who hits the trifecta – opens the email, views the whole message instead of a portion in the preview pane and downloads images – only to wonder what the heck he's supposed to do with it.
But, that's what happens a lot: messages that blast information at the reader, yet fail to show him how to act.
So how do make sure that your messages are effective?
In this, once again, excellent article Stefan Pollard explains how a two-part process ensures that nothing critical gets overlooked, and also that your marketing team is all on the same page concerning all elements of the message, from the content to the audience to the goal. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and read it now!