Organizing E-Mail Marketing Content to Match Your Objectives

By John Arnold

While you develop e-mail marketing content, consider how your audience will perceive your intentions. E-mail messages make more sense to your prospects and customers when the content you create and deliver is tied together under familiar themes.

When your time is limited, you may be tempted to create e-mail content that fits your schedule better than your objectives. But to get your audience to help you accomplish your objectives, they need to know why you’re sending them e-mail and what you’re asking them to do. Translating your objectives into themes helps clue your audience in on your objectives without explicitly telling them what to do.

Sending all the information you can think of to everyone and then hoping that someone finds something interesting in your e-mails isn’t a strategy, and it won’t reward all your hard work.

Promotional themes for e-mail marketing

A promotional theme works when the main objective of your e-mail is to persuade your audience to take a specific action or to buy a specific product (or choose from a group of related products). Content you may include in an e-mail with a promotional theme include

  • Product images and descriptions

  • Coupons

  • Testimonials

  • Headlines and links that call for action

  • Links to information that supports the main call to action

  • Directions on how to take action

    A promotional e-mail asks for action — buying something, for instance. [Credit: Courtesy of C
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    A promotional e-mail asks for action — buying something, for instance.

In an e-mail with a promotional theme, you can extend an invitation to a seminar on a related product; an invite to an unrelated event doesn’t fit the promotional theme and actually detracts from your message.

Informational themes for e-mail marketing

An informational theme lets you share information to help your audience form an opinion. Informational themes rarely include a specific call to action other than reading the message content. Content that’s informational in nature includes:

  • News articles

  • Stories and narratives

  • Opinions and viewpoints

  • Announcements with no specific call to action

  • Event calendars

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Procedural themes for e-mail marketing

Procedural messages rarely call for specific action beyond reading the content in the e-mail. The aim of an e-mail with a procedural theme is to give official instructions, explain processes, or send notification:

  • Text welcoming a new customer or list subscriber

  • Notifications and official statements

  • Footer text explaining a shipping or privacy policy

  • Disclosures and warranties

    A procedural e-mail can serve to notify. [Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact]
    Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact
    A procedural e-mail can serve to notify.

Relational themes for e-mail marketing

When the main objective of your e-mail is to build or deepen personal relationships, you send an e-mail with a relational theme. These e-mails are typically one-way communications with no call to action. Examples of content you might include in an e-mail with a relational theme include

  • Greetings and acknowledgments

  • News or stories about personal experiences

  • Customer recognition messages

Multiple themes for e-mail marketing

When your objectives tell you to include multiple themes in one e-mail format, be extra careful to ensure that your themes share an obvious focus. For example, a multi-themed newsletter geared toward sports-minded customers may contain content with several themes:

  • Promotional: An advertisement for a new type of athletic cleats.

  • Informational: Several announcements and articles on various topics related to the company mission.

  • Relational: An article showing readers that the company is concerned about recycling and green products.

    Find a unifying feature if you send an e-mail with multiple themes. [Credit: Used by permission fro
    Credit: Used by permission from Under Armour
    Find a unifying feature if you send an e-mail with multiple themes.

If you use multiple themes, use these suggestions as well:

  • State the main theme clearly at the beginning.

  • Group subthemes together with layout and design elements, such as headings and white space.

  • If you can’t find a main theme to tie two together, use two separate e-mail formats and send the messages separately under their own themes. For example, a golf club sale might work in conjunction with information about a new store location under a moving sale theme, whereas new location information combined with informative golfing tips might be too distinct to include under a common theme.

Make sure that all subthemes are relevant to your audience. If they’re not, divide your e-mail list into groups by theme and send targeted messages that interest each group under their own themes.