9 Pillars of Email Marketing Success

9 Pillars of Email Marketing Success
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Email marketing can either be ridiculously simple or mind-bogglingly complex, depending on how you approach it.

What is not up for debate is how powerfully effective the channel at your disposal can be.

I have always maintained that when pushed to its potential, email (and CRM as a greater whole) has the ability to transform a business in all areas.

From acquisition to retention, email marketing should play a pivotal role in your success.

Putting in the steps to achieve this need not be a complex mathematical equation. It just requires a linear, strategic approach with iterative steps to improve over time built into the system.

Here is the methodology we follow at Magnet Monster to ensure all our clients are set up for success.

1: Set up your Sending Infrastructure

When you onboard a new client, you first need to decide whether to set up a dedicated sending infrastructure or if your ESPs sending infrastructure will suffice.

This is the foundational element of all the emails you will be sending from your brand so it’s important you take this decision seriously and you’re a reputable sender.

If you’re a new brand with a small sending volume, then you should stick with your ESPs sending infrastructure. This will expedite onboarding and driving results from email without overwhelming yourself with technical jargon reserved for more established senders.

If you’re a bigger brand that has a sizeable database of 50,000+, then it’s definitely worth considering setting up a dedicated sending domain.

This will enable you to have more control over your sender reputation and not be dragged down by lower quality senders that may affect you using a shared sending domain.

2: Create a Single List

Just like your sender reputation, it’s critical that you get this right from the beginning as working in reverse is excruciatingly painful.

The benefits of having a single list are endless, but the core reason for ensuring you maintain one list ultimately boils down to data integrity.

If you have multiple lists then profiles will be duplicated inside the account, which makes reporting, list health, deliverables, and segmentation an all-round nightmare.

I’ve lost count of the amount of brands who get list-happy and wreck their accounts that we’ve audited over the years.

Don’t fall into the bad habit of creating multiple lists for all entry routes into your site (i.e. pop-ups, checkout process, lead gen ads).

Always work off one single list and segment by $source. You’ll save yourself a huge amount of hassle down the line and set yourself up for success from the beginning that way.

More on the benefits of having a single list here.

3: Conduct a Deep Data Dive

This is where it starts to get a bit more sophisticated depending on the size and scale of the brand you’re working with.

If the brand is new to email marketing and eCommerce in general, you don’t need to invest too much time into this and instead can focus more on investing in the fundamentals of the Email Marketing Bible.

However, if the brand has a lot of existing transactional data and onsite browsing behaviour, then you’re going to want to dig a little deeper depending on where they’re at in their CRM maturity.

Start by auditing their current email setup before moving onto some of the following in Google Analytics and elsewhere:

  • Bounce rate/time on site & highly hit pages
  • Conversion rate (and implementing holdout testing on any pop-up incentive you run to maintain margin)
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Main sources of traffic and conversion rate of those sources
  • Average Order Value
  • Segments and cohorts of customers (depending on how many SKUs the store may have and clearly identifiable customers)
  • Time between orders (especially 1st to 2nd order if the category is FMCG)
  • Existing qualitative research the brand has to provide to you (can help inform your strategy with more precision)4: Create a Zero-Party Data Strategy for Pre-Purchase Signups

4: Create a Zero-Party Data Strategy for Pre-Purchase Signups

With cookies going away and tracking capabilities being eroded in a new privacy-era, everybody is screaming about zero-party data being the future and rightfully so.

Zero-party data enables you to collect insights on your customers to personalise the experience to them as opposed to guessing.

At a rudimentary level, I recommend starting extremely basic for this and not trying to layer too much on until you have a plan for what you’re doing.

I’ve got a few examples here on how to use zero-party data to segment from the first interaction and add value to subscribers (plus create some basic segmentation/retargeting ads from the get-go).

On a more sophisticated level once you’re really confident in how you’re layering on questions, this is a great guide I recommend checking out.

5: Build your preference centre

One of the most neglected areas of onboarding is the quick wins you can achieve by building out your preference centre in Klaviyo.

This can be an untapped treasure trove of zero-party data to push users into segments and flows that create a more bespoke customer journey.

As an example, see how we used date-based properties for Ben Garelick on their preference centre:

9 Pillars of Email Marketing Success | Magnet Monster

We collect this data by progressively profiling customers and encouraging them to update these properties in campaigns and throughout various touchpoints in the customer journey.

This is then utilised to push customers into flows based on the date-based properties of their special dates like so:

9 Pillars of Email Marketing Success | Magnet Monster

On a broad segmentation level, you can simply ask customers to state their preferences on interests related to why they’re shopping with your store or their desired email frequency they wish to receive communications from you:

9 Pillars of Email Marketing Success | Magnet Monster

When the customer updates these custom properties, they are then entered into segments inside the account which can be used to retarget customers in campaigns or even Facebook Ads.

6: Create a segmentation strategy for broad targeting

At the beginning of your email marketing journey, you’ll want to start with a broad segmentation strategy that targets the whole market.

Forget going super granular in the beginning or using things such as RFM models unless you’re advanced.

These strategies will distract you from the fundamentals.

Start by creating basic engaged tiers based on 60, 90 and 120 day opens/clicks where the user isn’t using an Apple Device (see this article for more info).

For Apple users, use engagement metrics such as clicks/active on site and recent purchasing history for your criteria and use the same time frames from above to send to them separately.

From time to time, you can also expand these criteria to 180 days to 365 days, but not as a rule of thumb, otherwise, you’ll damage your deliverability.

7) Create & implement strategy based on core automation (Welcome Flow, abandoned cart, post-purchase, etc)

Now is the time to implement your core behavioural flows that are triggered by onsite behaviour:

These are the primary touchpoints that drive the most traffic and cover the customer journey from pre-purchase consideration to churn risk.

Everything that comes after these, from an automation standpoint, can generally be considered a luxury.

8) Start sending email campaigns to your broad segments

Now is the time to start tapping into the list you’ve built up and sending manual campaigns.

With campaigns, it’s important not to overcommit in the beginning: start small and build gradually. 1 per week (or even month) is sufficient until you’re able to establish consistency.

This also allows you to optimise for incremental improvements and be economical with your sending strategy.

If you overcommit in the beginning, you won’t know the true lift your email campaigns provide and you’ll end up in a sense of false economy as to the returns you generate from each send.

9) Iterate aggressively

Too many people get shiny object syndrome with email and at this stage look to go off and over-optimise the customer journey, ignoring the highest leverage activities they can focus on.

For simplicity, at this stage, I’d recommend aggressively focusing on testing:

  • Signup forms
  • Abandoned Cart Flow
  • Welcome Flow
  • Email Campaigns

If you want to see what my approach is to A/B testing in Email Marketing, read this article.


I’m a huge fan of sophisticated email marketing automation and spend plenty of time in the trenches developing complex workflows for many of our clients.

However, proper onboarding and sticking to the fundamentals doesn’t drive 80% of the results, it drives over 95%, especially when it comes to revenue.

Focus on what moves the needle in this guide and look to fine-tune your setup only once you’ve built the 9 pillars of Email Marketing success.

I cover this more extensively in Monster Email Marketing where I spill the beans on the exact strategies I've used to win deals with 8-9 figure DTC brands and continuously drive an additional 15% revenue from every email campaign you send.

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