The 3 Pillars of Successful Email Marketing Programs

October 16, 2020 | 3 minute read
Megan Moller
Megan Moller - Director of Content Marketing, Litmus
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I may be a bit biased when it comes to my love of email. I’ve built my career around it and even work at a company that helps email creators (marketers, developers, designers) simplify the email creation process and also get the insights they need to optimize their email (among other channels).

The numbers don’t lie

Email delivers a consistently high average ROI ($42 for every $1 spent!), but there are ways to make your efforts go even further. By moving email to the center of your marketing machine and using efficient workflows and tools, you can turn email into an indispensable source of marketing insights.

Subscribers give you feedback all the time

If you want to create campaigns that stand out and drive action, building them based on your subscriber is key. There are three pillars of email marketing to do just that.

Email marketing campaign success starts before you hit send

The pillars include the Pre-Post-Perform framework to help your team harness the power of your subscribers, but it will require you to break out of your silos. The three pillars of email marketing will help you assess and update your email program for 2020 and beyond.

Here’s a high-level view of the three pillars:

PRE: Create a strong, yet streamlined, pre-send process

It takes a lot of work to get an email out the door, especially when many teams are juggling multiple campaigns. Establish a reliable pre-send process to audit and implement improvement opportunities. Typical pre-send activities include: planning, design, coding, integrating, testing, and reviewing and approving.

  1. Planning: 58% of email marketers use a content calendar year-round and 24% use an email brief for every email. Using these tools to keep your team aligned can save you in the long run later.

  2. Design and coding: Having brand guidelines, utilizing a design library, and putting templates to use are all good ways to optimize this part of your process. 15% of teams still create emails completely from scratch.

  3. Integrating: A lot of time can get wasted by simply switching tools. With so many apps used to get the job done today, integrations can be a real life saver. Look for tools that work together to reduce the need to copy-paste and go between screens.

  4. Testing: 43% of email marketers don’t test their emails. How do you know what’s working? How do you know if that template you created two months ago still renders correctly in the email clients your audience is in?

  5. Reviewing and Approving: 42% of email marketers feel their email review process is either too lax or too burdensome. That’s a lot of room for marketers to optimize with the right toolset.

POST: Use past campaigns to boost future performance

Does your past hold the key to your future? When it comes to email insights, the answer might be yes. There are three steps to take to derive actionable insights from your email performance that you can use to improve campaigns continually.

42% of organizations spend less than an hour on their post-send process. That means most of an email team’s time is spent on getting the email out the door, not on the strategy that can really move the needle when it comes to driving your business goals. Here’s how to find and use email insights:

  • Decide what to look for: What are the key performance indicators for each email or campaign? Often the typical email metrics aren’t really what you need to look at to determine success.

  • Choose the right tools: A majority of email marketers use third-party tools to track. Look closely at what you can see beyond opens and clicks.

  • Put insights into a usable format: Thinking through what data you need to present and the audience you’re sharing it with will help inform the strategy here. Sharing a spreadsheet in your team meeting may be just fine, whereas a more comprehensive dashboard maybe be needed when presenting at a higher level.

PERFORM: Use subscriber insights to improve other marketing channels

Your email list is an engaged segment of your target audience, which means they can teach you a lot about what drives results. Sharing these results can help your team:

  • Spend time and money more efficiently

  • Focus your marketing talent on the same cause

  • Spot customer (and future customer) trends early


For more resources on email marketing, please check out:


Megan Moller

Megan Moller - Director of Content Marketing, Litmus

Megan strives to create the best human experiences possible, especially when it comes to the inbox. She develops those experiences by building brand love through storytelling and content that wriggles its way into your soul. In her free time, she bakes award-winning apple pies and enjoys workouts in the Texas heat.

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