How to SMARTen Up Your Lifecycle Emails

Let’s face it: sometimes we have dumb goals. We want to be fitter, happier, more productive without bothering to sit down and figure out why and how.

SMART goals is a popular framework used for productivity and management to break down those lofty goals into something feasible. The idea is that if you deliberately design your objectives, you can better set yourself up for success in accomplishing them.

The SMART acronym provides 5 criteria to help set effective goals:

  • Specific: Is your goal specific?
  • Measurable: How do you know whether you’re making progress?
  • Achievable: Is the goal realistic and attainable?
  • Relevant: Is this a goal that matters? Will it drive you forward?
  • Time-related: What’s the timeframe for the goal to be achieved?

Bringing clarity and concreteness to goals clears the path to actually taking steps. With a well-defined, worthy objective, you can tell how you’re faring in reaching it and figure out what you need to get there.

Applying the SMART goals approach is also useful for planning great emails — which, like all human goals, has an inclination to stay fuzzy until we deliberate on them.

S.M.A.R.T. Email goals

Here’s a 5-criteria checklist, adapted for SMARTening up your emails:

  • Specific: Did you define a specific conversion goal?
  • Measurable: What metric are you going to use to indicate progress?
  • Achievable: Is the conversion goal realistic and attainable?
  • Relevant: Is your goal relevant to users at this point? Does your message resonate because it provides value and helps drive them forward?
  • Time-related: Is this the optimal time for this type of conversion goal? What is the behavioral trigger and timing for the emails?

You can use SMART goal-setting for any type of marketing email, but it’s especially handy to apply to lifecycle emails. SMART goals can provide a blueprint for architecting a lifecycle email program that increases engagement, builds trust, and gets people where you want them to go.

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How to Write Emails that Pave the Way Towards Action

What does it take for an idea to register? The challenge is that information alone isn’t enough to convince or teach. The way you deliver information matters.

When Melissa Studzinski joined General Mills as a brand manager for the product Hamburger Helper, she got binders of data, market research and surveys, and briefs to help do her job. These “death binders,” as she called them, overwhelmed her with information in the abstract. What clicked for Melissa and her team was when they started visiting moms cooking in their kitchens. She says,

“I’ll never forget one woman, who had a toddler on her hip while she was mixing up dinner on the stove. We know that ‘convenience’ is an important attribute of our product, but it’s a different thing to see the need for convenience firsthand.”

Chip and Dan Heath tell this story in Made to Stick to illustrate the power of concreteness, how decision-making can be easier when guided by specific experiences. For Melissa, actually seeing moms in their homes delivered insights into the value of predictability and convenience for mothers and the kids they were feeding, over the extensive variety the company had been pushing. After simplifying the product line and adapting the ads, sales of Hamburger Helper increased by 11%.

"Information alone isn't enough to convince or teach. How you deliver information matters."

In email marketing, it’s easy to deliver death by confusing abstractions or to take haphazard stabs at what we think will motivate. Instead we can educate, nurture, and convince much more effectively by using concreteness.

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