Before I started working as a summer intern for SendGrid, my knowledge about email marketing campaigns was minimal at best. Sure, my inbox is always flooded with Uber receipts and promotional emails from my yoga studio, but I had no idea about the process that goes into creating those emails and how they get into my inbox.

I was tasked with creating my own marketing campaign and documenting my experience. I got to live out my childhood dream of becoming a coffee shop owner (even if only virtually for the day), and test my skills as a marketer.

It was a ton of fun pulling together an email to send to my imaginary customers, and was easy to build even for someone who isn’t particularly creatively inclined. As simple as the interface is to use, building my first email marketing campaign was full of trial and error.

Here’s what I learned:

Plan first, create second

It can be tempting to dive headfirst into your campaign, especially with so much room for creativity and customization. But save yourself the headache later and take care of the nuts and bolts first. Simple as it may sound, initial planning can be boiled down to the who, what, when, where, and why:

  • WHO – Determine the size and demographics of your target audience and build your contact list from there
  • WHAT – Set clear goals for what your campaign needs to accomplish, and decide how to shape your content to get results
  • WHEN – As a first time sender it can be hard to determine when is the best time to send your campaign, so read up on our tips first. As you send more emails and generate more data, finding the perfect time to send will get easier
  • WHERE – Of course, you want your email to end up in the inbox. So make sure your campaign is compliant with CAN-SPAM before sending. (What’s that, you ask? Check out our quick breakdown here.)
  • WHY – Are you educating current customers? Promoting a new product or sale? Announcing an event? Ask these questions as you set goals and begin to create your campaign

Setting up your tags, segmentation, and scheduling can also be beneficial and will help shape the style and functionality of your marketing campaign.

Draw inspiration from your inbox

My inbox is always chock full of promotional emails from my favorite sites and services. Based on the emails I interact with, I know I’m drawn to colorful, dynamic messages and I designed my marketing campaign with these factors in mind. Other things to consider:

  • Use creative, compelling subject lines that give the reader a reason to open
  • Include multiple links to increase your chances of engagement
  • Balance your image to text ratio to create an easy-to-digest piece of content
  • Make sure your call-to-action is clear and accessible
  • Keep email design consistent and on-brand


Check out your inbox and see what speaks to you. Your favorite marketing email could help generate new ideas for your own campaign. It can also be beneficial to study emails you dread receiving. What are they doing wrong, and is there a pattern to avoid?

Less is more

There is nothing worse than a lengthy email trying to pack in as much information as possible. When it comes to email marketing campaigns, I found that more does not always equal better. Don’t drown your email in new content, instead grab readers’ attention and redirect back to your website and helpful landing pages.

Test, test, and test again

If you take one thing away from this blog post, let this tip be it. When you think you finish a section of your campaign, send a test. When you finish all the copy, send a test. When you think you’re completely done, send a test.

Believe it or not, after sending the first test email to myself I realized I spelled my own name wrong. Just goes to show that even the aspects you feel most confident about could use some trial and error editing.

Whether it be to yourself or to a colleague, sending tests will allow you to view what your email will look like in the inbox. Scan each test for errors and areas to improve, and slowly perfect your campaign based on that feedback.

Like what you see? Sign up for SendGrid’s Marketing Campaigns to start creating your own. For an inside look at the templates I used, download our free email marketing templates.

Lauren Alworth
As a summer intern on the Content Marketing team at SendGrid, Lauren is slowly but surely getting her feet wet in the email marketing world. She studies Public Relations and English at Boston University. In her free time she can be found hiking, horseback riding, reading historical biographies, and using the Oxford comma.