Volume 3

Using a Creative Brief to increase Email Marketing Success

Writing a creative brief may seem like overkill, but even a short brief can help you to stay focused when creating email campaigns.

Recently I emphasized the importance of setting goals during the planning stage of an email campaign. A great way to ensure that you cover your bases when planning an email campaign (or a series of email campaigns) is to write a creative brief.

A creative brief is important because it will help your team to create a campaign that meets business goals. Your creative brief will be the roadmap that guides you in the design of your campaign and defines your evaluation criteria for success. I have also heard it called "Planning with a Purpose".

Circulating your brief will also ensure that all team members and interested parties know the purpose of the campaign, and understand how you intend to reach your goals.

A Creative Brief will typically contain the following information:


  • What has been done in the past?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you measure the success of this campaign?

    Remember, an open rate is not an end-goal. Focus on the quantifiable goals that will affect your bottom line. How many items do you want to sell? How many enquiries do you want to generate?

    Who is the Primary Audience?

  • What should be avoided in talking to this audience?
  • What do they believe before we tell them anything?
  • Who is the secondary audience?

    The audience will affect the tone of the email, the style of the graphics, even the colours used and font sizes. An email targeted at elderly people would need to use large font sizes. An email targeted at mothers of young children would probably feature “soft cuddly” imagery.


  • What objectives are you trying to achieve?
  • What are the priorities of those objectives?
  • Can you suggest strategy or positioning to achieve the objective?
  • What is your call to action?

    This is your chance to clearly describe your strategy for achieving your goals. For example, “we will get 40 people to the auction on Saturday by:
    1. Delivering an email invitation 5 days prior to the auction
    2. Requesting an RSVP through a form in the email to commit buyers to attend
    3. Calling to follow up with those that viewed the home online but did not RSVP”

    Notice that the strategy begins to define both the content and the scheduling of the email campaign.

    The Message:

  • If you could get one sentence through all the clutter, what would that be?
  • If they asked you to prove it (your message), how would you do that?
  • What other major points do you want to communicate?

    Providing this information will ensure that all members of your team know what the main message or theme of the campaign will be.

    The Product:

  • What are the features and advantages of what you are selling?
  • What problems will your product solve for your audience?

    Having this clear in your mind will help you to design your content to showcase these features.

    The Medium:

  • Is email the best/only way to reach this audience?
  • Should the email campaign be accompanied by a campaign through print or other media?

    Email marketing should not be an isolated endeavour. Make sure you consider how it can be combined with other channels to produce maximum results.

    The Schedule:

  • When must the message get to the audience for maximum effect? (i.e. trade shows, events, product introduction dates)
  • When must we deliver the finished work?
  • What are the milestones along the way?
  • Who is responsible for each part of the final campaign?

    Don’t start asking who will be providing all of the product photos the day before you need to send your email. A clear schedule means everyone knows what they are required to do.


  • How much money do you have to spend on this project?
  • Has this budget been approved? By whom?
  • How many people do you propose to send this campaign to?

    The Responsible Parties:

  • Who are the people involved and what are their contact details?
  • Who needs to sign off on final execution?