From the Ground Up

Building email marketing campaigns that support your sales team.

As email marketers, we have insight into the entry point of when and how a lead enters the sales pipeline, and if we’re lucky, the supporting demographic data. What we may not know is the what and the why: what information does the audience need and why are they here? In his book “Experience: The 7th Era of Marketing,” Robert Rose talks about why the traditional sales funnel no longer works. Audiences self-educate from what they find online, but do they find the right information when they need it most?  An email journey that supports the sales funnel can assist with this challenge.

Developing relevant, value-add, impactful content is often the toughest job for an email marketer. If you’re not walking in the shoes of the subscriber or talking to them on a consistent basis, how can you provide the information and experience that will resonate with them at the right time? Fortunately, your sales team can answer many of your questions and spending time with them often, in and out of the field, will reap a multitude of benefits making both of your jobs easier.

“Marketing ensures that sales teams provide consistency and context to the evolution of the customer’s long-term needs. Sales teams push back on content development, to ensure that individual customers are treated as partners, rather than demographic targets.” Content Marketing: Unlocking Sales & Marketing Performance by Robert Rose.  


Spending time in the field with members of your sales team will bring the sales process to life, provide clarity and a wealth of information. Listen to the questions being asked and ask your own as well (this is also a good practice to refine your audience personas). If time in the field is not feasible, sit in by phone with a member of your internal sales team and/or call center. Spend time reading transcripts of open cases and survey responses. These venues will expand your perspective on what is most important to your audience and what job needs to be done to resonate with your audience. (Jobs Theory, Clayton Christensen)


After numerous interviews, sit down with several members of your sales team and document overarching pain points, question themes and trends. Next, specify your goal for the email journey. It may be that you want to educate and inform, build trust, increase conversion or obtain conversion earlier. Now, draw. Begin drafting a roadmap of the sales process and where along this journey pain points and questions tend to appear. Personally, I use OmniGraffle to handle this task but many Microsoft and Adobe products can do the same.

Your first draft of the journey may be linear and that is normal. Often it takes multiple iterations and testing to get an email journey right. Incorporate progressive profiling into your email campaigns along the way to gather information and lead your audience toward deeper segmentation and down a relevant path. In collaboration with your sales team, brainstorm different scenarios of behavior and actions you want your audience to take.


  1. What piece of content in your library would address the questions being asked by your audience and their specific pain points?
  2. What piece of content is missing and what form would work best (video, case study, infographic, etc.)?
  3. How, where and from whom can you obtain testimonials to build trust?
  4. What data already exists within your database that would personalize the experience?
  5. What questions need to be answered to provide a personal, deeper experience for the individual?
  6. Where along the journey should these questions be asked to progressively profile your audience and enhance their experience?
  7. Should you incentivize to obtain information? What type of incentive would work?
  8. When should an email campaign come from a sales representative and when should it come from the company?
  9. What insider content can be offered that can only come from a member of the sales team and not open to the public on the web to give your sales representative a leg up?
  10. What is next? Where does this subscriber go after a journey has been completed?


The number of email campaigns and the length of time to complete the journey will depend on your goal. As you draft your email brief and content, write for an individual. Continue to seek insight from your sales team for feedback. Being the guy on the ground, they have conversations with your subscribers daily and know your audience the best. Your interest in feedback from your sales team will enhance trust between sales and marketing and further refine your messaging prior to launching the email journey.

“Marketing and Sales teams need to talk often, provide feedback and be aligned in order to have a shared reality they both feel vested in. One of the best sources of information is the guy on the ground, which often is the salesperson.”

               – Troy Wester, national sales director of biotech oncology.


Building email content can be one of the toughest jobs of an email marketer. Aligning the message from all angles, especially sales and marketing is a winning combination. When you work together in the beginning, you support each other in the end. The more engaged your audience is with your email campaigns validates your email messaging is working, leading to improved lead scoring, a stronger CRM database and a strong experience for your subscriber.

About Lisa Wester
Member of eec Membership & Marketing Subcommittee

Lisa Wester is the founder and Chief Engagement Officer of Rooted Elm, an email marketing agency in St. Louis, MO and Email Marketing Manager for Emerson White-Rodgers. When she’s not drawing process maps, refining email marketing campaigns and sharing newfound knowledge, Lisa can be found practicing yoga, pilates or in the company of her family, including two active daughters, a marathon-running enthusiast husband, Mutt Messi (who lives up to her nomenclature) and Herman Tortoise, named Francis. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can read more about her work on the RootedElm blog titled The Grove.