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Getting Started With Email Marketing

Email marketing is a marketing strategy where businesses send promotional messages to people in mass quantities. It is typically used to generate sales by sharing promotional offers, nurturing leads, or expanding the impact of content marketing efforts. 

If you open up your email box right now, there’s a good chance at least half of your messages are email marketing, like this one from GlassesUSA: 

An example of a time sensitive email marketing message that has a strong call-to-action and encourages users to act now.

The Fundamentals of Email Marketing

Before diving into the strategies you’ll use to build and leverage email marketing, let’s cover the fundamentals. These tips will help you maximize your email marketing campaign, which we’ll dive into next. 

  1. Stay Human: Email marketing is popular—which also means it is competitive. Use email to speak directly to your users, use their name, and let them see the human side of your brand. 
  2. Use Engaging Titles, But Don’t Bait And Switch: Using interesting subject titles is crucial to increasing email open rates, but keep them on topic and non-spammy. If users feel duped, they’re likely to unsubscribe or mark your message as spam, which impacts deliverability. 
  3. Keep Messages Short: Most email is read on a mobile device, so keep your copy concise and to the point. Direct users to a blog post or landing page if you need to share a ton of information. 
  4. Include CTAs at the Top and Bottom: On landing pages, CTAs are always included above the fold—use the same strategy with email by including strong CTAs after the first paragraph and again at the end. 
  5. Ask Permission and Deliver On Your Promises: Never buy email lists—that is illegal in most cases and won’t deliver ROI. If you offer a deal or great content, make sure to deliver high-quality content or offers. 

Remember: You’re a Guest in Their Inbox

People are inundated with interruptions, pitches, and ads everywhere they look.

You might think your email is special, but to the reader, your email is one in a million—and not in a good way.

This is why it’s important to use good manners.

Getting into someone’s inbox is like being invited to their home for dinner. If they ask you to take your shoes off, you respectfully do so.

Treat their email inbox with the same respect. You’re a guest they’ve invited into their lives and they can ask you to leave at any point. So be on your best behavior and remember… you’re a guest in their inbox.

Now, let’s talk about how to build your strategy from the ground up.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

Email marketing is one of the top-performing marketing strategies, in no small part because it’s 

fairly intuitive and often automated. 

It can also support a number of other marketing initiatives, including lead generation, sales, and content marketing

An effective email marketing campaign requires three essential elements:

1. An Email List

An email list is a database of subscribers that have agreed to let you send them emails. 

To build successful email campaigns, you need an active, engaged email list. 

There are many ways to build an email list. One of the easiest is to create a lead magnet (also called an offer) your target audience is interested in, like a coupon, in exchange for their email addresses.

2. An Email Service Provider

An email service provider (ESP), also known as an email marketing platform, is software that helps manage your email list. It also helps design and execute automated email campaigns.

Using an ESP also allows you to create automatic triggers when your audience completes specific actions, such as sending a cart reminder if a user adds an item to their cart and doesn’t checkout. These triggers enable you to personalize interactions, which improves engagement and open rates. 

3. Clearly Defined Goals

Email can help you achieve a variety of business goals, including: 

  • drive sales
  • boost brand awareness 
  • generate and nurture leads
  • keep customers engaged
  • increase customer loyalty and lifetime value

To execute an effective email marketing campaign, your email list, ESP, and goals must align. Then, you can get to work.

The first step is to segment your email list according to subscriber demographics or actions.

Next, create an email or series of emails designed to get consumers to do something (your goal).

Finally, use your ESP to send emails and monitor the campaign automatically.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Email Marketing

Just like any other marketing channel, email marketing has pros and cons. Let’s briefly dive into some of the more significant ones:

Advantages of Email Marketing

There are plenty of benefits of email marketing. These are just a few of the top benefits to keep in mind. 

Email Is Permission-based

When a customer trusts you with their email address, it’s the virtual equivalent of being given the keys to their house. Gaining permission to enter rather than showing up uninvited increases the chances of engagement and conversion.

Provides Direct Access to Your Audience

You can communicate directly with subscribers on their schedules. Plus, because most people check email multiple times a day, your message is more likely to be seen. 

Email Provides More Control

With most other marketing platforms, you don’t own the platform. If the platform ceases to exist, all your hard work sinks with it. If Google or Facebook updates their algorithm, your reach could be drastically reduced. 

However, with email, you own the relationships you forge with your subscribers.

More Personalization Capabilities

You can use demographic or psychographic data to create personalized and hyper-targeted campaigns. Research shows segmented and personalized campaigns increase revenue by as much as 760 percent.

Easy to Measure Success

Measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is crucial, and automated email marketing makes measuring your campaign a breeze.


Email marketing campaigns can easily scale as your audience grows without straining your resources or compromising quality.

Disadvantages of Email Marketing

Email isn’t all roses and butterflies. There are a few disadvantages to be aware of. The good news is a great strategy can reduce the impact of disadvantages such as: 

Tough Competition

Standing out in a cluttered inbox can be a challenge. You’ll need to get creative to ensure your emails get opened.

You Need an Email List

With email marketing, you must already have an email list for your campaigns to be effective. Building an email list can be tricky and takes time. 

Many Rules and Regulations to Navigate

There are several laws governing the use of email for commercial purposes. Common examples include GDPRCAN-SPAM, and CCPA. All of these ban businesses from sending unsolicited emails and outline data storage requirements. 

Unfortunately, some subscribers might report your emails as being spam even if they subscribe. As a result, your sender’s reputation takes a hit.

Delivery and Deliverability Issues

Deliverability is not guaranteed. Many email providers (think Gmail or Outlook) use spam filters. To run effective email marketing campaigns, you must contend with delivery and deliverability issues.

Email Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

Let’s briefly look at a couple of email marketing examples for a bit of inspiration.


Teaonic is an e-commerce brand specializing in organic, healthy teas.

Subject line: Getting Low On Wellness?

An example of an email marketing message.

What does this email get right?

  • Great Subject Line: The subject line focuses on the target audience’s main pain point, i.e., improving their health.
  • Leverages Color Psychology: The bright, warm colors trigger feelings of health and happiness.
  • Well-Timed: The email targets people who have purchased the product and is sent when the customer’s supply is about to run out.


Well-known for its hosting services, Bluehost decided to try its hand at creating a website builder.

Subject line: Bluehost’s new Website Builder makes building simple.

An example of an email marketing message.
  • Focuses on Benefits, Not Features: Selling the benefits makes the copy more compelling.
  • Clean Design: The simple design makes the email aesthetically pleasing and easy to read.
  • Excellent Targeting: Bluehost knows its audience is mainly small business owners without technical expertise. The email uses language targeting this demographic.

How to Automate Your Email Marketing

While the automation process varies by ESP, there are several universal steps you’ll take when automating the process. 

Define Your Email Segments

Effective campaigns start with list segmentation. Use the data about your subscribers to group them. This allows you to create more personalized campaigns.

Depending on your audience, this data might include: 

  • Behavioral data from your website. 
  • Demographic data, such as location, age, or gender. 
  • Topics that are important to them. 

Design an Efficient Email Series

After segmenting your email list, it’s time to design a series. This is a list of emails that fulfill the objective of the campaign.

Determine the Right Triggers

Once you’ve designed your workflow, determine what actions will trigger the next email in the sequence. Examples of triggers can include customers opening your email, clicking on a link, or not opening it within a predetermined time frame.

Depending on your goals, your email triggers might look something like this: 

  • Subscriber signs up for your email list → Send a welcome email with a coupon and several popular items. 
  • After one week → Send a second email promoting new arrivals.
  • Subscriber visits your women’s clothing section → Send an email promoting a new collection. 
  • Subscriber adds an item to their cart, but doesn’t convert → Send an email reminder with a 10 percent off coupon.

While this example is for an ecommerce company, you can create similar series for nurturing leads, promoting a course, or driving traffic to your blog.  

Best Email Marketing Strategies

To succeed with email, you need to design strategic campaigns. Here are some of the best strategies you can employ.

Use the Right Email List-Building Strategies

The success of your email marketing campaigns depends on the quality of your email list. To build a list, you must use list-building strategies designed to attract your target audience. 

For example, a case study promoted on LinkedIn may help a B2B brand build a list of engaged subscribers, but would flop when used by a B2C brand.

Examples of good list-building strategies include: 

  • offering a coupon 
  • creating a downloadable asset 
  • hosting a webinar 

Practice Good Email List Hygiene

Another essential email marketing strategy is practicing good email list hygiene. Removing inactive subscribers and incorrect email addresses will improve your sender reputation.

Consider sending an email to subscribers who haven’t opened your messages and ask if they’re still interested. If they aren’t, remove them from your list. 

Keep Your List Warm

Regularly send emails to your list to keep your subscribers engaged (warm). Sporadic emailing could result in subscribers forgetting who you are and lead to low conversion rates.

If some of your subscribers go cold, you can run a re-engagement campaign through paid ads. 

Focus on One Objective

Design each campaign and email to focus on one objective. Trying to kill two (or more) birds with one stone doesn’t work with email marketing. It only confuses your audience and reduces your conversion rates.

Define and Track the Right KPIs

Success requires more than sending subscribers an email every few weeks. To understand which strategies are effective, you must track the performance of your campaigns. That means defining and tracking the right key performance indicators (KPIs).

Depending on your goals, your KPIs might include: 

  • open rates 
  • click-through-rates
  • sales 
  • blog traffic 
  • unsubscribe rate
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