Email Marketing: 101

So, you’ve been collecting email addresses from your customers. What are you going to do with them?

If your first thought is to write an email and just send it out, unfortunately, you definitely won’t get the results you’re looking for. An effective email marketing campaign takes a little understanding and sometimes patience. But fear not. Here are some tips to help you get started on the right path.


Decide on an email platform.

First and foremost, you need an email platform. You don’t want to send bulk emails directly from your individual email address. There are plenty of free and paid resources out there to help you. So, do some research to see what platform would be the best fit for your needs, the size of your list, the frequency of your emails, etc. Here’s a great article from Blogging Wizard to help you get started. These platforms provide a variety of services including design templates, analytics, list management, and automation.


Nurture your list.

Next, you need a good, healthy email list. A healthy email list is a list of people who have opted into receiving your emails. These are current, former or potential customers who are genuinely interested in your products and services. Someone who is genuinely interested in your content is much more likely to open your email and engage with it.

In addition to having a healthy list, you should also segment that list to make sure you are delivering the right message to the right people at the right time in their purchase cycle. You don’t want to send the same email to a long-established loyal customer as you would to a potential customer, not at all familiar with your brand. Doing this could result in low engagement (open rates and clicks) which can hurt your sender reputation, lead to deliverability issues and potential blacklisting.

To help grow your list:

  1. Make subscribing easy and even consider a special offer for subscribing (10% off your order, free shipping, free gift, etc). Include a signup box in multiple locations on your website where readers can type in their email address, hit submit and move on.
  2. If you ask for too much information or make it too difficult, they will abandon the registration process. On the flip side, make it easy to unsubscribe as well. When it comes to email subscribers, you want quality over quantity.
  3. When someone unsubscribes, don’t take it personally and just remove them from your list. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act gives consumers the right to have a business stop emailing them and delivers stiff penalties to those who violate the law, so familiarize yourself with it and stay in compliance.


Deliver something useful to your audience.

There are different types of emails for all different situations: newsletters, thank-you emails, special offers, event invitations, announcements, etc. Establish your email goals; think about your audience and what they want, what message do you want to send and what do you want to get out of your email campaign.

Also, set a schedule and stick to it to help build trust among your audience.

The typical adult receives 121 emails per day, so you want to stand out from the crowd. Make sure whatever you are sending is valuable to your audience. An eye-catching, well-thought-out subject line is also key to catching your audience’s attention.

Finally, make sure your branding – logo, colors, style, etc – comes through in your email designs and content.


Analyze your results

By evaluating the performance of your emails, you can adjust and optimize your campaigns. According to Hubspot’s email marketing guide, there are 4 key metrics in email marketing:

  • Deliverability measures the rate at which emails reach your intended subscribers’ inboxes. When an email cannot be delivered because an email address is invalid, it will register as a hard bounce. Too many hard bounces can hurt your deliverability and inbox placement on the emails that do go through. To improve deliverability, remove hard bounces and unengaged users (those who don’t open your emails) and only send to those addresses that are engaging with your emails.
  • Open rate is the percentage of people that open your email once it reaches their inbox. Average open rates vary across different industries but, generally speaking, an open rate between 14% – 24% is considered good. To improve your open rate, try some A/B testing to determine which options perform best among your audience. Select one variable to test at a time (time of day, call to action, images, or subject lines). Stick with what performs best and move on to the next variable.
  • Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who click on a link within your email. A successful email will receive a 3-5% CTR. There are lots of ways to improve CTR; everything from changing the format and layout of your email, to the use of colors and images. The easiest way to increase CTR is to use a button rather than a text link for your Call to Action (CTA). Humans love to click buttons, so give your readers a button to click and what your CTR grows.
  • Unsubscribes measures the number of people who opt-out of your email list once they receive an email from you. Again, don’t take unsubscribes personally. Be kind and considerate and remove them as soon as possible from your list to avoid violating the CAN-SPAM act and your messages potentially being tagged as spam.


See, there’s a little more to email marketing than just typing an email and hitting send. But, it is definitely worth the time and effort. Email integrates very well with other strategies and it has the best ROI of any marketing channel – $38-$40 for each $1 spent.


So, what are you waiting for?