This beginner’s guide will explain what email marketing is, how it works, and how to get started. By the end, you’ll have a solid grasp of the basics along with the know-how to launch an effective email marketing strategy for your business. 🚀

For this reason alone, email should be a key pillar of your digital marketing strategy. Not doing any email marketing is like leaving money laying out on the table. 💸

But if you’re a bit confused about where to start, that’s totally normal. Email is a vast discipline. It’s easy for beginners to get lost in a sea of tools, techniques, and terminology.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a direct marketing channel that lets businesses share new products, sales, and updates with customers on their contact list. Its high ROI makes it crucial to most businesses’ overall inbound strategy.

Modern email marketing has moved away from one-size-fits-all mass mailings and instead focuses on consent, segmentation, and personalization. 🆕 This may sound time-consuming, but marketing automation handles most of the heavy lifting for you. In the long run, a well-designed email marketing strategy not only drives sales, but helps build a community around your brand.

Types of marketing emails

Marketing emails can be promotional, informational, or serve a specific purpose in the buyer journey.

Promotional emails

Email marketing campaigns are used to promote special offers, new product releases, gated content like ebooks and webinars, and your brand at large. A campaign could consist of 3-10 emails sent over several days or weeks. 

Promotional emails have a clear call-to-action — CTA, for short. The CTA represents the specific action you want the reader to take, whether it’s visiting a page on your website or using a coupon to make a purchase. 

Why Email Marketing Is Important

Email isn’t a new technology. In fact, it was one of the very first means of digital communication to arrive back in 1971. But at 50 years old, email marketing is used today more than ever before. 🤩

You may be thinking, “Do people really still use email? Isn’t social media where it’s at for marketing today?” While it’s true that social media is an important channel for any digital marketing strategy, email has several advantages.

First, email marketing campaigns can be personalized to a greater extent than those on social media. Next, costs are considerably lower than for other channels, especially considering the reach and conversion rate associated with email marketing. This is part of what makes email marketing so ideal for small businesses.

Finally, what makes email marketing so powerful and lucrative is that it gives you direct, individual access to your audience’s inboxes. 

The Benefits of Email Marketing

From order confirmations to newsletters, emails are an essential part of the growth and management of your business.

Email marketing helps you achieve three key objectives:

1. Conversions (selling your products and services)

Launching a sale or promotion? You can send your subscribers an email marketing campaign to drive sales. 🤑 In addition, try using these email marketing techniques to further boost conversions:

2. Brand awareness

What’s great about email is that it lets you reach someone directly. It’s one-to-one communication at its best. And people don’t just let anyone into their inbox these days. It’s a curated space reserved for favorite brands and publications.

Showing up in someone’s email inbox will help your brand stay current in the minds of subscribers. A personalized marketing email is more impactful than a social media post where you can’t be sure if someone has actually seen your message. 🤷‍♂️

One of the major benefits of email marketing is its scalability. This means that emails can be sent to a large number of recipients while remaining cost-effective (compared to other marketing channels). 

3. Customer loyalty

Email drives customer loyalty at every stage of the buyer journey: lead-nurturing, conversion, onboarding, retention. As well, email marketing is a necessary tool to use alongside sales CRM systems to streamline communication.

How to Do Email Marketing

Businesses use what’s known as email service providers (ESP) to send marketing emails. 

An email service provider is a software that sends and manages email marketing campaigns.

It’s also referred to as an email marketing platform, email marketing tool, email marketing service, or email marketing software.

Now you might be wondering, can’t I just send marketing emails with my regular inbox provider? Do I really need to pay for a product on top of that?

Technically, it’s possible. (We even explain how in our guide to sending mass email with Gmail.) Beware, though. You’re likely to run into problems with limited email bandwidth, design, and more importantly, email deliverability. Here’s why:

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. are designed for personal use — not for email blasts. Although they’re free to use, they’re not  free bulk email senders. So when a mass email is sent from an ISP, it’s easily flagged by spam filters and your account can be disabled for suspicious activity. 😔

ESPs, on the other hand, have the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure good email deliverability rates — i.e., the ability to land emails in your subscribers’ inboxes. If you want to set yourself up for email marketing success from day one, get yourself a dedicated email marketing service.

How to choose an email service provider

With hundreds of ESPs on the market, it’s hard to know which one is right for your business. 

Some of the most popular options include Stay in TouchMailchimpConstant ContactConvertkitKlaviyoMailjetMailerliteGetResponse, and HubSpot.

Here are some questions to help narrow down your options:

How much does email marketing cost?

Email marketing costs can vary widely depending on the size of your email list, the quantity of emails you send, the level of support you need, and the technical specifications you’re looking for.

For some, free email marketing plans offer more than enough functionality. For others, email marketing can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

As you’re exploring different options, you’ll notice most providers base their pricing on the number of contacts on your email list. This pricing model can be attractive to those just starting out, but costs rise considerably once your list grows. 

But growing your subscriber base is the whole point of email marketing! 🤦‍♀️

Stay in Touch on the other hand, structures its pricing by email volume rather than the number of subscribers. That way, you can grow your email list infinitely and it won’t impact the pricing. 

How to write a marketing email

Now that you’ve started building your contact list, the next steps are defining an email marketing strategy and creating the content!

How to define an email marketing strategy

To define your email marketing strategy, think about what you want to achieve with your first campaign. Here are some common goals for email marketing beginners:

Your goals can be specific or broad — as long as they fit with your business and your audience. In either case, having a clear, measurable goal will make it easier to create your email content. 

How to design a marketing email

Email design doesn’t have to be difficult or overly technical. Using a drag-and-drop editor, you can easily create stunning and professional marketing campaigns. 🧑‍🎨

There’s no need to get hung up on creating fancy, elaborate emails. More importantly, you should focus on creating an email that embodies your brand, whatever it may look like. Oftentimes, this means keeping it simple. You can always build upon this later on as your skills grow.

Save time with pre-made email templates

For beginners and seasoned pros alike, email marketing templates are the perfect shortcut to standout email design. 

Just pick one you like. Customize it to match your brand colors and font. 🎨 Then reuse it for future email newsletters. All you’ll have to do is update the content. Quick and easy!

When is the best time to send a marketing email?

Rather than choosing a random day and time to send your emails, be strategic. Think about what you know about your audience and choose a time that makes sense for them. 

Stay in Touch research showed that email marketing campaigns tend to perform better when sent on Tuesdays or Thursdays in the mornings around 10 AM or in the afternoons around 3 PM.

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