A Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia
Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia

April 11, 2023

8 min read

A Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Welcome! Here, we will guide you through the best practices for email marketing. Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing but also the most successful. Regardless of how long it has been around, email marketing remains the number one return on investment for businesses. With email marketing, you’re able to sell with your eyes closed.

With email marketing, regardless if you are B2B or B2C it is a great way to connect with other businesses or your customers, build brand awareness, encourage loyalty, and nurture prospects and existing customers.

In today’s world after a global pandemic, email marketing has proven even more valuable to consumers as a way to keep up with brands and for businesses, especially to remain relevant to their subscribers. While email marketing sounds easy in theory, you have to think of it as an art form and science in order for you to be successful. We will go through the power of email marketing, how to create a successful strategy, and the best practices moving forward.

Defining Email Marketing

This beginner's guide to email marketing will help pave the way for a successful future. Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses email to promote products or services to potential or existing clients. It is a direct way to communicate with brands and clients. It is leveraged by building brand awareness, growing your customer loyalty, and driving conversions.

Email marketing also has the power to play a crucial role in your marketing strategy with lead generation, brand awareness, continued relationships, and nurturing existing relationships at each stage of the sales funnel.

Creating compelling and tantalizing email campaigns under a deadline requires a balance between strategy, execution, and creativity. Hitting the sweet spot is no guessing game, a lot arises that is in your control in order to put your best email forward.

Getting started with email marketing includes actions like aligning with stakeholders' goals for your email campaigns in order to show them that you are working in their best interests. This gives your stakeholders more confidence in your brand when you are explicitly showing them that you understand their pain points and have a remedy for them.

Setting up simple and easy-to-edit email design templates. Make your life easier by using a simple design that is easily recognizable but also editable in order to send clear and consistent messages to your clients. Always include an unsubscribe option in your emails, this is crucial because it puts the power in your client's hands but also is illegal not to have it in your email according to the SPAM CAN Act.

You should also be strategizing the optimal timing of your emails, this all depends on your niche. For some email marketers you will be sending out Tuesday mornings but for others, Thursday evenings, take a look at your open rates and see if you can find a pattern or trend. Speaking of metrics, you should be constantly measuring your campaigns and running tests on what is the most effective form of communication for your clients.

Getting Started: Your Email List

Set yourself up for success by having a solid foundation for your business with an email marketing list. This is a list that is composed of emails that you have collected from people who are interested in your product or service. Having an email list that enables you to direct the conversation about your business to a more personal level.

Savvy marketers know that when people subscribe to a list, it is the biggest indicator that they are interested in your product or service and changes them from interested to definitely interested in becoming a paying customer.

The reason we all say to focus on email marketing rather than other forms of digital marketing is that it is a really straightforward way to communicate with your customers and is a highly effective way of conversions.

When creating an email campaign, the key metrics for success are the growth and quality of your email list. Having a high quality list starts with having subscribers, but then maintaining your subscription list. Ensure that you are sending real emails by running your list through email verification tools such as Emailable to send with confidence.

Create lists based on segment types, this can be by audience, preference, or category. Try not to put everyone into one category, this helps avoid creating generic and impersonal emails. Personalization goes a lot with email marketing. Make the tone of your email sound like it’s coming from a person, rather than a computer generated message. Go one step further and send emails to people that have engaged with a certain product and mention it.

Plan Your Email Workflow

A workflow is a series of automated emails that are structured in a certain order to either nurture a prospect or guide a customer to a certain action. These are also great to be used if a customer performs a certain action that will then “trigger” the emails to be sent based on that action.

Have a goal in mind for your workflow, for example, get a prospective customer to enter a free trial.

  • Create enrollment criteria: who enters the workflow? This could range from someone who downloaded a specific ebook. This will start the workflow for them.
  • What are your email assets: define a call to action that would drive your prospective customer to a blog or custom landing page
  • Your Emails: once you know your specific goal and have the assets in place, think about every touchpoint of the customer’s journey. For every touchpoint try to have an email reflecting this and driving them forward to the next.
  • Run a test: run a few tests in fact, with each customer you can change the subject line or the opening line and see which performs better. Which has more open rates. This is also known as A/B testing.

Make your workflow live and keep an eye on it, how is it performing? Are subscribers moving through it? Do you need to add anything to keep your audience engaged? Keep practicing, evolving, and innovating with your email marketing workflow.

Set Measurable Goals

As we’ve covered above, you have a clear goal in mind for each campaign you send. Now, you want to be able to measure your success. With every campaign you run, you are always wanting to experiment, send re-engagement emails, and clean up your email marketing list. Once you have nailed down the “why”, you are able to set up your measurable goals.

For example, you want to see an increase in open rate by 20% in 6 months, or expanding your email list by 15%, improve conversion rates by measuring sign ups, or trying out a new A/B test.

No matter what your goal is, you want to keep it simple, measurable, realistic, and time-based. By documenting your goals you are setting up a framework for success. You have clear metrics that you can always refer back to and measure your success and see how your campaigns are progressing over time.

Writing Your Emails

We now know the goals of your campaign, you have specific metrics you want to reach, and now it’s time to get started crafting your email campaigns.

This starts by writing an enticing copy that not only aligns with your stakeholder's best interests but also is something that recipients would like to open.

Consider these:

  • Your subject line: convincing a recipient to open your emails requires engaging subject lines. Your subject line is the first touchpoint that you make with your recipient. As the subject line, it holds a lot of power to whether or not your potential client will open or ignore your email. Did you know that 67% of recipients in the US stated that the subject line in emails is somewhat a strong influence on their decision whether or not to open an email? The best subject lines are those that provide enough information to tell the recipient why you’re emailing, but not enough to let them look past it not wanting to know more. Try to highlight one main point that recognizes a pain point or something particular to the touchpoint they’re at.
  • Preview text: the text that is the snippet of information that your recipient will see next to the subject line. Preview text is a great opportunity to expand on the thoughts that you want to express to your audience before they open the message. Most ESPs pull a copy from your first few lines of text so you can try to take advantage of this prime real estate.
  • Sender name: what is your sender name? AKA, what is your email address appearing as? You should not be sending emails from a no-reply email address. Doing so creates a very impersonal, unfriendly, and cold experience for the recipient. Try using your brand name so there is no question about where the email is coming from.

The Body of Your Email

Once you have set up a catching subject line and preview text, you can now start to draft your copy that will not only provide value to your audience but also help them make their next move with your product or service. Successful emails have headlines, copy, and a call to action.

Start with the basics. What is it that you want to get across to your subscribers, what action do you want them to take? From here write a basic and straightforward message describing those two things.

When you have the basic outline, you can then narrow it down to draw in your customer. The next pieces of content are your headline, copy, and call to action. Try to keep everything easily scannable and quick.

Sometimes it helps to write your copy first and then your headline and CTA will come to you. With the exception of grammar, there are no firm rules to copywriting. This should be the most creative, personable part of your email.

Be conversational. It feels way more organic when your audience feels like they are talking to a person. You should try to pick a tone that works for your audience. A scientific newsletter will sound different than a promotional email. The more you write and test copy, the better you will be.
Write with a tone that you know what you’re talking about. Between the reader and yourself, you are the expert. You should exude a clear understanding of your topic and have that resonate through your email. Exemplify that you know their interests, wants, needs, and pain points.

Focus on the benefit for the reader. Before you send out your email, ask yourself what does this email give to your customers. Why is it worth their time? Send an email that provides relevant information that offers a product that solves their pain points, this is how to provide value to your customers.

You Have the Basics, Use Them

You now know the basics of getting started with your email marketing strategy. You can now start to deliver your first email marketing campaign. Put into practice what you learned today so you can continue to grow and thrive in your business.

Remember to keep an eye on your email list, it should be cleaned regularly and filled with those who actually want to receive your emails. Don’t forget to have an unsubscribe button.

Strategize your workflow, why are you sending an email at this particular time? What value will it add to your customers? Make sure you are providing something with each email so you can not only capture your audience but also prove that you know what you’re talking about.

Write your emails with a clear intention in mind. What is it that you want your reader to do? Make sure to include a clear call to action at the end of every email to help move your readers through the funnel.

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