How to Start Email Marketing

March 4, 2024

If you're to ask any marketer the best form of digital marketing, the short answer you would get is email marketing. Statistics show that it’s the top marketing strategy, carrying the highest return on investment over other types of marketing. Specifically, Monetate’s eCommerce Q1 report from 2013 shows that email generates a higher conversion rate than search marketing. The report also found out that email generates four times the conversion rate of social media marketing. Furthermore, according to the State of Email survey by Litmus in 2019, email’s return on investment (ROI) continues to grow year after year, with an average of 42:1—up from 38:1 last year.

In fact, more than 90% of marketers are convinced that email remains a successful channel for achieving marketing objectives, according to a 2017 report by Return Path in partnership with Ascend2.

Email Marketing is Changing the Game

Email plays an important role in people’s lives, especially in the marketing industry. This kind of content nurtures customer relationships, creates loyalty, and strengthens the bond between brands and their subscribers. Email marketing is a proven process that reaches customers in ways other technology cannot, plain and simple. Master the email subject line and you will see your engagement skyrocket.

Despite the awareness about email’s effectiveness, like all other marketing channels, email marketing has its fair share of challenges to overcome. The biggest challenge of email marketing is the surprisingly little respect and consideration that it gets when it comes to media spending. Most businesses only spend a conservative budget on email marketing despite its remarkable results in driving conversions and revenue. It’s so efficient, but almost because email marketing is extremely cost-effective (and oftentimes, free), it’s often considered less powerful than other kinds of marketing.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

According to Forrester, the average total of global email marketing spend from 2015 to 2017 was $2.56 billion. This might seem like a big figure, but the numbers ironically pale in comparison to other media such as TV, social display advertising, radio, and paid search. To be clear, we might assume that one reason why email only gets a small budget is that it doesn’t need a large budget to be effective. This is part of its appeal!

However, we also know that it's still severely underutilized.

It all boils down to the right strategies to achieve an effective email marketing campaign. When done right, email marketing is a surefire way to hit those business targets as no other channel does.

So, whether you’re a beginner wondering how to get started with email marketing or a seasoned marketer looking to give your campaigns a boost, here are a number of tips and strategies that will help you drive your email channel’s growth potential. Discover how you can boost the content and design of your email communications, maximize click-throughs and engagement, and keep your audience engaged. Some of the things on the list may seem insignificant, but the smallest details can actually make or break your email campaign.


How to Start Your Next Email Marketing Campaign

1. Define Your Goals

Defining your goals is the first step. To achieve a successful email marketing campaign, you need to clearly define your objective(s). Email marketing is the most powerful method in the context of your broader marketing goals, so it's important to set up goals that can you reasonably hit but will also push your overall strategy forward.

The key to establishing the right objectives is to align them with your company’s entire marketing ecosystem and KPIs. Your goals should be customer-centric, campaign-specific, and engagement-driven. Set your goals that you can achieve progressively and build on your previous efforts. It will then be easier to determine whether your campaign moves you closer to or further away from your goal.

To help define your goals, a few good questions that will help you frame your campaign are:

  • Who are you sending your emails to?
  • What's the reason for sending your emails?
  • What types of emails will you send?
  • How do you want the emails to look?
  • How often will you send the emails?

Be clear and specific in your answers and take the time to strategically formulate them. Email campaigns can have multiple goals, but understanding what the top priority is and maintaining your focus at any given time is critical to achieving success in email marketing.

2. Grow Your List

Building an impressive email list can be a huge deal for both email marketing newbies and experts. Because you can monetize your list, the more subscribers you have, the better. This is why brands put so much energy into acquiring new leads.

hello word bubble

It's worth the effort, but it might not be easy getting people to give you their email address. In fact, 61% of marketers say that generating leads is their top challenge.

There are a number of ways to grow your email list. One of the most popular is using lead magnets. A lead magnet is exactly what it sounds like: something that attracts new subscribers. This might be:

  • A free eBook.
  • A downloadable checklist.
  • A free mini-course.

These are just a few examples, but you likely see a common denominator: They're all free. You offer free value in exchange for their email address.

The great thing about lead magnets is that you build them once and let them work passively in the background. Unless they're time-sensitive, they will continue collecting leads for you without you having to do any additional work. Not bad, right?

One Word of Caution

If you've done any research on this, you might have learned that you can purchase email lists. In other words, you pay for people's addresses without having to do anything to acquire them.

While this might be tempting, we encourage you to steer clear of this method. Experts largely consider it black hat, for starters. Secondly, more often than not, they're not qualified/quality leads, meaning these aren't people who you can turn into loyal followers and eventually customers. They likely won't be targeted, and they're not your desired demographic.

Plus, most companies that sell email lists only provide basic information, such as age and location. This is not useful for a message-oriented email campaign. Make sure that you’re growing your list with the right people. If your recipients are not actively engaged with you or interested in what you have to say, your email marketing efforts will go to waste.

Send relevant content to the right audience and you will increase your engagement by leaps and bounds. Building an email list organically might take time but it’ll get better results and allow you to deliver the right content to the right people. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about breaching data privacy laws.

3. Invest in a Quality Email Marketing Platform

Yes, you're going to want to spend at least a little money here. But rest assured that these tools can be incredibly affordable and are worth every penny.

Think about it. You don't want to have to manually send email content to subscribers one by one. An email marketing software allows you to create automations and send broadcasts to entire list segments (more on this in a minute) in no time at all.

envelope and white paper

Not only is this more officiant, but it also helps you collect information and data on your subscribers that will help you improve your email strategy. We'll talk about this more in just a moment.

The tool you pay for will depend on your budget and the type of business you're running. For instance, an eCommerce business will need email marketing software that takes into account the fact that you're selling things online. Thankfully, there are a number of platforms out there for a variety of businesses with unique budgets. Whether you have $20 a month to spend or $1,000, there's a tool out there perfect for your brand.

4. Understand Your Analytics

A good marketer understands the power of email analytics. Keeping track of analytics enables you to test email campaigns, analyze the results, grow your email list, and increase conversions.

While this may appear daunting, measuring the impact of your email marketing campaigns doesn’t really have to be complicated. You only need to know the basics to get started.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common metrics that marketers use:

  • Open rates – the number of recipients opening your email out of the total number of recipients.
  • Click rates – the number of recipients who click links in your email.
  • Unsubscribe rates – the number of people who ask to unsubscribe from your list.
  • Bounce rates – the number of email addresses on your list that are rejected by the recipient’s email server.

The key to gauging your success is by digging beneath the surface. It's not only about creating attractive and beautifully worded emails. It's about considering what the data says and using it to improve your approach.

5. Segment Your Subscribers

Is every email subscriber the same? Of course not. So, why would you want to treat them all the same?

To avoid this, you segment your subscribers, meaning you put them into specific groups so that you can deliver unique content to them. Let's say you gain a subscriber because they downloaded your free eBook. And let's say you get another because they signed up to receive a discount code.

The first subscriber might have a better experience by receiving more free content, while the second might do better with future discounts and giveaways. The point is that you deliver content that makes sense to the individual.

Don't put all of your subscribers into one bucket. They don't belong there. Segment!

While it might not feel like instant gratification because it's a long-term approach, email marketing is crucial to your overall digital marketing strategy. Start working on it now, because email isn't going away anytime soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I start email marketing?

To start email marketing, begin by building an email list of interested subscribers, creating engaging and valuable content, and using an email marketing platform to send and track your campaigns.

How profitable is email marketing?

Email marketing can be highly profitable, as it allows you to reach a targeted audience, nurture relationships, and drive conversions, resulting in a high return on investment (ROI) for many businesses.

Is email marketing a difficult job?

While email marketing may have its challenges, such as crafting compelling content and optimizing deliverability, with proper planning, strategy, and the right tools, it can be a manageable and effective marketing channel.

Final Thoughts

Implementing email marketing for your business can be a powerful tool to engage with your audience, build relationships, and drive profitability. By following the steps outlined in this article - building an email list, creating valuable content, and utilizing an email marketing platform - you can set yourself up for success!

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