The Definitive Guide to Email Marketing



How many emails do you get every day? Maybe it’s a dozen, maybe it’s 50—but the number keeps growing, and the chances are that email marketing messages make up most of that list. It’s not hard to see why email marketing has become such an integral part of most businesses marketing strategies; it’s cheap, easy to track, and can reach thousands of people in just one day.

The Definitive Guide to Email Marketing

Understanding email marketing

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. However, the term is usually used to refer to:
Sending emails with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers, encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business,
Acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately,
Adding advertisements to emails sent by other companies to their customers.
In general, email marketing consists of three categories:

  1. Non-transactional email messaging (also known as permission-based email),
  2. Transactional or relationship messages (or commission sales), and
  3. Political or cause-related (aka fundraising) messages.

How to plan your email marketing campaign

Before you start emailing people willy-nilly, you need to sit down and plan out your campaign. What is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? Who is your target audience? Once you have answers to these questions, you can start thinking about what kind of content will resonate with them. Keep in mind that SEO should also be a consideration when planning your email marketing campaign – after all, you want people to actually see your emails! You should include keywords in the subject line and use the same keywords throughout the body of your email. You may also want to use different colors or headings to break up text on an email if it’s long enough (but don’t overdo it!).

What tools do you need?

You need a few things to get started with email marketing. First, you need a list of email addresses. You can grow your list organically by having people sign up on your website, or you can buy lists of email addresses from companies that specialize in seo. Second, you need an email service provider that will allow you to send emails to your list. Third, you need an email template that is mobile responsive and looks good on all devices.
I’m going to recommend you use ConvertKit for your email marketing. It’s what I use, and it works well with most websites. There are several other options available (MailChimp is one of them), but I like how ConvertKit makes list building and sending emails simple.

How often should you send emails?

There’s no magic number when it comes to email frequency, but there are some general guidelines you can follow. If you’re just starting out, sending one email a week is a good place to start. As you build up your list of subscribers, you can gradually increase the frequency of your emails. Just be sure not to overwhelm your subscribers with too many messages. And always make sure that each email contains valuable content that your subscribers will appreciate.
There are many different email frequency trends you can follow, but it’s a good idea to make your own schedule based on how often your subscribers are likely to check their inboxes. If your emails aren’t read by subscribers because they’re too infrequent, it’ll negatively impact engagement and even hurt your SEO rankings. However, if you send too many emails that just get ignored, you won’t be able to build a strong relationship with them over time.
Are sales-oriented emails more effective?: Studies have shown that email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of acquiring new customers and building brand awareness. And while email marketing continues to grow in popularity, some marketers wonder whether it’s better to focus on generating sales or building relationships with their audience.

Structure your email marketing campaigns

  1. Keep your audience in mind when planning your email marketing campaign. Who are you trying to reach? What are their needs and wants?
  2. Write great subject lines. Your subject line is the first thing recipients will see, so make sure it’s engaging and entices them to open your email.
  3. Keep your emails short and sweet. No one wants to read a novel in their inbox, so get to the point quickly and leave out any fluff.
  4. Use images sparingly. Too many images can make your email look cluttered and can also trigger spam filters.
  5. Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe if they don’t want your emails. If you know someone unsubscribed from your emails, take a look at what may have caused them to do so and make changes accordingly. Your unsubscribe button should be clear and obvious, and it should also let them leave with one click if possible.

Sending emails from your own domain name

You can send emails from your own domain name using a couple different methods. The first is to use an email service provider (ESP) that will allow you to use their servers to send your emails. This is the most common method and usually the easiest to set up. The second method is to set up your own mail server. This requires more technical knowledge and is not recommended for beginners. If you do choose to go this route, make sure you are familiar with all the steps involved in setting up a mail server.
Generally, there are three parts to setting up email: choosing an ESP, configuring your email marketing software and linking them together. Your first step is to choose an ESP. This can be a daunting task as there are so many options out there, but a good place to start is our list of best email service providers for small businesses. Once you’ve chosen one that works for you, you’ll need to set up your campaign tracking—make sure you do it right so that you get accurate statistics on your campaigns.

Designing emails with great content and images

Your email design should be eye-catching and easy to read, with a clear call-to-action. Images can help break up your text and add visual interest, but make sure they’re relevant and high-quality. Remember that people will be viewing your email on a variety of devices, so keep your design responsive.
Use your company’s logo at the top of each email and choose a simple background that doesn’t distract from your content. If you have many different styles of emails, it’s best to stick with one general theme for consistency. For example, many companies use white backgrounds with colored text and graphics, but experiment with colors like black and blue for dramatic effect.
Make sure your text is easy to read. Most people scan their emails, not reading every word, so make sure you use headings and bullet points rather than long blocks of text. If you want readers to click on a link in your email, include it in bold so it stands out from your body copy.
Don’t get caught up in new design trends: Your message is more important than a flashy email design.

Testing variations for a higher open rate

If you’re not testing different variations of your email subject lines, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve your open rates. By testing different versions of your subject line, you can find the one that gets the most people to open your email. Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing different subject lines
Try A/B split testing. With A/B split testing, you’ll be able to compare two different subject lines with each other and see which one performs better. To set up an A/B test, simply create two different versions of your email subject line (call them Version 1 and Version 2), then include each in a campaign in MailChimp. Then make sure you have your tracking code installed on your website (see Step 2 below for instructions) so that MailChimp can track who’s clicking what links in your emails.

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John Hopkins is Editor at Admire, his One of the original CB crew, John joined the team back in 2013 after moving from her role as a staff writer on Design World. Since then he's written regularly for other creative publications.

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