Basic Email Marketing

This article forms part of my beginners guide series. It covers basic email marketing and is is aimed at beginners who may be aware of email marketing but not necessarily understand it. This post covers the basics of what you need to know and will build into a more in depth series.

Basic Email MarketingWhat is Email Marketing

Put really simply it’s the use of electronic mail for marketing purposes.

Of course it’s a little bit more complex than that.

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing, it allows companies to easily and cost effectively communicate with their customer base and target and acquire new customers and retain existing ones.

Email marketing is often used in conjunction with other forms of traditional marketing such as direct mail and newspaper and magazine ads.

The advantage of using email is that it’s a lot quicker to get your message to a large number of people, it’s certainly cheaper and more often than not you see the results of email campaigns a lot earlier than other forms of traditional marketing.

Lets look at some of the basics of basics of email marketing

Mailing Lists

If you want to send emails to people you need their permission it’s a simple as that. We’re not talking about emails you may send to a friend or colleague, we’re talking about regular emails you may want to send to your customers or people who visit your website and want to know more about your products or services.

So if you want to use email marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy make sure you have peoples permission to do so – this is actually a legal requirement.

There are a number of ways you can do this. You could build your own opted in list via your website or you could buy an email list from a reputable data supplier to promote your list.

You can email those who people who have supplied an email address as part of a sale or if you are emailing them about a similar product they have purchased from you as long as you give those means to unsubscribe at any time.

Take every opportunity to grow your email list. Make your sign up box prominent on every page of your website. So many companies fail in this. Keep it simple, first name and email address are all you really need, you can collect other data later.

Make sure you keep your email list clean, remove those you ask to be unsubscribed, remove hard bounces and incorrectly formatted email addresses – this is best practice.


Send regular email campaigns, at least once a month if you can, fortnightly or weekly is even better.

Use a reputable Email Service Provider (ESP) to broadcast your campaigns through.

ESP’s provide the software to manage every aspect of a campaign from creating your message, through to managing your marketing lists and most importantly reporting on results.

Make sure you create both text and HTML versions of your email (ESP’s often have templates you can use) this is known as a mulitpart message, depending on your subscribers settings either the text of HTML version will be delivered.

The advantages of HTML include being able to add images to your message (don’t over do it) use different fonts and colours and generally make your message more attractive. HTML has the added advantage of being able to track the number of people who actually open your message.

Always test your campaigns. Ideally you should test every campaign you send, whether it’s subject lines, creative, landing pages, time of day, which day of the week. You can very simply set up a split test to do this.

Make sure your subject lines are relevant to the content of the email, it’s tempting to write an attention grabbing headline to get your email opened but if the content doesn’t match the subject line your efforts have been wasted.

Make sure you content is engaging and informative and actually fulfils the reason your subscriber joined your mailing is in the first place. Your content can be used to build awareness of your products or services, educate your customers and build your credibility, sell your products or keep them up to date with new developments or services but make sure it is relevant.

Measuring Results

The most common stats that everyone tends looks for when looking at the results of a particular campaign is the open rate, and while this is important to a point, it’s not the only stat you should be looking at.

Obviously it’s important that your email gets opened, but it’s also important that your subscribers act on the message it contains. Other important stats to look at include your click through rate – how many people clicked on the links in your email to find out about your new product or service, or visited your website, email is a great way of driving traffic back to your site.

You didn’t open your email and why? Was the timing wrong? Bad subject line?

Also look at the links people clicked on, did they just click on the first link in the email and ignore the rest, which links and which content proved the most popular.

If your email was selling something, how much did you sell? What was your return on investment for that campaign?

All of this information can be used to improve further campaigns.

This is the basics of email marketing, I will be building a complete series of guides around different aspects of email marketing so stay tuned for further updates. You can learn more about email marketing through companies like Return Path. I’d recommend joining their mailing list.

Phil Monk

I am a email marketing consultant with over 10 years experience running B2C, B2B and eCommerce campaigns. I’ve also run and managed SEO and PPC campaigns

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