Email Marketing For Beginners, A Complete Roadmap

a banner that illustrates the concept of email marketing for beginners

If you’re looking for a guide on email marketing for beginners, look no further. This is a step-by-step roadmap that we crafted to make sure that you can implement email marketing in an easy and super efficient way. And as it turns out, if you’re a small business, implementing email marketing is kind of a high priority.

Why is this so? Well, you’ve probably heard the stats. Email marketing provides the highest return on investment of any marketing method, channel or platform. So why isn’t every business using email marketing? Well, the answer is simple, and there are specific groups to blame for this.

On the one hand, “marketing gurus” make money by making marketing more complex and convoluted than it has to be, just so they can seem like they’re selling the secret to nuclear fission or something like that.

And on the other hand, marketing platforms and vendors make their money by hyping up and selling features that they use to upsell you on more expensive products and plans. 

Because of this, the email marketing space is flooded with an overwhelming amount of information that you don’t need, and shouldn’t worry about when you’re just starting out. Instead, you need a roadmap. A step-by-step guide where you can invest the least amount of effort and time and start getting the best bang for your buck. 

Forget about the fancy advanced stuff for now

We love the advanced fancy strategies and features just as much as anyone else. In fact we have made some serious investments in implementing all of them. So when the time comes, the advanced features will be right here, waiting for you. It’s just that as a beginner, you want to take it step-by-step. This is crucial to kill the overwhelm and procrastination, and get some immediate, easy wins.

The fact is simply this: if you implement basic email marketing today, your business will see a massive boost in sales and profits. And then, you can gradually master more advanced topics, one-by-one. That’s what this roadmap is all about. Be sure to bookmark this page and use it as a reference guide. With that said, let’s look at the steps, one by one.

Get on the right platform

Most platforms out there see users as a wallet to squeeze the most purchases out of. They primarily accomplish this by constantly adding new features that are “decorative” in nature and meant to impress beginners. The focus is almost entirely on what the software can do, and almost no focus on your business, your needs or your results.

This is different with Emercury where we see everyone using our platform as a “business partner” of sorts. Our philosophy is that we want your business to get as much benefit from email marketing as possible. That in turn means you will grow your business and need more of our services.

The software and the features are just the way in which we help you achieve your business goals. This is why our pricing tiers are almost entirely based on levels of service, not “features”. In fact, wherever possible, we try to make a feature available on all tiers. This is why most features are available on most tiers. We do not believe in using artificial feature unlocking as a way of pressuring people into an upgrade. The primary difference between the tiers is in the level of service.

And the best part if you’re just starting out with email marketing? 

We have the most generous free plan out there. We hold almost nothing back, which means you can leverage email to start adding profits to your business immediately. 

When your list grows or you need more personalized service, you will want to upgrade. This is a great incentive for us to make sure you succeed at email marketing and it is why we offer such an amazing free tier.

Be sure to grab your username for a forever-free plan while we still have it. Plenty of people have been convincing me that it is too generous and we need to stop giving it away. If, however, you grab a forever-free account today, you get to keep access to this super-generous plan for life.

Setup a simple welcome sequence

In terms of return on your investment, making sure to onboard your subscribers is probably on the top of the list. This is for several reasons.

The main reason is to eliminate the number one mistake I see amongst most marketers. This is a mistake that destroys many email lists and renders them useless.

You see, most small businesses will tend to create an email list and keep adding leads and customers to this list, and then never email them. The excuse is usually something like “we were too busy and overwhelmed and never got around to sending emails to the list”.

The problem with this is that when you do eventually email your list, these people will have no clue who you are and many will mark your emails as spam, or not open them at all. This will kill your deliverability, which is something we will talk about later.

The easy way to solve this is to create an automated welcoming sequence

Notice the key word there “automated”. This is another reason why I’m recommending this as the first step. It allows you to get into email automation in an easy way and allows you to see massive, immediate results from it.

And I want to emphasize something here. You want to keep it simple to start with. While our service allows you to get super-advanced with your automations, this is not where you want to begin. 

You will just want to create a new journey in our journey builder. Inside of this journey you will set up a simple automated sequence that starts the moment they get added to the list. Just drag in a trigger module that does this. 

Then drag in an email module into the journey. You can configure this to be am email that welcomes them to the list, talks a little bit about your brand, or maybe even offers a coupon.

Next, you want to drag in a “delay” block to tell the automation to wait (for example) 7 days. And then drag in another email block to send another email. You can repeat this a couple of times until you have a chain of emails that covers the first 2-5 weeks of membership on your list.

This is the single best thing you can do when starting out in email marketing

Now, while you would ideally email people outside of just this welcoming sequence, this sequence is the very least that you can do to get started. It is something you have to implement from day one. 

This ensures that even if you get sidetracked and stop emailing your list for some time, every subscriber is still well acquainted with you. As such, you will never have that dreaded segment of subscribers who have no clue why you’re emailing them or who you are. A good welcoming sequence will make sure that never happens.

To learn more about welcoming sequences, see our guide on creating a welcome email series.

Understand the two types of marketing emails

These days it is very popular to almost exclusively talk about email automation. I think this is because marketers are still giddy about all the new automation features we’ve come up with over the past years and the opportunities that it opens up.

That has come at the expense of not talking much about broadcast emails which are just as important as automated emails. In fact, some of your most profitable days in your business will happen when you do well-crafted and segmented broadcasts, but more on that later.

What is the difference between the two?

A broadcast is when you schedule an email, and have it go out at the same time to a larger group of people. For example you might create a special “new product launch” offer and set it to “broadcast” to a group of subscribers on a given date at a given time.

On the other hand, an automated email is one where the automation system sets the sending time, based on a criteria that you’ve set. For example you might set the system to send an email with a special offer an hour after a subscriber visits your pricing page.

When should you use which?

The short answer is that anything that can lead to a more personalized experience can be automated. Whereas things that are one-off and universal should be broadcast.

For example a welcoming sequence is the perfect example because it is based on when an individual joins a list. It wouldn’t make sense to send a “welcome to this list” sequence to everyone at the same time, as some people joined today, and others joined 2 weeks ago.

On the other hand if you have a webinar coming up and want to let people know about it, then obviously, that would be a broadcast.

Now I’m keeping it simple here because this is a beginner’s guide. But if you’re interested in further distinctions, read our popular guide featured at Mailcon: Automation vs. Bulk. I will warn you though that it is not a beginner’s discussion and some of the complexities discussed are not something you want to worry about for now. So you might want to bookmark it for a bit later on.

Learn the basics of deliverability

I have a fun question for you. How much money will an email make if it never reaches the subscriber’s inbox? Well, obviously, a grand total of zero dollars, right? And while this might be an obvious answer, there is a reason that I ask the question, and it concerns a huge mistake that most email marketers make. And many of them wish they knew about this when they were starting out with email marketing.

You see, there is a hidden industry secret in the email marketing space. Most email marketing platforms do not care (too much) if your emails are getting delivered or not. They charge you for sending your emails, not for actually delivering them. Many people are shocked when they learn this for the first time.

And the sad part is that some people spend years building up huge lists, only to learn that they’ve been losing out on a ton of profits because nobody told them about deliverability. This is usually the point at which they move to Emercury as we’re quite obsessed with helping your emails reach people. Even a small boost in deliverability can mean a huge increase in profits, which is why so many experienced list owners are in such a rush to move to Emercury.

No need to wait, you can do it right from day one

When it comes to deliverability, the reason that it is omitted from discussions is not because it is all that advanced or complex. It is omitted because it is not a “fancy topic” that makes the platforms money. They make most of their profit selling fancy decorative features to beginners.

You don’t have to first build up a huge list and spend years sending emails that fail to deliver. No need to waste profit like that.

While there are more advanced topics and strategies in deliverability, the 90-10 rule applies here as well. You can actually prevent most deliverability failures by doing a few simple things.

The first is to set up some technical things that ensure high deliverability. The good news is that setting these up is part of the onboarding process when you get an Emercury account.

The second thing is that you want to apply the tips in this guide. The good news is that all the same factors that improve engagement and conversion, also boost your deliverability.

This includes the aforementioned welcome series, and also most of the things we will discuss in a second here, including personalization, consistency, segmentation and a focus on engagement.

Implement basic personalization

Personalization is similar to automation because it can be super powerful and bring you amazing results if you utilize it. And just like automation, it is very easy to be led astray and get overwhelmed by how complex it can get.

These days you will see marketers get very excited talking about how you can use advanced features to create a hyper-personalized experience. This is where no two people have the same experience when they join your list. 

In fact, the journey can be completely custom tailored in real-time where they get different emails and content based on things such as custom events. For example if they visit a page on your website, or perform some action in your emails. It can even respond based on changes in other software through the use of integrations and webhooks.

But those discussions are a bit advanced and complicated to start off with, and not necessary at the moment. The good news is that basic personalization will give you 80% of the same benefits and it is very easy and quick to implement.

Just start out by using merge tags

This is something that we recommend to everyone because it is so incredibly easy, yet it gives such great benefits in terms of an increased number of opens, clicks, sales and deliverability rates.

So what are merge tags? Well, have you ever received an email from a newsletter where they referred to you by your first name, your company name or city? Well, they weren’t manually writing that email just for you.

What they did is that they wrote the email and they just inserted a {first_name} “merge tag” where they wanted your name to display.

And the best part? This is super easy to do in Emercury. Just go to the email editor, and choose the merge tag you want to insert. Simple!

But the best news is that you can start using these tags from day one. You can use them in your subject line, in the emails themselves, and yes, in that automated welcome sequence. And, you can (of course) also use them in broadcasts. So really, there is no excuse not to start using them from day one.

You would literally be leaving money on the table by failing to utilize them. This is because even a basic usage of merge tags results in  a measurable increase in email opens, clicks and engagement.

Then, you can move onto “smart personalization”

This is something special and unique to Emercury. We always wondered if there was a way to make personalization as simple as it is with merge tags, yet more advanced.

This is how we came up with smart personalization. It is this really cool feature where the email can show different content based on the conditions that you define. It is just as easy to use as the merge tags, but offers a whole new level of advanced personalization. You can learn more about it in the announcement post over here.

Create a consistency plan

I kind of hinted about this in the point about creating a welcome sequence. One of the major issues that I see with email marketers is that they procrastinate on their email marketing and talking to their list.

Some will go months without sending a single email to their list, only to suddenly get motivated about email marketing and bombard their list. This is a recipe for disaster and almost asking for trouble. In fact it is certain to destroy your deliverability.

The one thing you can do to limit the damage is to create a solid welcome sequence. However, this is the very least that you can do. A much better solution is to commit to some level of consistency in your emailing strategy.

And achieving it is easier than you might think

Notice I am talking about just consistency, and not consistency combined with a high frequency and volume. Even if your subscribers received an email from you every 2-3 weeks, consistently, you’ll do fine. Much better than if you “get busy” and send zero emails for months, only to then get motivated and send a couple of emails a week all at once.

So the biggest trick here is this: you can stockpile and plan emails ahead of time. You’re not required to come up with them right before you send them. When you are in that kind of “motivated about email marketing” phase, sit down and prepare enough material for the next 3-4 months. This will ensure you don’t get any of those gaps.

In addition to this, as you progress in email marketing, you will find more and more things that you can turn into an email automation sequence. That is, you don’t need to only have a welcome automation sequence and do everything else as a broadcast.

You can get to a point where you have multiple, longer sequences and so the consistency doesn’t have to rely on just broadcasts.

Learn about segmentation

When it comes to creating a personalized experience, utilizing segments is crucial, and they are the next logical step in addition to utilizing personalized content features such as merge tags.

So what is a segment? Well, to answer this question, I need you to understand what personalization boils down to in the first place. It is all about the idea that people are different and require different things.

An ideal level of personalization would be where you have a sales person manually email every single person, one-on-one. They would cater everything to that one specific person. Obviously however, that wouldn’t make sense from a practical standpoint.

Segments are the next best thing and they are based on the understanding that people generally fall into several categories or types. This will depend on your business, but your customers will generally differ based on several factors that determine what is the best way to communicate with them, and what to offer them.

Let’s take a simple example

One obvious way to differentiate leads is to split them into cold leads, and warm leads. You could then market to each segment differently.

With a platform like Emercury, creating such segments is exceptionally easy. You can just go into our advanced segment builder and combine a couple of conditions. 

For example you might set conditions to include everyone who has opened an email in the past 10 days or clicked on email links in the past 30 days. For the cold leads you would do the opposite and choose conditions that signify lower interest. 

And then, you can proceed to send different automations or broadcasts to the cold leads vs the warm leads. That is, you can give them a different experience.

Now, this is just one simple example meant to illustrate what it means to create a segment. However, you can slice your audience in many ways, and based on any combination of criteria that you can imagine. These conditions can be based on behaviors, custom field values or tags. 

Check out our announcement post for the advanced segment builder to learn more.

Understand the iteration process

Do you want to learn the single best secret to becoming better at email marketing in a fast and straightforward way? It involves utilizing a process that ensures you’re always getting better and increasing your conversions and profits.

All you have to do is to open the reports in Emercury and start studying your reports. But what are you looking for exactly? Well, you’re looking to see whether a strategy or tactic is increasing or decreasing your engagement. And fortunately, this is exceptionally easy to find out. You just have to look at the open rates and clickthrough rates.

This will inform you exactly what is working and what isn’t working. And then, once you get the feedback, you can iterate and try something else. Then, look at the reports again, and iterate again.

Understanding this iterative process and understanding how engagement leads to more profit is a prerequisite before moving onto more advanced email marketing topics.

Look into the more advanced topics

And finally we come full circle. This is the kind of stuff that most platforms and marketing gurus focus on. And all because it sounds and looks cool. And yes, it can be quite exciting to implement. However this is only true if you have the foundations set. And that is what all the previous steps in this guide were about.

If you do indeed set a good foundation and apply the steps before this one, it might be a good time to start looking into more advanced email marketing.

For that, there are several things you can look into. The first is that you might start exploring custom events and how you can use them to create more advanced automations and personalization.

Next, you might want to learn about how automation can become more advanced over time. Again, you should be starting out with simple automations. 

But once you’re comfortable with those, you can gradually make them more complex. Here is our step-by-step roadmap to mastering automations, from start to advanced.

Then, you might want to look into the cool features such as incoming webhooks, outgoing webhooks and explore our marketplace and learn how to build an integrated stack.

In addition to all of this, you can start learning more about advanced deliverability strategies and tactics. But if you get to this point, I think the easiest way is to just get an Emercury plan that includes a dedicated deliverability analyst who can help you take deliverability to the next level.

Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to see how automation can be implemented in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about best practices. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Be warned, we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.


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