Email Marketing – The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started

Email marketing has been the undisputed king of all marketing channels for a long time. It blows everything else out of the water when it comes to conversions, engagement, and a return on your investment.

Is social media over-taking email marketing? Not really. In fact, the smartest marketers use social media to get more people into their lists.Click To Tweet

If you’re new to the game, it might seem like email marketing is “taking a backseat to social networks”, but don’t be fooled by appearances. The best money is still in the list. And if anything, the most profitable social marketing is the one used to build email lists.

Reasons to use email marketing

There are many reasons to include email marketing in your digital sales arsenal. The most important reason? Email marketing is the most effective way to connect with your customers on a more personal level.

Today’s customers demand attention and support. Email marketing helps you establish a bond of trust while promoting your brand. This leads to higher engagement and conversions.

Email is the widest-reaching communication channel. In fact, there are far more email accounts than Facebook and Twitter combined. Also, most of us have at least one email account and we routinely check our emails at least once a day. So, if you want to reach your prospects and clients in a way that builds deeper relationships, nothing comes even close to email marketing.

Email converts better than search and social media

No other marketing channel comes even close to the conversion rates you get from your email list. And that ties directly to the first thing we discussed above. Email marketing is the best way to build a deep and meaningful relationship with your customers. This level of trust is what allows for the high conversion rates you can only see with email marketing.

Email marketing is easy to set up and deploy

This is especially true if you use a good email platform like Emercury. We invest a lot of time and effort to make sure you succeed. Our philosophy is that your success directly affects our success. This is why we’re so passionate about helping you get the most out of your campaigns.

Compared to other forms of marketing, email marketing is much easier to set up and start getting results quickly. That isn’t to say that there’s “no learning curve”. Just that you get to see results in terms of actual profits much sooner than with any other form of marketing. Email marketing asks for less of you and gives more back.

Setting up email marketing can be easy

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to do first

As said before, email marketing is indeed easy to use. But you still have to know how to do it. It takes a bit of planning, strategy, and research on your target audience to see what makes them tick. To ensure you’re off to a great start, here’s what you need to do.

Define your goals

Know your goals and expectations. This way, you’ll be able to shape your email marketing strategy towards a concrete goal instead of deploying random promotions.

Ask yourself – what are you trying to accomplish through email marketing? Grow a list, nurture relationships with your audience, boost sales or increase brand awareness?

Want to get the most out of email marketing? Learn how to define and set up clear, quantifiable and realistic goals.Click To Tweet

Of course, your goals can change as your business evolves. But be sure to keep them realistic and quantifiable.

Have a clear picture of who your ideal subscribers are. Knowing their personas and preferences is key to designing valuable, targeted content.

Choose the right email marketing platform

A successful campaign deployment requires a reliable email marketing platform. It facilitates campaign design and development. You can use it to segment your audience into groups and clean up your mailing lists.

You can also schedule autoresponders for specific events and triggers. Quality platforms come with tracking features, allowing you to monitor and measure user engagement.

Make sure your platform supports the designing and developing of custom email marketing templates. Attractive email design is key to email marketing success. Go for an eye-catching template that displays well on all devices. Many people check their email on the go, so make sure your message layout allows for fast and easy reading.

If you need something custom, we can help. Emercury’s designer team can assist you in streamlining your concepts into an awesome email theme. You can test your template on all major desktop and mobile email clients, and revise it as your needs change.

Set up ways to collect email addresses for your mailing list

There are many ways to collect email addresses. Start by placing signup forms on your high-traffic pages, such as blog posts or landing pages. You can also use your social media presence and invite followers to subscribe. Or, you can host an event and invite guests to sign up for your newsletter.

However you decide to collect addresses, make sure they belong to people that want to hear from you. Emailing random people that have no idea who you are is dangerous on so many levels. It can damage your deliverability and sender reputation beyond repair.

Think quality, not quantity. A handful of genuinely interested people is much better than a bunch of strangers that have no clue who you are.

The best way to do this is using the double opt-in (confirmed opt-in) approach. It requires people to verify they want to join your list by clicking a link in the confirmation email.

Choose prominent, high-conversion locations for your signup forms. Place them in a feature box, the top of the sidebar, your website footer or a popup box. Try different locations to see what works. Include several signup forms throughout your website.

Keep the signup form short and simple. Most people find filling forms bothersome so don’t ask for too many details. Name and address will suffice.

Make sure collected emails belong to people that want to hear from you

Create intriguing copy and CTA to attract subscribers fast

Your signup form should state clearly what your new subscribers can expect from you. Will it be service promotions, blog posts, product updates, or newsletters?

It’s imperative that you deliver what you have promised. Otherwise, your emails can easily end up in the spam folder.

To get people to subscribe, you need an attractive call to action. In other words, you need to give them a reason to subscribe. Keep it short, but attention-grabbing. Make sure the CTA complements the copy in a way that encourages subscriptions.

Add an incentive to your signup form. Offer people a discount, an eBook, whitepaper, or an exclusive gift. Offering something of value can also swing the undecided visitors in the right direction.

Set up your welcome email

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Therefore, your welcome email needs your full attention. It’s the first contact between your brand and your subscribers. The right welcome message can pave the way towards a long, successful relationship.

Don’t forget – welcome emails have high open rates. So make them attractive to foster engagement and conversions.

What should you include in your welcome email? Start with a brief intro of your business. Explain what type of content people can expect from you and how often. Reassure them that they’ve made the right decision and that their information will be safe with you. Ask your new subscribers to add you to the “safe senders” list.

If possible, give them the option to change their settings. It will allow people to choose the content they’d like to receive and its frequency. It will also reduce the chances of your emails being deleted or marked as spam.

Understand the kinds of emails you will send and how

As an email marketer, you need to understand that there are two major types of emails you can send. If you understand this crucial distinction, you will have a much easier time mastering the art of email marketing.

Newsletters are value-packed emails that you send to your subscribers at regular intervals

If you want to make it as an email marketer – you need to have a “relationship” with your subscribers. And this means that your subscribers hear from you on a regular basis. No, this doesn’t mean that you send them a different “please buy my product” email every other day. It means sending them emails that focus on giving value first, in exchange for building trust and recognition.

Just consider the alternative. Imagine that you get onto an email list, and you only ever hear from them when they have a special offer and want to sell you something. Doesn’t sound too good, does it? The goal with newsletter campaigns is to stay in touch and nurture relationships with your audience and customer base. 

Direct offer emails are designed to boost sales on an immediate basis

This is when you send an email that has a more direct call-to-action about something specific. It can be about the new product you’re launching, an event you’re organizing or a product discount. The focus is on getting people to take action. These emails unabashedly promote or offer something in a direct way.

Unlike the value-giving emails, these offer-centric emails will be more infrequent and occasional. At least that’s the best practice if you want to stay on good terms with your subscribers.

Don’t get confused if you notice an overlap between the two types of emails

These are more of a useful concept than something that’s defined by any hard and fast rule. The main difference between the two is the focus. With the regular emails, you’re focusing on building a relationship first and foremost.

Your regular relationship-building emails can and should offer and sell things as well. It’s just that selling is something of a secondary nature to those emails. The primary focus is on giving value. Your regular newsletter might have something like 10 useful tips, and only mention that you sell a service at the end of the email, merely as a gentle reminder.

Most marketers automate the relationship-building regular emails

Since giving the subscriber a regular dose of value-packed emails is so crucial – most marketers automate this process. This is done through autoresponders and automations. If you’re just starting out, you will want to build at least one autoresponder to make sure that your subscribers get regular attention.

An autoresponder is basically a pre-programmed sequence of emails that you prepare in advance. You then tell the autoresponder when to send each email. Basic autoresponders work on timing. Send this email on day 1, send this other email on day 3, etc… 

This is mostly going to be “evergreen content” and you might use the same content for years to come. You can simply put it into an autoresponder and have each new subscriber receive the same sequence. 

There are several levels of automation in terms of complexity.

The first level of automation is simply having one general basic autoresponder. This means that each new subscriber to your list gets the same set of emails in the same order. While you can create a more individualized experience as you get more experienced, building a general autoresponder is a decent start for any new email marketer.

The second level of automation involves using autoresponders in a more advanced way. You can have different autoresponders go to different segments of your list or trigger in different circumstances.

And then at the highest level you can also use fine-grained email automation. For example Emercury offers you a very advanced automation builder where you can build a supremely individual and custom-tailored experience for each subscriber.

One-off campaigns (broadcasts) are also a key part of a marketer’s toolbox

While the idea of having everything on auto-pilot sounds nice, a good email marketer will also use one-off campaigns in their strategy as well (sometimes called “broadcasts”). Certain offer-centric emails can only be done in this fashion since the offer itself is one-off.

Perhaps you’re having a special discount this month, and want to inform your list. In this case you would “broadcast” to your list by sending a one-off campaign informing them about this discount.

Depending on your industry, you might have to send most of your regular relationship-building emails in this fashion as well. If your readers need very current information, you can’t automate as much of your value-giving emails.

For example, if you sell personal development advice, you might prepare an email that gives good advice and use that email for years to come. You might change the order in which you send it, move it around the different autoresponders that you’ve built – but the content itself is going to be just as current today as it was 4 years ago. Most of the emails that your subscriber gets can be such “evergreen” emails.

If you’re in the SAAS field, however, your subscribers will be interested in getting the most current content, whether this is industry news or the most current advice. In this case, you will have to regularly write good value-packed emails with current content and send those out as campaigns.

Your strategy will mix and match each of these

As you learn more about email marketing, you will learn when to build an autoresponder, and when to prepare a campaign. This is true both for your offer emails and your relationship-building emails. 

You can make offers in an automated way, or as a campaign. And you can provide value on a current basis or automate it. A good email marketer will have a mix of each.

As we discussed earlier, some offers are current. You might be organizing an event this month and want to promote it to your list. This is something that you will broadcast to your list as a one-off campaign.

But you can also have “evergreen offers”. You can actually write an email that contains an offer that is always current. And you might place that email inside an autoresponder.

The same is true in terms of your relationship-building emails

As we discussed above – the regular emails that your subscriber gets can be part of an automated sequence or be sent out as a broadcast. Depending on your business and the email list, you will have a mix of each.

For example, a subscriber might sign up to your list and mostly get emails from your autoresponder. This is a premade sequence that contains evergreen content. But you would also occasionally send them current content as a campaign. Perhaps something happens in the news, and you send out a campaign with advice that ties into it.

Or perhaps your mix might be the opposite. Perhaps most of the valuable content that you send has to be current, so most of those emails are broadcasts that you write just before they receive them. But then you also have an autoresponder with evergreen content to make sure they receive enough emails from you on a regular basis.

As an email marketer, you have several types of campaigns at your disposal.

Tips for awesome email marketing

Now that you’re all set, here are some useful tips to help you become an email marketing guru in no time.

Deliver quality content

The best way to keep your audience engaged is to provide valuable content every time. Above all, your emails should be helpful. It’s never a good idea to send emails that openly urge readers to buy. Instead, send emails that people can learn from or use to solve a problem, whether they use your products or not. Once people start to regard you as a reliable source of information, they will keep coming back for more.

The subject matter, well, matters. See what people like to read the most so you can provide content on the topics they are interested in. Keep in mind that people’s tastes and preferences tend to change with time. So, stay alert and monitor all trendy topics.

Don’t forget to proofread your campaigns. This will help you come across as a professional, reputable seller, and avoid spam filters.

Readability matters

Your emails should be easy to read on any device. People tend to scan through messages quickly on their way to work, while walking or on the commute. Use a readable size font and apply strong color contrast. This will make it easier for everyone to read your emails outdoors. Before you send your emails, test how they display on different devices and email clients.

Are you considering readability when crafting your email campaigns? You might be putting off a ton of subscribers without realizing it.Click To Tweet

Consider the length of your emails. If your messages go on forever, people will likely lose interest. Keep them focused and precise. Make sure your CTAs and links are easy to find. And, avoid image overload. Otherwise, it may take much longer for your emails to display.

Segment your lists

In email marketing, it’s important to categorize contacts based on their interests and behavior. Tailoring your lists to fit specific buyer profiles will allow you to create highly targeted campaigns.

List segmentation also helps you maintain your deliverability and sender reputation. It basically ensures you send only the most relevant content to the right people. Failing to do this may result in poor engagement and trigger spam complaints.

You can segment your lists based on a variety of criteria and the available data on your subscribers. More data allows better segmentation and higher relevancy of content.

Segment your contacts based on age, gender, education, or income. You can also use past purchases, amount spent, likes and dislikes, and segmentation criteria.

You can segment your email lists based on a variety of criteria and the available data on your subscribers

Decide on timing and frequency

Sending times play an important role in your campaign effectiveness. People have different email reading habits. Some prefer the mornings, others are night owls. Experiment with sending times to find out the best ones for your subscribers.

Be consistent. Maintain a constant presence in the inbox of your subscribers. This means emailing them on a regular basis, not just on specific occasions. Long gaps in communication won’t do you any favors, as people will probably forget everything about you.

Mailing frequency is another important issue. Deliver what you promised in the signup form. Don’t send more often than you promised, or much less than that. Both mistakes can be equally bad.

Test everything yourself

If you search the web for the best ways to use email marketing, you’ll get a torrent of often conflicting advice. This can be very confusing, to say the least. Hence, the best way to make your campaigns work is to test, analyze and adjust based on results.

Experiment with all aspects of your campaign. Subject line, content, mailing frequency, engagement. See what people like about your content, what links they click, and which emails they delete.

There are several metrics you want to keep your eye on. Opens and unopens, bounces, click-throughs, unsubscribes, spam complaints and forwards/shares.

Emercury’s reporting tool can help you track how your campaign is unfolding. This will give you a clear picture of the ways and extent to which people engage with your content.

For a more in-depth view, you can use Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. Google Analytics displays the subscriber journey after they click through to your website. For instance, the time spent on your site, the pages visited, campaigns that brought them to the website, etc.

You can use Google Analytics to monitor website traffic

Keep your lists sparkling clean

Regular and thorough list hygiene is key to email marketing. It helps you identify bad addresses, avoid spam filters and stay compliant with anti-spam laws.

Make sure to remove the following:

  • Bad addresses, such as invalid, malformed or duplicate addresses.
  • Unsubscribes – you are legally bound to remove these addresses from your list as soon as people opt out.
  • Any addresses not obtained through legitimate opt-in ways, i.e. purchased or rented lists.
  • Bounces – addresses that fail to get delivered.

Hard bounces are due to permanent reasons, such as an invalid or non-existent address. You should delete them at once.

Soft bounces are due to temporary problems, such as full inbox or server failure. Keep them on the list but make sure to monitor them. If the bouncing continues, you’ll have to delete them to protect your sender reputation.

  • Inactive subscribers – remove them after 6 months of inactivity. But before this final step, make one last attempt to win them back. Send them an email that allows them to change their email preferences. Or offer them an incentive, such as a special offer or a discount.

So, are you ready for your first marketing campaign? If yes, try Emercury for free and start your ultimate email marketing journey today!

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