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Email marketing 101: Meet your new favorite marketing channel

Wondering how to start an email marketing program? Get the step-by-step guide here.

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Email marketing 101 is officially in session. 

If you’re looking to build a solid foundation for your email marketing strategy, you’re in the right place. It’s well worth building—by 2025, it’s expected that over 376 billion emails will be sent and received every day

It goes without saying, then, that email is widely used and relied upon by your customers. But firing off emails without a strong strategy isn’t enough. You’re going to need to know how, why, and when to use email marketing for stellar results. I’ll walk you through it all.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a marketing channel that relies on emails to promote products or services. It’s also one of the most tried-and-true marketing channels out there, as 89% of marketers use email as their main lead-generation tool.

Email marketing benefits

With basic definitions out of the way, let’s talk about why email is so beloved in the marketing world.

  • It’s an established marketing method. As I mentioned, email is a marketing cornerstone. Need proof? In 2023 alone, email marketing revenue sat at more than $10 billion.
  • It can be easily automated. Like SMS, marketing emails can be automated in most popular email software platforms. That gives businesses a way to run their marketing with minimal effort and time.
  • It pairs well with SMS. Speaking of SMS, email and text marketing are a match made in heaven. Covering both kinds of inboxes gives you that much more reach with your customer base.
  • You’ll have an engaged subscribe base (opt-ins). Both SMS and email follow strict compliance guidelines. The golden rule of both channels is that subscribers must intentionally give their consent to receive marketing messages. That means your list is full of leads and customers who really want to hear what you have to say.

Use cases for email marketing

That’s the why, but when does email marketing give businesses an edge? Here are just a few common examples.

Making sales

Of course, sales are the heart of your organization. You can guide your leads through every step of the sales process with emails from first contact to customer support, checkout processes, and even order confirmations.

Spreading awareness

Granted, people need to get to know your brand before they buy from you, and email can help you achieve that, too. Consider sending out:

  • Informative blogs and newsletters
  • Interviews with you and your team
  • Customer testimonials

Onboarding new customers

If you provide a service or some sort of ongoing product, you can easily onboard your new customers with emails. Send out an easy-to-follow series with instructions, video guides, forms, and any other important steps your customers need to complete to work with you.

Promoting events

Got a big event coming up? Fill up the guest list by making sure your email subscribers know about it in advance. Set up a drip campaign with:

  • An initial announcement and invitation
  • Sneak previews of the event
  • Surveys to allow subscribers to weigh in on what they’d like to see
  • A last reminder to sign up and attend

Filling appointment slots

If you operate based on appointments, email is a great way to keep your calendar full and organized. You can send out your scheduling link directly to subscribers and automate reminders to go out 24 hours before appointment times to reduce no-shows.

Sending newsletters

Do you have news your subscribers should see? Give it to them in an easy-to-read and engaging newsletter format with a quick email. 

Bringing in and nurturing leads

Last but never least, email is your best bet for turning interested parties into leads and then into customers. Once new subscribers join your list, you can send them:

  • A welcome email telling them what they can expect to receive from you
  • An offer to set up a call to walk through any questions they might have
  • Featured spotlights of your best products or packages
  • Personalized recommendations based on their browsing or buying behaviors

How to start email marketing

Ready to get started? Here are your first few steps toward an effective email marketing strategy.

1. Find your tool.

There are many email service providers out there. Finding your tool first will give you the functionality you need like web forms to collect email subscribers, templates to easily start email campaigns, and analytics to review your performance.

2. Build your list. 

First things first: You’re going to need people to receive your emails. 

Choose a compliant opt-in method to build your list, like a form on your website or a consent checkbox on any paperwork you give out. 

3. Keep it simple.

Don’t get carried away with all the possibilities of email marketing to start. Nail down a couple of easy emails you can send to welcome subscribers or show off your brand and stick to the basic details recipients need to know.

4. Set your frequency.

This is yet another spot where it pays to start small. As you test out your email marketing, send one or two emails a month until you’re comfortable with the process (and have a reason to send more).

5. Be consistent.

On that note, stick to the frequency you set. Your subscribers are more likely to opt out if you go radio silent at random or send a dozen emails in one week out of nowhere. 

6. Explore automation. 

I mentioned the glory that is automated email marketing earlier, and it pays to get to know how that works.

Consider which emails you’ll need to send regularly or sequences for things like holidays that you can schedule in advance. Set them up in your chosen email software to save you time later.

7. Locate your analytics.

The best email marketing programs continually improve. To do that, you need to know where to find campaign analytics for your emails. Once you do, keep an eye on:

  • Delivery rate
  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Subscribers who’ve opted out

Then look at elements like your email subject lines, formatting, and link placements for opportunities to improve your campaigns’ performance.

Email marketing best practices

You’re almost ready to start sending. Before you do, here are a few important guidelines to follow.

  • Plan campaigns in advance. Your email campaigns should be cohesive. The best way to make that happen is to map out your emails per campaign or even per month/quarter. This will ensure they flow together well and don’t repeat themselves or leave out information.
  • Don’t send too many emails. You don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers. Our resident email expert, Nathan Ellering, says four emails per month is the sweet spot. Any more than that and performance starts to decline. 
  • Follow compliance guidelines. You’ll need to stay in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules to ensure that your emails get delivered successfully and your customers don’t opt out. That mostly means getting consent from every subscriber with a compliant opt-in.
  • Use a double opt-in. Want to be absolutely sure your subscribers have agreed to get your emails? Use a double opt-in. A double opt-in sends a confirmation email to each new subscriber with a link they must click to verify their subscription.

📖 Read more: Should you use SMS or email for 2-factor authentication?

Email marketing FAQs

Still got questions? You’re not alone. These are the top questions we’ve seen on the subject of email marketing for beginners. 

How do I start email marketing for beginners?

You can start your email marketing efforts by setting up a way to bring in subscribers, testing out a few emails to start, and monitoring each campaign’s performance.
Email marketing is easy. That’s one of the reasons so many businesses choose to use it as their primary marketing channel.
Yes, email marketing is still profitable. The average ROI for email marketing is $36 for each dollar spent. It’s both cost-effective and profitable.
Lily Norton
Lily Norton

Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.

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