Getting Started with Email


The first email sent was in 1971, making them about half a century old. Just a few years later, in 1978, Digital Equipment Corporation employee Gary Thuerk sent 400 emails which are now known as the first email marketing blast in history.

Gary’s unsolicited emails resulted in a lucrative $13 million in sales for the company (and a ton of privacy-related complaints). Though no longer as successful as that first electronic sales pitch in the 70s, email continues to be an effective channel for marketing. Traffic generated by email marketing has a 4.29% conversion rate on average — still higher than traffic coming from social media, search results, and direct visitors.

If you’re here reading this, then you’re probably already sold on the idea of email marketing but would like to learn more about how it works.

You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go into a brief definition of what it is and reiterate its importance. We’ll also share how you can get started and give you a few basics as you plan your first email marketing campaign.

Let’s get started.

What is Email Marketing?

Have you ever visited an online store and signed up for a newsletter, or provided your email when checking out? After doing so, you may have noticed that you started getting promotional emails, special discounts, and offers in your inbox from the company.

That’s what email marketing is in a nutshell.

Email marketing is when a company uses targeted emails to market its business to existing and potential customers. It’s the internet equivalent of handing out a pamphlet as someone leaves your retail store, or saying “Hey, check this out!” to someone who might be interested in what you’re offering.

Email marketing is any form of marketing that uses emails sent directly to a (potential) customer’s inbox to generate leads and sales.

And it’s an incredibly powerful, enticing tactic that you absolutely cannot do without. Why, you ask? Let’s have a look.

Why is Email Marketing Important?

Before we dive into the good stuff, consider this: other marketing channels leave you vulnerable to changes within these platforms. What do we mean by this? If, for example,  you pay to have your company or products marketed through Instagram or Facebook ads, their policies might change. If their policies change, the effectiveness of your ads becomes vulnerable. There’s even a chance that you could lose revenue from these platforms altogether.

Email doesn’t work like that. It’s your own system. There’s no third-party involvement that you depend on. You build your contact database. You decide who sees your content and when. It gives you complete control over who you reach and how you reach them. You don’t have to worry about algorithms or any other features that are beyond your control. 

Simply put, email marketing is great because:

  • You can reach customers in real-time.
  • You can actively stay in contact with your target and existing audiences.
  • Email marketing can be easily measured or quantified.
  • Email allows targeted messaging.
  • It’s also extremely affordable and can increase brand awareness.

This is what makes email marketing so fundamentally different, effective, and even preferable to many compared to other types of internet or social media marketing.

Now, let’s look at the good stuff — the statistics. After all, business owners love seeing proof in numbers, don’t they?

  • Twenty-nine percent of marketing professionals rate emails as the most effective channel for marketing their business. They prefer it over social media, SEO, and content marketing.
  • Seventy-two percent of customers prefer emails over other channels for business communication, with 52% preferring it over other tools. 
  • Twenty-one percent of emails are opened within an hour of being delivered.
  • The return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 4,200% (that’s $42 for every $1 you spend).
  • Thirty-seven percent of customers consider email to be the most effective channel for improving customer loyalty and increasing customer retention rates.
  • The decisions of 50.7% of customers can be influenced by the right targeted emails.

With 54% of small businesses already sending out marketing emails once a week, you’re probably going to want to get started sooner rather than later. If you want to join the 79% of small businesses that use email as a primary marketing tactic, we’ll show you how it’s done. 

Getting Started With Email Marketing

This guide will cover all the bases so that you can successfully implement email marketing.

First things first, let’s understand the anatomy of an email.

Anatomy of an Email

The parts of an email are divided into two groups:

  • The envelope is the basic information about the email that’s visible in the inbox before it’s opened.
  • The body is the actual content of the email that’s visible after it’s opened.

Understanding what these groups are will help you understand how to properly frame your emails.

Envelope Content

Envelope content is like an introduction to the email. It includes all the basics like who it’s from and when it was sent.

To be precise, the envelope includes:

  • Date and time it was sent
  • Sender’s name
  • Subject explaining what the email is about while enticing the reader to open it
  • Brand/company logo
  • Short preview of the email’s contents

Body Content

The body of the email refers to the entire message you want to send your customer. This usually includes information, offers, promotions, or anything else about your business.

Generally speaking, the body of an email contains:

  • The pre-header text is what appears in the preview of your email as part of the envelope content.
  • The header usually includes the company’s name and logo.
  • The navigation bar makes it easy for the reader to jump straight to the information they want to read, similar to a website or blog.
  • Preview banners promote urgent or important secondary messages (like a special sale or a limited deal).
  • Hero content is the most important message in the email. It includes all the information that was introduced in the subject.
  • Secondary content can provide additional information about the hero content, or promote something entirely different (such as a similar product or service as the one advertised in the hero content.
  • Tertiary content acts as a final CTA (call to action) that can encourage a reader to click and visit your website or social media handles to follow or make a purchase.
  • The footer includes legal disclaimers, unsubscribe links, copyright notices, postal addresses, etc.
  • The email signature usually includes details about your company or brand, but you can also use it as an added marketing tool.

The header, hero, and footer are standard elements, but the rest of the email’s body often differs from one email to the next depending on what it is about.

After learning what an email consists of, it’s time to understand how an email platform can facilitate better email marketing.

How to Choose the Right Email Platform

Choosing the right platform for email marketing is crucial because it can influence the effectiveness of your strategy. No matter how brilliant your concept or content is, you may not be able to execute it if you don’t have the right platform.

When selecting an email platform, consider the following:

  • Deliverability
  • Ease of use and integration
  • Features such as automation and response handling
  • Types of emails you want to send (Are you planning on sending transactional emails, promotional campaigns…?)
  • Pricing plans and cost per subscriber

There are several platforms you can choose from such as:

  1. MailChimp
  2. GetResponse
  3. SendinBlue
  4. ActiveCampaign
  5. Sender

When selecting a platform, simply consider whether its features and tools align with your needs.

After selecting one, it’s time to make the most of your new platform, and get started with email marketing campaigns!

Types of Email Campaigns

There are endless possibilities email marketing campaigns.

Here are some basic email types to get you started:

  • Welcome Series. These are emails that welcome your customer when they sign up on your website or for your newsletter. An engaging welcome mail also briefly tells them what you have in store for them.
  • Curation Emails. These are personalized emails containing lists or links to curated products that a particular customer might be interested in. They can be extremely profitable with a high conversion rate. Consider that 49% of shoppers make impulse buys after receiving personalized recommendations while 44% become repeat customers!
  • Referrals and Special Discounts. Every business should consider email campaigns about referrals, sales, special discounts, and other customer incentives.
  • Cart Abandonment Reminders. If customers abandoned their cart, give them a nudge by sending a reminder to complete the order (with a special discount to further incentivize them).
    • An abandoned cart email is a follow-up message sent to someone who leaves a website without purchasing the items in their online shopping cart. Abandoned cart emails are typically sent to people who go part-way through checkout and can recover around 10% of lost revenue.
    • 5 Abandon Cart Email Strategies: Showcase trust and credibility in your email., Shine the spotlight on a single product., Make the most of loyalty., Keep a longer-term connection., Give your emails a boost with other tools
    • Excellent Article about abandoned shopping carts. and
  • Survey and Feedback Requests. Send mails asking your customers for feedback or suggestions to let them know that you care about their experience. It also provides valuable insights that you can leverage to improve your marketing strategies and business model.
  • Newsletters. Newsletters are a great way to let customers know what you’re up to and build brand awareness. It improves your relationship with customers and creates a better image of your business.
  • Thank You Mails. Always thank your customers. It reinforces your image as a caring and professional business. Send thank-you emails for orders that were placed, reviews and feedback, or simply to thank your customers for their loyalty.

Which types of emails are you planning to incorporate for your brand? Before you finalize your first email blast, let’s look at how to optimize emails so customers are more likely to open and act on them.

How to Optimize Emails

Why is email optimization important?

  • Optimization increases the chance that your emails are opened. 
  • It improves your click rates and leads, which can affect your conversion rates.
  • It boosts engagement and interaction.

Here’s how you can optimize your email marketing:

  • Add a personal touch. An example of how to do this is by addressing the customer by their first name and referencing prior orders.
  • Use catchy subject lines.
  • Create compelling visual content by including videos and images. 
  • Include clear CTAs.
  • Provide shareable links.
  • Create mobile-friendly emails.

Once you’ve sent out your email blast, you need to find out how effective your campaign was. Thankfully, the digital age makes this easy by providing automatically generated metrics that marketers and managers can keep an eye on. Some important analytics to monitor include:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • List growth rate
  • Forward/email sharing
  • Engagement over time
  • Overall ROI
  • Mobile open and click rate
  • Domain open rate
  • Revenue per email
  • A/B test results

Each of these metrics is essential because it provides insights into what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to your email marketing strategy.

It’s important to know where you fall short or can do better so you can make adjustments and improvements accordingly.

Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing and Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone makes mistakes, but by understanding which customer pet peeves you must avoid, you have a higher chance of running a successful email marketing campaign.

Here are some general tips to keep you on the right track:

  • Ensure that you provide value to the customer with every email.
  • Avoid subject lines with cliches and clickbait.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on automation.
  • Avoid tunnel visioning your emails with just a single, sole focus.
  • Don’t overuse urgency tactics.
  • Send emails sparsely. Don’t overdo them.
  • Personalize your emails as much as possible.
  • Send newsletters once a month, or once every 2 weeks.

Before we finish this article, it’s also important to mention cold emailing.

What is a Cold Email and Why You Should Use It

Cold email refers to sending marketing emails to a list of prospective customers who have yet to interact with your website or brand. 

Cold emailing can help you get in touch with prospective clients and help you grow your customer base. It’s therefore worth investing in cold emails as long as they don’t become your primary strategy for generating sales.

Key Points in Building Your Welcome Emails

  1. Get your customer excited about joining.
  2. Take the time to create the look and feel of your design, and make sure the content matches your offering’s substance and the customer experience flow.
  3. Automate your email in the customer’s inbox within ten minutes of sign-up.
  4. Set expectations. Before asking for emails, let customers know what you’ll be emailing them and how often. In your subject lines, say what’s in the email.
  5. Thank your customers for signing up.
  6. Personalize with your customer’s name.
  7. Use these welcome emails as inspiration to create your campaign, and you’ll be on your way to building a beautiful relationship with your new customers!
  8. Promote events, customers, history, little-known facts, local info, etc.

Key Points in Building Your Welcome Emails

  • Emails
    1. Use opt-in, lead magnets, and tools to entice new email subscribers.
    2. Choosing your email provider.
    3. Make sure to tag them for what type of customer they are and send specific content to them.
    4.  Subscribe to other email newsletters with junk email. See which ones got you to open or click and why. Save for inspiration later.
  • Create Emails: Welcome Series & Abandon Shopping Cart
    1. Choose email provider: MailChimp, convertkit, mailerlite, send fox.
    2. Important Factors:
    3. Types of Emails you are going to send. Are they transactional (they did something on the site, which triggers an email.) For example, abandon a shopping cart and notify when something is back in stock, starting an automated email.
    4. Do you need to create a series of emails for a campaign?
    5. Here are the 11 most important: Welcome Series, Curation, Engagement, Referral, Discount, Cart Abandonment, Order Confirmation, Upsell, Win Back, Survey, and Thank You
    6. Deliverability
    7. Cost for the number of subscribers
    8. Ease of use
      1. Here are two articles to help you decide: Email Deliverability: A Detailed Look at the Best Performing Tools
  • Ask for sign-ups at events and in-store.
  • Create a consistent email plan
    1. Define your readers
    2. Determine Your Content

According to Convertkit

10 welcome email examples from creators just like you and dissected them into building blocks.

Here are the blocks that make up the anatomy of a welcome email:

  • A thank you and/or welcome note: 1-2 sentences that show your gratitude and joy for having this new subscriber join you
  • A reminder of why they joined: a brief summary of the signup page they came through or a lead magnet they downloaded (you can even share the link to the download again)
  • Your backstory: details about you and why you’re the right person to trust on this topic
  • Expectation setting: the main topics, focus, and frequency of your emails
  • Your core values: what you stand for as a creator and what drives your work
  • Question(s) for subscribers: asking why they subscribed and their main challenges to prompt replies to your emails and to learn more about who you serve
  • Safe-listing ask: prompt your new subscribers to add your email as a safe sender
  • Content promotion: one or more links to your most popular content
  • Platform promotion: one or more links to your other platforms (blog, YouTube, social media)
  • Friend invite prompt: encourage subscribers to invite friends to sign up for your newsletter
  • Note about next email: information on when they’ll receive the next email from you (like the next one in the welcome email sequence or the next regular newsletter)

Determine Your Sending Frequency and Goals

Tips for Newsletter Emails

  1. Make Sure to add value, can repurpose videos, social posts, podcasts to create email content
  2. Plan emails in advance
  3. Make sure to personalize your emails.
  4. Segment list based on products and topics
  5. Mobile-friendly (no large paragraphs of text)
  6. The goal is to educate + entertain


Email marketing is a useful and effective tool. The right strategy can help you improve brand awareness, generate interest, drive more users to your websites and social media accounts, push customers further down the sales funnel, and ultimately boost sales.

The key is to grow your email list while also improving your conversion and retention rates. To grow your email list, you have to ensure that your emails provide value to your customer, are appealing, and are personal.

Now that you know the basics of email marketing, it’s time to plan your first email marketing campaign. We hope that you’ll keep these tips and guidelines in mind so that you can reap the many benefits of email marketing.

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