What Is Email Marketing And How To Get Started With It

If you dropped the ball on email marketing last year, 2021 is the perfect year to start or improve your email marketing. But what is email marketing, and how do you create a campaign? Let's talk about all of it in this article.

Email marketing has been around for years. According to Smart Insights, the first email marketing campaign happened in 1978, created by Gary Thuerk, aka "Father of Spam." He sent an email promoting DEC machines to 400 users via Arpanet.

What would have been a total oddity for receivers resulted in $13 million worth of sales for DEC machines. So from the get-go, email marketing had already proven its effectiveness.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that is very effective, which includes sending emails to prospects and customers. An effective email marketing campaign should convert prospects into customers and turn one-off buyers into loyal and happy repeat customers resulting in positive word of mouth.

According to litmus,

What Is Email Marketing - ROI

With that return average, your email marketing investments can have some positive payoffs. 

Email marketing also continues to beat other digital marketing channels, like social media and paid search, as shown in the graph below.

Email remains the most effective tool in nurturing leads and boosting customer loyalty despite the growth of social media and unsolicited spam email. Spamming is not part of our list of email marketing best practices, by the way. 

There are many reasons why you should prioritize email marketing. Here are 3 of them:

1. The #1 Communication Channel Is Email

Did you know that 99% of us check our email daily? Did you know that 58% of users check their email before checking out social media or the news? Here's proof.

What Is Email Marketing - Email usage

2. You Own and Control Your Email List

Unlike any social media account, which could be suspended or deleted at any time without notice, you build and control your email list. No one can take those leads away from you.

Think of your email list as something you own instead of rent. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather own something.

3. Email Converts Better

Here's a list of email marketing stats that prove its conversion power:

  • Email open rate across industries is 22.86%.
  • You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from email than you are from Twitter.
  • Autoresponders drive an 88.7% open rate.
  • An email has a 44% open rate if it is transactional.
  • 80% of professionals believe that email marketing retains customers.

With that said, email marketing is an incredibly effective marketing channel you don't want to overlook.

How To Get Started With Email Marketing

Getting started with email marketing involves several moving pieces, but that doesn't mean it has to be complicated. Here are ten things you need to get started with email marketing to help you out:

1. Pick Your Email Marketing Service

You need to choose an email marketing service provider if you're serious about email marketing. It is the only way you can leverage email marketing automation to effectively deliver messages to large groups of contacts or subscribers.

Email templates can help you grow and manage your email list and track open and engagement features with your campaigns and messages if you choose an email marketing service provider.

Here's a list of email marketing software and services , but here are some of the most popular:

2. Collect Contacts For Your Email List

Most businesses have existing contacts to build an email list.

In gathering contacts, always consider the customers and people you already have a relationship with. It could be the business contacts you email with regularly or a few supportive friends and family members.

Even if you're building an email list entirely from scratch, don't get discouraged. Here are simple things you can do to create an email list:

  • Put a paper sign-up sheet near your register.
  • Add an online sign-up form to your website.
  • Promote a social media sign up to your followers and loyal customers. 

Now, whatever you do, NEVER buy an email list.

Remember that the purpose of email marketing is to build and nurture relationships. Sending emails to a few QUALITY contacts is more impactful than blasting and potentially spamming messages to people that don't even care about your business.

3. Enter Your Contacts To Your Email Marketing Account

Once you have an account with an email marketing service provider and an initial email list to send an email to, the next step is to add your contacts to your account.

What Is Email Marketing - Add A Contact

Start by uploading a contact list from a current Excel or Google sheet or importing contacts from a Gmail or Outlook account to ActiveCampaign or MailChimp. It will be best to arrange your contacts into separate lists (or tags) based on what you know about them.

For example, if you do web design services, create separate email lists for clients who inquired about website development versus those interested in a website redesign. That way, you can send a targeted email based on their needs.

4. Create And Automate Your Welcome Email

A welcome email is the first email your new subscribers will receive from you, and first impressions will matter.

What Is Email Marketing - Welcome Email

It's also vital to set up a welcome email to reach customers at a time when they're highly engaged with your business.

Ensure that you're delivering value right away with your welcome email because the open rate will be higher than the average. Here are simple things you can include in your welcome email:

  • Start with a warm greeting.
  • Provide an overview of what customers can expect to receive from you in the future.
  • Offer value right away like a free 30-day subscription, checklist, or cheat sheet.

Once set up, your chosen email marketing service provider will automatically send your welcome email to all new contacts.

Hint: Sign up for the masterclass below and you'll experience our onboarding and follow up email sequence.



5. Create An Email Template That You Can Reuse

You can send professionally designed emails that look good on any device, even if you're not a designer.

Email marketing service providers like ActiveCampaign has many email templates for you to choose from — including seasonal templates to stand out in the inbox.

Follow these steps to create a reusable email template:

  • Step 1: Choose a clean, eye-catching layout to get your message across fast. 
  • Step 2: Choose a mobile-responsive email template that fits any device because users check their inbox quickly.
  • Step 3: Incorporate your brand by putting your business's logo right at the top of your email and link the image back to your website. 
  • Step 4: Add in your business's signature colors.
  • Step 5: Create an email footer with your business name, contact information, and links to all your active social media channels. 
  • Step 6: Create a copy of your email and save a version as your master template. 

You don't have to start from zero when creating an email campaign all the time when you use reusable templates.

Hint: I like to keep our email messages pretty simple, almost as if they were sent right from Gmail or Outlook. They're not flashy, but they come across more personal and they are easier to read on mobile. 

6. Always Write Persuasive Email Messages

Writing persuasive email messages is one of the most critical and challenging steps for marketers. It helps if you pretend to have a face-to-face conversation with someone and to write down precisely what you’d like to say to them.

It also helps to follow a process you can repeat to break your message down into three essential sections:

  • Headline line (or first few sentences): What's your hook? 
  • Email body: How will it help your email subscribers? You may get some great inspiration using the proven Problem-Agitate-Solve formula. 
  • Call to action: What should they do next? 

This simple three-step formula can help you stay focused so you can write persuasive email messages quickly.

7. Spend Time On Creating Effective Email Subject Lines

Here's a compelling stat about subject lines - 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone.

A subject line is one of the most critical elements in your email because your subscribers see your subject line even before they open your message. 

What Is Email Marketing - Subject Line

Here are a few tips to make your subject lines more engaging:

  • Personalize the subject line with the person's name or location.
  • Use ellipses (the three dots you see at the end of a sentence...)
  • Pique curiosity.
  • Make an offer.
  • Create urgency or scarcity.

8. Send A Test Email Before You Send Or Schedule Send

It's easy to make a mistake once in a while, especially when you're first getting started with email marketing. Maybe you forgot to add an important link or made a typo error right in the subject line.

Remember that there's no Back or Unsend button with email, so it's a best practice to send yourself or a team member a Test Email first before sending it to your entire email list.

What Is Email Marketing - Test Email

9. Know The Best Time To Send Your Emails

Timing is an essential factor to consider when sending emails.

Every email subscriber is different and the best time to send will differ based on who's on your email list.

Always look at the analytics of your email marketing service provider to know the best send time. You can also create a regular sending schedule and stick to it.

For instance, if you send out a promotional newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month, your subscribers will expect it in their inboxes on that day.

10. Track, Track, And Track Your Email Marketing Results

Just like in other types of digital marketing, email marketing doesn't end with a send. A crucial part of your task is to track email metrics like open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, and many more.

Tracking these metrics helps improve your campaigns over time. You need to understand how each email performs to enhance and learn more about your subscribers.

Spending time in your email reports will tell you valuable information like:

  • Who opened your email.
  • Who clicked on specific links.
  • What piece of information was the most appealing to your subscribers.

Armed with the data, you can make adjustments and course corrections to continually improve your results.

And that, my friends, is the definition of email marketing and how to get started with it!

I recommend reading the additional resources below to learn more about email marketing. Also, don't hesitate to TALK TO US today to have a one-on-one session about this digital marketing strategy.

Recommended Email Marketing Resources

A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing

The Complete Email Marketing Guide for Beginners

Email marketing strategy and tips for successful campaigns

So what do you think about this article? Are you ready to launch an email marketing campaign in 2021?

Leave a comment below, and let's discuss.

Also, it will be a great honor if you think this article is worth the SHARE.



Header image courtesy of Stockunlimited.

About the Author Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Marketing. At Rialto Marketing, we help service businesses simplify marketing so they can grow with less stress. We do this by creating and implementing a plan to communicate the right message to the right people. Marketing shouldn't be difficult. All you need is the RIGHT plan.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: