Email Marketing 101: The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing

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The reach and effectiveness of email marketing are unmatched. Over 4 billion people are using email marketing. That’s a huge number of untapped audience — audience that might find your brand appealing and interesting, audience that might want to hear what you have to say. 

According to the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), there is an average return of 36 dollars every one dollar spent on email marketing. The highest ROI is in retail, ecommerce, and consumer goods sectors with an average return of $42. No wonder the email marketing industry will be worth 17 billion dollars in 2027 — up by 13 percent. 

There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of emails in businesses and organizations. What’s more is that it’s beginner-friendly; you don’t need special skills to pull off a good email newsletter branded with a good logo design or craft articulate campaigns. Not to mention, the platforms are largely free. You have Gmail as your foundation and many other tools come cheap. 

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a good guide that aims to demystify email marketing. It covers everything, from different campaign types to effective strategies. Whether you’re new to this field or looking to enhance your skills, you’ll find valuable insights and practical tips in this article.

By the end, you’ll understand not just the importance of email marketing but also how to create actual emails as well as design your first email logo, or have crowdsourced email designers create it for you. 

Let’s dive in and explore its potential! 

Benefits of Email Marketing

Email marketing offers unique advantages that can transform the way businesses interact with their audience. 

Here’s a deeper look at five key benefits:

Cost-Effectiveness

Email marketing is known for its low cost-to-benefit ratio. According to a study by DMA (Data & Marketing Association), email marketing offers an average ROI of $42 for every dollar spent. 

Small businesses in particular can benefit from this, as they can reach a large audience without the hefty price tag of traditional advertising. 

The digital nature of email marketing is what makes it really cost-effective. There is no printing or postage costs involved unlike in traditional marketing. Additionally, many email marketing platforms offer flexible pricing, scaling with the business’s size and needs. This scalability ensures that even startups with modest budgets can begin with basic features and gradually expand as their audience and financial capacity grow.

Targeted and Personalized Content

Personalization can lead to six times higher transaction rates, as per a report by Experian. With email marketing, businesses like Amazon excel by sending personalized recommendations based on past purchases and browsing history. This approach ensures that customers receive relevant and tailored content, greatly enhancing the likelihood of engagement and purchase.

When consumers receive content that is directly relevant to their interests and needs, they are more likely to feel valued and understood by the brand. This not only increases the likelihood of a purchase but also fosters brand loyalty and customer retention. 

Email marketing is largely tied to a good content marketing strategy. If you create valuable content, you publish it on your website and social media channels and tailor it to suit your email recipients too. 

Driving Conversions

Email marketing is a powerful tool for driving sales. Campaign Monitor reports that emails prompt three times more conversions than social media. One of the key reasons for email marketing’s high conversion rates is its direct and personal nature. 

Unlike social media, where content is broadcast to a wide audience, email marketing allows businesses to reach customers directly in their inboxes. This direct line of communication is more intimate and less competitive than the crowded and often distracting environment of social media platforms. 

However, because it’s too intimate and personal, too many emails or emails that are not in-line with the recipient’s interests can be blocked and marked as spam. That’s why proper writing and crafting your email is key as well as branding it well. 

Building Relationships and Customer Loyalty

Regular informative emails help in building long-term relationships with customers. A study by Bain & Company highlights that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. BuzzFeed does it best with its online content. Through this, they are able to sell anything from subscriptions to t-shirts and water sprinklers to spoons and forks. 

By consistently providing valuable and relevant content, businesses can keep their audience engaged and connected. This ongoing engagement helps in building trust and loyalty, which are key ingredients for a strong, lasting customer relationship.

Email marketing is not just for organizations and businesses but also for professionals and freelancers. Emails will help establish a good connection between the readers and the personality. In short, you can level up your personal branding through this tool. 

Measurable Metrics

Another good thing about email marketing is that most of its campaigns can be accurately measured. This will help businesses refine their strategies for maximum effectiveness. 

The ability to track conversion rates, sales funnels, open rates, and click-through rates helps understand what resonates with the audience.

Here are some measurable metrics to consider:

Conversion rate optimization

Open rate

Bounce rate

Click-through rate

Unsubscribe rate

Click through rate (CTR)

Return on investment

Deliverability rate

Email open rate

Email Campaign Types

Email marketing campaigns come in various forms. Each serves a specific purpose and engages the audience in a unique way. 

Let’s explore four common types of email campaigns, delving into their content, design, and overall strategy:

Welcome Email

A welcome email is the first impression a brand makes in the subscriber’s inbox. It’s typically warm and inviting, often including a friendly greeting, a brief introduction to the brand, and what the subscriber can expect in terms of content and frequency. 

The language is welcoming and appreciative, sometimes accompanied by a special offer or discount as a thank-you for subscribing. Visually, these emails are clean and straightforward, with brand logos and proper color psychology prominently displayed.

An example is Airbnb’s, which combines a warm greeting with helpful information about using their service.

Promotional Email

Promotional emails are all about driving sales and engagement with specific products or services. They often contain persuasive language like “limited time offer” or “exclusive deal” to create a sense of urgency. 

The design of these emails is more vibrant and eye-catching, often featuring high-quality images of the products and clear call-to-action buttons. 

Let’s take a look at Nike. It uses promotional emails to highlight new product launches or special promotions, using bold images and engaging copy to attract clicks.

Newsletter

Newsletters are staples of any email campaign. They are a way to keep your audience informed and engaged over time. They typically contain a mix of content: educational articles, blog posts, tips, how-to’s, refreshers, company news, and product updates. 

You can find newsletters to be informative and conversational. The goal is to provide value to the reader. Engaging email newsletter designs often use a consistent layout with headings, subheadings, and bullet points for easy readability. 

A well-known example is The New York Times’ newsletters, which provide readers with a digest of important news, features, and opinion pieces, laid out in a clean and navigable format.

Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment emails are sent to customers who have left items in their online shopping cart. These emails are crafted to remind and persuade the customer to complete their purchase. 

They often include phrases like “Forgot Something?” or “Come back to complete your purchase!” The design usually features images of abandoned products and a prominent call-to-action, such as “Return to Cart.” Sometimes they include a small discount or free shipping offer as an extra incentive. 

Amazon excels in this area by sending personalized cart abandonment emails, and showcasing the exact items left in the cart with a direct link to the checkout page.

The effectiveness of cart abandonment emails lies in their personalization and relevance. Create an eye-catching visual reminder of what they were interested in. This targeted approach helps reignite the customer’s initial interest in the product.

Seasonal Email

Seasonal emails are timed with holidays or significant events and are designed to tap into the spirit of the occasion. Emails like these include visuals of holidays, celebrations, and other timely events. It also has some themed graphics or seasonal colors. You can design it in an interactive way so it’s more fun and engaging for the audience. 

Some events to prepare for your emails ahead of time:

  • New Year
  • Christmas 
  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
  • Birthdays
  • Independence Day

Starbucks is well known for these types of emails. They send out emails featuring special edition holiday drinks, using imagery of cozy, winter scenes and festive cup designs. The aim is to create a connection with the season and encourage timely purchases or engagements.

Re-engagement Email

Re-engagement emails are targeted at subscribers who have been inactive for a while. These emails often use language that evokes curiosity or emotion, such as “We miss you!” or “Let’s catch up.” 

The design might include eye-catching visuals or a recap of what the subscriber has missed. The goal is to remind the recipient of the value the brand offers. 

A company like Help Scout use re-engagement emails to highlight new music releases or feature updates, enticing inactive users to return to the platform.

Post-purchase Email

Post-purchase emails are sent after a customer makes a purchase. They might include a thank-you message, product care tips, or cross-sell recommendations. 

The language is appreciative and helpful, aiming to enhance the customer’s experience with the brand. The content of a post-purchase email is varied and strategically crafted. It typically begins with a thank-you message, acknowledging the customer’s choice and reinforcing the value of their decision. 

This expression of gratitude sets a positive tone and fosters goodwill. Following this, the email may include practical information related to the purchased product. This could be in the form of product care tips, usage instructions, warranty details, or information about customer support services. Providing such information is not only helpful but also underscores the brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction and product quality.

One example is from Macy’s where they sent a post-purchase email with assembly instructions for a recently purchased item along with suggestions for complementary products. 

The design is generally straightforward and informative, focusing on customer satisfaction and building loyalty.

Feedback / Review Email

Feedback or review emails are sent to customers after a purchase or interaction, inviting them to share their experience. These emails typically use direct and polite language, like “Tell us what you think!” or “Your feedback matters.” The layout is usually simple, with a clear call-to-action button leading to a review form or survey. 

Here’s an example of a well-written feedback email:

How to Create Your Email Marketing Campaign

By now we understand that a successful email campaign requires more than just sending out generic posts. It needs to be planned out carefully. 

Whether you’re looking to drive sales, increase brand awareness, or strengthen customer relationships, setting a clear and specific strategy is the cornerstone of your campaign’s success. 

In the following sections, we will delve into the steps of creating an email marketing campaign, each designed to guide you toward achieving your set goal. 

Have a Clear Goal

Every successful email marketing campaign starts with a clear and specific goal. Think of it as setting your campaign’s North Star – it guides every decision, from the content you create to the tools you choose for tracking your success. 

Some vital goals to consider before starting your campaigns:

  • Increase Sales
  • Enhance Customer Engagement
  • Boost Website Traffic
  • Generate Leads
  • Improve Brand Awareness
  • Customer Retention and Loyalty
  • Educate Your Audience
  • Announce New Products or Services
  • Collect Feedback and Insights
  • Event Promotion

What’s important is how clear, specific, and aligned with your audience’s interests your goal is. This focus helps to streamline your campaign. Every email is working hard to achieve your objective, and as a result, you will have more impactful and measurable results.

Define your audience

Knowing your audience is key to a successful marketing campaign. Understanding the people who will be reading your emails will guide you in creating content that is actually engaging and relevant to them. 

Start with your audience’s demographic first. Know their age, location, gender, occupation, income, and education level. Then figure out their demographics: hobbies, interests, values, goals, pain points, buying behavior, and lifestyle choices. 

Knowing your audience’s demographics and psychographics can help you create a buyer persona – which is essentially a representation of your ideal customer. It’s something like “Jane, a 23-year-old new graduate looking for trendy but affordable items” or “Mark, a 45-year-old homeowner who only buys from brands that his friends recommended”. 

A buyer persona will help guide you in targeting the right customer as well as creating email content that can position your product correctly. It will also help you decide which email campaign type will be more effective to use. 

Build an email list

Now that you know your target audience, it’s time to get their emails so that you can build your email list.

However, it’s easier said than done. Building an email list is indeed one of the tougher tasks that email marketers have to do. Especially if you are a small business or just starting out and don’t have a big audience base yet. 

One tip – make sure your email list focuses on quality and not quantity. Your list should be full of people who are actually interested in seeing your emails and are more likely to buy from you. Avoid emailing random people or purchasing email lists from sketchy sites.

So how do you build your email list organically? Here are some tips:

  • Optimize your website with a short sign-up form, great landing page, or an eye-catching CTA that encourages people to subscribe to your emails.
  • Offer incentives to people. Give them discounts, giveaways, or access to exclusive content when they subscribe.
  • Focus on creating engaging and high-quality content. When you create helpful and relevant content, your audience will naturally want to see more from you.
  • Host webinars or events. Aside from offering people useful content, you can also make it a requirement to use their emails to serve as their registration for the event. Win-win, right?
  • Use social media ads such as Facebook ads or TikTok ads. You can use these ads to promote your product, content, or your email newsletter. Facebook in particular has a Lead Ad Campaign type that is geared for gathering email signups. 
  • Implement pop-ups on your website. While pop-ups might be usually seen as annoying, it’s still effective. Don’t go overboard though! Just use one non-intrusive pop-up that strategically appears. Make it more appealing by adding images, gamified mechanics, or an incentive. 

Choose an email platform

The next step is to choose an email service provider (ESP) to use. An ESP can help you manage your email campaigns, automate sending, provide email design templates, and track your campaign performance.

The right platform will depend on your budget, mailing list size, and your business needs. Some ESPs are more tailored for specific campaign types or for specific industry needs. For example, Drip is suitable for e-commerce businesses as you can directly link your products in your emails. 

Look for ESPs that have additional features that you might need as well. These could be 24/7 customer support, the ability to edit the email’s HTML, the option for A/B testing, and so on. 

Some of the most popular ESPs that you can check out are MailChimp, Sendinblue, Constant Contact, Moosend, and Sender. 

Create your email

You got your basics down so now it’s time for the fun part — creating your email! 

An effective email will depend on what campaign type you will use and the audience that will see it. But there are still some golden rules that you need to keep in mind. These are:

  • Always use your branding: Emails are not only for sending newsletters or offers to your audience but also for building your brand identity. Make sure to always brand your emails so that your audience knows it’s you. Put your logo front and center, use your color scheme and typography, and write it in your brand voice.
  • Focus on the visuals: According to a study done by GetResponse, emails that have images have a 30.27% open rate compared to only 21.9% from emails that don’t. Try to add eye-catching images, GIFs, videos, or add a colorful header to your emails.
  • Put ample space: Resist the urge to overload your emails with tons of images and text. Adding white space around your image and content can help make them easier to read and understand. It will also make your emails look clean and uncluttered. An added bonus is making them visually pop since there is a space between the background and your main content. 
  • Write compelling subject lines: 64% of people open or delete their emails based on the subject line alone. So yes, it’s important you get this right! According to surveys, the ideal subject line is 6 to 10 words only. Using emojis can also increase your open rate by up to 56%. Try using powerful action words in your headline to drive curiosity and action to your audience. 
  • Keep your text short and simple: No one likes reading a block of text. Keep your paragraphs short by only having 1 or 3 sentences in it. Use bullets or a numbered list for your key points. Add images or GIFs in between your paragraphs to break up your content.
  • Be conversational: Overly salesly emails are over. People nowadays prefer an authentic and personal approach. Avoid using jargon, formal speech, or overly promotional tactics. Instead, write your emails as if you are writing to a friend.
  • Don’t forget the CTA: Your audience read your email. What now? That’s what CTAs are for. It clearly tells and directs your audience what to do next after seeing your email. Make sure to always include a CTA (whether you want them to “Buy Now”, “Download Now”, “Sign-Up Now” and so on) in your emails. Make the CTA button visible by putting it in the center and using a noticeable color such as red or yellow on it.  

Test your emails

Done with designing your email? Don’t forget to do one more thing — testing it.

We highly recommend sending a few test emails to yourself first before sending it out to your audience. This way, you can double-check for typos and grammatical errors, check if you have missing or incorrect links, and see if your images or videos are loading properly. 

This can also help you spot any coding errors in your templates or technical issues with your ESPs. For example, you may have set your emails to automatically use your audience’s name, but what if it shows up as “Hi [First Name], instead of “Hi, Sam”? 

You should also check how your emails show up on different devices and email clients. Check on desktop, mobile, and across Gmail, Outlook, etc. 

While we are on the subject of testing, we also recommend doing some A/B testing. A/B tests are when you send two or more versions of your email with one element changed from the other. This will help you see how your audience likes or dislikes your email, and see what further improvements can be done.

For example, you can send the same subject line but with email B having emojis on it while email A is text only. Or email A uses the CTA “Buy Now” but email B uses “Get it Now”. And so on.

Change only one variable in your A/B test for best results. This way, you clearly know what change has an effect. You should also test your emails at the same time so that the sample size is similar to each other and not affected by time, season, events, or other uncontrollable factors. 

Track and analyze your results

The only way to improve your email campaigns is to continuously monitor and analyze their performance. By knowing what changes should be made and then implementing them, you are one step closer to becoming an email marketing whiz. 

Your ESPs usually have a built-in tracker and analytics so make full use of that. Your metrics will also depend on your goals. But in general, the key metrics that you should watch out for are:

  • Open Rate: The percentage of people that actually opened and clicked your email. A high open rate means that your subject lines and preview text are effective. 
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who didn’t get your email. A high bounce rate means you have lots of inactive and fake email addresses, or that your emails are not getting through spam filters. 
  • Click Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of people that clicked on the CTA or links inside your email. A high CTR means your email content is effective. 
  • Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of people who unsubscribe from you. A high rate means that your emails are not relevant or engaging, you are not sending to the right audience, or you are using the wrong email campaign type. 

What should you do if you are not seeing your desired numbers? You can implement a few changes and see what works. 

For example, try experimenting with your subject lines to have a higher open rate. Change your language and tone of voice, or add emojis. Try to utilize FOMO or drive curiosity or mystery to entice people. Just make sure not to clickbait. You can also alter the day and time that you send your emails. 

Tips for an Email Marketing Strategy

Want to make your email marketing even better? Here are some tips and tricks that you can try to send more effective emails:

Personalize your email

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all messaging. Your audience wants to be treated as an individual human being and not just another sheep in a herd. They don’t want emails that aren’t relevant to their needs. 

The solution? Personalize your emails. 

Personalized emails are those that take your audience data into consideration to send them emails that are custom-made for their preferences. For example, a customer of yours might have added running shoes and track pants to their cart. You can send them out a “You May Also Like” email showing them some relevant items such as a gym bag, socks, and other activewear. 

Another example is when a customer downloaded your ebook about home care. You can then send them roundups of your blog articles related to home design or send them a discount offer for your new ebook. 

Personalization might sound difficult but it doesn’t have to be. You can easily do this by segmenting your audience. Segmentation means that you group your email list depending on their age, location, interest, buying behavior, and so on. This way, you can send relevant and personalized emails to the right audience. 

Avoid spam filters

You may have worked hard to craft the perfect email, but it’s pointless if it doesn’t reach your target audience. Which is why you need to be conscious about spam filters. 

Spam filters are used by email clients to protect their users from unwanted or unsafe emails. But even your legitimate emails might end up getting marked as spam if you don’t follow certain rules. 

Keep these in mind when sending your emails:

  • Make sure you get your audience’s consent before sending emails. Include a visible opt-out/unsubscribe option as well. 
  • Familiarize yourself with spam laws such as the CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CASL, or CCPA, and make sure you comply with them.
  • Don’t use all caps or multiple exclamation points on your subject lines. Avoid clickbaity words such as “Free”, “Make Money”, or “100% Guarantee”
  • Avoid sending emails to inactive or invalid addresses as a high bounce rate triggers spam filters.
  • Make sure you warm up your IP address before sending huge bulk emails. Sending tons of emails from a new IP or new email is a red flag for spam filters. 

Use design templates

Save time on your email marketing by using pre-made email templates. Most ESPs have email templates that you can use instead of creating your campaigns from scratch. These are helpful if you don’t have any graphic design or coding experience so make sure you utilize these.

Here at BrandCrowd we also have templates you can use. Whether you are looking for a Thank You card maker to thank your customers for their purchase or an email signature maker to make your emails look more professional, we have them all for you! 

Optimize for mobile

Mobile phone usage is steadily increasing nowadays. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, you risk losing visibility, engagement, and sales with your audience.

The same applies to your emails. In fact, 85% of emails are opened on smartphones. So make sure all your email content, from text to visuals, will look good no matter what phone device your audience is using.

Some other tips to create mobile-friendly emails are:

  • Mind the character limit: Mobile only shows 35 characters of the subject line and 85 characters of the preview text. Make sure you take note of this when writing both. 
  • Think with your thumb: We usually navigate our phone using only our thumb. So make sure all your CTA buttons and important clickable links are in the “hot zone” of thumb scrollers. Place them in the center instead of the corners for easy access. 
  • Go big: Mobile phone screens are small. Make sure your images, text, buttons, and links are big enough that your audience can clearly see and read them. 
  • Consider your layout: Single-column layouts are preferable since it’s easier to see and read even on a small screen. It also looks less cluttered and overwhelming. Avoid making your subscribers scroll or zoom in and out on your emails as well. 

Make it interactive

Lastly, add some spice to your emails by making them interactive! 

Interactive emails contain elements that allow your subscribers to engage with your content directly. These could be a quiz, poll, or survey to fun gamified elements such as a spin the wheel, crossword puzzle, or a scratch card. 

Interactive elements don’t need to be so fancy as well. Adding a drop-down menu, rollover effect, or image carousels can make your emails look more alive. 

According to studies, interactive content increases an email’s click-to-open rate by up to 73%. Meanwhile, gamified email campaigns see a 48% higher user engagement. Why not try incorporating these elements into your next email blast? 

Conclusion

That was a long one! We hope we could dive deep and explain the fundamentals of email marketing to all of you. If you need more information, feel free to browse our other articles such as the latest email marketing design trends or landing page creation tools.

A great email marketing campaign also needs to work hand in hand with other aspects of your marketing strategy for maximum results. Don’t neglect your branding and social media efforts. Check out our handy tools such as the YouTube Shorts Maker and Facebook Cover Maker to boost your business. 

Until next time! 

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