Introduction to email marketing

By Leon Tranter | Email Marketing

Dec 10
introduction to email marketing

Email might seem daggy and outdated, but it is a very powerful marketing strategy. Many people in marketing report that email, in fact, has the best ROI of any marketing strategy they can employ! This introduction to email marketing guide will explain the basics of how and why you should apply email marketing in your internet marketing strategy.

Why email marketing?

In case you’re wondering why anyone should bother with email marketing, the answer is simple: it works!

Despite the rise of social media, email still remains a cornerstone of people’s online lives.  Most people check their email at least once per day, and many do it more often, especially on their smartphone. Emails have a very high engagement rate compared to other types of digital marketing tactics. Click rates of five to 10 per cent are common – compare that to banner ads, which usually hover around 0.1%.

And most importantly of all, sending email is free! Well, virtually free. You might have to pay a bit for an autoresponder (I use and recommend GetResponse), but it will be small change.

An email list is a long-term asset that you can use to build relationships, stay in touch, make sales, earn commissions, drive traffic, boost engagement, and so on. Building an email list is one of the most important investments you can make.

Basic terminology of email marketing

In case you’re new to the subject, let’s go through some basic terminology.

List: a list of email addresses. You might be capturing just the email address, or you might also be capturing other details such as first name. Most autoresponders let you use variables in your emails, so if you capture the name, you can put that name dynamically in the subject or body of the email.

Autoresponder: a piece of software (usually delivered in a browser, i.e. SAAS or Software As A Service) such as GetResponse that maintains a list of email addresses and can send out emails automatically to those contacts. Sometimes the term is also used to refer specifically to an email that is sent automatically when someone joins an email list.

Optin: when someone joins an email list. This is usually done on a squeeze page (see below), but can also happen in other forms such as a lightbox or in-content form.

Squeeze page: a special type of landing page set up to collect emails. This is usually done by offering a piece of free content (called a Lead Magnet or Ethical Bribe) in exchange for the email address.

Broadcast email: an email sent to all or a subset of the people in a list.

Automation: a preset sequence of emails that are sent out, one after the other, usually after someone joins an email list.

Workflow: another word for Automation (see above).

Single and Double Optin: Some people set their autoresponders to require a click on a link in a confirmation email before they join the list. That is, the contact must perform an additional action to confirm their membership in the list. This is known as Double Optin. If there is no additional action required, it is known as Single Optin.

Basic strategy for email marketing

The basic strategy for email marketing is simple: set up various pages or forms that capture email addresses on a website, drive traffic to those pages, collect email addresses into a list, then send out broadcast emails (or a sequence of emails).

Those emails often include links to sales pages or pre-sell pages – those could be your own offers or affiliate offers.

Over time, the list grows, and the volume of clicks and therefore sales grows. You do have to put in work however, to maintain a good relationship with your list, and to occassionally prune it (remove emails which are defunct or non-responsive).

How to collect email addresses

As mentioned, this is usually done via a squeeze page. That could be a separate isolated funnel that you set up (e.g. in Builderall), or a landing page on your existing website.

You can also put email optin forms throughout your website. Some people like to put them in a box at the top of their pages or homepage. You can also put them in sidebars, or insert them into the content of a page as an “in-content form”. You might see examples of these forms and pages on this website!

You can set your optin forms to be single or double optin (see terminology above). Double Optin will get you fewer subscribers but the quality will be higher. Single optin will make it very easy to get subscribers but the quality of the list will be lower.

I actually wrote an article that goes into detail about how to collect leads with my favourite WordPress plugin, Thrive Themes.

How much is an email list worth?

This is a big question in marketing, and there is no clear answer. Some people quote a number of $1 per person per month (i.e. $1 Monthly Recurring Revenue or MRR) for a list, though the reality is more complex than that. I talked about this in my article “Is the money in the list?”.

Best practices for email marketing

There are some standard best practices for email marketing that you should follow if you want to be successful with email.

Make sure to add value

Don’t just send promotional email after promotional email. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the “Jab jab right-hook” approach: give people value (jab) over and over, then make an offer (a “right hook”). You will have built up a relationship and trust so the person will be more likely to buy from you. Although interestingly, Michael Cheney takes a different approach (all promotions, no free value content) in his approach; read my review of The Commission Machine if you want to know about this.

Send a good number of emails

If you send people five emails a day, they will probably get sick of you and unsubscribe. If you email them once a month, they will forget who you are and not engage (and probably unsubscribe too).

Once every day or two is usually considered a good frequency of emails. You can always change this frequency based on your results. The important thing is that the emails you are sending have value and are relevant to your list.

Use segmentation

Not all lists are created equal and not all email contacts are equal! Different people have different interests. Create multiple lists or segments (sub-lists within a larger list) so you can send different emails to different types of people. These segments could be based on a variety of factors. A common way to distinguish people is by which lead magnet they signed up for.

Always check your emails before sending

Most auto-responders let you send a test or dummy email before starting the real campaign. Always do this! It can avoid embarrassing mistakes later on.

Don’t forget to test

Another important feature is A/B testing. You can test different subjects for example on a test cohort to see which gets the best open rate, then send that subject to the rest of your list.

Read the reports

Auto-responders all have some form of reporting. Make sure to view the reports of your campaigns so you can see how your emails are resonating with your audience.

Use a custom email address

This is very important. Always use a custom email address (e.g. I use leon@citizenaffiliate.com) for the From address of your emails. Never use a generic free one like a gmail or outlook email address. Doing so will increase the chance that your emails get marked as Promotional, or even worse, Spam.

I hope you found this Introduction to Email Marketing helpful! I will be writing more on this interesting topic in later articles.