10 things you need to know to get started with email marketing

July 07, 2016
Rhoslyn Sherman-Davies

Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your potential and existing customers.

It forms an important part of your digital marketing strategy. It works hand in hand with social media, blogging and digital advertising.

Use emails to share stories, blog posts, promotions, increase awareness in your products, build subscriber lists and expand social media interactions.

In this post we outline 10 important steps for email marketing.

1.Choosing your email marketing provider.

There are an increasing number of email marketing providers. Most offer free trials and a certain number of users for free. Nearly all have a variety of easy use templates with drag and drop editors. They are all competitively priced, based on the number of contacts you have.  

Below are some of the more popular suppliers:

2. How to build your email list.

To start with collate your clients’ emails and upload to your chosen email marketing provider.

Over time you will want to grow your list so you can reach more people.

You can generate new email subscribers by:

  • Adding sign up forms to your website. These can be on various pages in different formats including sidebar forms and pop ups. Make it clear what people will be getting for signing up. Including how often you will email them and type of emails e.g. newsletter, promotions etc. Many email marketing providers will provide instructions on setting up signup forms and how embed them on your website. If they don’t suit your requirements you can look at using third party sign up form builder businesses such as Thrive Leads and Optin Monster.
  • Offer Incentives to sign up including access to free downloads or resources.
  • Include email subscription as part of product, service purchase or event sign ups.  
  • Include automatic email responses to sign ups (a welcome email). Thank them for subscribing. These are a nice way to interact with new sign ups and can improve future open rates.  You can also ask subscribers to add you to their address book.
  • Make sure the name and email address of the automated email and future emails are recognisable and one that they can reply to.  Having a named person email in the organisation is a better option to role based email e.g. info@ or news@.


3. Choose the right template

Email marketing providers offer a range of templates with different sizes and structures.

Firstly make sure it is mobile friendly template. It is worth testing various templates on a mobile and tablet before going ahead.

Add your company logo, colours and style to the template and reuse it for all correspondence to sign ups. This helps you to be recognised by the subscriber and avoid ending up in the junk folder. Make small gradual changes if required. 

Email Marketing

Examples of the many templates available with Mail Chimp. https://mailchimp.com/features/email-templates/


4. Create powerful subject lines and preview text

Email subject lines are essential to getting your email opened. Think of subjects as your emails heading. Use interesting, relevant and unique headings. No more than 50 characters. The shorter the better.

Preview text or preheader text comes immediately after subject lines in the email preview pane and will appear at the top of the open email. As with subject lines keep it short: under 100 characters.

Subject line and preview text screen shot example here.

Bear in mind that mobile email will cut off the longer subjects and previews. If the email analytics shows large numbers of mobile viewers consider shortening them.

Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule is a great tool to rate and compare your subject lines and preview text. http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

5. Create text only version

Unfortunately, your html email template can’t be seen by everyone. Some subscribers’ will receive text only versions. Emails on the Apple Watch will only show as text versions.

Text only versions are plain text without formatting (no bold, underline, italics, images or layout options).  

While all email marketing suppliers should automatically generate text versions these can become long and busy with a lack of ability to make things stand out and lots of full link addresses.

The best option is to create short, text only emails with an introduction and a call to action to open the full email in the web browser by clicking the link below.

6. Add call to actions.

Adding a variety of call to action buttons is important for developing good click through rates and increasing subscriber engagement.  Add click through buttons e.g. “read more” to newsletter stories or promotions.

Social Share buttons and social media links should be included along with a forward to a friend button. These make it easy for people to share relevant content with friends and colleagues.

Post your newsletter to social media. This can be done from the dashboard of most email marketing providers. This has the advantage that you can then see who opened the newsletter on social media along with other email statistics.

Add Video Content

Video content is increasing in popularity with consumers and is a huge driver for increased engagement.

If you have video content to share, embed it in an email newsletter. While videos won’t play in the email subscribers inbox they will improve click-throughs. Most email marketing suppliers have embed video options.

7. Scheduling your emails

Decide on the best day and time to send your email. You may need to test at first by sending at different times to find the best one.

Monday morning is a time to avoid because there is a generally larger influx of emails for businesses and individuals.

After deciding on the best time to send. Schedule each email to that time and day.

You can even schedule a series of emails to go out. Send offers, event invitations. surveys and extra content to those who have engaged with different elements of the newsletter.

8. Allow people to unsubscribe and change email preferences.

It is vital you give subscribers the ability to unsubscribe and to update their email preferences.  Email marketing providers usually include these automatically and will let you amend them or set up new ones.  These are normally links in the email footer to landing pages where subscribers can make changes, including type of content they wish to receive (e.g. newsletter, offers, events or language preference).

9. Test your emails before sending.

It goes without saying that all content should be spell-checked and proof read. But emails require an extra level of testing.

First check all the links work and then what the layout looks like.

Send tests to different emails you have access to including Outlook, Yahoo and Gmail and view them on different devices including different mobiles and tablets.

Litmus is a great resource offering free and premium email testing. Instead of sending emails to the different devices and emails it generates the visuals on its dashboard. https://litmus.com/email-testing

10. Email analytics

Analytics are included with all top email marketing providers and will appear shortly after sending an email.  The main metrics you can monitor are opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, forwards, social shares and spam reports.

Using these metrics, can help you to understand how people are engaging with your emails and inform future communications. For example if opens and clicks are going down and unsubscribes and spam reports are increasing look at Improving the content and calls to actions. You can also reassess when you are sending them and look back at the content that people engaged with more from past emails.

Remove emails from the list that have bounced 3 times or more. Sending to bounced email address regularly can harm your reputation in the eyes of the email marketing provider being used.

In future posts we will look into these 10 tips in further detail. If you have a question about email marketing or a topic idea for a future post  get in touch by tweeting us @perspectif or leave a comment below.