Your business can promote your products or services on many channels: SEO, social media, display ads, search engine ads, you name it.
But here’s a secret. One channel stands head and shoulders above all: email marketing. That’s because you can earn a mind-blowing $36 for every $1 you spend on email marketing!
Do you want to unlock the secrets of successful email marketing? Well, you’re in luck. Because this post is your ultimate email marketing guide.
It covers everything you need to know, from basic terms to a step-by-step approach to launching powerful email campaigns.
Ready to dive into the exciting world of email marketing (and make lots of money)? Let’s get started!
- What is Email Marketing?
- Email Marketing Glossary
- What Are the Advantages of Email Marketing?
- What Are the Disadvantages of Email Marketing?
- How to Do Email Marketing Successfully: A 5 Step Guide
- 5 Biggest Email Marketing Challenges (And How to Solve Them)
- 7 Types of Email Marketing Campaigns
- Frequently Asked Questions About Email Marketing (FAQs)
- Next Steps: Get Started With Email Marketing
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is when you send targeted messages and promotional content to new or future customers by email. It is a powerful digital marketing strategy that allows businesses to communicate directly with their audience, build strong relationships with customers, nurture leads, and sell products or services.
Here’s what email marketing often looks like for different business types:
- For eCommerce businesses, email marketing lets you sell products, recover abandoned carts, and increase lifetime value.
- Small business owners can use email marketing to maintain brand awareness and build relationships over time.
- For SaaS companies, email marketing is an ideal channel for generating leads and converting leads or free trial users into new customers.
- Bloggers and publishers use email marketing to drive traffic to their website and affiliate links, which means more revenue.
- Enterprise clients can scale their email marketing plan to reach thousands or even millions of customers at once.
If you prefer to learn through video, check out this complete guide to email marketing on our YouTube channel.
Before we get too far into the details and strategies, let’s go over some basic email marketing terms you should know.
Email Marketing Glossary
Like all digital marketing channels, email marketing has its own “language.” Many of the terms sound like what they are. But we still want to give you clear definitions of each idea. That way you’ll understand the more intermediate and advanced email marketing concepts later in this guide.
- Email: An electronic message that you can send to people over the internet.
- Campaign: A single marketing email sent to promote a product, event, or brand. Sometimes refers to a series of related emails sent over a specific period of time to achieve a particular goal.
- Subscriber: A person who signs up or gives permission to receive emails from a particular business or organization.
- Newsletter: A regular email sent to subscribers sharing news, and updates about a specific topic or business. Sometimes known as a broadcast.
- Automation: a series of pre-written emails that go out automatically in response to a subscriber’s actions. For example, as when a customer abandons their cart without purchasing, they might get a series of emails reminding them about their items. Also known as email sequence or autoresponder
- Email List: A collection of email addresses that a business or organization has gathered from people who want to receive their emails.
- Opt in (verb): To choose to receive marketing emails from a person or business. Also known as subscribing, signing up, or joining an email list. Sometimes spelled opt-in.
- Optin (noun): An incentive for people to subscribe to your list. Also called a lead magnet.
- Lead Magnet: A free resource that attracts people to subscribe to your email list. Examples include checklists, printables, gated content for subscribers only, or exclusive reports.
- Optin Form: a signup form where visitors can join your email list. Optin forms can be of different types: popup forms, inline forms, fullscreen squeeze pages, sliders, floating optin bars, and more
- Subject Line: A short line of text that appears in the subscriber’s inbox and gives a brief summary or hints about what an email is about.
- Open Rate: The percentage of people who open and read an email out of the total number of people who received it.
- Click-through Rate: The percentage of people who click on a link in an email to visit a website or webpage.
- Conversion: When someone takes a desired action after receiving an email, such as buying something, signing up for a service, or filling out a form.
- Unsubscribe: To remove yourself from an email list and stop receiving emails from a particular sender.
- Personalization: Customizing an email with the recipient’s name or other relevant information to make it feel more personal and engaging.
- Segmentation: Automatically placing subscribers into groups based on their activity, such as signup date, timezone, sale history, and other factors.
- Landing Page: A web page that people are directed to when they click on a link in an email. It usually contains more information or offers related to the email’s content.
- Mobile Optimization: Making sure that emails have the design and formatting to display properly on smartphones and tablets.
- Spam: Unwanted or unsolicited emails that are often sent in bulk. You don’t want your marketing emails to go to spam.
- Call-to-Action: A clear and direct message or button in an email that encourages the recipient to take a specific action, such as “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.” Often abbreviated CTA.
We’ll go over many of these concepts in greater detail throughout this article. Now that you understand the basic vocabulary, let’s go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of email marketing.
What Are the Advantages of Email Marketing?
There are many benefits of email marketing. Here are our top reasons why email marketing is so effective:
- People check their email a lot, up to 20 times a day.
- You own your email list, and you can email your list whenever you want.
- Even when sent in bulk, emails can be personalized and segmented to help individuals feel like you’re talking just to them.
- Email is easy to automate and scale.
- Email has an extremely high ROI (return on investment) of around 3600%. You can calculate your own email marketing ROI and see how you compare.
Email Marketing Statistics
We wanted to share just a few other email marketing statistics to show the advantages of email marketing even more.
- Email is 40 times more effective at customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter put together
- Shoppers who buy because of email marketing spend 138% more than those who don’t receive marketing emails
- 59% of B2B marketers say that email marketing is their top channel for generating revenue
While the case for email is strong, there are a few downsides. We want to make sure you have a full understanding of email marketing, so we’ll go over these disadvantages next.
What Are the Disadvantages of Email Marketing?
No marketing channel is perfect. Email marketing does have a few disadvantages that we want you to be aware of:
- Email is a consent-based channel. You can’t pay your way in front of people.
- Keeping your emails out of spam filters and staying compliant with email-related legislation in your area can be complicated.
- Small technical mistakes can tank email deliverability and hamper your marketing efforts.
- Email marketing can be very competitive. Because it works so well, everyone wants to do it!
- Most email service providers (ESPs) aren’t free and pricing often increases as your email list grows.
However, these disadvantages can actually become advantages.
The required optin process can make email more effective. Subscribers are actively choosing to receive marketing emails from your business. That means they’re more likely to engage with your email content. It’s the difference between chasing someone down to talk to them, and someone initiating a conversation with you on their own.
How to Do Email Marketing Successfully: A 5 Step Guide
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, we’d like to share a step-by-step guide to email marketing so you know exactly what to do.
To successfully get started with email marketing, you need to do 5 things:
- Define Your Goals
- Choose an Email Service Provider
- Create an Optin Form to Build Your Email List
- Set Up Marketing Emails
- Track Email Marketing Metrics
Let’s get started!
1. Define Your Goals
Before you spend money on an email marketing tool or type out that first email, you must identify your goals. Email marketing isn’t just something to do because we say so. You need to figure out what you want to achieve.
An easy way to think about this question is: What do you want to sell through email? In other words, how do you plan to earn money with email marketing?
For example, if you’re an online store or service provider, you want to sell products and services to your email marketing list.
For bloggers and content creators, what you’re selling is content. You might charge readers directly for content, as in a membership site, or sell advertising and affiliate links. You can use email marketing to drive traffic back to your blog.
You also need to consider what your audience wants. Ask yourself:
- What will convince them to join your list? This can help you come up with attractive lead magnet ideas.
- What will convince them to stay on your list? Knowing this can help you decide what kind of content to send to your email subscribers.
- What will convince them to buy what you’re selling? These are the offers and promotions you include in your marketing emails.
With these goals in mind, you can now choose tools to use for your email marketing strategy.
2. Choose an Email Service Provider
The first thing you need is an email service provider (ESP). An ESP will provide the tools you need to create, send, and manage email campaigns to your audience. Choosing the right email marketing software with the features you need can keep costs manageable. We’ll go over some cost-effective options for email marketing software below:
1. Constant Contact (Best Email Service Provider for Small Business)
Want to boost your email marketing efforts? Look no further than Constant Contact. With its user-friendly and powerful features, Constant Contact helps small businesses engage their audience . From customizable templates to automated campaigns, this email service provider offers a seamless experience.
2. Brevo (Best Marketing Automation Creator for Small Businesses)
Take your email marketing to new heights with Brevo, formerly known as Sendinblue. This versatile email service provider offers an all-in-one solution for small businesses. With Brevo, you can create beautiful email and SMS campaigns, segment your audience, and track your results with ease.
3. Hubspot (Best Email Service Provider for B2B Sales)
Discover the power of email marketing with Hubspot. Hubspot offers a comprehensive suite of marketing tools to help small businesses grow their audience and drive conversions. You also have access to Hubspot’s CRM, or customer relationship management tool. This makes Hubspot a great choice for B2B and service-based businesses that have a longer sales process.
4. Omnisend (Best Multichannel Marketing for Small Businesses)
Looking for an email service provider that understands the needs of eCommerce businesses? Omnisend has got you covered. Omnisend helps you create email campaigns, push notifications, and SMS messages that drive sales.
5. Drip (Best eCommerce Email Service Provider)
Unlock the potential of email marketing with Drip. Designed for eCommerce, Drip’s advanced automation features allow you to personalize your customer journeys. From segmenting your audience to creating targeted email campaigns, Drip empowers you to drive conversions like a pro.
6. ConvertKit (Best Email Service Provider for Bloggers and Digital Products)
Built specifically for bloggers and creatives, ConvertKit makes it easy to build and nurture your audience. With its intuitive interface and powerful automation capabilities, ConvertKit helps you deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. You can even use ConvertKit to sell simple digital products straight from the ESP dashboard.
7. MailerLite (Best Free Email Service Provider)
Elevate your email marketing game with MailerLite. This user-friendly email service provider helps small businesses start using email marketing fast. They have a generous free plan and their paid upgrades are affordable. With its drag-and-drop editor and automation tools, MailerLite makes it easy to connect with your audience and drive conversions.
8. Mailchimp (Most Popular Email Service Provider)
Looking for a trusted name in email marketing? Mailchimp has been a go-to email service provider for small businesses for years. Mailchimp allows you to create email campaigns, automate your marketing efforts, and analyze your results.
Explore our in-depth Mailchimp review and tutorials, including how to create a Mailchimp popup on Shopify or any other platform.
Once you pick an ESP, the next step is to create your first optin form.
3. Create an Optin Form to Build Your Email List
There are lots of different styles of forms, including:
- Inline forms embedded within your content
- Popup forms that appear over your main page content
- Widget optin forms in the header, footer, or sidebar of your WordPress site
- Floating bar forms that float over the top or bottom of your site
- Slide-in forms that scroll in from a bottom corner
- Coupon spin wheels and other gamified forms
Don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed optin form. After all, this is the gateway to your most powerful marketing channel. We’ve put together a full optin form checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Most email marketing services have limited built-in options for creating your signup forms. You may only be able to make a few kinds of forms, or need to know how to code in order to customize what they look like.
To create great email optin forms with just a few clicks, you need OptinMonster.
OptinMonster is the easiest solution for building high-converting optin form. You don’t need to know any coding at all to build beautiful, responsive optin forms. There are tons of templates for you to use, or you can create your own from scratch with the drag and drop builder.
Not only is it easy to create optin forms, OptinMonster makes sure that your forms show up in front of the right audience at the right time. Examples include:
- catching abandoning visitors before they leave
- targeting users with specific needs or interests
- finding leads based on geographic location
- and much more
OptinMonster has 1-click integrations with all of the ESPs mentioned above and more. This means you can use OptinMonster to grow your list no matter which email software you’re using.
Don’t get stuck with boring optin forms that need a developer to customize and use. Try OptinMonster today and unlock the full potential of your website.
After your optin form is set up, the next thing to do is write your marketing emails.
4. Set Up Marketing Emails
Whichever email service provider you choose should have an email builder you can use to easily create your emails. Let’s go over the basic parts of a successful email marketing campaign, along with some resources to help you write your own.
This text appears in your subscriber’s inbox and should give them a hint or reason to open the email.
This text sometimes appears next to the subject line in the user’s inbox. This is another opportunity to persuade your reader to open your message.
You can put all kinds of content in your emails:
- Headings and subheadings
Whatever you send, make sure it’s concise, engaging, and relevant to your audience. Even if you don’t have something specific to sell in a particular email, focus on providing value to your recipients. Do this by addressing their pain points and highlighting the benefits of your products or services.
Call to Action (CTA)
Every email should have a purpose. What do you want subscribers to do after they read your email? Invite them to take this action!
Some common CTAs include:
- Make a purchase
- Download a freebie
- Read a blog post
- Follow your brand on social media
- Forward this email to a friend
At the bottom of every email, you should have a link to unsubscribe. That may seem counterintuitive, but email marketing is a consent-based channel. It’s better to let uninterested subscribers leave your list than risk them sending your emails to the spam folder.
One way to reduce your unsubscribe rate is to also include a link where people can manage their own subscription. Giving them a way to opt out of certain topics or hear from you less often shows that you care about their experience.
You can set a specific date and time to send a one-time email or emails in an autoresponder series. Think about the time zone and preferences of your target audience. This can help you maximize engagement.
While there are lots of ways to optimize your marketing emails, we encourage you not to overthink too hard. Email marketing is a long game, and how you show up consistently over time is more important than writing a single perfect email.
This brings us to the last step in our guide: monitoring your progress.
5. Track Email Marketing Metrics
After sending your email, track and analyze key email metrics such as:
- Open rate: how many subscribers opened the email
- Click-through rates: how many subscribers clicked links in the email
- Conversion rate: how many subscribers made a purchase, filled out a form, or did some other conversion you want to track
- Unsubscribe rates: how many subscribers unsubscribed from an email
- Deliverability rate: how many of subscribers received your email in their main inbox
Use this data to refine your future email campaigns and optimize your strategies.
We also recommend that you regularly clean your email list. Removing invalid or inactive email addresses improves deliverability. Keeping your list clean also ensures that you’re targeting an engaged audience.
Now that you know how to do email marketing, let’s take a look at some common challenges you might face and how to overcome them.
5 Biggest Email Marketing Challenges (And How to Solve Them)
Effective email marketing is relatively simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are a lot of different factors involved and, unfortunately, writing good emails isn’t always enough.
We have a full list of email marketing best practices you can read for more detail. Here are some of the most common challenges our customers have encountered, along with proven solutions.
1. How to Build an Email List
The first challenge is needing people to send emails to in the first place. Fortunately, this is perhaps the easiest problem to solve!
Even if you have no subscribers, you can build an email list from scratch with email signup forms on your website.
Solution: To get more signups, make sure that visitors clearly understand the benefits of joining your list.
- Adjust your call to action to focus on the benefits, such as “Get your free guide now!”
- Use social proof by showing off how many people have already signed up for your list.
- Add your optin forms to these high-converting places for email signups for best results.
- Take inspiration from high-performing email signup forms.
2. How to Ensure Email Deliverability
Once you have enough people to send email to, the most common next challenge is making sure the emails you’re sending actually land in their inbox. Average deliverability rates hover around 81%, which means up to 20% of your emails may never even make it to your subscriber’s email client!
Solution: Follow email deliverability best practices to make sure your emails make it into the right inbox.
- Avoid spammy words that can trigger spam filters. These might include words like “click,” “free,” “trial,” “cost,” “cheap,” “prize,” or unusual capitalization and punctuation.
- Clean your email list regularly to remove inactive subscribers.
- Segment your emails appropriately so that subscribers get content they actually care about.
- Provide ways for users to manage their own subscriptions instead of unsubscribing or reporting as spam.
3. How to Improve Email Open Rates
The average open rate for emails is around 21%. If yours are below that, you may be wondering, “Why aren’t people opening my emails?” There are many reasons that aren’t under your control, but plenty of ways that you can improve your email open rates.
Solution: Write and send high-quality emails. Everything from the subject line to the email template design should be a valuable, pleasant experience for subscribers. If you can convince them to open one email, they’ll be more likely to open future emails.
- Make your subject line exciting and informative enough for people to click on. Try to balance being clear with having a bit of mystery.
- Keep your subject line length short and easy to understand.
- Use preview text to provide extra insight into what’s in your email content.
- Improve your email copy by thinking back to your goal-setting. What information, skills, or products do your customers need to solve their problems? Deliver content that helps address those issues.
- Optimize your email design, especially for mobile devices. Use visuals wisely and make sure they show up well on different screen sizes. You can also make mobile optins that show up well on smaller device sizes.
4. How to Boost Email Conversion Rates
Let’s say you’re getting a healthy number of signups. Subscribers are receiving and opening your emails. But no one is clicking or buying.
You aren’t alone. The average email conversion rate in a study by Klaviyo ranged from just 0.1% to over 3%.
Solution: Improve your conversion rates by tuning into what your audience needs and wants.
- List segmentation means dividing your list into different groups. You can then send each group more targeted messaging that should improve your conversion rates. Learn about different ways to segment your email list and see what works best for your business.
- Personalized email content goes beyond saying, “Hey, FIRST NAME!” You could send product recommendations based on past purchases. Other personalization techniques include sending location-specific offers or content based on demographics. When subscribers receive personalized emails, customer loyalty is likely to increase.
- A/B testing your email newsletters can help you find the most effective subject lines, content, email templates, and CTAs. Many email service providers have split testing functionality built in.
5. How to Scale Your Email Marketing Efforts
What if your email marketing strategy is working pretty well, but takes more time than you have?
Creating personalized content for a few segments is one thing. But as you add more subscribers, offers, and promotions, your email marketing will get more complex. Fortunately, we have strategies and resources to help you scale.
Solution: Work smarter, not harder. Build on what already works in your own email marketing or strategies that others have proven.
- Add or expand email automation. For example, you could set up an abandoned cart email series that encourages shoppers to finish their purchases. There are plenty of email marketing automation tools to make this easier. Check out our complete guide to eCommerce email marketing automation for more information.
- Use templates, examples, and best practices. Use these email marketing templates, copywriting templates and formulas, and best sales email subject lines for inspiration.
And of course, you can use any of OptinMonster’s signup form templates to scale your email marketing quickly.
7 Types of Email Marketing Campaigns
If you’re still stuck on what to send to your email list, we’ve outlined below some of the most important types of emails you can send.
Check out the included links for more detail and examples to inspire you.
1. Welcome Emails
Welcome emails are sent to new subscribers or customers after they subscribe to your list. Use these emails to introduce your business, thank the reader for engaging with your brand, and provide relevant information or offers. All this helps begin the relationship with your brand on a positive note.
Here’s how to write the perfect welcome email for your own subscribers.
2. Newsletter Emails
Newsletter emails are regular communications sent to subscribers. Newsletters can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. You can send valuable content such as news, updates, tips, promotions, or curated information related to your business or industry. The goal of newsletters is to engage and inform your audience. These are sent in real-time, not automated.
Here are some awesome newsletter ideas you can use for your own list.
3. Lead Nurturing Emails
Lead nurturing emails are sent to potential customers who have shown interest in your products or services but haven’t bought yet. The goal is to build trust, provide more information or resources, and address potential concerns. Ultimately, you want to guide leads towards making a purchase decision.
Learn how to nurture leads with an email marketing funnel.
4. Promotional Emails
Promotional emails highlight new products, sales, or special events from your business. They are intended to create a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to take advantage of the promotion. You can send these one campaign at a time or automate a whole series of promotional emails.
Check out these promotional email examples if you need some ideas.
5. Seasonal Marketing Emails
Seasonal marketing emails are sent during specific seasons or holidays. They often include special offers, promotions, or content tailored to the occasion. The aim is to use the festive spirit to drive engagement and sales.
6. Transactional Emails
Transactional emails are triggered by specific actions or events. Customers might receive transactional emails for account updates, shipping notifications, or password resets. They provide information related to the transaction and ensure a smooth customer experience.
Learn more about how to write transactional emails that can grow your business.
7. Confirmation Emails
Confirmation emails verify or confirm an action taken by the recipient. You can send confirmations for subscribing to a newsletter, registering for an event, or buying a product. Confirmation emails typically contain details of the action. They may also provide other instructions or information.
Read about best practices and examples of outstanding confirmation emails.
Frequently Asked Questions About Email Marketing (FAQs)
When is the best time to send a marketing email?
The best time to send a marketing email is between 9 AM to 12 PM on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, according to a HubSpot study. Test different times to find when your audience is most active and engaged.
What is a good open rate for email marketing?
A good open rate is between 15% and 25%, but it varies by industry. Focus on improving engagement and personalization.
How often should I send marketing emails?
Send emails at a consistent frequency without overwhelming subscribers. Start with once a week or bi-weekly and adjust the timing and number of emails based on feedback and engagement metrics.
When should I send marketing emails?
Tuesdays and Thursdays are often the best days to send emails. You avoid the overwhelm at the beginning of the week and the inattention that often happens at the end of the week. It all depends on the needs and habits of your audience. Learn more about the best time to send emails to see what might work best for your business.
What email metrics should I track?
Track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates. You should also track deliverability, spam complaints, and list growth rate.
What is the difference between single opt-in and double opt-in?
Single opt-in immediately adds subscribers to the list. Double opt-in requires confirmation via a verification email. Double opt-in ensures higher quality but may result in fewer subscribers. Consider your business goals, customer preferences, and local regulations such as GDPR.
Next Steps: Get Started With Email Marketing
Now you have all the knowledge you need to use email to grow your business! We’ve gone over:
- basic email marketing vocabulary and definitions
- different email marketing platforms you can use
- a step-by-step guide for how to do email marketing
- pro tips to take your email marketing to the next level
Email marketing isn’t something you set and forget, even with the power of automated workflows. You always want to be testing and refining your strategy. So we recommend bookmarking this page so you can come back later whenever you need.
Remember, the ultimate goal for every email marketing campaign is conversion. As long as your subscribers are clicking, converting, and making you money, that’s what we like to see.
Lack of conversions is one of the biggest reasons email marketing campaigns fail. That’s why we built OptinMonster.
It can help you increase conversions, just like it did for these real customers:
- How Nick Gray Increased Conversions by up to 1000% With Smart Opt-in Popups
- How PortraitFlip Converts Over 3% of Its Mobile Traffic into Leads
- How Medstar Media Increased Their Clients’ Conversions by 500%
There’s a lot of money to be made with email marketing. Whether you’re a blogger, affiliate marketer, an eCommerce store, or an online business, OptinMonster is here to help you succeed.