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beginners guide to email marketing

A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

There’s a myth among some modern marketers that the days of email marketing are gone – that in this age of affiliate marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and all the other alternatives, email is just outmoded. Email marketing services would tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that (despite the natural resistance to ‘spam’ emails), people actually enjoy getting e-mail from brands they trust, and having your customers and potential customers on an e-mail list makes it easy for you to deliver your marketing message directly to them, leading to more conversions. In fact one advantage of email marketing solutions is that when someone signs up to your email list it’s a sign that they are interested in your brand and product – all you have to do is reel them in, and our email marketing tips will explain how to do it.

Remember that according to Radicati, over half the people on the planet use email – that’s around 3.9b users, expected to grow to 4.3b by 2023. Almost 3b emails are sent every day (around 50 percent of them spam), and the average user receives 30 emails per day. Around 85 percent of users check their emails on a smartphone, while mobile platforms account for almost half of the emails opened.

The most important figure, though, is that 50 percent of users prefer to communicate with brands via email, more than for direct mail (20 percent), social media (seven percent) and phone (also seven percent).

So email marketing is certainly a valuable marketing tool, and is likely to become more and not less relevant as the number of users worldwide expands.


What Is Email Marketing?

So what exactly is email marketing? Simply enough, it’s a form of direct marketing replacing postal ‘snail mail’ with electronic mail – it’s a fast, cost-effective, measurable, environmentally friendly way to build trust with your customers, keep them informed about new promotions, products and services, and turn sales prospects into conversions.

One of the major advantages of email marketing is that because your customers have to opt in to be on your email list, you know that they are interested in your products and services. Another is that by using email marketing software such as Mailchimp to track analytics such as open rates, click through rates and bounce rates, you can measure the effectiveness of your email marketing and amend your campaign to suit with minor effort.

Particularly for a small business, email marketing tends to be a preferred method of marketing, because it’s very easy to track your ROI, and you don’t have to put money behind it to get it to the correct audience. Though SMS marketing operates in similar ways, email marketing solutions have the advantage that they reach desktop users as well, and can be the preferred method for smartphone  users too.

Email lead generation is the most effective online tactic according to Ascend2’s report, Lead Generation Strategy Trends. Shane Barker of Content Solutions says: “A good email lead generation strategy is highly targeted and involves a specific plan to generate and convert fresh leads… typically, email lead generation campaigns involve the following steps:

  • Create quality content to promote your business on social media, and guest blog to generate site traffic.
  • Impress your site visitors with insightful content and entice them to give you their email addresses.
  • Incentivize them with a lead magnet to convert them into paying customers.
  • Interact with your prospects on a regular basis, and send them relevant emails.”

B2B email marketing opens up other possibilities. The options for email personalisation, email segmentation and curation make B2B email marketing a uniquely powerful selling tool. Emails have a longer lifespan than social media posts, and offers ways to encourage re-engagement (making passive subscribers become active again).

B2B email marketing is ideal for distributing new product announcements, and news of events, personnel changes, awards or policy developments. And B2b email marketing certainly offers a good ROI – in fact says that B2B email marketing has an ROI of over 3,000 percent, and that this is still rising.

Another variation, direct email marketing, is when direct email marketing a standalone advertisements made to look like a web-based ad rather than a typical email messages is sent to your targeted list of recipients. The messages can consist of text, HTML, or rich media. The trick is to avoid making your direct email marketing messages look like spam. To do this you can use email segmentation to make sure the message is appropriate for the group of recipients. Direct email marketing also normally uses personalisation so the recipient is addressed as an individual.


Why Is Email Marketing Important?

There are all sorts of reasons why email marketing is increasingly important, the main one being that the world is increasingly mobile, and as people are constantly checking their mobile devices, you have a readymade way to present your marketing message to them repeatedly.

Email marketing can be more efficient than social media marketing and organic search for customer acquisition and improving sales, and it remains more cost effective than either. For small businesses, it’s certainly a better choice than traditional channels such as TV, radio or direct mail, all of which have a degree of built-in wastefulness. Email generates the highest ROI for marketers, as has none of the costs associated with printing, postage and so on, while still delivering the same promotional messages and images and leading to more reliable conversions.

But email marketing solutions have the additional benefit that once a user has signed up to your mailing list, you can improve the relationship with follow-ups. It’s a win-win situation in which you get both improved ROI and higher response rates. Furthermore, if you consult email marketing services about the best way to handle your lists, you can get advice on aspect such as creating segmented lists.

Because email segmentation allows you to divide your audience into email lists, it’s also possible to tailor messages for different groups. This not only allows you to appeal to different audiences, it also means you can A/B test email campaigns, sending different messages or details of different promotions to different groups and measuring the responses. Email segmentation is one of the most efficient ways of improving open rate.

You can also address your customers individually by name, and according to research from Campaign Monitor, emails with subject lines including the recipient’s name are 26 percent more likely to be opened.

Another reason email marketing is important is that people are already used to the idea of having to respond to an email, so whether it’s to click through to your website, sign up for a list, respond to an offer or just go ahead and buy, email invites them to start a transaction which will benefit your business.

And because it’s easy to get a measure of how your email campaigns are performing, you can make constant adjustments to improve your effectiveness without any additional cost.


Five Benefits Of Email Marketing

Email marketing has many benefits, but to suggest just the top five:

  1. Instant Impact

Whether you want your message to get out to 10 people or 10 million, email arrives instantly, and because it can be scheduled, you can get it to your customers’ mailbox at just the right time of day, and with a strong CTS in your message you can get an immediate response


  1. Easy To Measure

The effectiveness of email marketing can be measured by its open rate, bounce rate and response rate; software tools to do this also make it easy to segment your mailing list so you can A/B test the effectiveness of different campaigns


  1. Reach An Already Engaged Audience

Because users have to sign up to get on your mailing list, you know when you message them that they are interested in your company or products, and that you are not wasting time on poor prospects. Using list segmentation you can appeal to more clearly defined groups, and by giving users the option to unsubscribe from your list if they are no longer interested, you can get poor prospects to weed themselves out


  1. Low Costs

Without the costs associated with radio, TV, print, direct mail, or paid-for online marketing, email marketing solutions prove themselves over and over again to offer the best ROI of any form of marketing


  1. Build Strong Customer Relationships

Because e-mail can be personalised, it can be used to build a sense of trust with your customers, and to react to their concerns and enquiries

How To Set Up a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Although it is possible to set up an email marketing campaign yourself, to make it really effective and to make use of all the data analytics tools available you may need the help of an email marketing agency. Email marketing services don’t end with compiling a mailing list; testing and refining that list and making it work for your overall marketing goals can be time-consuming, and might be best left in the hands of experts from an email marketing agency.

Here are the some email marketing tips for setting up and running a successful email marketing campaign.

  1. Define Your Audience

The first task in setting up an email marketing campaign is to define your audience. No-one appreciates unwanted spam in their inbox, and no marketer wants to waste time pitching to people who aren’t interested in his products. So your first task is to decide who you want on your list. For instance, if you run a local business, you probably only want local people; if you sell women’s clothes, you probably only want women. If you run a toy shop, you may think you want to target kids – but it’s more likely you will want to reach their parents or grandparents, the ones who actually spend the money.

  1. Build a Successful Email List

When you’re starting from zero, building an email list can be a daunting task. One solution is to buy one, but increasingly any decent email marketing agency would tell you that this is regarded as a bad idea – the quality and accuracy of the list is unlikely to be high, with a percentage of outdated or inaccurate addresses, your mailings are likely to be regarded as spam, you risk issues of legality, and email service providers may refuse to serve your lists.

So how do you start building your own list? The best way is through your website and social media. Use opt-in forms on your homepage, target your audience through Facebook, and collect email addresses at trade shows and public events. We’ll also talk later about the uses of a lead magnet. These processes will take longer than buying a list, but it will work out better in the end.


  1. Create Segments and Groups

Mailchimp reports that segmented email campaigns had open rates that were 14.37 percent  higher, clicks that were 64.78 percent higher, and 8.98 percent lower unsubscribe rates than non-segmented campaigns by the same users.

Having made sure that your email  service provider allows you to segment your lists, there are many ways to do it – by demographics, purchase history, open rates, type of purchase, amount of purchase, job title and so on. If you want to segment your lists from the word go, you’ll need a software tool with page-level targeting, such as Optin Monster, so you can create targeted email opt-in forms for specific visitors to your website visitors. Finally, you have to create ‘lead magnets’ to allow your website visitors to identify themselves as belonging to one of your defined segments.


  1. Select The Right Campaign

Before you start firing off random emails, you need a good idea of the form of your campaign. You should ask yourself what is your current situation, where do you want to be, and what do you need to get there; well-known forms of internal and external analysis use the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) or PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal) models to develop new marketing ideas. Look closely at your current email marketing campaigns, analysing key metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate and return on investment. Not until you have done that should you start creating content for your email marketing campaign.


  1. Decide What Content To Write

Writing your email marketing copy can be the hardest part of the process. A whole book could be devoted to the art, but here are some content email marketing tips:

  • Keep your copy short. No-one wants to read a long essay in an e-mail.
  • Get a hook in early, but don’t pitch your offer straight away.
  • Address your subscribers by name.
  • Make it personal. A human interest story helps you make an emotional connection with your customers.
  • Offer something valuable. A piece of content, a resource or an offer
  • Hook them with a poll, survey, image or video.
  • Make sure your call to action (CTA) is included several times, ideally at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.
  • Consider design. Make your emails look good and remember to make them readable on mobile devices.


  1. Establish Your Goals

Like all other forms of marketing, email marketing isn’t an end in itself, it must have a set goal. Because email marketing is a particularly measurable form, it’s relatively easy to set goals and check whether they have been reached. For instance, you may simply want to increase the numbers of subscribers on your email list – in which case your email software can tell you if you have hit your target. More likely, you want to improve your open rate, your click-through rate or your conversion rate – or a combination of two or more of these. Whatever your email marketing goals, they should be dependent on your overall marketing strategy and your brand aims.


  1. Create a Schedule

Before going live with your email marketing campaign, your last task is to set a schedule. Email marketing is particularly easy to schedule because the process can be almost entirely automated.

It’s important to schedule your emails marketing campaigns because:

  • You may want to run several campaigns at once without them clashing
  • Scheduling helps to avoid human errors
  • There will be an ideal time to send emails to your customers, but it won’t necessarily be in your working hours
  • You can prepare for special events such as Christmas, New Year, Cyber Monday or Black Friday well in advance, and you can schedule emails to your customers on their birthdays or on important anniversaries

Don’t forget that another advantage of e-mail marketing is that it allows you to set up ‘autoresponders’ which mean that your customers always get an answer the moment they send you a message. Autoresponders can also be set to send follow-ups at preset time intervals. Autoresponders are normally divided into two categories – the outsourced ASP model which operate on the provider’s infrastructure, configured via a web-based control panel, and are paid for by a monthly usage fee – and server side autoresponders which reside on the user’s own server, but which require technical skills to install.

It’s important to understand that while it’s a legal requirement that users should have to opt-in before you add them to your email marketing lists, you are also legally required to give them the option to opt-out, or unsubscribe. Users choose to opt-out for a number of reasons – they subscribed accidentally in the first place, their interests have changed, or perhaps they feel you are sending them too much e-mail – but whatever the reason you must make it easy for them to opt-out.

There are of course ways to reduce your opt-out rate, such as list segmentation, allowing users to set their preferred e-mail frequency, and offering alternative communications channels such as SMA or social media.

Legally, all forms of electronic communication containing your company’s details are defined as EDM marketing (Electronic Direct Marketing), and must conform to local laws. Emails, PDF brochures, infographics, promotional information, games, coupons, and practically anything else you can send by email can be defined as EDM marketing, and can only be sent if the receiver has voluntarily agreed to it in advance.

So if you see the term EDM marketing being used, be aware that it can refer to more than just email marketing; but it will certainly be a method used to build customer relationships, generate leads, and increase sales.


What is a Lead Magnet?

One of the most vital elements of building your email subscribers list is the lead magnet – not something you include in an email itself, rather a lead generation technique for building your email list in the first place, and then expanding it. Good examples of a lead magnet include getting customers to sign up to download a PDF leaflet, white paper or infographic.

A lead magnet is effectively an incentive for someone to sign up to your email list. The more attractive the incentive, the more likely you are to get people signing up. For instance, rather than just inviting people to sign up for your mailing list for news, you can offer them a downloadable PDF case study or market analysis which will make them feel they are getting something in return for signing up.

So what is a good way to put together a lead magnet, and what types are most likely to work for you?


How To Create a Lead Magnet That Works

In creating a lead magnet it’s important to understand what appeals to your email subscribers. I general a led magnet will work best if it offers some instant result for users, and demonstrates your unique value proposition in the market.

Your lead magnet should be short and specific rather than long and general it must be possible to digest quickly and must give a quick result. First identify what your customers need, then work out how to give it to them immediately.

Here are some good ideas for the contents of a lead magnet:

  • A recipe. If you are in the food business, it’s surprising how appealing a recipe can be to your customers.
  • A ‘cheat sheet’ or checklist. A simple step-by-step list which makes some process easier to navigate – perhaps a can maintenance job or a DIY technique
  • A report – a collection of data or statistics relevant to your industry
  • A webinar – a live internet lecture always has a high perceived value. Later you can offer a video or audio version based on the webinar.
  • A quiz. Always popular and easy to put together using tools like Qzzr.
  • A survey. Both gives you valuable market research material, and acts as an inducement for people to sign up to your mailing list.
  • Free catalogues. For people on the bottom of your ‘sales funnel’, a free catalogue is a no-brainer.

All these and many more types of lead magnet can be used to induce people to sign up for your mailing list, and are among the very best ways to increase subscriptions to your mailing list at minimal cost.


What Is an Opt-in form?

When you are compiling an email marketing list it’s essential to get consent to add people to the list of email subscribers. The ‘opt-in’ is a form of consent acknowledging interest in a product or service and authorising you as a third party to contact them with further information such as newsletters and brochures.

You can present an opt-in form in many ways – as a pop-up form, a dedicated page, or a button on a webpage – but according to the new GDPR regulations governing data protection in Europe, there are also ways you are not allowed to collect email data, such as presenting a pre-ticked form that assumes consent. The new regulation requires that brands collect affirmative consent that is “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” to be compliant.


How To Create a Successful Opt-in Form

According to, 95 percent of visitors to your website are not ready to buy from it the first time – in fact it takes on average three to four visits for prospects to turn into sales. That’s why it’s essential to capture their email data and add it to your list by submitting an opt-in form.

There are a few key skills to creating a successful opt-in form. First, it has to be visually appealing – you may have as little as 15 seconds to grab the attention of your website visitor, so your form needs to stand out. Use directional design cues to point to the Call to Action button, and don’t forget to emphasise your lead magnet.

Keep the number of form fields to a minimum, concentrating on qualifying data, and validate fields once they are completed. Add help text to explain why each piece of information is being collected, and example ‘ghost text’ to show the format each form should be filled in.

Make sure your opt-in form is placed above the fold on the page, and make your CTA button stand out in colour.

If you have problems designing your opt-in form, WordPress plugins like OptinForms can help.


How Do You Create Email Marketing Content?

The main trick to writing email marketing content that will appeal to your email subscribers is to make it look like something your users want to read, not like unwanted spam. With that in mind there are a few email marketing tips to remember:

  1. The subject line is crucial .

Nothing kills your email open rate quicker than a poor subject line. The trick is to make it short, compelling, direct, and different. Address the reader directly, include action words, and ideally include their name in the subject line. Keep the subject line related to the copy, and make sure it’s relevant to your reader and to your marketing aims.

  1. Write in the second person.

The second person voice – for example ‘To make soup you need a large pot and a blender’ – works much better than first person, for instance ‘I make soup using a large pot and a blender’. The second person voice makes it clear that the message is aimed at the reader.

  1. Keep your message short.

You will lose your readers’ interest if the message is too long, and there’s the risk that you will stray off-topic. Don’t send out an email just for the sake of it – make sure you have a good reason otherwise it may be regarded as spam and you risk readers unsubscribing.

  1. Explain the benefits of your product.

Rather than listing its features, explain the benefits first. This makes it easier for your readers to understand why it is unique and special – once they understand this, then they will be interested in reading about the features.

  1. Don’t be afraid to display your personality.

You can differentiate yourself from your competitors by showing personality in your marketing emails. Keep it professional, but don’t hold back from showing why you are different.


How Do You Create an Effective Promotional Email?

An effective promotional email is one that readers receive, open, read, respond to the CTA, and which eventually converts into a sale. But how can you guarantee all these steps?

We’ve dealt with the importance of compiling an effective mailing list and of segmenting it. So let’s assume your message has got to the people you want it to. Now how do get them to open it? The first barrier may not be the subject line – it may be your email address. If your sender name is unclear or looks spammy, according to Convince & Convert, up to 43 percent of recipients may delete it immediately. So make sure your sender address is your company name, or maybe that and your own name.

The next barrier to opening is the subject line. We’ve discussed some ways to optimise this; try to keep it between six and 10 words (particularly important for mobile devices where the whole subject line may not be visible); personalise it; and avoid spammy phrases such as ‘Savings’, ‘Clearance”, “Deals” or “Exclusive”. These may be filtered out by ISP and so may never make it to your recipient’s inbox.

Keep your copy short and compelling, and edit it ruthlessly – once you’re written it, go through it carefully and eliminate anything unnecessary.

Above all try to make your content sell without being too salesy; Enchanting Marketing says “Dirty sales tactics are designed for selling to strangers. Treat your buyers like friends. Be genuine. Be helpful. Be lovable. Make their life better.”

Another form of email marketing is ‘drip marketing’. Drip marketing is a communication strategy that sends, or “drips,” a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. Though drip marketing principles can also be applied to social media, normally the medium used is email. In email drip marketing, the messages are automated and timed according to specific behaviours of the recipient. Email drip marketing is often used in conjunction with a webform to create an autoresponder.


What Is An Email Marketing Software?

Email marketing software solutions such as Mailchimp help you to plan and execute and email marketing campaign, the monitor its results and modify the campaign accordingly. Though some have free trials, most work on a paid subscription basis. Ask some email marketing services which they think would work best for your business.

Email marketing software functions can include email building, scheduling, automation, reporting and analytics. Email marketing software will automate the exhausting manual processes of list preparation, creation of segregated subgroups, sending the actual emails, and creating feedback reports.

One of the most valuable functions of email marketing software is that it helps you to split-test campaigns, sending different versions to separate list groups and reporting (in real time I you need) on responses, maximising your return on investment.

Software will also analyse your click-through rate (CTR). Once you have got users to open your emails, the next worry is your CTR, the percentage who actually click on a link in your email, usually to go to your website. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email CTR is the most important email marketing metric for 70 percent of marketers, and the most popular way for them to measure the success of their email marketing campaigns.

Some of the various functions of email marketing software include WYSIWYG email builders, mailing list management tools, A/B testing tools, merge tagging (which lets you replace elements in your email with data from a list, for instance to insert your customer’s name in the message), autoresponders, which can be set to send targeted content to your mailing groups based on activity, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) integration, and social media integration.

For instance, Campaign Monitor is an effective e-mail marketing platform with functions including an e-mail builder, analytics including subscriber activity, and acquisition trend analysis. Campaign Monitor offers a range of price plans from $9 per month, depending on the number of users and messages per month you have. Campaign Monitor also has a premium option adding an email design consultant, online training and onboarding, and dedicated customer support, which includes priority phone and email. But, as they say, other email marketing platforms are available, so apart from Campaign Monitor what are some of the most popular email marketing software tools?

One of the most useful applications for software tools is in CRM email marketing. CRM email marketing integrates your marketing tools with your customer relationship management, so for instance you can query your contact database to quickly create targeted email campaigns to segmented groups. CRM email marketing also helps you to grow your contacts base through response form on your website.



10 Best Email Marketing Tools and Software

  1. ActiveCampaign

An email marketing, marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM software platform for small-to-mid-sized businesses. ActiveCampaign provides cloud-based marketing and sales automation software with features for email marketing, lead scoring and web analytics, a CRM platform, and a live chat messaging platform called Conversations.

  1. Constant Contact

A comprehensive suite of email marketing tools including a drag-and-drop editor, mobile-optimised templates, automatic welcome emails, subject line testing, and content segmentation based on clicks.

  1. MailChimp

A popular marketing automation platform and email marketing service moving towards becoming a full marketing platform aimed at smaller organisations.

  1. GetResponse

An email marketing and online campaign management platform for building targeted subscriber lists and sending newsletters, video emails, and follow-up campaigns. It offers marketing automation, responsive email design, email templates, a landing page creator, and useful statistical analysis tools.

  1. SendInBlue

A web-based ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) solution for relationship marketing, featuring  email marketing, transactional email, marketing automation, customer-relationship management, landing pages, Facebook ads, retargeting ads, SMS marketing, and more.

  1. ConvertKit

An automation marketing platform featuring advanced email marketing functionality, tag-based list segmentation, visual automation flows, opt-in forms and detailed reporting , aimed at the small business owner and digital creatives such as bloggers.

  1. Hubspot

HubSpot provides tools for social media marketing, content management, web analytics, landing pages, customer support and search engine optimization, and has integration features for, SugarCRM, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and others.

  1. Ontraport

Offers customer relations management services that help with content management, such as creating and hosting webpages; lead tracking, e-mail, SMS, social media, and direct mail; managing online payments, including automated billing; and workflow automation, such as for recruiting

  1. Aweber

Comparable to Getresponse, a tool for hosting your mailing list, creating attractive email templates, sending e-newsletters out to subscribers and automating your communications to subscribers via ‘autoresponders’.

  1. Drip

A CRM designed for e-commerce including custom opt-in pop-ups, automated lead magnet delivery, Facebook Lead Ads, visual emails, automated workflows, and personalization functions

TRON Media can help with all your email marketing requirements. TRON Media has a highly qualified team of trained specialists in emal marketing, SEO, PPC, website design services, website security, social media marketing, WordPress, HTML coding, CMS, paid search marketing, Google Ads, content marketing and digital strategy, and can work with you to develop your ideas and build an email marketing campaign perfect for your business.

TRON Media is a leading email marketing agency in Brighton, offering the easiest and most cost-effective way to guarantee that email marketing works for you. Get in touch today to find out about our latest email marketing services, web design services, social media marketing services, and what an email marketing campaign can do for your brand awareness and ROI.

Contact us using our Contact Form, call Simon on 020 3006 6889 or email us at: [email protected].



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