A Complete Introduction to Email Marketing: Basics and How to Start

Email marketing is a great way to add sales, increase ROI, and reach customers or your target audience in a new way. It’s the most direct way to acquire new leads, convert potential customers, and retain current ones.

This may be a new tactic to some businesses, so we’re here to break it down into easy-to-digest information that you can use to grow your business and see quantifiable results!

First Things First: What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that has proven to be highly effective when used correctly and smartly. It allows you to send emails to prospects and customers with tailored marketing messages and mass send-out.

The connections email marketing creates can forge new relationships with prospects, convert prospects into customers, and retain customers throughout the years.

Social media may be taking the marketing world by storm, but it still can’t compete with the effectiveness of email marketing. It nurtures your leads and finds a way to turn them into a loyal customer.

Why Is Email Marketing So Effective?

Email is #1. It is the top communication channel, with a majority of consumers checking their inbox at least once a day. That statistic is unprecedented, leaving email still as king.

Email is unshakable. Unlike social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook business pages, your email list and email content are absolutely yours. Accounts can get deleted for violations on social networks, and all the connection to followers, friends, or fans can be lost in an instant.

Besides that, the apps have access to your data and may be analyzing it for their own gain. On the other hand, email lists and email content belong to you. You will never have to fear about losing your contacts or getting your emails wiped out. It is thoroughly reliable.

Email makes conversion happen. Conversion is a marketing buzzword you are probably already familiar with. Essentially, it means those who are exposed to the email messaging are likely to convert from a reader/prospect to an actual customer and purchase a service or product. The average online order of an email prospect is three times more than an order from a social media prospect.

Make Your Email Marketing Happen

Before sending out any emails, you must first have a list of email addresses to which the content will be sent. Now, how should you go about compiling a list? Here’s what definitely NOT to do:

  • Do NOT Buy an Email List. Buying lists, while tempting and seemingly valuable, is ineffective. These lists may be comprised of inactive email addresses, old email addresses, or addresses of consumers who do not want to be contacted by your business.
  • Do NOT Create a List of People from Your Contacts. By adding addresses from your inbox, a collection of business cards, or a personal list, you’re setting the stage to contact people who have not expressed clear interest in receiving your email newsletter.

The only people you want to receive your marketing emails are the ones who want to receive your marketing emails! The people who opt-in to these kinds of things are the ones who will make purchases. Otherwise, you are wasting time, resources, and potentially aggravating potential customers and creating a bad reputation for yourself and your business.

Here’s how you should go about making an email list:

  • Create an opt-in box on your website to opt-in to emails! There are many ways to incentivize this kind of sign up. Many brands use discounts, special promotions or rewards to entice site visitors to become subscribers. These folks are the ones looking for a reason to spend their money on your business, and these folks are the ones to send emails to.

An opt-in form can be created by a web developer or with simple plugins, which can create personalized opt-in forms to be embedded anywhere.

Once you’ve got the entrance to your email marketing set up on your site for visitors, it’s time to send them some emails.

Get by with a Little Help

With a list of subscribers, you need somewhere to take it and something that can organize the data, help you to create content, and send out the emails with ease.

An email marketing service can make this part of the process a breeze. Let’s look at some top options in the realm of marketing services:

  • Constant Contact Constant Contact is one of the largest email marketing platforms in the whole world, serving over 600,000 clients. It also is highly reviewed, regarded, and rated as one of the best email marketing companies out there. Constant Contact is great for beginners, as it allows you to design the newsletter in-site with templates and user-friendly editing tools. You can manage your subscriber list and create lists for specialized subgroups, for example, sending automated mail deliveries to new subscribers. It comes with a free 60-day trial and starts at $20/month after that. Get a special deal here
  • Omnisend – Omnisend is a robust email marketing automation platform that allows you to add other channels into the same automation workflow: SMS, web push notifications, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and many more. Omnisend is built for e-commerce, and it shows: features include messages crafted for shopper behavior like cart abandonment, order followup, and many others. They have prebuilt customizable automation workflows, so you can start with advanced marketing automation in a matter of minutes. The Standard plan starts from $16/month and scales with your subscriber list.
  • HubSpotHubSpot is a do-it-all kind of software that has many other great marketing assets included. Great especially for medium or large businesses, HubSpot can help enhance search engine optimization (SEO), acquire leads, convert leads to buyers and nurture that relationship continuously. HubSpot lists allow for list segments, A/B testing, and more. It’s an expensive option that may be better for those more well-versed in email marketing looking to get more out of their marketing service. HubSpot offers plans starting at $800/month and increasing per every 1,000 list subscribers.
  • MailChimp MailChimp is another popular software option. Another great option for those just starting out with email marketing, it makes setting things up and interacting with the site easy. MailChimp Groups also allows you to segment your list. If you’re a small business with less than 2,000 subscribers, you can use this service for free! For more subscribers or specialty features, they offer paid plans for as low as $10/month and up, depending on list size.
  • Convert Kit A wonderful choice for a beginner looking to grow quickly, Convert Kit has advanced features available when the need arises, and it doesn’t come along with a hefty price tag. Convert Kit allows things like complex auto-response emails and is especially well-suited for individuals like bloggers, speakers, authors, or public figures.
  • AWeber Another popular option, AWeber has a ton of tools and features to offer its clients. Things like autoresponders, email builder, segmentation, and more are all available through AWeber. Their customer support is arguably unparalleled, and for plans starting at just $19/month after a 30-day free trial, it’s a great choice for those who may need a little help at the start.

Tricks of the Trade

Once you’ve got your list built and have chosen a service to help you make things happen, there are some aspects of email marketing that could improve your performance and results if you take a bit of time to consider them.

Lead Magnets

Lead magnets are incentives offered to visitors to get them to submit their email address and subscribe to your newsletters. There are things like coupons, discounts, free gifts, etc.

Some more lead magnet ideas include:

  • Free informational e-book
  • Free trial
  • Free quote
  • Free list of resources
  • Free assessment

The best lead magnets are ones that don’t cost you much (or ideally, anything) and add value to the prospect. A good lead magnet will be easy to digest, suggests action, is immediate and remains relevant to the prospect.

With your lead magnet, you can create your opt-in form. First, create a headline in large font that clearly conveys the benefit you’re offering. Then, create a brief but effective bit of copy to explain more about the offer and the request for subscription. Make the form simple (just requesting an email is often enough) and make it attractive enough to keep their attention the whole way through.

With your great lead magnet and well-constructed opt-in form, now comes the time to place it on your site. The location and function of your opt-in box matters.

Some placement ideas for an opt-in form include:

  • Welcome page
  • Site header
  • Floating top/bottom bar
  • In permanent sidebar
  • In a timed pop-up window
  • A designated sign-up page

The key to a good spot is visibility and unavoidability but not so much that it will turn the visitor off from your site.

Avoiding Spam Filters

Once they’ve opted in and you begin sending emails out, it’s imperative to make sure they are actually seeing your messages. With some inbox spam filters, newsletters from companies will automatically be archived as spam, removing the mail from their main inbox and often keeping it out of their view permanently.

If you’ve followed the guidelines above, hopefully all your subscribers have chosen on their own free will to receive your emails, and you are sending them out through a reliable service. This already positions you in better standing to get your emails straight to them, avoiding the spam folder.

There are some additional best practices to avoid the doghouse (spam folder), so here they are for you:

  • Seriously, don’t send messages to folks who haven’t opted in to your emails. This will land you in spam, could get your reported as spam, and could cause unsubscribing.
  • Verify that your IP address is clear – that no one had previously sent spam from that same IP address.
  • Don’t bait and switch the subscriber by tricking them with a subject line that does not correspond with the content of the email. They won’t be happy about that.
  • Keep your sales language to a minimum. Overly pushy sales emails can be a big turn-off to consumers. Certain words like sale, discount, buy, and clearance will also get flagged by spam filters and could land your email in the folder you don’t want it in.
  • Make it easy to opt-out. While of course, you don’t want your subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails, you can’t hold them hostage. Make it easy for them to get out if they’d like, and it will be easier on everyone. You don’t want people getting aggravated or annoyed by your brand.


Segmenting your list is a great way to test concepts, verbiage, images, or even subgroups of people!

When you segment your list, you do it based on certain criteria. This could be based on location, age, gender, or other demographics. It allows your emails to become more personalized to the audience on the receiving end, making things more relevant to them and thus more likely to convert to a buyer.

You can use segmentation to do A/B testing, where different emails are sent to different groups and the results are analyzed to compare the performance of each email. This can help you learn what your list responds better to.

You can also use segmentation to speak specifically to groups of people. Those who filled a cart online and left it, for example, would be a great segment to reach out to by offering a small discount if they complete their purchase. Sometimes all they need is that little push or little reminder, and segmenting makes that easy.

The Perfect Email

Crafting the perfect email will create a wonderful, supportive community of loyal customers. They will enjoy opening your newsletters and look forward to the ones to come.

Know your buyer, and this will guide everything. Then, once you know who you’re speaking to, speak only to them. Write as if it’s only going to one person, and it will feel more personal. Maintain friendliness in the tone, avoiding jargon or salesy words.

Using a subject line that catches their attention will get things going. Then, make sure your images and copy are compelling and descriptive enough to keep their eyes on the email all the way through.

Always include a call to action and offer a button that will take them to the site for instant purchase action.

Once you get the swing of it, keep crafting your emails like that every time. Creating consistently great content will increase your effectiveness and allow you to reap all the benefits that email marketing truly has to offer.