Email Marketing for Beginners: A Step-By-Step Guide

November 15, 2017
November 15, 2017 Madeleine

Email marketing. Everybody’s doing it and you know you should be doing it too, but you’re not sure where to begin or how to make it really work for your business.

The online marketing platform is a minefield with loads of services available and everyone sharing their opinions on how effective it is. But what happens when you don’t know where to begin? Do you bury your head in the sand and pretend email marketing doesn’t exist? Or maybe you convince yourself that your tried and trusted method of cold-calling is working?

We suggest neither. Email marketing isn’t as difficult as some might make it out to be and once you understand the basics you’ll be well on your way to creating effective and inexpensive email marketing campaigns.

Read on for our easy step-by-step guide and you too will be a master of email marketing.

Step 1: Decide on your goals

While this might be the most obvious place to start, there are times it’s overlooked. Before you start any campaign—regardless of your business or product—you need to establish what it is you’re hoping to achieve. Knowing this will help you measure if your campaign was a success and it will also have a direct impact on everything else you do.

So, what are your goals? Do you want people to unlock subscriber-only offers or maybe take advantage of a promotion you plan on running? Do you want to build an email list? If this is the case, carry on reading because step 2 covers that.

Step 2: Create a distribution list

Again, it goes without saying that you can’t send anything out if you don’t have a list of contacts. There are various ways to build your distribution list, but by doing it the right way will make a noticeable difference to the success of your email marketing.

As tempting as it might seem, do not buy an email list! We repeat, DO NOT do this! Yes, it’s quick and easy, but it’s also a surefire way of hurting your business and reputation. First of all, you’ll see a whole lot of people unsubscribe, which isn’t a great feeling. Secondly, you’re infringing on a person’s privacy, which isn’t cool. A recent study shows 77% of people respond to permission-based email marketing so keep this in mind next time you want to cut a few corners.

Step 3: Build your contact list

Start off by using your current list of contacts. You should have a few. And then start growing it from there. Special offers or discounts are always a great way to get people to subscribe, but you can also offer them content they find useful and interesting. This not only motivates them to sign up, it will keep them coming back for more and establish you as an expert in your field. Types of compelling content could include:

  • ​A case study
  • ​A free eBook or webinar session
  • ​A handy checklist
  • ​A complimentary report

When it comes to ways of subscribing, think only this: How is easy is it for people to sign up? Don’t ask for their all their details, as well as information on their closest family members and colleagues at work. To begin with, all you need is an email address.

And make it easy for them sign up in different ways. Think pop-ups, headers, footers, and everything in between.

Once you have your email distribution list you just press send, right? Wrong! You need to give the email some thought. Step 3 helps with this.

Step 3: Your Email Campaign

Before you send your email, ask yourself these three questions:

  • ​What kind of email are you sending?
  • ​Who are you sending it to?
  • ​How will you send it?

What kind of email you send will be determined by the goals you set in step 1. Remember those? Do you want to sell more of your product or maybe introduce a new offering? Perhaps you want to drive more traffic to your website or you would like to invite people to an event.

Who you send you mail to is as important as your message. This is why it’s important to know your subscribers. You can segment them into different categories depending on their likes and dislikes, their behavior and interests.

And, last but not least, how do you plan to send it? There are a lot of ways you can do this and knowing which to use when will make your email campaign more effective. Think:

  • ​Automation
  • ​Landing pages
  • ​Design
  • ​Segmentation

​Step 4: Your first email

This is the fun bit, but also a little daunting if it’s your first time. The best advice we can offer is to keep it simple in order to hold the reader’s attention. If you find your mail is too ‘salesy’ ask yourself “what do my customers want?” rather than “what do I want to sell?” Remember to choose only two or three points you want to convey. This will help keep you focused and identify what piques your audience’s interest.

It’s vitally important to remember the tone of voice. Conversational and informal works well most of the time, but make sure your tone matches your content. Using slang or text-message type emails aren’t going to work if you’re mailing CEOs.

Step 5: Check, edit, and test

Before you send your mail, check for any typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect information. Edit it down if necessary and then do a test to see everything is working properly. First of all, you don’t want it ending up in a spam or junk folder. You also want to see what it looks like when it’s opened by a customer.

Step 6: Measure results and adapt where necessary

You’ve sent the mail and now you wait for the inevitable increase in traffic to your site, a sudden spike in sales, or a fully-booked event. If only! The reality is this is where the hard work starts.

Email marketing is ok. Effective email marketing is brilliant, but what’s the difference and how do you measure it? There are three things to track when analyzing your campaign:

  • ​Open Rate
  • ​Click Thru Rate
  • ​Unsubscribe Rate

By understanding these metrics, you will have insight into how your emails are been received, whether they’re reaching the right people and if they’re actually doing what you need to them too.

Don’t stress yourself if it doesn’t all click into place immediately. Take chances, try new things, and, if they don’t work, simply move onto the next idea. While there are some basic steps to understanding email marketing, there’s actually no right or wrong way of doing it. It’s a lot of trial and error and you’ll sometimes be surprised at what hooks your audience.

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