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The Basics of Email Marketing

Email isn’t a new thing. It’s not some sparkling, reimagined digital channel that’s had its renaissance. But it is nonetheless important, and arguably, more important than ever. 99% of consumers check their email every day, which is just one reason that their inbox is where you want to be.

But obviously, it isn’t as easy as that. It’s not just a case of sending an email, being in your prospects’ inbox and seeing results overnight. At least, not if you want to do it right and do it well.

There are hoops you need to jump through, such as complying with GDPR regulations. And factors like having access to the right tools and software, as well as being able to design attractive and engaging emails, knowing what types of email are appropriate for different situations and then of course, tracking your key metrics. Simple, right?

Maybe it’s not entirely straightforward, but this is a channel you shouldn’t just ignore because it will take a chunk of time to set up. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know - and do - to get on top of an effective email marketing strategy.

Types of marketing emails

There are many different types of marketing emails you may want to include in your strategy. From newsletters to lead nurturing sequences, product updates and event promotion.

No matter which types of emails you choose to focus on, one thing remains critical for successful marketing emails – that they are not sent randomly, but rather are part of a larger, well thought through strategy.

What’s your desired outcome? What do you want your email marketing campaign to achieve? When you know that, you can start to work out which type of marketing email you should send.


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With newsletters, the title gives it away. They are regular emails you send out to particular segments of your email list with the purpose of interacting and building relationships with leads and customers. Usually, newsletters are summaries of your recent content and announcements of updates. But if the shoe really doesn’t fit the foot, you don’t need a newsletter if it doesn’t work for your brand.

The benefits of newsletters are that they can be helpful for generating traffic to your website, as well as maintaining relationships and helping to close to deals. So, if these goals line up with your brand, it’s worth stirring up a storm with some killer email newsletters.


Lead nurturing

It would be wonderful if leads turned to sales with the click of your fingers, but it unfortunately doesn’t work like that. Well, not for most of us. The closest we’ve got to that so far is lead nurturing emails. These are usually a series of emails aiming to guide prospects and contacts further through your sales funnel.

They’re triggered automatically when certain actions are performed, i.e. downloading content from a landing page or signing up for a free trial. For your nurture emails to be as effective as possible you should segment your audience so you can make sure your messages are highly targeted at each and every stage of the buyer’s journey.


Informational emails

Informational emails aren’t dissimilar to newsletters, the main difference is they are less regular, and tend to go out when you have something specific to announce or share

This can be anything from new content, product updates, co-marketing partnerships, upcoming events or event updates. Think of them as bigger announcements that merit their own showcase, rather than smaller updates that make up part of a newsletter.


Transactional emails

The most common forms of transactional email occur when your prospect or customer performs a particular action. For example, signing up for your newsletter, buying a product or filling out a form. These usually exist in the form of:

  • Confirmation emails – these should be short, to the point, and not contain any other information other than what you are confirming. You don’t need any bells or whistles for these.
  • Thank you and kick-back emails – again, another type of marketing email that should be simple, to the point and doesn’t need fancy design. These emails are usually triggered once a prospect, lead or customer fills out a form on one of your landing pages. These are often thank you emails, but not exclusively so, they can also contain the content that has been redeemed from a form the prospect submitted.
  • Welcome emails – when people sign up for your newsletter, free trial or such, welcome emails are the perfect option. Here you get a chance to showcase your brand, give some insights and explanations about how everything works and what the recipient needs to know to get started.


Product update email

This type of marketing email may not be for every brand, but many companies choose to send regular product updates out to their customers, with the latest features. This kind of email tends to work best as a roundup when you have a few updates to include, rather than sending individual emails out each time you have anything new to tell your customers about – unless you have a massive new feature that everyone has been waiting for.

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Setting up your campaign

Email marketing service

If you haven’t sent out marketing emails before, and don’t have an email marketing provider (ESP) in place, now is a great time to get one. They can really help you with fine tuning your email marketing and help you create sleek, attractive emails without the need of any prior IT or design experience. Often EMSs have tools to help you analyse the success of your emails to help fine tune them over time. We personally love using HubSpot – it’s super easy to use and you can send marketing emails even from the free version, which makes it ideal when you’re starting out (and the insights you get are truly stellar).

Email Segmentation

Segmenting your email list involves grouping your contacts into lists based on certain characteristics, preferences and interests.

Sending personalised content to your subscribers can increase engagement and build their relationship with your brand. Sending irrelevant content to people is likely to result in high unsubscribe rates, so by being able to create lists based on geographical locations, life cycle stage, industry, language and job title, you’re able to exclude those who aren’t relevant, while still targeting the right people.

Automation and workflows

Workflows are a really smart way to be able to send out highly targeted emails to your lists. For example, if a user opens an email or downloads a piece of content, your workflow will set off a series of actions. Take a look at the 10 email workflows your business should automate for a whole bunch of ideas for automating your emails.

One of the biggest benefits of doing this is saving a tonne of time on triggering and sending out content, but equally, you end up delivering a better service as well. Win win.

Learn more about our email marketing services

Email design

Subject line

No matter how killer the content inside your email is, no one will see it if your subject line flops. Your email is only as strong as your subject line, and if that lets you down, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle.

The best subject lines capture the attention of the recipient and makes them curious for the information that will be inside. When creating your subject lines, you should think about how you can grab the attention of the reader in as few words as possible, while providing some sort of value or information that make them want to open the email and summarising what they might see or read once they open the email.

In some industries (often B2C, but not exclusively), using emojis is a great way to get your emails opened. It’s worth a try – or why not A/B test two different subject lines to see which one resonates most with your audience.

Another trick that often boosts open rates is using personalisation in the email subject line. It’s especially helpful if that person has reached out to you, or downloaded something. The difference between “here’s your ebook” and “hey Jessica, here’s the ebook you ordered” is pretty high.


It may seem obvious, but you want to make sure that as soon as your recipients open your email, they know it has been sent from your company. To make sure this is clear, you should use your brand colours and brand voice throughout. Try to use fonts that are associated with your brand across social channels and your website, and make sure your logo is displayed prominently at the top.

Your email design should be consistent and one way to achieve this is by creating email templates you can use each time you create emails. As well as this making sure your email design is consistent, it will also save you time when it comes to building the next one, and the one after that.

UX – or User Experience

User experience is an important factor to how well your recipients engage with your emails. If they appear messy, disorganised, or unclear your readers are more likely to abandon reading it, or only glance at it.

Good user experience utilises white space, headlines and visual content to make it clear, enjoyable and interesting to read. You should also make sure your design is responsive, so it adapts to the format of the screen on which it is being displayed. Your email service should be able to show you how many of your emails are opened on mobiles – and it’s usually a lot – so making responsive emails is a must.


Calls-to-action (CTAs) should always be visible, enticing and clear as to where they lead. Whether your CTA is to get your recipients to visit your website, view an offer, or sign up to a free trial, they are the key for your conversions in your email.

When designing your email and CTAs keep in mind what the goal of the email is and make sure the CTA matches that. To increase the chance of your readers interacting with your CTA you shouldn’t have too many that may steer their attention away from each other and/or your goal.

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Email marketing metrics


Your click through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on one of the links from your email, against the number of people who opened your email. This metric gives you insights in to how engaging your readers find your content.


Conversion rate

Another metric displayed as a percentage. Any time that a recipient of your email takes an action after following a link from your email, they count as a conversion. To increase your conversion rate, you should have clear CTAs for your readers to click on that align with your conversion goal.

List grow rate

It’s important to always be looking for opportunities to grow your email list. Due to the nature of email lists, you should expect them to degrade naturally, by about 22.5% each year from unsubscribes, people who change jobs, and switching email addresses. Make sure you’re monitoring your list grow rate and consider incentivising new subscribers to sign up and get a boost.

Keeping compliant

Unsubscribe link

We spend so much time trying to grow our contact lists, it can seem counterintuitive to make it so easy for people to unsubscribe at the bottom of all email communication. But, if your customers want to opt out of your emails and can’t, they’re more likely to report you for spam. Additionally, the types of contacts that do want to opt out of your emails are unlikely to engage with them. This will negatively affect your open and engagement rates.

Similarly to this, once someone clicks on your unsubscribe link, it should be really easy for them to opt out, don’t try further deterring them by making them jump through hoops to stop receiving your marketing communications. Again, this kind of thing can hurt your sender credibility if marked as spam.

If you're worried about the number of people unsubscribing from your emails, this blog post could help you to understand why its happening. 

Include physical location in signature

A lot of email providers will actually require that you have to do this, but if they don’t it is good practice to include your physical location in your emails. Why? It’s a good way to show transparency in your brand – even if it may see unimportant. Just by having your address it means that readers can trust you more, increasing your credibility.


You’re probably familiar with the term blacklisting. It’s effectively when your emails are marked as spam and it can be that your contacts may never see you emails, even if they want to hear from you.

In order you overcome blacklisting, you can try to get whitelisted. Whitelisting is when your recipients have added your sender address to their contacts, which shows they are trusted and important, rather than junk.


Now that’s the basics of email marketing covered, so you can get stuck into the powerful marketing tool and start to see some positive effects on your ROI. For tips on how to stay relevant with your email marketing take a look at this article.

As always, if you need any help with your marketing or want to  get in touch for a consultation.

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