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Email Marketing Basics: Top Things You Need To Know

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Email marketing is an excellent way of growing your brand and selling products to your target audience. When emails first rolled out in the 1970s, Digital Equipment Corp marketing manager Gary Thuerk sent the first commercial email to inform people about a new product. His email list only had 400 addresses, but his emails generated approximately $13 million in sales. That's how effective email marketing is.
history of email marketing
A part of the history of email marketing. Source: Mailchimp
So, if you want to be like Thuerk and generate ROI off your email campaigns, you must start by learning the email marketing basics.

Key Takeaways

  • Defined marketing goals reinforce email marketing success.
  • Knowledge of different email marketing types helps address audiences' needs.
  • Email marketing is still more cost-effective than traditional marketing channels.
  • Email marketing thrives on robust analytics, automation, and reach and accessibility.

Email Marketing Defined

Email marketing is a powerful and effective digital marketing channel that uses emails to promote your business, products, or services to current customers and prospective clients. Email marketing keeps your consumers updated on your latest promotions or product offerings, holding a crucial role in generating fresh leads, fostering client relationships, building brand awareness, and keeping consumers engaged. While multiple marketing channels exist to help businesses achieve their goals, email marketing is among the most cost-effective and efficient ways to connect with consumers and prospects. Many doubt the power of emails, but email marketing has long proven effective. Businesses and marketers wanting to venture into email marketing must stay on top of email marketing basics. This article may not be an email marketing basics and a step-by-step beginner's guide, but we shall cover the key elements and information on the basics of email marketing.

How To Get Started With Email Marketing

Email marketing is more than just composing emails on Gmail or Yahoo and sending them to random people. First on the email marketing basics list is to start with your email marketing campaign through a well-mapped working strategy. An effective strategy compels readers to open your emails and take action. These steps are email marketing basics for attracting consumers and achieving your goals:

Define Your Audience

person facing laptop
Knowing your audience is at the top of the email marketing basics list.
The recipients of your emails are the powerhouse of your email marketing campaigns. Remember that the primary goal is to provide your audience with something they can benefit from. Hence, it is paramount to understand them and tailor your campaigns to cater to their needs and desires. Identify what they want and send emails that address their pain points. If you can provide solutions to your audience's problems, they will want to read your emails, engage with you, and recommend you to others facing the same problem.

Establish Marketing Goals

Your goal is the roadmap of your campaign. Realistic goals keep you focused and on track. So, establish what you want to achieve from your campaign, whether generating leads, driving engagement, building brand awareness, etc., and use them to drive a successful email marketing campaign. The purpose of establishing your marketing goals is to help you make informed decisions and measure success accordingly. Your goals are one of the email marketing basics and the driving force of your campaign.

Building and Segmenting An Email Marketing List

Once you have defined your target audience and marketing goals, your next big task is to build an email marketing list (based on your target audience). As mentioned, email marketing isn't a shot in the dark with random people. Your email list determines the recipient of your emails. Building your list entails gathering email addresses from those who have agreed to receive your emails. You can start from scratch or use platforms to add subscription forms or pop-ups to your business website. Building your list and growing a subscriber base take time, so be patient and continue pursuing your prospective audience through quality content and exceptional offerings. However, you don't stop there. Once you have gathered a significant amount of people on your subscription list and if your business offers multiple services or products, you can create sub-groups or segments. Doing so entails creating various content for your segments to address their distinct needs and desires.

Creating A Schedule

weekly planner
Send emails on a consistent schedule to develop anticipation.
And staying true to this schedule to maintain consistency. Some days can be too overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done with the business, so it can be tempting to send an email at your most convenient time or not send anything due to a hectic schedule. However, being devoted to your campaign requires religiously sticking to your schedule, staying on track, and exuding reliability. Lucky for you, email marketing services platforms come with a scheduler that automates the sending of emails right on time. You don't need to bat an eye because the platform can send emails to your segments or email list at your chosen schedule. You can choose from numerous platforms, but WhiteSES is among the best. You can read more about it in our WhiteSES review.

Types and Examples of Email Marketing

Staying on top of email marketing basics requires being well-informed on the various types of email marketing. Understanding the various types of email campaigns empowers you to precisely address your audience's needs and make the best choices that would lead to hitting your goals. Here is an extensive look at all the types of email marketing and their corresponding examples.


A newsletter in email marketing is a type of email campaign that typically contains curated content, updates, announcements, promotions, or information relevant to a specific audience. You can send newsletters regularly (weekly, monthly, etc.) to subscribers who have opted in to receive updates from you. Many big brands send out newsletters. An example would be SHEIN, a Chinese fast fashion company mogul, who consistently emails aesthetically alluring and well-curated newsletters containing their latest releases, promotions, discounts, and top influencer picks for the month. You can learn more about newsletters through Google Digital Garage email marketing basics or's email marketing basics.

Promotional Emails

A promotional email is a focused marketing message to promote specific products, services, discounts, or events to drive immediate action, such as making a purchase or signing up for an offer. Promotional emails are direct and persuasive, always featuring a clear call-to-action (CTA) and highlighting the benefits of the promoted item or offer. You can send promotional emails during a new product launch, a seasonal sale, a limited-time offer, or other promotional events. Others mistake promotional emails for newsletters. Newsletters are much broader and often aim to engage and inform the audience. They may contain promotional elements, but their overall structure and aim vary from that of promotional emails.

Welcome Emails

Welcome emails are the initial communications you can send to subscribers immediately after they sign up for your email list, newsletter, or service. These emails allow you to make a positive first impression, introduce your brand's values and offerings, and set expectations for future communications. You may include in your welcome emails personalized greetings, brief brand introductions, encouragements for further engagement like following on social media or exploring the website, and clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to prompt your subscribers to take the next desired steps, such as making a purchase or completing a profile. Additionally, you may include special offers, discounts, or incentives to welcome new subscribers and encourage immediate action, contributing to increased engagement and subscriber retention in your campaigns.

Re-engagement Emails

If there's a welcome email for new subscribers, there is also a re-engagement email for those who have disengaged from a business. Re-engagement marketing emails are messages designed to reconnect with subscribers who have become inactive or disengaged from your email communications. These emails aim to rekindle interest, remind recipients of your brand's value, and encourage them to re-engage with your content, products, or services. For instance, if your subscribers haven't opened or clicked on emails from your brand for a while, you may send a re-engagement email with a catchy subject line like "We Miss You!" or "Come Back for Exclusive Offers!" These emails often include incentives such as discounts, freebies, or special offers to entice subscribers to take action and start interacting with your brand again. You can also use Re-engagement emails to gather feedback or insights from inactive subscribers by asking about their preferences, interests, or reasons for disengagement. By understanding their needs and addressing concerns, you can better tailor future communications and improve the overall subscriber experience.

Seasonal Emails

sticky note reminder
Planning your holiday campaigns in advance saves time.
Seasonal marketing emails are those tailored to capitalize on major events, holidays, or seasonal trends relevant to your audience. These emails leverage the timing of specific occasions like Valentine's Day, Black Friday, Christmas, or back-to-school season to promote products, services, or offers that align with the theme or sentiment of that particular time of year. For example, during the holiday season, you can send emails showcasing festive products, special promotions, or gift ideas. Always incorporate holiday-themed visuals and language to create a sense of urgency and excitement, encouraging your audience to take advantage of limited-time deals or seasonal offers. These emails are effective because they tap into the mood and expectations of consumers during specific times, making them more likely to engage and make purchases related to the seasonal theme or event.

The Advantages of Email Marketing

Email marketing offers several advantages for businesses, making it a popular and effective digital marketing strategy. Some of the key advantages you can get out of email marketing are the following:
  • Cost-Effective. Email marketing is more cost-effective than traditional marketing channels like print or TV ads. There are minimal costs associated with sending emails, making it an affordable option for businesses of all sizes.
  • Targeted Messaging. Email marketing allows you to segment your audience based on demographics, interests, purchase history, or engagement level, enabling you to send personalized and targeted messages to specific groups, increasing relevance and engagement.
  • Measurable Results. Email marketing platforms provide robust analytics and reporting tools that allow you to track key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, bounce rates, and more. This data helps you measure the success of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions to optimize future strategies.
  • Automation and Personalization. Email marketing platforms offer automation features that allow you to set up triggered emails based on specific actions or events, such as welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, or follow-up emails. Personalization tokens enable you to address subscribers by name and tailor content based on their preferences, enhancing the user experience.
  • Increased ROI. Due to its low cost and high potential for engagement, email marketing often delivers a high return on investment (ROI). When done effectively, your email campaigns can drive conversions, generate leads, nurture customer relationships, and ultimately contribute to your business's revenue growth.
  • Reach and Accessibility. With billions of email users worldwide, email marketing provides a broad reach and accessibility to a global audience. Emails can be accessed on various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops, ensuring that your messages reach your recipients wherever they may be.
  • Build Customer Relationships. Email marketing helps you stay in touch with your audience regularly, providing value through informative content, promotions, updates, and personalized recommendations. This fosters trust, loyalty, and long-term relationships with your customers.

FAQs on Email Marketing Basics

How do I build an email list?

You can build an email list by collecting email addresses from individuals who voluntarily provide their contact information. You can do this through sign-up forms on your website, social media, events, or by offering incentives like discounts or freebies in exchange for email subscriptions. Remember to give them a way out of your list by providing a clear "unsubscribe" button or option.

How often should I send emails?

The frequency of sending emails depends on your audience, content strategy, and goals. It's essential to balance staying top-of-mind without overwhelming your subscribers. Some businesses send weekly newsletters, while others may send emails less frequently or more often based on audience preferences and engagement metrics.

How do I measure the success of my email campaigns?

Tracking your metrics and looking at the figures are a surefire way to measure your success.
You can measure the success of your email campaigns by tracking key metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates. Email marketing platforms provide analytics tools to help you analyze campaign performance, identify trends, and optimize future strategies for better results. Check out our MailerLite review to discover what a top-performing email marketing platform offers. Learn more about email marketing basics by heading to our "What Is Email Marketing? A Comprehensive Introduction 2024" article.
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