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Email Marketing

What Is Email Marketing?

It may sound surprising, but many of us cannot remember a time before email.

In fact, email has been used as an effective communication tool for well over 40 years, revolutionising how we interact with one another both personally and professionally.

In 1978, the 'Father of Spam', Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp sent the first mass emailing. A novelty at the time, this ‘new’ technique resulted in $13m worth of sales and set the ball rolling for commercial email.

To understand the power of email marketing, we must first get to grips with what it is and how it works.

Image depicting what is email marketing

Before we begin, let's cover

Email Marketing Definition

In a nutshell, the definition of email marketing can be boiled down to “the practice of using email to promote your business”.

In its broadest sense, every email sent to a current or potential customer can be classed as ‘email marketing’.

Email marketing is about informing, persuading, and winning the loyalty of a contact base that is interested in what you have to sell. Each marketing email distributed usually has one of three primary objectives:

  1. To build loyalty
  2. To build trust
  3. To increase brand awareness

Only once the recipients receive value and trust the brand, can marketing emails be used to introduce offers to increase sales.

Trying to use email to sell services or products to a new subscriber is a no, no. It will result in them deleting your emails or unsubscribing altogether.

Low cost, high results, marketing strategy

Why Does Email Marketing Matter?

The goal of any email marketing strategy is to find new customers, retain existing customers, and increase revenue.

Despite some critics suggesting that the concept is outdated, studies show that email marketing is still an incredibly effective technique.


Because email marketing for small business and email marketing for start-ups in particular, gives you the opportunity to directly connect with your target audiences. Using this technique, you can offer a valuable and relevant service or product at a relatively low cost.

Email is better than social media

Mind-Blowing Email Facts

  • For 86% of professionals, email is their preferred communication channel

  • Over 90% of consumers check their emails daily

  • According to an eMarketer study, the average email marketing return on investment (ROI) is 122%. That's four times higher than any other digital marketing channel

  • On average, for every $1 spent by email marketers, $38 is returned

  • When it comes to customer acquisition, email is 40X more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined
Image shows email marketing comes before social media

Nothing beats email marketing

Why Should You invest In Email Marketing?

Email marketing may not be as shiny and high-tech as other forms of digital marketing, however, it is important not to overlook how successful it can be if executed correctly.

Aside from the facts listed above, let’s look at 9 top reasons why email marketing works and why you and your business should invest time and effort in an email marketing strategy:

1. Email marketing is inexpensive

Email marketing is inexpensive, easy and effective. For smaller businesses, start-ups or those with tighter budgets, this will come as a huge relief.

Email allows small business owners to reach a large number of consumers for a fraction of the cost of television, print advertising or even sponsored social media posts.

2. Email marketing helps you build relationships

Once you have an engaged audience, communicating over email is a fantastic way of staying in touch and remaining relevant.

Of course, we know that your email may be reaching hundreds or thousands of people, but personalised offers and a friendly approach allows the audience to feel invested in.

Remember, people like to do business with those they like and trust. This gives an email marketer a fantastic tool for increasing engagement and conversation.

3. Email drives visitors to your website

Email marketing can seamlessly drive more visitors to your website and provides you with a valuable way to track which parts of your website and your marketing attracts the most interest.

4. Email marketing keeps you top of mind

Did you know that at least 90% of consumers check their email daily?

While you can go for a few days without checking social media, most people check their email several times a day.

This gives you lots of opportunities to grab attention and remain at the forefront of your audience’s mind.

5. Email marketing keeps you in control

Unlike social media or any other form of advertising, you are in control of your audience and distribution list.

Recipients of your emails receive your messaging when you decide. No algorithms and less chance of being overlooked.

6. Emails can create urgency

Email marketing is particularly effective for emergency appeals and newsletters with strong calls to action. Why?

Because these emails hammer home urgent messaging and offer a hassle-free way to quickly engage recipients.

7. Email marketing gives you “another bite of the cherry”

For internet shopping addicts, adding items to your basket for a ‘later day’ is a common occurrence. Maybe we genuinely forget, or maybe we want to take the time to mull over the purchase.

Often these items sit in a shopper’s virtual basket for hours or days before potentially getting discarded altogether.

Reminder emails direct to inboxes can be a huge driver of sales, prompting shoppers ‘on the fence’ to take the plunge and buy.

8. Email enhances the professionalism of your brand

For small businesses, start-ups or those taking their first tentative steps into email marketing, there are a wealth of free, pre-designed templates that you can use to assist with your brand messaging.

Remember, you don’t need to be a design expert for your brand to look sharp and smart over email. Many brands are saving valuable hours by creating engaging marketing emails in a relatively short space of time.

And Finally...

Using email marketing platforms (which most offer a free version) to create stylish email marketing campaigns is time and cost-effective for beginners when compared to other marketing techniques.

Quick summary so far

Benefits Of Email

To summarize, here are the top 9 reasons for using email marketing:

  1. Email marketing is inexpensive
  2. Email marketing helps you build relationships
  3. Email drives visitors to your website
  4. Email marketing keeps you top of mind
  5. Email marketing keeps you in control
  6. Emails can create urgency
  7. Email marketing gives you “another bite of the cherry”
  8. Email enhances the professionalism of your brand
  9. Email marketing performs better than other marketing techniques

Begin with an email strategy

How Do I Get Started?

Right! You may have decided that email marketing is the tool for you. But how do you get started?

Don’t just dive in. You need an email marketing strategy.

If you are looking at email marketing for small business or email marketing for start-ups, you need to think about the purpose of your marketing email.

Ask yourself: "Why am I sending this marketing email and what do I want from this transaction?"

Each of your customers receives, on average, 121 emails every day. That means, if you don’t take the time to develop an email marketing strategy, your emails will get lost in crowded inboxes, or worse, be sent to their spam folder.

It is easy to start using email

Email Marketing For Beginners

1. Define your audience

An effective email is a relevant email. Like everything else in marketing, start with your buyer persona, understand what they want and tailor your email campaign to your audience’s needs.

Example of a buyer persona used in an email marketing strategy

An example of a Buyer Persona

We have created a guide specifically to show you how to create a buyer persona as part of a marketing strategy. You can also download our free persona question template and persona layout template here.

2. Establish your goals

Before you come up with your campaign goals, gather some context.

Research the average email stats for your industry and use them as benchmarks for your goals.

3. Create a way for people to sign up to your email

Remember, you are email marketing: you do not want to ‘spam’ people. You want to make sure your audience is engaged and interested in whatever products or services you want to promote in an authentic way.

To build your list you may want to add an easy and appealing sign-up form to your website, promote your newsletter on social media or ask established contacts if they would like tailored access to information and the products or services you are selling.

Make your sign-up form is easily obtainable and remember to entice audiences in with exclusive content or offers.

Remember, you want your audience to grow authentically and organically. It doesn’t matter is your email list is small at first – if the quality of the content is there, your reach will soon expand.

Image shows a digital roadmap including email marketing campaigns

An example of an email sign-up form

We have created a digital marketing roadmap which you can download for free here. This illustrates how to build your digital strategy and shows you where email marketing fits into the equation.

4. Choose an email marketing campaign type

Decide what type of email you would like to send. Is it a newsletter or magazine? A product update email? A special announcement? A confirmation email? A welcome email? A promotional email?

All of these (and countless others) fall under the umbrella term ‘email marketing’. As such, you need to carefully decide what it is you want to promote or sell and tailor your content and the design of your email accordingly.

Of course, you can decide to send more than one type of email, but each should have a specific purpose and defined outcome.

5. Decide which email marketing software works best for you

You may want to design your email campaign ‘in-house’ or use many of the email marketing platforms and email marketing software available to you. These platforms give you the opportunity to manage your subscribers, design your template and monitor the success of your campaign through the programme itself.

Typically, costs are reasonable, with charges added for email distribution size, access to different templates and personalisation.

All platforms and software have pros and cons, plus differing levels of support depending on your needs and requirements. Remember to ask around, do your research and don’t be afraid to try out a few different options before settling.

For smaller businesses, business start-ups or if you are investing in email marketing for beginners, you may also want to invest in tried and tested marketing templates, guides, exclusive books, business resources and online training courses offered by YewBiz to help guide you through the process and help grow your business.

Image shows an email automation flow in active campaign

An example of an email automation workflow

We use ActiveCampaign email marketing and automation software. This email platform allows us to configure workflows to automate the sending of our email campaigns. It makes our life so much easier. Register for a free trial here so you can test it yourself.

7. Make a schedule

Decide how often you plan to contact your list and inform your audience upfront so they know what to expect.

It is also better to stick to a consistent schedule to build trust, so recipients won't forget about you. Remember: timing is everything: email too frequently and you could be in danger of bombarding your subscribers. This could result in boredom or people unsubscribing.

Alternatively, if you email too infrequently, your audience could forget about you entirely, weakening your brand and dissolving any positive associations.

If social media is the cocktail party, then email marketing is the ‘meet up for coffee’. The original 1 to 1 channel.

Erik Harbison

Make it irresistible

How Do I Create A Successful Email Marketing Campaign?

Remember, your email won’t be the only one reaching a subscriber’s inbox in a single day.

This means whatever product or service you are selling needs to ‘cut through’ the noise and make an immediate impact.

A few points to remember:

1. Write a subject line that is irresistible

In order to sell your products and services, you need to entice your subscribers to open your email in the first place. Write a subject line that is compelling and that stands out in a crowded marketplace.

Keep your subject line simple, clear, punchy, and relevant to the content in your email. Use action words and power words to evoke urgency, emotion, curiosity, and excitement to encourage opens and compel action.

Statistics show that subject lines which are 6 - 10 words long achieve the best open rates.

2. Don’t be afraid to get personal

Emails that are warm and friendly in tone are much more likely to be read and acted upon.

Remember, just because you may be emailing hundreds and thousands of recipients, doesn’t mean that your tone or approach has to be stuffy or impersonal.

Use clear language, tailor the content by using names or using the personal pronoun ‘you’ and don’t be afraid to humanise your brand by signing off the email with your name, rather than a logo or company title.

An example of a personalized email campaign

An example of signing off with personalized signatures

We have created a free guide on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile so that it stands out here. You will notice a big difference after you implement our recommendations. We also offer a fantastic LinkedIn course which will take you through step-by-step how to win more business using LinkedIn.

3. Make sure your content is worth reading

Not only does your content have to be personal and engaging, but you must also ensure you are offering your subscribers something worth reading.

Whether this is exclusive offers, discount codes or news and information they can’t access elsewhere, you have to ensure your emails are insightful and alluring. Otherwise, why bother?

As Benjamin Murray said: "Quality over quantity – Emails may be cost-efficient but it’s no excuse to not produce quality content to give to a targeted audience."

4. Include a call to action

Every email that you send should include a call to action that is aligned to your marketing campaign. The call to action could be one of the following:

  • Website links: “read more”
  • Social media signposts: “find and follow”
  • A form or survey to fill out
  • Discount codes or offers to claim
  • “Get in touch” comment boxes or links to an email address

Remember, you need to decide what the ‘point’ of your email marketing campaign is, what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Only then can you measure your success and track your progress.

Image shows a call to action in an email

An example of calls-to-action in emails

5. Use images and video… but don’t rely on them

Our attention spans these days are shorter than ever before, so a text-heavy and overly lengthy email campaign can be off-putting for subscribers.

Remember to strike the balance between visually appealing and enticing headings, text and images/video. However, don’t fall into a trap: make sure you don’t rely too heavily on images or video, which can get blocked by spam filters or do not automatically download in some inboxes.

If you are unsure, make sure you send yourself a test email and ensure the email is optimised for mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. You can also ask your subscribers to ensure they flag your emails as “not spam”.

You can test your emails before you send them using this free spam checker

6. Be consistent

Don’t forget: email marketing is designed to strengthen your brand, add value and give your subscribers the opportunity to connect who you are with what you do.

Your emails should be consistent with your brand values: colour, font, imagery, design, logo, tone, etc.

There is no point using an overly jazzy, modern email template or implementing a host of videos and GIFs in your campaign if the call to action leads to the reader to a website that displays the opposite.

Be consistent as this creates trust and improves brand awareness and recognition.

7. Test, test, test!

You have designed an engaging email, and you are just about to press ‘send’ to all 1,000 of your subscribers, only to realise that none of your links work, your images do not download and there is a huge embarrassing typo in the header…

Make sure you proofread your email, if possible, ask a colleague or friend with fresh eyes to assist you. You should also send yourself a test email to ensure everything displays and links through accordingly.

If you are designing email marketing campaigns in advance, you should also ensure all of your content is 100% relevant (and appropriate) before sending.

Also, be mindful of when you send your emails.

First thing on a Monday morning or after 3pm on a Friday, are probably best avoided if you want to maximise your engagement. Statistics show that mid-week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) around 3pm generally perform best.

Image of email open rates by day of week

It is best practice to make sure that your emails are tracked, that way you can check when you achieve the best open and engagement rates.

Summary of what to do

Beginning Email Marketing

Here are the top 13 tips for beginning an email marketing campaign:

  1. Define your audience
  2. Establish your goals
  3. Create a way for people to sign up to your email
  4. Choose an email marketing campaign type
  5. Decide which email marketing software to use
  6. Make an email schedule
  7. Write subject lines which are irresistible
  8. Don't be afraid to get personal
  9. Make your content worth reading
  10. Include a call-to-action in the email
  11. Use images and video within the email body
  12. Be consistent
  13. Test, test and test some more

No time like the present

What Next?

Once you have designed your perfect email marketing campaign and have distributed it to your engaged audience, your next task is to keep your subscriber list up-to-date and track your progress and success.

At first, this can be a daunting prospect, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

Remember to research the average success rates for your industry and to keep an eye on the ‘open’ and ‘click-through’ data. This will reveal how enticed your audience was in the content you were offering.

If your email marketing campaign didn’t perform as well as you expected, be brave, take a detailed look at what worked well and what could have gone better.

Don’t be afraid to ‘mix it up’, refine your email marketing strategy and remember it can take time to perfect your email marketing techniques. It may also be useful to test two variants of the same email to different groups of subscribers to see which performs best.

Remember - there is a wealth of opportunity out there, as well as fantastic resources and courses on how to do email marketing.

Good luck!

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