The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing in 4 Easy Steps

Email marketing. If you’re here reading this blog post, you know it’s important.

But there’s probably one other thing that’s true if you’re here reading this blog post. You’re not quite sure how to make email marketing truly work for your company. With so many services offered and opinions shared on how to get started and build a sustainable and successful email marketing plan, how do you even know where to start?

That’s where we come in! Not only does Sendlane offer a full-suite package to get your email marketing on track, we’re also here to help you understand how to make it a big hit for your office, your audience, and your overall sales success.

Read on for the ultimate beginner’s guide to make you an email marketing master!

PHASE 1: FIGURE OUT YOUR GOALS

The first step to any new initiative is to figure out what you actually want to accomplish.

How will you know if your email marketing is successful if you don’t have a goal to test it against?! And while it can be tempting to set up a tool like Sendlane and get rolling immediately, it will be even more beneficial to take a few minutes and figure out what you really want to achieve – that will dictate everything else.

The best way to establish the right goals for email marketing is to match them up with your company’s overall goals.

Have a set quarterly sales goal? Want to see more attendees at your annual event? Looking to widen your sales funnel and gather more leads?

Take a look at Buzzfeed. The news and entertainment website is taking the internet by storm, in large part thanks to their email marketing efforts. Buzzfeed makes almost all their money through selling advertisement spots on their website, so of course their company goals are centered around increasing that traffic.

With that in mind, every single one of Buzzfeed’s multiple email newsletters is built around piquing the reader’s interest just enough to get them clicking back to the site.
Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing - Buzzfeed

PHASE 2: CREATE YOUR EMAIL DISTRIBUTION LIST

Now that you know what you want to accomplish with your email marketing, you’re ready to start sending, right?

Wrong.

You can’t send anything if you don’t have a list of contacts to send it to! And with so many ways to build your email list, taking some time to do it the right way will make a huge difference in the overall success of your email marketing.

First and foremost do not (we repeat, DO NOT!) buy an email list.

While it may seem quick and easy to purchase a list of email addresses, it will hurt you way more than it will help. For one thing, you’ll see a huge number of people unsubscribing from the very beginning. Wouldn’t you rather measure who’s saying yes than who’s saying no? Purchasing a list will also reflect poorly on your brand and the credibility of your company.

Oh and did we mention it’s just not cool? Respect people’s privacy and only contact them if they give you permission!

So now that you know what not to do, what DO you do to build your email list organically and with integrity? First off, start with the email addresses you already have.

These can be your current customers, event attendees or even that random stack of business cards you’ve collected over the years. Once you have permission (because, yes, you ALWAYS ask permission!), you’ll have a nice list of people who are already familiar with you and are just waiting to be cultivated through your awesome email marketing campaigns!

But of course you want your email marketing to be an audience builder too, not just a way to keep in touch with people you already know. In order to build a new contact list for email marketing you just need two things:

An incentive and an easy way to subscribe – AKA: Lead Magnets

When it comes to an incentive, a special offer or discount pretty much always does the trick, but compelling content can be just as much of a motivation factor. This can include:

  • Free Ebook
  • Case study
  • Customer story
  • Free Checklist
  • Free ReportFor a FULL list of lead magnets and how to create them… check out this blog post!

These can be a powerful incentive to encourage readers to hand over their email in exchange for the entire content. Heck, we even take advantage of it on the Sendlane blog! Scroll up and see how we offer a free eBook just for giving us your email address.

As for an easy way to subscribe, think quality and quantity.

Quality in the sense that they should be SUPER easy to complete. Don’t ask for their full name and their birthday and the organization they work for and their spouse’s name and their mother’s maiden name! All you really need to get started is their email address – so don’t ask for anything more!

Quantity in that you should have more than one place for people to sign up. Think headers and footers and even those fancy pop-up windows that are actually pretty easy to create – we love how it looks on Birchbox’s site.

Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing - Birchbox

PHASE 3: HIT SEND ON YOUR FIRST CAMPAIGN!

You’ve set your goals, you’ve built your list, NOW it’s time to send out your first email marketing campaign! But what will you send and to whom? And how? Here are three questions to ask when launching your first email marketing initiative:

#1 What Kind of Email Will You Send?

The goals you set in Phase 1 should have the biggest impact on what type of email you send. Want to sell more of your product? Focus on product announcements with awesome imagery like Portland-based coffee connoisseur Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing - Stumpdown

What if you’re trying to build your credibility and drive more traffic back to your website? Try a newsletter like Airbnb’s weekly highlight of all the best things – not just of their specific product (which is renting spaces, of course), but also of things related to it like food and entertainment.

And of course, if you want to get more people excited about your upcoming event, send them an invitation like Dribble did for one of their regular designer meet up events.

Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing - Ari Bnb

#2: Who Will You Send Your Email To?

When you spend a lot of time dreaming up the perfect email, you want to make sure it hits the right audience to be the most effective it can be. Take the time to get to know your subscribers and use Sendlane to segment them and create automated campaigns based on their behaviors and interests.

#3: How Will You Send Your Email?

There are lots of options when it comes to sending out your email marketing campaigns and when deciding between them, here are a few things to make sure your solution can do well:

  1. Design
  2. Automation
  3. Landing Pages
  4. Segmentation

Lucky for you, Sendlane does all these things really well! Explore our email marketing suite  with a 14-day free trial!

PHASE 4: MEASURE YOUR RESULTS…  & ADAPT ACCORDINGLY

Your job isn’t over once the email hits those inboxes. In fact, for some people this is the real job … and the really fun part! We wrote an entire blog post on how to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing and what to do to make it even more successful. You can read it here, but in the meantime, remember that these three things are the most important to track when you’re analyzing your email marketing.

Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing - Open Rate, Click Thru Rate, Unsubscribe Rate

These metrics will give you a high-level view of how your emails are reaching customers and how they are receiving different emails. And don’t be afraid to take a few chances! Especially as you’re building your email marketing strategy, try new things and if they don’t work just move on to the next idea. You never know what will hit your readers and make them want to get engaged further!

 

Caitlin Haines

Caitlin Haines

Social Media & Content Manager at Sendlane
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative marketing content and is primarily responsible for overseeing development, execution and delivery of digital content across all our channels. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin dancing or singing along to her favorite "jams", and spending time with her fiancé and her boxer, Cocoa.
Caitlin Haines

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