Email Marketing imageWhat is email marketing? Email marketing is the a hub of permission marketing in the 21st century. The most common approach to email marketing is one-to-many, where you have a list of people and you’re sending them the similar or slightly customized emails. The type of level customization you’ll be able to do will be based on how much intel you have about the people on your list and how sophisticated your email marketing software is.

Permission Marketing

Seth Godin wrote a book called Permission Marketing in 1999 that set the foundation for today’s modern day email marketing approach. The basic idea is that interruption marketing does not work any more and in order to succeed, you need to ask permission so that your messages are relevant and anticipated by the receiver. This is a fundamental shift from the marketing approach of the past, where ad’s on TV and radio could be used to interrupt people, get your message across and move products. By flipping the communication model, you’re taking on a lot more responsibility to be important to your audience as they can elect to tune you out at any point. The upside though is that your effectiveness goes up dramatically and you have a much higher return on investment from your marketing dollars. The main requirement is creativity and empathy.

Why Email Marketing?

Email marketing has many advantages. Let’s start with the economics. Send an email is dramatically cheaper than sending a snail mail via the post office. For example, MailChimp offers free accounts for up to 2000 emails per month. On the contrast, to send 2000 pieces of snail mail would cost $780 in stamps alone, and this doesn’t take into account printing costs and design costs. In addition to it’s economic advantage, email offers a higher level of efficiency & effectiveness.

There are 2 reasons emails is a better communication medium: speed and linking. When you send an email, it gets delivered almost instantly. This means you can coordinate the timing of your emails to match up with other activities you have planned, such as trade shows, special offers, etc. In addition to speed, emails are linkable. This allows for a very clear call to action that is frictionless. In addition to being easy for users, the links are trackable by most email marketing softwares. This means you can measure the effectiveness of your messages and use them to make better decisions.


Spam is a large problem when it comes to emails. To address this significant problem, the CAN-SPAM Act were passed. You can read more about it at CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide For Business.

Who To Email

The best people to email are your existing customers. They already know and trust you, and using email to provide them added value or to sell them additional services wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. However, if want to increase new sales and not just repeat & referral sales, you’ll need to get non-customers on your list. How do you do that?

Where to gather emails

There are a number of different places you can gather email addresses including:

  • Ask on your website
  • Ask at tradeshows
  • Hold contests
  • Offer something free in exchange for their email

Opt-out, Opt-in & Double Opt-in

Now when you ask people to get on your list, it may be as part of a separate from, such as a request a quote or something else. When you do so, you’ll have a decision to make: Should you opt-in or opt-out users.

Opt-in means that the check box for receiving your emails is unselected and the user has to expressly check that box to start getting your emails.

Opt-out is where the checkbox is preselected. With opt-out, you might have frustrated users who don’t want to receive your emails and didn’t realize they were signing up for your emails.

If you’re going for opt-in, you may also choice to do a double opt-in, which is where after a user signs up for your emails, they receive an email asking them to confirm that they want to receive your emails. By doing this, you eliminate the possibility that they signed up by accident and this increases the quality of your list.

List Segmentation

Once you’ve gotten a sizable list, sending a mass email isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes it helps to segment your list into smaller lists so that you can send more relevant emails to just the people who would find it interesting. Typically the segmentation is done based on information you have about them. For example, you might segment your list down by where they are a customer or not. You might also segment them by geography or product type that they have bought or are interested in.

What To Send – The Content

What you send in your emails is crucial. There isn’t a hard fast rule either than keep it relevant and interesting to the receiver. It can be entertaining, useful or even provocative as long as it is what they want to receive. Below are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the content part of your email marketing plan.

Content Ideas

There are a number of different types of content you can send:

  • Tips
  • How To Articles
  • Quizes
  • Did You Knows
  • Video Interviews
  • Special Offers
  • Holiday & Celebration Messages
  • Free stuff

Writing Great Subject Lines

A subject line is a window into the soul of your email. You need it to be attention grabbing and short. It can be provocative, have the word free, appeal to the vanity of your recipient, or anything else. What it cannot be is boring and talk all about you.

One way to get a better idea of what works is to run split tests. Some email marketing software allow you to send out 2 near identical emails but only changing up the subject line. From it, you can look at the open rate and make a judgement on which subject line worked better.

Designing Your Email

Designing your email is not the same as designing a website. When designing emails, there are a number of limitations you need to be aware of such as html & css support, width constraints, image defaults and content filtering. In addition to limitations, we’ll be introducing you to some of the tools usually available to you at the various email marketing software providers. Let’s start with discussing how limited HTML & CSS Support needs to be a primary concern for your email design team.

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