How To Do Email Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re anything like me, you receive tons of promotional emails every day. So you’ve likely realized that email marketing should be a component of your digital marketing strategy. But do you really know how to do email marketing? Let’s start with the email marketing basics.

Establish Goals

You can’t just throw together a haphazard email marketing campaign. That will instantly guarantee miserable failure. Start by considering what you want to achieve with an email marketing campaign.

What are you trying to achieve?

Are you trying to promote a new product?  Are you trying to generate more leads? Your email campaign is a means to an end. You have to define that desired end result before you can actually plan the campaign.

Who is your target audience?

Because good email campaigns have specific goals, they should also target a specific audience. Consider focusing your campaign by demographics such as location and age, for example.

What will appeal most to your target audience?

Why should your email campaign recipients be interested in opening your emails?  They’ll be interested if you offer something that they value.  Perhaps you can offer a discount on a product or service.  Or maybe you want to offer informative content to encourage website visits.  Whatever you offer, it needs to be relevant and valuable to your target audience

Build an Email List

Start with existing customers

This should be a no brainer. If they’ve purchased from you previously, you already have their email addresses. Simply offer them an incentive to maintain a relationship with you. Again, discounts and informative content are good bets.  Offering a giveaway to people who share your offer can even generate new leads for you.

Find new subscribers with Calls to Action

A call to action (also referred to as a CTA) is a great way to collect new email addresses.  Calls to action provide opt-in opportunities for your website visitors.  Some examples of these opt-ins are coupons, discounts, newsletters, or something else that will appeal to your target audience. To get the offer, the visitor submits their email address.  Now you have new leads to add to your email marketing campaigns.  It’s that easy.

Choose a Campaign Type

One of the great things about email marketing campaigns is that you can pretty much run any type of campaign that you want. Here are some examples to get your imagination going.

Announce Sales or New Products

This type of email marketing campaign describes and promotes a specific offer.  Be sure to keep your main focus on the offer. The email copy should be brief. The email design should be clean and uncluttered.  Be sure to include a clear call to action link. This makes it easier for your lead to click through to your offer.

Coupons or Discounts

Everyone loves discounts. Again, the primary focus should be the offer itself. Don’t include too much extra or irrelevant information. Don’t forget to include the call to action to increase your click through rate.


Depending on the products or services that your company offers, a newsletter could be a great fit. This is an especially good type of email campaign if you frequently publish blog posts or other informative articles. Your newsletter could simply be a roundup of your current content. People aren’t likely to read a word heavy email though. Email newsletters should be visually appealing.  Include concise headlines with a brief description of the article along with a pretty graphic.  Also include a clear call to action link for the recipient to read more. This allows you to include multiple pieces of content in order to appeal to a wider audience but without overwhelming the reader.

Create a Campaign

Brand Consistency

Consistent branding is fundamental to any good digital marketing strategy. You need to have a brand voice that represents your company’s values and culture. Once you’ve developed that identity, you need to keep it consistent across all of your marketing efforts.  That includes all of your email marketing campaigns. Consistent branding keeps your business recognizable to your audience. Plus, it builds trust, which is important for customer loyalty.

Email Design

It’s safe to say that the majority of readers aren’t going to read your emails word for word. Instead, they’re going to scan your emails for information that’s relevant or valuable to them. Thus, eye-catching email design is imperative.


Use the same colors that you use for the rest of your marketing endeavors. While it might be tempting to switch it up and get creative, don’t do it. Color consistency is a component of consistent brand identity. You want your recipients to recognize your brand. This encourages to actually open your email. And don’t forget to include your logo!


The majority of readers prefer promotional emails that have more visuals than words. It’s faster to scan an image than it is to read text. Make sure to use images that convey the primary message of your email. Also, be sure that your images reflect your brand.


Layout is critical to an effective email design. It needs to draw the reader’s eyes to the call to action link. Generally, a good method is to place a larger image on top, followed by text, with a call to action button on the bottom (think upside down pyramid). This encourages the reader to scan right down to the point of the email, which is to click the call to action.


It doesn’t make sense to send the exact same content to everyone on your email list. Your audience is likely to have varied interest, so the same generic email likely won’t appeal to everyone. Given the rise of data driven marketing, you have a lot of information at your fingertips. You can separate your email lists into different groups based on a variety of factors. For example, you could separate your lists by age range or geographical area. Then you can use dynamic content to appeal to those audiences more specifically. This personalizes your emails, which makes your readers more likely to click through.

Easy Conversion

Ultimately, the goal of your email campaigns is to convert your email leads into buying customers. This means that your recipients need to open your email, and then they need to click on the call to action. You want to make this as easy as possible. Given that a majority of people are now using mobile devices to access the internet, make sure that your email templates are mobile optimized. This ensures that the images and text remain readable. They will also display proportionately. Mobile optimization is especially important for your call to action. If it doesn’t display correctly, then readers won’t click on it.

Measure Results

Once you have your email marketing campaign up and running, you can start measuring the results! There are two ways to go about this. One, you can use your website analytics tool. Google Analytics is probably the most commonly used. The second option is to use an email marketing tool.  There are a lot of different email marketing tools available. Just do some research to figure out which one is right for you.

Depending on the data collector that you use, your analytics report will vary. However, good reports will contain the same basic information. Here’s what a good report should include at the very least.

  • Open Rate—This is the percentage of recipients who opened your email.
  • Click-Through Rate—This is the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links after opening your email.
  • Unsubscribe Rate—This is the percentage of recipients who opened your email then unsubscribed from the email list.
  • Conversion Rate—This is the percentage of recipients who opened your email and completed a desired action, such as making a purchase.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing should be a component of any good digital strategy. While email marketing isn’t necessarily complicated, it can be incredibly time consuming. Email marketing campaigns require a good it of forethought and quite a bit of setup. There are a lot of good tools out there to help you set up and manage your email marketing campaigns. However, your email marketing strategy will still require significant time and effort on your part. If you’re interested in embarking on an email marketing strategy, consider hiring a professional email marketing company. Not only can a team of digital marketing specialists create awesome email campaigns for your business, they can also interpret the resulting data for you. Plus, they can ensure that your email marketing campaigns work with all of your digital marketing efforts.