Email marketing: a quick guide

There are many advantages to eMail marketing.

1. It’s free or almost free2. It’s easy to do.3. You can do it right now, no creative’s, no printing, no delays.

But you are also in danger of harassing people who are not interested in your business, damaging your brand, losing sales and losing revenue. It’s called spamming for a reason, and people don’t like it.

So Why Bother with email?

The best reason to be undertaking an email marketing campaign is personalization, effectiveness and measurability. With results easily tracked, and almost instant results, you can quickly reach an audience for your product. It’s generally accepted that you’ll have 80% of the results in 3 days, which is much faster than you will ever get from a standard direct mail campaign, and without the postage costs. And you can reach Dave with an email addressed to Dave related to Dave’s business in Dave’s favorite color, should you wish to, for no extra cost.

So How Do We Launch an Email Marketing Campaign?

Permissions at all costs. The first rule of email marketing as opposed to spamming is to ask for permission. This can take many forms, you can build your list from permission sign ups on your website, or if you have a bought in list send a ‘reminder’ email asking for permission to email your user. People who use the internet a lot often forget what they have signed up for, and this can be a nicer way to get in touch with new contacts. If they don’t want to hear from you, they will unsubscribe straight away, saving both you and them time.

Ideally, go for a double opt in, where you ask for permission, they sign up for your messages and then receive an email asking them to confirm their interest by responding to that email. If they do not respond, they are not added to the list. But be aware that you may lose a fair few people though the process, as it is a little tedious for the user. But although you might end up with a smaller list, the people on it are more likely to be interested, and so more likely to read your material, increasing the success of the campaign.

Decide on your objectives

As with any marketing activity, your material needs to be clear about what you are looking to achieve. An email building awareness or branding is likely to look very different from one that is pushing a special offer. Work on your content and style of presentation appropriately. Keep the message short and sweet, getting to the point quickly.

Format the email

Just because it’s quick and easy there is no excuse for crappy work. There are lots of templates you can use to make your email attractive, so do some work on it to make it pretty as well as interesting. Some thoughts on how to present the email:

1. From: send email from a person, even if you are using a mailing company like mailchimp or dotmailer to do the send. If I see mail come in with a company in the from box it usually goes in the bin, I am sure I am not alone.

2. Subject: Grab attention, but be targeted in what you say. Avoid spammy FREE! capitalized style rubbish, or you won’t even get through Hotmail’s spam filters.

3. To: Use a person’s own email address, sales@ / info@ / admin@ are a waste of time and credits. They will be spammed to death on a daily basis and you will get lost in there.

4. Body: If you are using HTML don’t go any wider than 600px. If sending text only, limit your line length to 60 characters, so it will appear in the preview window of most email software. As a rule, short and snappy is best, you don’t have long before the reader bins you. As with the subject line, avoid excessive punctuation (!!!) as it makes you look like an idiot.

Make your call to action / next step clear and obvious. Always type in the http:// bit of the URL so that the link will work. If you have the time set up personalized landing pages for each offer, it looks a lot slicker and will help with that ‘big company’ image.

Always, always, be clear about how they can unsubscribe and put in all your contact information so people can get in touch if there is an issue.

5. Attachments: Don’t bother.

Outsource The Sending?

Unless cost is a real issue, sending from your own email account is not a good idea. For one thing, it only takes a low % of people to classify your mail as junk to give you real issues with your regular correspondence. But for another using services like Mailchimp et al gives you huge flexibility and reporting that you will struggle to replicate in house. If you are sending high volumes of mail monthly, then a subscription service such as Dotmailer may be more suitable. There are more intelligent systems allowing for personalized landing pages, on demand print fulfillment and other goodies, which are worth looking at.Testing

As with any marketing material you produce, test, test and then test. But in the case of email this must be looked at practically - what does it look like in the myriad of email marketing programs and Web-based email systems - and also in terms of content.

Split your list up so you have samples of your market place and test different messages with them. When you have found the right message, then you can contact the rest of the list with some degree of assurance that you will get the right response.


As mentioned above in the outsourcing section, the advantage of using more professional email marketing systems is that you can see who opened your email, which ones bounced, who classed you as spam and who clicked on to your Website from the email--all vital information for following up leads and planning your next campaign--all of the email sending companies provide reporting to some degree, usually the more expensive the service, the better quality the reports. As with most things, you get what you pay for, but the investment is always worthwhile if it makes your work more efficient.


Email marketing is ideal for brand reinforcement, product testing, promotional offers and customer surveys. Your message should be compelling, interesting and hopefully valuable. Above all, it should be targeted and personalized, getting to the right message to the right person quickly (and cheaply).But email marketing should not be about renting a list and sending out email “blasts” to people who have never heard of you. It’s counterproductive and annoying to users. However, when used for lead nurturing, regular communication and customer retention, email marketing is an efficient tool that needs to be part of your marketing mix.


About the Author:Will Jones is an experienced on and off-line marketing consultant and website designer. The day job is 1503 Marketing and he now also blogs at Marketing in Southampton