Email Marketing Guide

Very early in my marketing career, I remember hearing something I thought was super weird: Email Marketing is still the most effective form of digital marketing.

Even with SEO, SMM, PPC, Influencer, Geo-Targeting, Programmatic and every other advance in technology and acronym use, Emails are still the most effective thing you can do to get people to care about the things you say. The old inboxer still kicks butt.

Unfortunately, I saw this message so much I didn’t care about it. It went from a curiosity I wanted to look into, to an interesting fact I was waiting to tell someone, to just a thing I knew in the back of my mind.

So, like so much of the marketing advice I post, I never took it myself for stupid reasons (I have now remedied that – sign up for our magnificent monthly email here).

It’s not too late for you though. So hear me now when I say – start collecting email addresses asap.


Email Marketing: The old ways are still the best


With age comes power

Like many people my age, I still have a (barely) active Hotmail account with a ridiculous name I came up with as a teenager. I remember being excited when I got my first email address. I literally told all my friends I was going to bother them all the time with any inane nonsense I could think of, AND THERE WAS NOTHING THEY COULD DO ABOUT IT.

And for a while I did. But then…how quickly the extraordinary becomes ordinary.

Email just became what its name actually meant – electronic mail. It was super fast post, and who cared about that really? I still email every day but it’s not exciting, it’s just functional. OF COURSE, I can contact anyone on the planet instantaneously. I can do that in lots of ways.

It’s not a technological marvel any more. In fact, it feels pretty outdated – I have to know their email address and then write in this formal way. Bleugh. WHERE ARE THE GIFS FOR F’S SAKE?

This ubiquity and ordinariness is exactly emails strength though. Everyone uses them to the point that no one thinks about it anymore. And marketing coming directly to your inbox has been happening for so long that it’s not even a problem anymore.

I’ll put it this way: when was the last time you heard someone make a joke about spam that actually made you laugh?


Spam joke

Morpheus makes a good(ish) point. But the real question is… did you even chuckle?


Don’t laugh when I say this: emails are great

So what makes email marketing so great I hear you ask? Weirdly, an absolute ton of things.

Let’s start with the most insane stat I’ve heard: email marketing has an ROI of 3800%. On average, for every one dollar spent on email marketing $38 is earned. More than this, 20% of companies see an ROI of over 7000%. Wut?

Wut indeed. This sounds ridiculous, right? Especially if you’ve been toiling away at another form of marketing, and not had results even close to this. That’s because email is the king of ROI.

Which is exactly the point. Compared to social media, you can expect a click-through rate which is six times higher from email marketing! This may seem high, but then consider that email is 40 times as effective as social media at acquiring new customers!

Email, in fact, drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search.

I know there are a lot of people on social media, and it seems easy to add followers, but then think about this 92% of adults use email on a typical day. ALMOST EVERYONE.

C’est ridiculous, non?


Email is dying though right?

No, that’s ridiculous. People say it all the time, but people are dumb and say dumb things every single day (me included of course). For example – a lot of stupid things are said by email, which proves my point. Aha!

I use Slack, and it’s great, but it is not an email killer. Neither is WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat or whatever else you use to send unsolicited messages to your friends and family.

Email is actually still growing. This is probably because internet access as a whole is still growing. It may be old hat to you, but not to everyone. Not yet.

The number of emails being sent daily is still rising by a consistent 8% per year. In 2017, it’s set to beat 200 billion emails sent per day. PER DAY. It sounds a lot until you think about it…I mean, how many emails have you sent and received today? Makes sense right?

On a busy day, I hit 50+ emails easily, and I’m just some jerk with fingers and a keyboard.

Accordingly, email marketing spending is continuing to grow apace. With the growth in AI and advances in automation (and the above stats) it just makes sense. A growing audience, an amazing ROI and a ton of knowledge out there already accumulated – what’s not to love about email marketing?

Well it’s a chore I suppose, but then so is all marketing – just this one is more effective.


Number of accounts 2016

For the grandpa of digital communications, email still packs a punch


How to get started in email marketing

The first thing to do is obvious – you need to have people to send your emails to. In general, this means having a signup form on your website.

Choose a service

There are lots of services to build your email list with. People seem to love OptinMonster something rotten right now, and it is definitely worth checking out.

Personally, I’m a big fan of MailChimp. You get a healthy amount of free service (the first 2,000 subscribers are free). They have some great options in terms of what you send and when. They try to keep you honest when signing up people (I’ll get to the rules about emailing en masse in a second). And they got some pretty great monkey-based branding. That was enough for me.

Sign up form

Whichever service you use, you have to add a signup form to your site. Best practice seems to be having it on every page as well as on a page of its own.

Giving your form its own page means that you can link to it from other places (like your social media profiles). It may seem silly for something that is on every page to have its own page too, but having a specific sign-up page is the difference between saying “see you around” and arranging an actual date.

Also, sign-up forms are apparently super effective when added after your shopping cart. This is probably because people who are buying something from you have already decided they trust you, so why not go one step further?

In terms of the format, people are currently in love with email sign-up forms which pop up when you seem like you’re about to leave their site. This is called exit-intent (if you’re interested) and just means it happens when you stop scrolling down or move your mouse towards the x on the pages tab.

It’s also widely recommended to offer something in return for a sign-up. A free ebook or discount seems to be pretty standard, but if you have something different and better then use that. It’s always good to cut through the noise with a unique offer.

Welcome email

After you set up your form, make sure you set up a welcome email. 74% of people expect one, they have a really high open rate, and people who read them are much more likely to read your follow-up emails.

It’s just polite really and gives you an opportunity to get off on the right foot. Lots of websites send a series of them letting people know how to use their service. Some sites just send something nice and welcoming.

It’s up to you, but don’t neglect it.

Email consistently

In your sign-up message and/or welcome email you should let people know how often to expect an email from you. This will make them more comfortable with opting into marketing – which most people instinctively hate.

It’s then vital that you actually email this often. Don’t pester them with other stuff more frequently, and don’t forget about it for months at a time. Don’t break their trust – it’s a fragile thing.

Never stop improving

You’re probably thinking that this post you’re reading right now is the best thing you’ve ever read about email marketing. I’m afraid to tell you, that is just not true.

I’m trying to convince you to start email marketing, but this is an admittedly super-simplistic guide. I’ll probably write about it again sometime, but until that hallowed day in the future, there are tons of other guides out there.

One of the advantages of email marketing is that it’s old, so there are a ton of experts out there. Once you’ve got an email list on the go, make the most of it. Don’t avoid articles about improving your email marketing and you’ll do alright.

The easiest way to do this is just to sign up for the email of whichever email marketing service you use! MailChimp tells me their precious secrets, and they’ll tell you too!


MailChimp Rock On

I just really like MailChimp’s style ok? They’re good in other ways too, the monkeys are just a bonus.


The rules

To finish, just quickly, in the UK the rules for email marketing can be found here. For the US, this page is pretty useful to understand what is and isn’t allowed.

With email marketing, the rules basically always come down to this:

  • Only email people who have asked to be emailed
  • When you email them, don’t lie about who you are
  • Let them unsubscribe easily

Like with all marketing, just don’t be a jerk ok. Then maybe you can get some of that sweet sweet 3800% ROI we were talking about earlier.

Oh and finally – get started today! It takes ages to build up an email marketing list from scratch so start asap! It’s not hard!

Also, sign up to mine (here), it’s monthly and full of great posts like this. I’m certain you’re going to be totally into it.