By Tim Priebe
July 26, 2022

Getting started with email marketing

Email is a valuable avenue to reach potential clients and close sales.

Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tools available. It’s a direct way to reach your target audience and cultivate leads and, ultimately, sales. Let’s discuss the basics of email marketing: how it works, why it’s effective, and what you need to know before emailing your customers. I’ll also explain whether or not you should buy an email list and, finally, some email marketing platforms to get you started.

How and why email marketing works

It’s not rocket science. Email marketing is sending mass emails to your list. They can demonstrate expertise, share your mission, communicate information about your business or nonprofit, and so much more.

Email marketing is potentially the most effective way to reach your audience after they’ve already heard of you. If you compare it to posting on social media, there’s a much higher chance your target market will see your message via email. While exceptions exist, many people are likelier to check email than a social media platform.

Email tends to give you much more control than other platforms. You can also track how many people open your email and click on your links. Most platforms will also let you see which of your recipients opened and clicked. That information can help you gauge how successful your email marketing is, make necessary adjustments, and even work better with traditional sales efforts.

What you need to know before emailing customers

Before emailing your customers, there are a few things you need to know. First, be sure you’re compliant with the legal requirements. In the United States, laws like the CAN-SPAM Act regulate email marketing. Make sure you’re somewhat familiar with these laws and comply with them. If you pick a reputable email marketing platform and even an experienced marketing company, they’ll help make sure you’re compliant.

Next, make sure that your email messages are well-designed and formatted. They should be easy to read and look professional. And finally, make sure that your calls to action are clear and easy to follow. If you want people to click on a link or sign up for a promotion, ensure the instructions are easy to understand.

Should you buy an email list?

That’s all well and good, but how do you get the actual email addresses to send your emails to? If you plan on emailing people who have already given you implicit or explicit permission to email them, you’re headed in the right direction. If you’re considering buying an email list to jump-start things, don’t.

I’ve been helping businesses with their marketing for nearly two decades, and I can count on one hand the number of times that’s been a good idea. It’s generally considered a bad practice, it could actually damage your reputation as a sender, and it can even get you banned from some email marketing platforms.

Your best bet is to grow your email list organically. Usually, you can start with customers that have already supplied you with their email addresses. After that, include a sign-up form on your website. You can also offer something free in exchange for an email address—called a lead magnet—like a helpful PDF or webinar access.

Email marketing platforms to consider

There are many different email marketing platforms available. Two of my current favorites are MailChimp and HubSpot. These platforms make it easy to create email newsletters, track your results, and connect with subscribers. They both also offer personalization and marketing automation if you want to take your email marketing to the next level.

Here are a few factors to consider when picking your email marketing platform:

  1. Investment: Email marketing platforms can vary significantly in price, so be sure to pick one that fits your budget.
  2. Features: Make sure the platform you choose has all the specific features you need.
  3. Ease of use: The platform should be easy for you to use so you can create beautiful email newsletters without having to become an expert coder or designer. Remember, just because someone else finds a platform easy doesn’t necessarily mean you will.
  4. Customer support: If you think you’ll ever have any questions or need help, be sure to pick a platform with good customer support.
  5. Sender reputation: The last thing you want is your email messages to end up in people’s spam folders. Make sure the email marketing platform you choose has a good sender reputation.

If you’re working with a marketing expert, check with them before picking your platform. They may have more expertise with a specific platform and may not even support others.

Email marketing can be highly effective if you follow those tips. Like most effective marketing strategies, it will take time to see results. Commit to using it for at least six months to a year, if not longer. And be sure to track your results to see what’s working and what isn’t.

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.