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Email marketing 101

Don Hunter 03-Sep-2021 15:59:51
Email Marketing 101

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” Seth Godin.

The age of spam is over

The age of spam is over. In a GDPR-compliant world, companies have no business sending email messages to people who do not want to receive them.

Instead, they need to concentrate on creating valuable content that customers and potential customers will look forward to opening. Email marketing at its best is about building relationships and providing information and insights to people.

The nature of that content depends on what you are selling. In a B2B tech context, it could be to help people save time and money, impress their boss, or get insights into their industry that will help them do their job better.

The benefits of email marketing are well-known, hence the rise of spam. Firstly, it is cheap and easy (some recipients might say too cheap and easy): a touch of a button gets your product in front of as many people as you like.

It is quick to launch and test, easy to personalise, and works at every stage of the buyer’s journey – from creating brand awareness, to building interaction, converting to a sale and soliciting advocacy afterwards.

Set clear goals

As always, it is important to set clear goals at the outset. Is your aim to expand your list of prospects? Increase clickthrough rates? Or move prospects through to the next stage of the sales funnel? Alternatively, it may be to talk to existing clients about a new product or service. Each of these objectives will influence your approach.

A one-size-fits-all does not work with email marketing, however tempting it may seem when faced with a large distribution list. You need to establish who your audience is and why they should care about what you have to tell them. In other words, what value are you delivering?

Segmenting emails ensures that you deliver targeted messages to customers. You can segment them across multiple lines: for example, according to the recency, frequency and value of their orders; the product or service used; the region or industry sector in which they operate, or whether they are a customer or a prospect.

Key metrics

As always, your key metrics will depend on your goals. However, the most common email marketing metrics are emails sent and delivered, open rate and clickthrough rate. To calculate your return on investment, subtract the cost of the campaign from the revenue it delivered. Then divide that total by the cost and multiply the result by 100.

Why people open emails

Bear in mind the top three factors influencing recipients to open emails:

  1. Know and trust the sender: 59.2%
  2. Subject Line: 41.1%
  3. Previously opened and thought valuable 30.1%

(Source: ReturnPath)

These factors are often overlooked by people hitting send. Customers and prospects are more likely to open an email from a person than from an anonymous company email address. The subject line is also important: segmenting makes it easier to deliver on that front. The history of emails from the sender is also important. It is important to remember that each email does not stand alone. If your recipient does not find your first email valuable, they are unlikely to open the next one you send them.

According to the Direct Marketing Association 77 per cent of email marketing ROI came from segmented, targeted and triggered campaigns. Segmentation starts with creating buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data, plus educated guesswork. Then think about the buyer’s journey – what is this buyer persona going to find useful at the awareness, consideration and decision stage of their purchase process? When you slice your contacts up into smaller groups based on their common factors, you can make your message more specific, relevant and engaging to them.

Ideally, use an email service provider so that you can track how many of your emails have been opened.

Emails have a host of options to make them more engaging – you can use video, remarket to people who have viewed our site, include reviews or target people according to their behaviour online.

Email triggers

Automated emails can be triggered by specific behaviour. The main triggers are as follows:

  1. Topic workflows (page views or downloads)
  2. Blog subscriber welcomes after people sign up on a landing page
  3. New user training workflow
  4. Engaged workflow – encouraging a person who regularly visits your website or clicks on social content to become an advocate for your brand
  5. Internal sales rep notification of potentially promising leads
  6. Reengagement workflows for subscribers who have not responded to previous emails
  7. Net promoter scores – both high and low NPS scores can be used to trigger emails (Source: HubSpot)

Testing, testing…

Test every aspect of the email: companies that test regularly achieve higher-return on investment. You can test your emails by sending two different versions of it to ten per cent of your distribution each, then sending the one that delivers the best results to the remaining 80 per cent. Aspects to test include the sender email address, subject line, time of sending, personalisation, length of email, use of images and position of click through link. Even the font size and type might make a difference.

Timing does not simply mean sending the email when they are awake, but using the information you have on when your audience opens and clicks on emails to schedule your emails for when your contacts are most likely to be receptive to your email.


Issue Area to Test
High bounce rate Data
Low open rate Timing, copy
Low click rates Segments, personalisation
Email incorrectly formatted on certain devices Send test emails to a variety of platforms in advance (try Litmus)
High unsubscribe rates Consider benchmarkers, email frequency, segmentation


Email is a key channel not just for distributing your content, but moving prospects on to the next stage of the customer journey.

If your prospects want to understand what the problem they are facing involves, provide education and thought leadership such as how-to guides and examples of how other people are solving the problem. If they want to know about solutions, help them understand how to choose a vendor and whether they are ready to take that step. If they want to know whether you are right for them, provide details of pricing, case studies and details of what it would be like working together.

Above all, remember that their attention is a valuable asset that you need to earn every time you send an email.

For a free initial consultation please contact Sam Rudland at