The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Beginners (2017)

Email is made to connect. It’s made to land in inboxes, made to be open, and not made to be missed or deleted. You might think that it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve scraped together some semblance of a profitable business before you get started with email marketing.

But if there’s one tip we can give you:

Get started right away.

To get started with email marketing you don’t need a big budget, especially if you are still establishing a list of loyal subscribers.  

​This means you’re going to need to sign up for an email marketing provider. This is the place where you can store all your email addresses and send broadcasts emails.

While there are dozens and dozens of email marketing companies out there these days, only a few have stood the test of time. The below list of companies have a range of features and can work with you on little to no budget, or with a huge budget, you’ll get tailored support to manage a massive list.

Either way, these are the email marketing providers that make it incredibly easy to connect with your list, build relationships, and broadcast your marketing message.

michelle garrett

​Michelle Garrett

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​"Email marketing is not dying--it's on the upswing. I just saw a statistic from Salesforce that email marketing has grown 83% over the past two years--this means that along with video advertising and text messaging, it's one of the fastest growing marketing channels. "

MailChimp

free email marketing

One of the least expensive and most reliable options out there, MailChimp is the perfect place to get started for basic email marketing and automation.  There is a free option if your list is less than 2,000 subscribers. Plus, there’s flexibility to change plans as you grow your email list.

MailChimp is best for beginners of email marketing. This service is recognized and recommended for their easy integration options and customizable templates. Since there is no design or coding experience necessary, you can get started sending marketing emails right away.

​This service is the best option for Server Message Block (SMB) and marketers not needing advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Infusionsoft

infusionsoft email sequence

An example of building email sequences in InfusionSoft.

More in-depth than MailChimp, Infusionsoft integrates advanced email automation with advanced CRM capabilities. This is the perfect email solution for businesses who have a sales team or might need basic Application Program Interfaces (API) to integrate with their business directly.

Infusionsoft is also what we use here at Performance Marketer. While there is a slight learning curve for email marketing newbies, there are plenty of resources out there and a great customer support team ready to help you send better, more effective marketing emails. 

HubSpot

The most advanced option of the three, HubSpot offers enterprise level email marketing and CRM capabilities.  This email marketing service allows for powerful and highly-advanced email automations along with technical API integrations that allow complete control over your business.

As you can there are plenty of options for budgets of every size! With email marketing, both your list and business will grow, so it’s not too uncommon to switch email service providers and continue to move onto more advanced options.

Collecting Emails

Once you’ve found your perfect email service, it’s time to get serious about building an email list. Most email marketing tools have native landing page builders, opt-in pages, and data-driven sales.

The benefit of using these tools to collect emails are quite obvious, the negatives- not so much...

Benefits

When it comes to collecting emails, these email marketing tools are very user-friendly and easy to set up.  Usually there are very few failure points when working with these services. HOWEVER….

Negatives

The customization options are very limited. While the templates might be an easy drag-and-drop type of setup, you’re limited in matching the pages to your brand and offer.

Here are a few of the best tools out there to collect emails and build an email list full of loyal subscribers.

ClickFunnels

clickfunnels review

From marketing to selling and delivering your digital products, ClickFunnels gives you everything you need.

While a bit pricier than the alternatives, this is the page builder taking the internet by storm. And with good reason...

ClickFunnels makes it unbelievably quick to create effective, high converting landing pages for every step of your sales funnel.  They also offer native integration to most big email marketing tools. Which is a musthave for a successful email marketing campaign.

Leadpages

Leadpages is less expensive than the powerful ClickFunnels, however is not as fluid and requires more to make your pages look great. For those who are not design-minded, it could be a huge hang-up for creating an eye-catching lead generation landing page.

Thrive

thrive email marketing lead generation

This is the page builder we use at Performance Marketer, and the one we recommend most.  Thrive offers the best bang for your buck and is the most customizable. Yet, this option does require more technical knowledge than the others. Regardless, Thrive’s basic functions tend to be more stable than the others in the field.

So now that you’re on your way to building a solid email list, you’ve got to understand the importance of knowing what type of marketing email to send, and when.

Sending Emails

Sending marketing emails is how you start making money from that list of leads you’ve worked so hard to create.

​While it sounds simple enough, there are a few important factors that will be key to your email marketing success.

First of all, email marketing is so much more than just building a massive list and sending out random emails as you please.

Alyona Chernyaeva

​Alyona Chernyaeva

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"Email vs chatbots is like Mickey Mouse vs Minions. The former is the all-time classics you can always rely on, while the latter uniquely fit into our digital age defined by personalized experiences and fragmented media."

One of the most powerful parts of email marketing is segmentation. Segmenting your lists will massively impact your business. This is the difference between keeping your subscribers happy and engaged and having your emails marked as spam.

Once you have your subscribers segmented, you can begin to better construct marketing emails that resonate with their stage in your sales funnels.  Effectively segmenting subscribers means you can expect your emails to get opened and do their job at converting your subscribers to the next stage of their buyer journey.

Broadcast Emails

Broadcast emails are great for sharing a single message with a segment (or several segments) of your email list. These type of one-off marketing emails are a strong tool for you and your marketing campaigns.

However, the message you send should be highly specific and convey content in an exciting way to a specific segment of subscribers.

broadcast emails examples

Birchbox, a beauty subscription box service, on a monthly basis, sends out broadcast emails to excite customers about the next month's boxes.

And of course, when you have a limited time offer or promotion for your subscribers

Automated Emails

Whether you’re a beginner to email marketing, or an advanced email marketing powerhouse, an email autoresponder sequence helps you automate your email marketing campaigns. It’s a powerful tactic, but creating automated emails will make your live as a business owner much, much easier.

automated email sequence

An example of an automated email sequence from Digital Marketer.

These autoresponder email sequences might seem a little tricky at first, but we promise it will get easier as you become more familiar with your email marketing software. When creating your own automated email sequence keep this list of ‘must-dos’ in mind:

  • Focus on the reader
  • Consider who is sending the message
  • Make it personal
  • Highlight value
  • Craft an incredible subject line
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread!
  • Easy-to-read
  • Always add a CTA

Autoresponders are mostly ‘set and forget’ but like all things in our world of marketing, we must constantly monitor, test, and optimize.

To do so, ask yourself these 3 questions after you’ve given your email autoresponder series the green light:

  1. Is this autoresponder still relevant to your list? Could it be segmented further?
  2. Are your subject lines being A/B tested?
  3. Are the goals of your subscribers changing and evolving? How can you solve their current issues?

Email Marketing Metrics You Should Track

And that brings us to another vital part of being a successful email marketer: numbers.

There are several email marketing metrics that you should track in all different stages of your marketing campaigns.

These numbers will show you where things are going right, where things should be adjusted, and hopefully this isn’t the case for you, but what parts of your campaign are failing.

Revenue

Your revenue should be measured on a per email and per campaign method. Tracking your revenue, as well as your Return on Investment (ROI) is how you ensure that time and money isn’t being wasted acquiring leads. And of course, there are both paid and free tools to help you measure this.

ben landers

​Ben Landers

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​“Even though chatbots are the new “it” thing, ignoring email marketing is one of the biggest mistakes your company can make. Here’s why: chatbots only address your current website visitors. Email marketing is one of the cheapest—and most reliable—ways to keep your company top of mind and actually generate traffic to your website. It also has a 4,400% ROI and generates $44 for every dollar spent, which means it’s extremely cost-effective.”

Tools to Measure and Track Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Market Hero

This email marketing tool has a built-in CRM and one of the most advanced sales tracking platforms out there.  Still, considering how advanced Market Hero is, this software is quite user-friendly, making it easy to see and understand the numbers behind your emails and marketing campaigns.

With Market Hero you can see exactly how much every lead is worth so that you know exactly what is giving you the best return in your business.

email marketing metrics

Market Hero's dashboard not only looks great, but also is full of information, insights, and metrics to better help you understand your email marketing campaign.

​Wicked Reports

Wicked Reports analyzes your email and sales data automatically. The data you receive from their reports will help you optimize your campaigns and scale your business. This email marketing tool does that by showing you the entire journey of your customers, “from first click to last click”

For you, that means fast and accurate answers to your most important questions like where you’re best customers come from or if a specific ad had responsibility for a specific sale.

Google Sheets

If you’re starting out with little to no budget for email marketing campaigns, Google Sheets (and honestly the whole suite of free tools from Google) will be your lifesaver. Especially if you’re a spreadsheet genius and like to do things yourself. Either way, Google Sheets is a free and easy way to track the ROI of your email marketing campaign.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)

CPL basically shows you how much it will cost to grow your list​. Most effective way to understand CPL is to break it down by source, where are you getting your leads. Is it cheaper to do paid traffic or run social media ads?

Deliverability

This is an important metric to monitor whenever you send your emails. Deliverability means how many people are actually receiving your emails in their inboxes.  This can be one of the hardest and most frustrating numbers to track. However, it is a clear indicator of the health of your email list.

Open Rate

Speaking of frustrating email metrics, open rates mean how many people are actually opening the emails you’ve delivered to their inbox.  This factor is heavily based on subject lines. But the good news is it is also the easiest thing to split test to improve your campaigns. Discovering what works with your list is how you will get more subscribers reading your message.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

So you know how many people are getting your emails and opening them, but most likely you’ll have a link in there that you’re wanting subscribers to click. That is what the email click rate, or CTR is, how many people are actually clicking over to your content after opening your email? This is most often determined by the copy of your content, along with the layout of the email body.

There are plenty of different ways to lay out the content of your email, from short and sweet, to long stories. Either way, your layout will depend heavily on your business and subscribers. If your open rates are good, but no one is clicking, it probably means you need to change the layout and style of your emails.

Email List Health

It’s easy to spot and throw out rotten foods in your fridge, but can you do the same with your email list?  Having a healthy email list means having a list of subscribers who are expecting, craving, reading, and taking action from your emails.

Your list health is the measure of how well you’re doing. If your list is healthy that means your email marketing campaigns have a low bounce rate, high ratio of active users and high click-through percentages.

Tip: If your list is healthy that means your email marketing campaigns have a low bounce rate, high ratio of active users and high click-through percentages.

If your email efforts aren’t bringing in those type of results, and you’ve done plenty of testing, you might have a rotten list.

Here are 3 important metrics that will help you determine if it’s time for a little email list ‘cleaning.’

Disengagement Rate

A high disengagement rate means how many people do and don’t want your emails in their inboxes. It’s measured by both unsubscribes and complaints against unique opens.  Either your content is irrelevant​ or you’ve been marked as spam too often.

Cleaning your list on a consistent basis means re-engaging them with a specific campaign. And then removing those that are still disengaged from your list. Having too many disengaged subscribers will damage your email marketing success.

Unsubscribes and Complaints

Are you delivering on the promise you made when they signed up for your emails?

spam email folder

Gmail’s junk mail algorithms are quite effective at auto filtering unsolicited emails and unwanted junk email, and delivering them to recipients’ spam folders. Yet, Gmail doesn’t share the exact algorithms for why an email is hitting that inbox. However, Google has listed clear guidelines on how they classify spam emails, but overall they depend heavily on reports from users.

Bounce Rate

There are two types of bounces in email marketing: hard and soft. Both should be monitored and cleaned from your list on a regular basis to ensure a healthy list.

A hard bounce is because of something permanent like and invalid email address. But those emails that are soft bounces could be for something more temporary like a full mailbox. Remove the hard bounces right away, and monitor the soft bounces.

If removing the hard bounces doesn’t help to decrease your bounce rate, remove the soft bounces. Those are most likely inactive email address that are no longer checked.

Ways to Maximize Your Email List

Growing, optimizing, and maximizing your email list should be an ongoing focus in your company. It’s how your business will grow and make you more money.

Mark Rogers

​Mark Rogers

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“Email is still the only platform where you own your audience. With chatbots and other chat platforms, you're at the mercy of their platform. They could decide at any moment that you need to pay to reach your subscribers (*coughFacebookcough*) and then you're SOL."

Cross promote your best services and offers to up-sell to your most loyal customers.

Caitlin Johnson
 

Caitlin is an Austin-based digital marketer with a passion for content and social media marketing. She is the newest member of the Performance Marketer team and brings years of writing and marketing experience, as well as the best recommendations for where to go for lunch.

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