What is email marketing? Know the basics of marketing with email!

What is email marketing? To start with, it is the most effective marketing channel out there. It performs better than social media, affiliate marketing, and even search engine optimization.

Even though many people claim that marketing by email is outdated and old, it has the highest return on investment. Email campaigns are used by almost every big “business to business” and “business to consumer” company out there.

So how does email marketing campaigns continue to be one of the best places for digital marketers to invest their time and money? To answer that, we need to take a look at what email marketing is and what it has evolved into over the years.

This article is just one of many from our email marketing guide series, which will help businesses understand the ins and outs of marketing with email and provide them with some tools and best strategies to help them succeed! Such as email marketing automation software, which can help streamline marketing for a small business by saving time and energy of team members. Moreover, email automation, as an email marketing tool will boost your marketing efforts as it can help communicate with your target audience and increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Table of Contents

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is the process of sending commercial-based messages directly to email subscribers in mass quantities. It is a marketing strategy that leverages a person’s prior interest in a company’s products and services to try to nurture them into buying something. More precisely, email marketing is a message that includes advertisements, a business request, or soliciting sales.

Email marketing is one component of the broader topic of internet marketing which includes marketing lines such as search engine optimization, content marketing, social media, search engine marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. These marketing lines all add up to your overall website traffic.

Since marketing through email is a permission-based technique – a user has trusted a business with their email and is allowing the company to send marketing emails including: promotional emails, welcome emails, commercial-based emails, and transactional emails to them. Moreover, by sending these emails, marketers can quickly evaluate the performance of their email marketing campaigns. The marketers can then see the return on investment (ROI), monitor the campaign’s effectiveness in real-time, and gather feedback on the performance and effectiveness of a certain email.

A History of Emails:

Emails have come a long way since their inception in 1971. The first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer, and consisted of a string of numbers and letters. However, sending the first email was not enough for Ray, as he wanted to leave his mark on emails even more. Tomlinson also introduced the idea of using the ‘@’ symbol in email addresses.

Fast forward to May 1, 1978, when Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp, sent out the first mass email for marketing means. With a list of 400 subscribers, Gary proved how effective email marketing is in generating a great return on investment. Whereas, by sending out 400 marketing emails, Thuerk was able to generate USD $13 million in sales!

Now well into the digital age, email has become available to everyone in the world. With over 4 billion email users worldwide, it is estimated that 333.2 million emails are sent every day! However, improved direct communication mechanisms have resulted in the need for regulatory actions. Whereas marketers and automated email machines have generated billions of spam emails. This has provoked governments to take action and enforce spam laws such as the United States’ Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) and the European Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

That being said, spam laws should not detour businesses from engaging in email marketing. They should just be careful, is all. A great way to avoid being considered spam is to send valuable information and do it periodically. Moreover, during their digital marketing efforts, companies should avoid sending a daily email blast and only sending commercial-based emails in their email campaign.

How does email marketing work?

Email marketing can be conducted by using different types of emails. Each type utilizes a different strategy to increase interest and nurture potential customers along their buying journey. To facilitate this process, businesses will use customized and personalized messages to generate trust and credibility. The two types of emails include:

  • Transactional emails: Typically triggered by a customer’s action. The email must have the primary purpose of facilitating, completing, or confirming a sale.
  • Direct emails: The email’s purpose is not to sell something to the receiver but to communicate with them to build trust, credibility, and brand awareness. Direct emails are used as a means to continue communication and nurture the relationship between the two parties, with the hope that, a transaction will happen in the future.

Marketers will utilize these different types of emails to continue engaging with the email subscriber over a long period. Moreover, the communications will be sent out through an automated process using email marketing software with distinct time intervals such as weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The interval will depend on various factors, such as engagement rate and the type of email. This is an important aspect as email marketers need to avoid being seen as ‘spammy’.

If you want a more in-depth rundown on how email marketing works. Have a look at our stand-alone blog that covers everything related to how email marketing works and strategies to start your own email marketing campaign.

Want to improve your email marketing campaign? Check out our 5 examples of business emails blogs for some copy and paste ideas!

Why is email marketing important?

An email marketing strategy can be a cost-effective and easy way for businesses to engage with their existing customers and community. Targeted and personalized emails can foster interest and lead to future sales. One of the best reasons to use an email marketing campaign is to develop trust with the email subscribers. 

By sending valuable, non-spammy emails, businesses can develop trust and authority within their industry. A potential customer will recognize this and be more likely to buy from the particular company. Moreover, while building trust with the community, a business can position itself to be focused on helping the consumer and not just trying to make a sale. Which will significantly boost the perception of the email subscriber towards the business and make them more comfortable engaging with the business.

Want to know more about the importance of email marketing? Have a look at our “Email Marketing Statistics” and ‘Why email marketing is important‘ blogs for more information.

How to do email marketing:

Email marketing can seem like a challenging marketing channel to use if a business has never done it before. However, it can be a simple process if it is broken down into actionable steps. Below is a quick account of how to do email marketing. For a more detailed explanation, then check out our comprehensive guide to Marketing by email: how does email marketing work.

Step 1: Build an email list

To market with email, you need to have an email list. The easiest way to build an email list is by placing a banner on your website asking for people to subscribe. Simply asking for it, will have a low conversion rate, however. Therefore, best practices for email marketing state that marketers should incentivize the transaction by providing something of value in return for the email. This could be an e-book, free audit, checklist, or template.

Step 2: Provide great content

While sending emails, businesses need to provide their subscribers with valuable, and unique content. Moreover, the content should meet the expectations of the email recipient, whereas if they are expecting timely updates and information, but the business misses this, trust and credibility will diminish.

Finally, make sure the emails are not all commercially and transactional based. If a company continues to spam its email list with ‘buy now’ and ‘buy this’ emails, it will quickly lose its subscribers. Focus on providing value and furthering the individual’s understanding of the topic.

Step 3: Email Marketing Analytics

After sending out emails to subscribers, a business should monitor and evaluate the campaign’s performance. By using email analytics such as open rate and click-through rate, a digital marketer can adjust the email strategy, design, frequency, call to action, and so on.

It is usually helpful to designate one person as the campaign monitor, so they can understand the ins and outs of the email marketing platform, the subscribers actions and the overall email marketing analytics that they are receiving. This will allow them to double down on the marketing efforts and proactively develop an effective email marketing campaign plan.

Key takeaways of what is email marketing:

Email marketing has evolved significantly since the first email of numbers and letters was sent in the early 1970s. Now, it is one of the best-performing marketing channels available to businesses. With a high return on investment, low-cost entry point, as well as being easily scalable and automated, all businesses should be utilizing email marketing.

Marketers and business owners can no longer claim to not know what email marketing is or to not understand why it is beneficial.

It is a proven marketing mechanism that has produced huge monetary results, helped build substantial brand recognition, and generated new customers while increasing repeat customers. 

If you have a business and you’re not using email marketing, it is time to start! Not sure how to start? Well, Clear Door SEO can help you with that, and make sure you can create a solid email marketing strategy and that you get the best email marketing service during the process!

Clear Door SEO is an Oregon SEO company in Portland that provides an array of SEO services, including email marketing services. If you want to increase sales and conversions with email marketing, contact us now, or sign up for a free website audit, so we can provide feedback on how to increase the acquisition of new email subscribers!