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by Mike Vestil 

Email Marketing 101 – The Guide To Using Email In Business

Email marketing is a powerful way to reach your audience, but it can be hard for new marketers to fully understand how to use all of its features to better their business.

There are so many different software, tools, and strategies that sometimes, combining them all together might become overwhelming. There are also laws to consider, email automation, segmentation, and a hundred other things that you must keep in mind if you want to be successful at email marketing.


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In this post, I've rounded up the best resources and information on email marketing in one place that will help you get started with this essential part of any online business. In addition to giving you top-notch information, I'll also link to various other recommended articles that I’ve written on my site. 

This will allow you to become proficient at using this marketing channel for your business. Let's dive deep into this topic.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a subset of digital marketing, which involves promoting products or brands using electronic mail. It's one of the oldest forms of online marketing, but it remains popular because email channels are generally safe and effective at delivering content that people want to read. 

There's also very little friction in receiving promotional emails, so they're an easy sell for marketers who want their products seen by as many potential customers as possible.

Why Email Marketing Is Important

The benefits of email marketing can be summarized in three words: trust, convenience, and targeting. People are used to being interrupted with advertising messages everywhere they turn, whether it is billboards on the highway or ads that follow them around online. 

Getting your message into someone's inbox is a softer sell because people are used to getting emails in their inbox. Email subscribers have also opted in to hear from you—and everyone else who contacts them via email—so it's less likely for your message to be marked (or considered) as spam, which results in more positive engagement overall.

Thanks to the power of advanced features such as segmentation (more on this later), marketing emails also tend to be hyper-targeted. Businesses can use their data on file, such as purchase history, browsing behavior, and customer surveys, to send more relevant messages that appeal directly to their customers.

Let's get a bit more in-depth about the benefits of email marketing.

High Open Rates

The average open rate for email marketing is between 12%-25% of all emails sent. This means that, at best, you have a 1 in 4 chance of your email being opened and at worst, you have a slightly better chance than 1 in 10 emails being opened.


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Even at its worst, this is a much better chance of connecting with an audience, especially considering the low cost involved when using email marketing.

Low Cost

Email doesn't require too many resources, such as paid ads or lots of staff time, so it's relatively cost-effective for businesses who want to get their message out there.

Both the startup costs and the maintenance costs are low. In addition, costs are scalable according to the number of people you have on your email marketing list.


You can combine your emails with other forms of communication such as social media and pay-per-click advertising campaigns. Your audience won't see them as separate entities, and they'll be more likely to take the actions you ask of them. They'll have a better sense of your brand as a whole, and they're less likely to feel overwhelmed with the messages you send them.

Allow You To Grow Your Business

With reasonably low barriers to entry for most email marketing software, it's easy for small business owners to get started with this resource. It gives companies a chance to build their brands without spending too much time or money on promotions that may not work out in the end. 

Purely online businesses can also use this strategy because it doesn't require owning an actual storefront or office premises -everything is done online through emails sent directly from the business owner's email marketing client.

Types Of Email Marketing Messages You Can Send

Now that we’ve gone over the reasons why email marketing is important, let’s speak about various types of email marketing messages.

It's crucial to think about the types of campaigns that you plan on sending since these will affect the success rate of your campaigns. Different types of email campaigns to consider include:

  • Sales Email: This is the type of email sent to drive sales, which means it should contain highly relevant content for your customers to pay attention to. It may be helpful to include special offers (if relevant) in this type of email to entice people into making a purchase.
  • How-To Guide:  If you're launching a new product or service, it's wise to send this type of email. The guide should contain all the steps needed to take advantage of your offering (including getting started if necessary). 
  • Welcome Emails: These are automatically sent every time a subscriber joins your mailing list, and they're a great way to let new contacts know who you are and what you have available. They also give subscribers a reason to open future campaigns and emails from your company by starting off on the right foot. This can be done by including links that allow subscribers to download free content or tools from you.
  • Newsletter Updates: If you find yourself sending out the same message, again and again, consider setting up a newsletter. These will contain links to helpful content and updates from any of your social media platforms, giving people multiple reasons why they should read your emails.
  • Follow-Up Emails: People who have shown interest in your products may not make a purchase immediately after signing up for your mailing list. Follow-up emails give them another chance to offer discounts and other incentives that may entice them into buying.

Keep in mind that you’ll need email marketing software to send out bulk emails. The software you choose should have both standard features for sending emails and advanced features for growing your business.

When it comes to using such software to send out the most effective and suitable type of email, think about it from the subscriber's perspective by answering the question, “what kind of content would they appreciate receiving?”.

Answering this question will help you stay focused on building a positive relationship with your audience. Of course, it's important to tailor each email campaign based on who you're sending them to.


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Your business's ideal customers will likely have different preferences for things like text length and format styles. Sending generic messages is never a good idea because they won't feel relevant or personal—subscribers will be more likely to ignore or mark them as spam instead.

Always keep the content of your emails in line with what your readers want from you, no matter how much time and resources go into crafting them. This may mean making some changes down the line if your subscribers aren't responding well.

Email Marketing Design

Next, consider the email marketing design of any campaign that you're sending out. Things like the layout, images, and overall text can make a difference in whether or not people take notice of your email content—and whether or not they keep reading.

The design of your email campaigns should reflect their purpose. If you're trying to sell something, the design should be clean and professional-looking—not too flashy or busy. Of course, if you want your readers to take notice of a promotional coupon code, then using bold text and bright colors will make it stand out on screen (and entice them into clicking).

Vertical layouts are ideal for emails with lots of content. In contrast, horizontal ones tend to work well when trying to capture someone's attention or get them excited about a promotion that's going on (like giving away free examples). In this case, the focus is typically on just one, single point.


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Images play an essential role in every aspect of email marketing, so they need to be considered carefully. They can't weigh down your emails or make them distracting, but they can help you get the right message across.

When it comes to images, one of the essential email marketing tips related to design is to use images sparingly. Too many pictures, no matter how beautiful they are, will only serve to overwhelm readers and make them close out of your emails without taking any action. 

Another design element to keep in mind is the size of your images. Make sure that they're large enough to see and read without people having to zoom in to understand what the images are about. At the same time, don’t have images that are too large in size since these will slow down the email loading time.

Do not forget to check that colors match, too – there is nothing more off-putting than a clash between the color of an email and its subject matter. Mismatched branding colors can make an email appear untrustworthy.

The fonts that you use are essential in email marketing, for they give your messages personality and can be used to get your audience's attention.

Using only one font family per email is good practice since too many different fonts can make an email look untidy. If you have different fonts, ensure that all of them are sans-serif or serif, so the emails are easy to read on any device.

Finally, when it comes to design, holiday email marketing can also be used to send that special cheer and let your subscribers know you are thinking of them during specific occasions

How To Create A Successful Campaign With A/B Testing And Segmentation

Let's now get into one of the critical areas of email marketing: testing.

The right email campaign service provides you with the proper functionality to test the emails you send and ensure that they are performing as you expect. 

Testing applies to everything from split testing your landing page and emails, to A/B testing different subject lines and images. It's a great way to see what works best with your chosen audience and will help you improve results and increase revenue.

The first step is deciding how you want to go about the testing – for example, whether you're going to test unique headlines or ones that are similar – or if you're going to try out different types of images against each other.


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Deciding which email marketing KPIs you're going to use will help you better understand what your email marketing tests should be looking at.

Over time, you'll start learning more about your subscribers and their preferences which means that the next round of testing could cover different topics.

For example, if one particular email in a specific campaign didn't do as well as you'd hoped and you want to test it again in the future, consider changing the subject line or sending time. 

You can also test different segments of your list to see how they react to your message. Email marketing segmentation is the process of dividing your list up into smaller groups and allows you to send emails to different groups of people.

These people can be targeted using various types of content that applies specifically to their interests.

You can then go even deeper into testing, by comparing different variables, like subject lines and calls to action. You could split test two subject lines with two emails each to find out which one has the highest open rates, or you could ask for an action in one email and ask for feedback in another.

The next step is to take the winning combinations found through your A/B testing and use them to create influential targeted segments within your digital database. This will allow you to hone future messaging around specific groups of customers that are more likely to respond well to particular types of content—and improve your bottom line results.

In a nutshell, understanding and testing the right email marketing metrics is crucial for successful email campaigns.

Other Items To Monitor In A Successful Email Marketing Campaign

It's a good idea to monitor the percentage of opened emails and compare these rates when it comes to the first welcome email, the second email, or even the third one you send your email list. If you see that your numbers are falling significantly, this could indicate lower engagement and might mean that something has to change. 

You can get this information by using the analytics available in your email marketing software. 

You should also monitor the bounce rate because, at some point, subscribers may have marked your email as spam and reported it (which often happens if there is a problem with items such as embedded links in your emails). 

It's also worth looking at your click-to-open rates and how many of the people you're sending emails to, are actually clicking on any links in your emails. This is important for determining whether or not that particular content is converting well for you or if there needs to be a change made.

Comparing results from different email marketing tests should be done regularly so you can find out which combination performs best. However, make sure you keep things simple and don't try and test too much at the same time – the reason for this is because it could confuse subscribers, who might mark your emails as spam when they see significant changes between one email and the next.

The main point of running these tests is to improve upon past results and work out how to get the maximum number of people to open your emails and take action. You may find that some segments perform better than others, while subject lines that seem like a good idea, in theory, might not always translate into the best results.

It's important to note that when it comes to email marketing, what works for someone else might not work well for you – because all businesses are different, and people have varying responses depending on several various factors. 

However, with testing, getting great results is possible, so educating yourself about best practices in your industry should give you a great jumping-off point for building winning campaigns.

Considerations Regarding Email Laws

Email service providers make it easy to send email campaigns to your subscribers. This means that email marketing is a powerful tool to share your message but it's also easy for things to go wrong. 

You can get into trouble if you fail to follow CAN-SPAM laws, the result of which could be hefty fines and penalties from the FTC

In addition, many internet service providers (ISPs) don't allow bulk emails anymore unless they're sent from an authenticated source. This means that even if your email is compliant with all other regulations, it could still be rejected by servers and never shown to potential customers.


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Some companies consider buying email lists a great way to grow their subscriber base. However, this is a risky practice because you don't know if the ISP will accept such emails, and even if they do arrive in someone's inbox, people might automatically mark them as spam.

In addition, sending emails to people who haven't actively opted-in to receive messages from you can result in complaints, which could lead to ISPs blocking all of your future emails. In the worst-case scenario, this might cause people to mark all of your emails as spam, which would damage all future email campaigns that you might want to send.

In general, sending emails to people that have directly asked to receive emails from you is the best idea. Effective email marketing campaigns collect people's information and then use that data to send targeted emails that are ideally personalized on a one-to-one basis.

This allows you to create customized content that resonates with the recipient and has a much greater chance of being read. For example, if you're selling different products and your email offers five percent off items X, Y, and Z – but someone hasn't asked to hear about those specific items – there is no reason for them to be interested in the offer.

In addition to all of the above, email marketing laws have become stricter over time, which means that you must be 100 percent compliant before hitting send on your campaign.

Why Automation Workflows Are Crucial For An Effective Email Marketing Campaign

Email automation workflows refer to the different actions that take place when an action is taken by your subscribers. The idea behind this type of technology is to send personalized messages that are tailored to each recipient and then act according to their actions. This allows brands to market directly to customers without wasting time setting up manual processes.


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For example, suppose you're marketing software, and one subscriber needs extra help because they don't understand how your program works. Once a person asks for help through a link in your email, an automated workflow could be used to direct them to a specialized web page that already has many of the items pre-populated to make their life easier.

This way, no person goes without the help they need, which makes for happy subscribers who will continue using your product thanks to the service that you provide. While automation can sound complicated, many functions are available through premade templates that even novice marketers can implement on their own with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Automation workflows also allow marketers to personalize the entire experience. This could be as simple as sending each recipient an individualized subject line or using information collected from past transactions and customer interactions to create targeted messages that make users feel like they're receiving communications directly from a brand representative.

Personalization builds customer loyalty and can quickly be done through the email service provider that you choose. These providers have various marketing tools that help you design engaging emails for your subscribers. The best part is that these systems are easy to use, which means almost anyone in a company can create a workflow with little training.

If email marketing automation sounds complex, don’t worry. There are many companies that choose to hire professional marketing firms that know how to create direct campaigns that resonate with customers on an individual level. In some situations, this makes more sense because business owners can then focus on running their business, rather than learning about advanced email technology they don’t have time for.

In the end, this also depends on whether you choose an email marketing platform with a huge learning curve (or not) and the types of automation you want to have in place. 

For your first email marketing campaign, I suggest choosing an email marketing service that does not have a steep learning curve and that allows you to be up and running in a short period of time.

Additional Best Practices, Tools (And More) To Consider

Email marketing services come with a host of tools that can be used to promote your brand. However, if you want to have success, then it's suggested that you keep the following tips in mind:

  • Hire talent: If your business doesn't have anyone knowledgeable in setting up email marketing services, then you’ll either have to assume this responsibility yourself or hire someone who does. This expertise is crucial because many internal factors like spam filters and unsubscribes need to be considered and solutions need to be found.
  • Trial and error: When trying new things, it's best to use a test list until you run an effective campaign. A test list won't contain actual users, which means that the only thing you’ll get is feedback from people on such a list that can make your email marketing better.  Email marketing effectiveness is what you should be striving for, and this can be achieved by constant testing and using the right tools.
  • Quality over quantity: Consumers enjoy receiving helpful emails that provide them with the information they want rather than lots of irrelevant or uninteresting content. This is why it's best to keep your list lean, use automation to streamline your workflow, and remove people that are simply not interested in your emails.
  • Brand awareness: Even if you're not trying to sell anything, many email marketing services still recommend that you occasionally include promotional offers in the footer of your messages. This gives readers the chance to browse the items available and allows you to build brand awareness in the process. It can also help encourage clicks by giving users a reason to stay engaged with your content.

Email marketing strategies have been around for decades and will continue to be used as a scalable and cost-effective marketing channel. It's essential to know how this process works and which email service providers offer the right tools your company needs.

Email Marketing - FAQ

Can I use a free email marketing service to get started?

You can use a free email marketing service, but you'll have to be selective. Many of the premium services are popular because they provide access to advanced features like auto-responders, necessary for automated campaigns.

On the other hand, free tools heavily restrict what can be done with subscribed lists and make it difficult or impossible to create segmented lists that target specific people.

How important is email as part of my business marketing efforts?

Email marketing is a core part of any business email marketing strategy. It is one of the most potent ways to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to your site and increase sales over time.

One significant benefit of email is that it allows you to connect with customers on an individual level. When they sign up for an email list, they're giving you their name and contact information. From there, you can use that information to send them updates about your company and any offers or discounts that might interest them. Not only is this type of personalized outreach more effective than generic advertising, but it's also the most time-efficient way to reach out to new customers.

How can I track specific campaign performance?

You can track a specific campaign's performance by using email marketing software that has tracking abilities. This will allow you to see which messages were opened and clicked on when they reached subscribers' email inboxes. You'll also be able to see how each subscriber responded to your email and note which products, services, or discounts they were most interested in.

By tracking the performance of specific marketing campaigns, you can measure whether certain strategies are working and make changes as necessary.

What are essential marketing channels to consider beyond email marketing?

Although email is a powerful marketing channel, it's important to remember that you can't just rely on one form of communication to get the word out about your company and its products.

Along with email, you'll want to invest in social media and SEO. These two channels complement and strengthen email marketing by offering additional ways for customers and potential consumers to find out about your business.

Social media, in particular, is an excellent way to spread the word about deals and discounts that will encourage readers to buy from you. On the other hand, SEO can help new visitors find your site by driving up brand awareness through search engine results. In addition, both of these strategies can be scaled to meet the needs of an expanding business.

What types of emails can I send?

Transactional emails are emails you send to customers to notify them of recent acquisitions, orders, shipping, and other important business updates.

They're usually sent immediately after a transaction has occurred, so there's no need for customization. Transactional emails are generally kept highly brief since they're not designed to be engaging or even read thoroughly by recipients.

On the other hand, promotional emails are sent to promote your company and encourage customers to make additional purchases. These emails can be customized with eye-catching graphics and text that promote a specific product or sale. They usually include a call to action to "buy now," link out to coupon pages, or load tracking numbers.

For best results, promotional emails should be more personalized than transactional emails to feel less like spam. This is because people are generally more inclined to purchase from a business that understands their unique needs.

How do I avoid the spam folder when using an email marketing tool?

The best way to avoid your emails from winding up in spam folders is to avoid sending emails that look like spam.

This means you'll want to avoid aggressive subject lines, excessive punctuation, and wording that could be construed as "spammy." Also, remember to avoid any images or links that aren't necessary for you to get your point across.

Instead, focus on using professional language, keeping messages brief, and including only one call-to-action so you don't overwhelm your readers.

How do I get new subscribers added to my email list?

There are many ways you can get new subscribers to your email list, but let’s look at three of the most common ones:

  • Paid advertisements for your email marketing campaign. These ads, which usually appear on social media sites or search engines, include a call-to-action designed to encourage readers to sign up for your business's newsletter. The best-paid ads target specific audiences you know to be interested in your products or services.
  • Sharing your email list with other businesses. You could, for example, offer a discount on your product if a person signs up for your newsletter using a referral link. This way, you'll get a new subscriber without having to pay for advertising.
  • Offering incentives to readers who sign up for your email list. This includes free shipping, exclusive access to new products, or early registration openings for popular events. The idea here is that you want readers to sign up because they have a vested interest in what you have to offer.

How can I improve my email deliverability?

One of the easiest ways to improve email deliverability is to keep your list clean.

This means making sure that any addresses you've collected aren't bouncing and can accept incoming emails. You'll also need to make sure that your custom domains (the "name" at the end of your email) are correctly configured with all ISPs.

You can do this by making sure your custom domain's MX servers records have been appropriately set up. Speak to your email service provider to find out more.

A longer-term solution is to improve deliverability by simply having a good reputation. This means avoiding spam tactics and developing relationships with your subscribers. You can also help your reputation by ensuring that your emails are mobile-friendly and include valid HTML and images.


The advantages of email marketing are plenty. If you are interested in building a long-term relationship with your customers, email marketing is one of the best tools to do so. It can be used quite effectively during the early days of your business venture when you want customers to remember your brand and it’s also great to be used once your business is up and running.

If you are starting out, then take the time to learn about the different email marketing software providers available in the market. This will allow you to decide on the best one and then start using such a powerful tool as soon as possible.

I hope this article helped you understand how email marketing works, its benefits, and also provided some helpful information about best practices, functionality, and other important details you need to know before starting out.

Further reading on MikeVestil.com Want to learn more about various marketing channels to help promote your business? Check out this article on using Facebook ads for B2B slaes for more information.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is the author of the Lazy Man's Guide To Living The Good Life. He also has a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers where he talks about personal development and personal finance.

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