How to Start Email Marketing for Your Business TODAY in 13 EASY DUBS Steps!

How to Start Email Marketing for Your Business TODAY in 13 EASY Steps!

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your products and services. It has been proven that email marketing campaigns generate up to 3 times more leads than traditional advertising methods. In addition, email marketing allows you to target specific groups of customers, allowing you to reach out to those who are most interested in what you offer.

However, creating an email marketing campaign involves steps that are not beginner-friendly. Moreover, there are several things you should consider before you launch an email marketing campaign.

If you are a beginner in email marketing and don’t know where to begin, here are some tips on how to start email marketing.

1. Establish Your Email Marketing Goals

Before you do anything else, make sure your goals are well-defined. Having a solid goal before starting will save you a lot of time and effort in the future. To do this, ask yourself what you want to achieve. This will determine what kind of campaign you run, the target, the content, and how to measure success.

Further Reading: The Definitive 5-Step Email Marketing Guide for Success

2. Choose the Right Platform

There are multiple platforms available for sending emails. Some are free, others are paid, and each has a different set of features beyond the basics. No matter what you choose, you’ll benefit from the templates, growth tools, and tracking features. I have a great article on email marketing tools here.

Next, consider whether you want to send bulk emails or individual messages. While most of us think about email marketing platforms as primarily for bulk emails, they can also be used for individual messages or customized messages. Often, you can compose/set up the email, then ask your email program to send it later.

3. Build Your Contact List

Build Your Contact List

Even the best email campaign is useless without the list. After all, there’s no point in creating emails unless you have somewhere to send them. As a general rule, if you only have a couple of dozen emails you don’t have enough for a true email client yet. Here’s how to get there, as part of how to start email marketing.

Add Your Existing Contact List

If you already have a small list, be sure to add to it. Part of how to start email marketing is having a list of emails that’s long enough to justify the effort. However, for most small businesses there’s already a shortlist of emails for existing customers. As your business grows, get permission from your customers to send them marketing emails. In addition, the tips in the next section can help you grow a list even further.

Build A New List from Scratch

Even if you don’t have an email contact list, it’s relatively easy to start one. First, build a form to sign up that isn’t dependent on people buying something. Then, once you have the landing page ready, give incentives to persuade people to sign up. We call this a lead magnet, and it can include items like an eBook, course, coupons, and more. These incentives should be relevant to your audience and provide significant value.

Finally, make sure your list-building (and editing) techniques are compliant with relevant legislation in your jurisdiction. For example, some countries require a double opt-in, which means you have to send an initial email and ask for permission to send more. And in the US, we have the CAN-SPAM Act which is enforced by the FTC. Don’t be the ones who get fined.

Further Reading: 7 Best Ways to Build an Email List (From Scratch)

4. Segment Your List

Once your list gets larger, break it up into subcategories (geographical, lifestyle, industry, etc.) to avoid blasting a generic email to everybody. Most email clients will make this easy to do with templates and customization. You can even save the segments for later, as part of how to start email marketing.

Segmenting your list will also help you send the right content to the right people at the right stage of their buyer’s journey. For instance, you might send a “product announcement” email to people who’ve bought from you in the past, but you haven’t heard from them in a while. Or, you can advertise improvements to people who own a certain product. Best of all, you can create different lead magnets and opt-in forms for each stage of the buyer’s journey. This way, you can maximize results and ROI.

5. Personalize the Messages

Using a personal touch will get your marketing campaign a long way. A personalized email has higher open rates, if only because personalization makes people feel like you care about them, rather than considering them another paycheck. Personalization is easy: simply add the first name field in the subject line and/or greeting. As the saying goes, the most beautiful sound in the world is your name.

Similarly, you should spend more time on subject lines, because this important step helps boost your open rate. People don’t like to open emails when they aren’t sure what’s in them. On the other hand, a compelling subject line will encourage people to open the email.

6. Set Up the Welcome Email

Set Up the Welcome Email

Welcome emails are the first message your new subscribers receive. Be sure that you make a good first impression because this sets the stage for further interaction. Because the open rate is higher than average, welcome emails are also a great way to tell people why your company is special. Finally, you should deliver value right away.  Inbox space is precious, so you don’t want people to think your marketing emails are a waste of time.

7. Utilize Automations

Automation may sound intimidating, but they really aren’t. Rather, with automation, you can make your life easier by letting the software do most of the work. For instance, you can prepare sets of pre-written messages to be sent automatically to a specific group/segment at a customized period of time. 

Another technique is to use autoresponders to send these emails based on a specific condition or triggers. For example, abandoned cart emails are ubiquitous in eCommerce because they can increase conversion rates: sometimes people forget they had something in their cart, or they might’ve been “on the fence” about purchasing. In these cases, a little push is often all they need.

Further Reading: What is Email Marketing Automation and How Much Can You Actually Automate?

8. Create/Use A Reusable Email Template

Unlike hand-written marketing emails, templates are (usually) beautifully designed with graphics, fonts, and custom layouts. In addition, templates save time because you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Instead, you can often drag and drop text into the template, add a picture from your library, set the send time/segments, and you’re done.

However, not every email template is created equal. Be sure to choose a layout that is clean, eye-catching, and responsive. You should also use one that looks good on any device, especially with the percentage of emails getting opened on a mobile device rising. If your emails look awful on mobile, there’s a high chance that they won’t get opened. Avoid this by choosing mobile-friendly templates.

9. Use Persuasive Messages

Another aspect of how to start email marketing is learning to write persuasive emails. It’s advisable to learn basic copywriting – treat it as a face-to-face conversation with a customer. In other words, “talk” to your customers the way you’d want to be talked to in the same situation.

Of course, email clients often try and streamline this process. Some email list platforms provide users with fill-in-the-blank message templates, but it’s better to customize each message to their needs. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a robot and, worse, giving the impression that you don’t really care about your email content. If you’ve ever gotten an annoying form letter from a company, you know what I’m talking about.

Finally, each email should have three sections: offering (headline), benefits (body), and action (CTA/ending). Make the offering enticing to your subscribers: this serves as a kind of “hook” that draws people into the email. Next, use the body of your email to present a value proposition. For a nonprofit, this can be supporting the mission, and for eCommerce, you can talk about a special deal or product launch. Finally, the CTA invites people to take your desired action, such as buying the product.

10. Preview and Test Before Sending

Even with the convenience of templates and email software, mistakes happen. And, because there’s no back button with email (unlike web pages, where you can edit from the backend later), it’s important to make sure everything is right before you send emails to all of your customers. For this reason, you should always preview and test each message before mass sending it.

Usually, you can preview emails right in your email software. This function can be on the dashboard or a pulldown menu from the message composition interface. You’ll get to see a simulation of the email on the computer and mobile devices, so you can make sure it looks great on both. In addition, you’ll want to check one more time and ensure that you have the offer right. Sometimes seeing the email in a preview window can help with this.

11. Find the Best Time to Send

Find the Best Time to Send

Another aspect of how to start email marketing is timing. Timing is important to the open rate. Open rate is important to your business because if people don’t open your email, it won’t do you much good. While different kinds of emails have different average open rates, there’s always room for maximization.

To optimize your open rate, first find the best time to send based on customer behavior data. Analytics and email marketing tools will tell you when customers are most likely to open an email from your company. In addition, other data points like click-throughs and designated landing pages will tell you when people check out your offer.

Besides the best time to send, you should also find the best time to follow up. This way, if a customer responds to your offer, then you’ll be ready. In addition, you might send a series of emails with some campaigns that include automated follow-ups.

Regardless of your overall goals, the best time also depends on the industry, type of customer, geographical location, and other factors. You can research these on industry websites, track your analytics results, and use other methods to help ensure you’re sending emails at the best time.

Further Reading: When is the Best Time to Send Marketing Emails? (with pre-send checklist)

12. Track and Analyze Your Campaign

Track and Analyze Your Campaign

No matter what kind of emails you send, it’s always important to be informed about past performance. After all, the best decision is an informed decision based on solid data, because past customer behavior is a good predictor of what’s coming in the future.  At a minimum, you should track your open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, etc. Most email marketing platforms have analytics tools for this, and in some cases, Google Analytics can help as well.

Once you’ve gathered your analytics from different sources, use the data to improve your campaign. For instance, you might find that emails using one template are more effective than ones you’ve sent using a different one. Or, you might find that a certain customer segment isn’t responding well, and so you need to alter your approach to them. Part of learning how to start email marketing for your business is adjusting to customer preferences.

13. Rinse, Repeat, and Improve

Finally, email marketing involves a constant cycle of improvement. Customer preferences change, and so do your products and services. For this reason, you should always monitor your analytics for trends. Then, use what’s working and discard what’s not. Sometimes this means changing your templates or writing your pitch differently. Or, it can be a minor tweak like sending the email 30 minutes later. Either way, the object is always to maximize your ROI by increasing effectiveness.

Further Reading: How to Improve Your Email Open Rate


In conclusion, email marketing is one of the easiest ways to reach out to your customers and potential clients. With a little bit of effort, you can set up a list of subscribers who want to hear from you regularly, and send them information about your products and services.

The trickiest part of email marketing is actually creating content that your audience wants to read. But once you figure out what works best for your brand, you’ll be able to create emails that keep your readers coming back for more. Start building your email list today.

Hero Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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