Due to its popularity, new and small business owners experience a lot of pressure to use email for marketing. While we all use email, not all of us understand how to best use it for promoting our businesses. Email funnels, CRM’s, personalized messages, analytics tracking…there’s more acronyms and obscure jargon associated with email marketing than we can cover in one article. Email marketing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it. We are going to cover the basics here so that you can come out of this article knowing how to execute a simple email marketing campaign. Furthermore, we are going to show you how to do it inexpensively, because money matters for new and small businesses.

What is email marketing? 

What is email marketing?

While this may seem basic, it becomes our starting point so that we can all begin with the same knowledge base. Email marketing is defined as the delivery of marketing-related material to the inbox of an existing consumer or potential consumer. It’s that straightforward! For a lot of new and small business owners, you may be thinking, “Great, I’ll just start sending emails from my account.” Not so fast. While the definition may be simple, the proof lies in the planning and execution needed to accomplish your marketing objective.

How do I start email marketing? 

Marketing objective? To start email marketing, you need to start with a plan. By creating a plan you can set goals and hold yourself accountable to those goals. Furthermore, by creating a plan, you can avoid spending time on tactics that really don’t work for you. Start your plan by answering these questions. 

  • What do I want to achieve with my email?
  • Who am I targeting?
  • How do I want to send my emails?
  • What do I want recipients to do once they have read the email?

What do I want to achieve with my emails?

You will need to figure out the goal for your email. You may be seeking to give information and engage your audience, provide company updates through a newsletter, or you may be seeking to promote a sale. Your goal must be decided before sending out your communication for your campaign to be successful. You may send out awareness emails on Mondays and sales emails on Thursdays. It’s helpful to schedule your emails to be sent out on a consistent basis such as weekly, monthly or quarterly. 

Who am I targeting?

Who am I targeting?

If you are sending an email to existing customers, you will write your copy much differently than if you are sending an email hoping to generate new customers. Additionally, if you are targeting one small segment of your customer base, you will want to tailor your message to that audience. You may have different audiences and it might be best to separate them by age, income, or geographic location. In today’s market, consumers prefer individualized communications, which means you will want appropriate information going out to the right audience. 

How do I want to send my emails?

How do I want to send my emails?

Next, important information about how you send your emails. You do NOT want to use your email address or your company email. Unless you’ve had an internal system built for this purpose, you likely do not have the required pieces for your email to be legal. If you start sending out prospect emails, your address could get blacklisted from email clients rendering your emails useless. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 set out rules that you must follow in order to send emails to existing and prospective consumers. All emails sent to prospective customers must meet the following conditions

  • Must not use false or misleading header information
  • Must not use deceptive subject lines
  • Must identify the message as an ad
  • Must tell where you are located (address)
  • Must tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you
  • Must honor opt-out requests
  • Must monitor what others are doing on your behalf (If you have hired an outside agency)

Instead of using your personal email, which is just fine to utilize for the sending of personal emails, but not prospecting emails, it is recommended to use an email client such as the many free CRM (Client Relationships Management) systems. These pre-built email systems meet CAN-SPAM Act guidelines, include opt-out systems, and show you metric data such as open rate and click-through rate in order to judge the effectiveness of a particular email. In addition to being structured for your legal safety and the supplying of metrics, these systems also keep and store your list of contacts or prospects. These systems are also designed to automatically remove contacts that have opted out of your emails, saving you time and money.

As a new or small company it is important to select an email automation system that fits your needs. Here is a list of free and low cost email marketing services that can get you up and running quickly.

As you can see, your options are plentiful. This list does not capture all of the systems available, there are hundreds. This list is targeted towards low cost and free options with high user ratings. You will need to do some research to find the system that best fits your needs. There are literally hundreds of articles outlining the benefits, features, and best uses of these systems so the decision-making process can take a bit of time. You will want to have the ability to download your list of contacts should you decide to change systems. Having to rebuild your contacts list can be a terrible hassle. 

What do I want recipients to do once they have read the email? 

Don’t forget to tell your recipients what you want them to do at the end of your email. A call to action (CTA) is a statement created to get a response from the reader.  Usually using an imperative verb such as “call now” or “learn more” or “visit our store today,” it’s used to get your target to respond to your request and should align closely with your objective. 

Additional email tips

Once you have decided what your goal is, who your audience is, how you are going to send your email and what you want the recipient to do after reading your email, you’ve got the major pieces in place for your email marketing campaign. Here are some additional tips for email marketing.

  • Provide a way for prospects to register for emails (This is necessary for prospective customers whom you are contacting for the first time.)
  • Create an effective subject line and avoid cheesy lines like “free”. This will appear to be spam.
  • Create content that engages your customers. 
  • Use lead magnets. This is attractive information that is useful for consumers such as white papers, articles, infographics, webinars, or tools. 
  • Make your communications personal. 
  • Organize your contact lists and continuously update them to stay relevant.
  • Use a little bit of color, which can help elements such as your CTA stand out from the rest of the email. 

Advanced email marketing tactics

There are a lot of terms thrown out regarding email marketing such as funnels and journeys. Each one of these topic areas can cover entire books. We will lay out the basic information here and dive in deeper in future posts. 

Customer Journey 

Customer Journey

The customer journey is essentially a guide for the process a potential customer takes from the point of introduction to your brand until purchase and follow up (retention). This is typically done through a graphical layout. Customer journeys can be broken down as one journey from introduction until purchase, then another journey from purchase until repeat purchase. These journeys may also be centered around referrals or any number of scenarios. This is what can make journey maps very complicated. The journey is really up to you or your marketing partner to create and can be anything you make it to be. Customer journeys typically follow a structure, with hundreds of variations based on the specific journey or your own personal preference.

  • Brand Introduction
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Service
  • Retention



Creating personas is a way to help you organize your target markets. By creating a persona you are essentially creating a fictitious individual who embodies the personal tastes, preferences, and habits for a particular target group. Creating personas is something that has become more and more popular as the value of this process has been realized. There is no particular industry standard for creating customer personas. To really get technical in the development of personas you may want to do surveys, conduct interviews, and gather demographic data. This heavy lifting often requires the help of a marketing agency. 

Here’s some key aspects for creating a consumer persona. 

  • Figure out who your key demographics are. Who will make the decision to do business with you?
  • Gather data and interview individuals who fit the description of your key demographics. Find out about their most important traits such as needs, concerns, roadblocks, and key aspects of appeal.
  • You will find similarities in these decision-makers, isolate them into a persona or theoretical personality.

Does email marketing work? 

Does email marketing work?

The most significant thing to ask from any marketing initiative is if it works. As the statistics below illustrate, email marketing is a powerful tool to connect with potential customers.  Email is a huge part of our lives, after all, do you even know anyone that doesn’t have an email address?

  • In 2019, email users totaled 3.9 billion (Statista 2020)
  • In 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent each day (Statista 2020) 
  • For every dollar spent on average, $42 dollars were made (DMA 2020)
  • The average open rate for a welcome email is 82% (GetResponse 2017)
  • Personalized subject lines see a 50% increase in open rates (Yes Lifestyle Marketing 2017)
  • 40 percent of B2B marketers say email newsletters are most critical to their content marketing success.

Email marketing remains a strong driver of new leads as well as customer retention. The ROI on email marketing remains statistically one of the best in marketing. Email-based marketing is not going anywhere anytime soon, but there are some things to keep in mind with that. With a heavy prevalence in email marketing, a lot of this is getting filtered out therefore you must provide value to prospective readers.