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The Get-Started Guide: Email Marketing

Our Get-Started Guides provide a high-level overview of marketing design industry topics, along with a library of resources for anyone who wants to dig a little (or a lot) deeper. Please feel free to share your resource suggestions in the comments.

Start with the Facts

Here’s one to consider: 48% of consumers prefer email over any other form of brand communication, including phone (19%) and website (18%).1 Here’s another: 354B corporate emails are sent each day.2 Those numbers don’t lie. Email may not have the same buzz as social media or even content marketing these days, but email marketing is still a reliable and effective marketing communications workhorse.

A Few More Statistics to Remember

  • 41% of emails were opened on a mobile device during the second half of 2012, and that number is expected to rise rapidly this year.3 The increasing number of mobile email opens has had dramatic effects on everything from email design and content strategy, to email send times.
  • Email volume increased 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012 vs. the same period a year earlier.4 The specific numbers vary industry by industry, and some companies have shifted communications to other channels like social media, but email marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  • 56% of business leaders plan to increase email marketing budgets in 2013.5 Email still provides the best way for businesses to connect with and convert customers, and that fact is reflected in rising email marketing budgets.

Learn the Basics

Whether you’re just starting to explore the potential of email marketing, or you’re a seasoned email pro, there’s always more to learn. Not sure how to manage a list? Don’t know how to get your email past spam filters? Wondering about responsive email design? Luckily, there are several guides available online that will help you master the fundamentals. You probably won’t make it through all of these resources in one sitting (unless you’re some sort of email marketing superhero), but each of these links should have a place reserved in every email marketers’ bookmarks.

Email Marketing Guides

Oh yeah. These guys are pretty smart, too.

Master the Lingo

As you immerse yourself in the world of email marketing, you’ll start to hear people use terms like “DomainKeys,” “Linkrot,” and “Seed emails.” Don’t panic! These terms aren’t band names, and they don’t come from some alien language. Well, not exactly. These words are actually email marketing terms, and there’s a lot more where they came from. So, if you think “CAN-SPAM” is best when served on toast, you may want to spend some time studying the glossary below.

Email Marketing Terminology

Find the Tools

Once you’re up to speed on all of the email marketing essentials, it’s time to find a service that suits your needs. We’ve used Campaign Monitor at Olive & Company for many years, and we’ve always been big fans of their service, but there are dozens of other available services. Businesses should evaluate their requirements by themselves, or with the assistance of their agency, in order to determine the service that will best fit their needs.

Email Marketing Service Comparisons

Turn to the Experts

The smartest marketers know that the best email resource isn’t a website, a newsletter, or a service. It’s other real, live people. No matter which social media channel you prefer, you’ll find thriving networks of individuals eager to share their knowledge and answer your questions. And, if you’re working with an agency partner, they should be able to provide expertise and leadership for your email marketing efforts.

Email Marketing Experts and Networks

Measure Twice, Cut Once, and Analyze

Emails may look simple when compared with websites, but the process of designing and building an HTML email that gets past spam filters, and looks good once it arrives in subscribers’ inboxes, is far more complex than it seems. Spam and email client rendering tests are an essential step in delivering successful campaigns.

Once you’ve sent your campaign, it’s time to start analyzing your data. Tracking open and click rates is a good start, but, if you really want to optimize your campaigns, consider setting up A/B tests to learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn from your data, and adapt accordingly.

Testing and Analysis Resources

Take It to the Next Level

So, you’ve learned to speak the language; you’ve found the tools and the experts; you’ve planned, designed, developed, and delivered high-performing campaigns; maybe you’ve even started integrating email into cross-channel marketing campaigns. If so, congratulations! At this point, you may start to think about adding labels like “email marketing rockstar,” “ninja,” or “guru” to your Twitter profile. We can’t condone that sort of behavior, but we’ll leave it up to your judgment.

Just remember that the world of email marketing evolves rapidly. It’s essential to stay on top of the latest trends as they emerge, so that you and your campaigns can evolve as well.

Advanced Studies

  1. Websites Second Only to Word of Mouth in Driving Brand Affinity, from Kentico
  2. Transforming Big Data into Actionable Insight, from Neolane
  3. Mobile Email Opens Report, from Knotice
  4. Email Volume Up 5%; Opens Highest on Saturdays, Sundays, from Marketing Profs
  5. 2013 Marketing Trends Survey, from StrongMail
Picture of Erik Norsted
Erik Norsted
Erik has spent his entire career immersed in every aspect of marketing and branding. His expertise around current digital trends, content strategy, and technical best-practices proves invaluable as he guides clients through the dynamic Modern Marketing landscape.