Introduction to Email Marketing

A lot of people are starting to think email marketing is dying out. In fact, people seem to think email itself is dying out. With the rise of Slack, Zoom, Drift, and alllll of their counterparts, email’s on its way out. But, it’s not. Email is hella useful and still pretty relevant in 2020. If you look at the results across a bunch of eCommerce and small business email marketing campaigns, you’ll know email marketing isn’t dying either.

It’s the perfect way to reach customers directly, tailor marketing to the actual user, and personalise the content. You can do this with socials, kind of, but in email marketing, you actually know exactly who you’re reaching, why you’re reaching them, and you know which content they do and don’t find useful. Email marketing is still going strong and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, now is the time.

What is email marketing?

In the most broad way to possibly explain it, email marketing is sending an email with promotional material to a customer or potential customer. To get into the nitty gritty though, email marketing doesn’t have to be sending promotional material 24/7. In fact, one of the top email marketing strategies is to actually “warm up” the audience.

“Warming them up” is kind of like making sure they’re ready for your pitch. You might have an email list that’s interested in email marketing, you know, because you posted on Instagram and told everyone to sign up to your list for hot tips on email. So, then you might send them an email explaining what email marketing is. The next week, you’d send an email about why email marketing is so good. Then, you might even send them some free value the following week. This could be in really solid, actionable tips, or a straight up freebie in the form of an email template.

By now, you’ve explained what the service is, why it works, and how it’ll help their business, you’ve earned their trust by providing them with those templates. Now is the time to send them a bit of a pitch. Maybe it’s a promotion, maybe it’s just a “hey, we offer email marketing”.

That’s an example of a solid email marketing campaign.

Why does email marketing work?

Because it’s convenient, personal, and instant. First of all, convenience: it lands straight in their inbox. They’re finding it when they’ve taken the time to check their emails. Not halfway through a Youtube video, not while they’re scrolling Instagram.

Then the personal factor. With fancy email segmentation and all their buyer deets in your email marketing software, you can seriously personalise email. It means you’re using their name, you’re suggesting products the data says they like , and you can tailor content to them and their preferences.

And finally, it’s instant. You can hope your social ads will be seen with plenty of time if you’re promoting a sale, offer, or deal. But there’s a chance they’ll find it at the tail-end of the sale and not bother. That doesn’t happen with email marketing. It’s instant and putting shorter time frames on your sales or offers can induce big FOMO. FOMO can seriously motivate purchases.

How to get started with email marketing

Get permission

Don’t do a dodgy. Ask for email addresses: whether it’s on your socials, through lead generating content, or by having a “sign up to newsletter” option in your checkout. And be honest about it. Don’t ask people to sign up for your newsletter if you’re only going to send them promotions. Don’t ask people to sign up for a special offer if it’s just a newsletter. Be transparent and honest because consumers seriously hate being misled.

Build your list

Put together your email list. Like we said, lead generating content, social media, CTAs for sign ups, however you’re collecting your emails. Chuck them all in a nice big spreadsheet and organise it. You’ll need a first name, last name, maybe their date of birth if you’re interested in doing birthday promos, and maybe their past purchases. Usually you can upload these spreadsheets as a CSV to your email marketing software. You can also set up automation so your software collects all of these details for you.

Lay out a plan

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it a thousand times more. Sitting down and banging out a bunch of content is not the way to do it. Create a plan. Try and think about the experience the recipient will have while you’re at it. Will it be weird to get a welcome email and then a “Buy Our Product Right Now” email the very next day? Hint: yes, yes it will be.

Think about that whole “warming up” thing we mentioned. Provide information and content. Get them excited about it and then offer some free value. Once you’ve done all that, then you can sell. You’ll usually kind of have three or four emails that’ll interlink in a campaign. Try and plot these emails at the same time to get the flow and continuity right.

Create useful, valuable, creative content

This is the most important part. Don’t just send an email with a bunch of products. Don’t just copy and paste copy from your website’s service page. Send them new, valuable information — there should always be an offer. If it’s a newsletter, give extra valuable tips that you didn’t mention in your blog post. If it’s a sale, make it clear, give a set sale amount (a %) and show the items in the sale.

It’s important that your email has good, unique content, but it should also look good. Yeah, a Gmail job won’t cut it. Make sure it’s built logically, uses your branding, and has a nice, easy-to-read front. Oh, and CTAs. Use nice, big Calls to Action, in the form of attention grabbing buttons, not hyperlinks. It’s important to look professional and legitimate.

Schedule and send logically

You want to send an email at least once a month. This will keep your brand fresh in their mind. But ideally, you’ll be sending something out weekly to fortnightly. Whether it’s a newsletter, this week’s promos, or a discount code. Just make sure it’s logical, valuable, and serves a purpose. Then, schedule your emails.

Again, try and think about the experience of your customer. Some people have a lot of marketing emails coming in, so if they receive email throughout the night, they’ll probably just select all and mark them as read once they’re up. But, maybe if your email comes through at 7am or 8am, they’ll have a clear inbox and be more open to opening your email. You can also look at the data on this one.

If you were wondering, the data says 10am is the best time to send an email. Second to 10am? Around 8pm, when they’re going to bed. Days-wise, it’s Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday. CoSchedule has written a whole piece on working these ideal times out.

How to build an email in MailChimp

Email Marketing for eCommerce

Email marketing was practically invented for eCommerce. There are the basics. Like running sales, offering an introductory discount, announcing a new line, or a new product. Then there’s those relationship-sweetening emails like birthday deals or discounts. Then, there’s clever automation you can use. Send emails like, “Hey, you bought this and other people who bought that also really enjoyed X, X, and X.

Cart abandonment emails have shockingly good results. This is where you follow up with someone who added products to their cart and then abandoned it. You can even address the usual culprits of the abandoned cart: offer them free shipping, a discount, or even offer to answer any questions they might have about the product.

There are replenishment emails. The, “Hey you’re probably running low on X, do you need a refill?” emails. Then there’s win-back emails. You know the, “Hey [Name], we’ve missed you” kind, where you get a 20% discount if you come back.

Email marketing offers a bunch of opportunities to eCommerce.

Email Marketing for Small Business

As a small business, you might not have the same support as a huge, national brand. It’s important you personalise your emails. Be sure to use names and work with the data you have on the buyer. Small business owners can use email marketing to promote new services, explain services, or offer tips and tricks. You can use email to follow up after projects: whether it’s asking for a review, asking if they need any additional services, or offering add-ons to previous purchases.

Email Marketing for SaaS

Email marketing for SaaS comes somewhere between eCommerce and small business. It’s similar to eCommerce as you’re selling a product (your software) but it also somewhat works as a service (like a lot of small business). It’s not a once-off purchase like in eCommerce, it’s an ongoing relationship, which is often similar to small business. Segmentation is your friend in email marketing for SaaS. Because business owners vary. You’ll have highly professional higher ups and entrepreneurs receiving these emails but you’ll also have marketing managers or BDMs receiving them. The diversity of business owners means your emails need to be diverse for the variety of buyer personas.

On top of that, remember business owners are busy and emails kind of suck. So, make your subject lines highly clickable. Use their name, their business name, and the benefit.

“💥Tom, Sonder’s about to get seriously organised.”

“🚨Tom, you’re about to seriously increase Sonder’s revenue.”


Newsletters are a good way to personalise your content marketing. You can use them to build on your blogs. Write a blog and include a CTA like “Sign up for our newsletter for a bonus tip”. Use email marketing newsletters to share business news, industry news, tips and tricks, and even offer a discount on a new product or service. Newsletters should be 90% educational and 10% promotional, with one clear CTA.

Originally published at on February 24, 2020.