User acquisition using email marketing — 101 📨

📥 email — one of the oldest form of digital communication, plays a prominent role even when it comes to user acquisition. Not to be taken lightly even as Facebook/Google/Snapchat inundate us with ads everywhere, companies, both big and small, spend a ton of time optimizing and fine tuning their email campaigns.

For an outsider, email marketing, might be as simple as writing an email template, sending it to a list of 1000’s of emails and then waiting for conversions to happen. Reality, in contrast, is lot different.

email marketing is as much of an art as science.

Just like we have full-stack developers in the software world, there are full stack email marketers, here’s how the whole thing plays out.

Building email list:
1. Display modal box on your website.
2. Guess an email address using a person’s first and last name.
3. Pay for an email list.

Email Service Provider aka ESP:
There’s plethora of options when it comes to choosing ESPs, ranging from the super economical such as Amazon SES to super expensive such as ExactTarget. 
Attention to detail is extremely important, lest your email might land in SPAM folder.

The “via” in sender field makes email look unprofessional

Setting up ESP:
1. Make sure you have setup DKIM and SPF correctly. 
2. Add a domain specific email address: A prematurely configured ESP will have via as their “to” email address, making the email look super unprofessional. Details matter!
3. Adding a “Unsubscribe” button, we all hate SPAM, this just makes us good internet players.

Tracking emails:
Just like we track website, it is super critical to track our email rates. Typically, it looks like this:
1. Send Rate — number of emails that you have sent.
2. Bounce rate — # of bounced emails.
3. Open Rate — super critical, allows us to know how many users have opened our emails.
4. Click Rate — yup, just like website, emails have click rate too.. The higher the rate, the better it is, doh — that was obvious.

Building Templates:
Not all emails look the same. Marketing emails need to have a fresh look, but balance between being too heavy/animated and a clear concise message that talks about the product. Also, unlike web, email templates use restricted set of CSS/HTML/JavaScript tags, so one can’t just build HTML page and slap it as email.
On top of it, email needs to look beautiful on all devices, be it desktop or mobile or tablet, regardless of the underlying operating system. Tools like Litmus ( go a long way to ensure our emails are worth the read.

Drip Campaigns:
Research suggest it takes at least 3 reminders before a user takes an action on an invent. Which kinda makes sense…. When was the first time you clicked on a random email and immediately brought their product…. probably never…. PS: If you ever did, then that email is worth a goldmine and please forward it to me!

Drip campaigns are mostly automatic, you create 3 templates to begin, add a specific delay and then start the campaign. 
However, you need to “stop” the drip, when the recipient becomes a “user” and/or a “member”. At this point, you would need to integrate your drip-campaign with your database. Sometimes these “integrations” can bog you down, but tools like Zapier make it super simple to integrate and thereby roll things out quickly.

There’s a reason why companies like MailChimp, SendGrid are so successful, not only do they excel on the technical side of execution, but also make it easy and intuitive for customers send emails.

Circling back, a full stack email marketing engine includes:
1. Collecting email address (free or paid)
2. Technical setup around SPF and DKIM settings ($100 * @2 hours = $200)
3. Professional services to build email templates — $500/campaign (estimated)
3. email template validation (Litmus — $79/month)
4. Drip campaign setup (HatchBuck — $99/month) — depends on volume.
5. Zapier integration — $20/month

Setting up a basic email marketing campaign for a modest website involves:
1. one-time costs per campaign — $700
2. at least three monthly subscription services — $198/month

monthly spend on different services — $687/month

We analyzed over 550 startups for their marketing stack and correlated the stack with their spend, the monthly subscription costs were $687/month, way beyond the above $198/month.

At, we understand the nuances involved in building email marketing campaigns and how soon costs can go quickly out of control.

Dhan — ( Subscription & License Management Platform to the rescue 🚀. We built our platform with one simple goal, help our customers to stop overspending & have made this process super simple: signup on our website, sit back and relax as we start identifying areas where you can save 💰!