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Email Marketing: A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide

Find out everything you need to know from how to build your email list to how to improve your open rates.

Photo by Onlineprinters on Unsplash

Email is an old communication medium for sending and receiving messages. Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in 1971. As of 2020, there were 4 billion email users around the world and over 300 billion emails sent and received daily. That is quite a lot, isn’t it?

By following this definitive guide, you will be able to understand:

  • Why email marketing is the best form of digital marketing.
  • How to build your email list.
  • How to convert your leads to customers.
  • How to improve your open rates.
  • How to choose an Email Service Provider.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that is used to communicate to leads with emails. Newsletter, event invitations, and informational emails are all different but common ways marketers use to communicate with their audience.

Email marketing is a type of direct line that can be used to perform different profit-based actions. These actions include educating a lead about your products and convincing your lead to purchase a product.

Email marketing has the highest ROI on investment than other marketing tactics. social media, content marketing and the rest doesn’t have a chance.

Now that we understand some basics of email marketing, let us get to why it’s important.

Why Email marketing is important?

Email marketing has proven to be the best marketing channel out there. It nurtures your way into your customers’ hearts and makes them into raving fans.

The first marketing email sent in 1978, resulted in $13 million in sales.

I am not here to bore you with the millions of stats out there. I’m here to show you why email marketing should be your top priority. I am going to show you three why reasons you should pick email.

1. You don’t have to worry about any algorithm change. Unlike other marketing channels like SEO and social media. They don’t change any algorithm that will affect business owners or the way businesses can get in front of customers.

2. You can use your emails to drive traffic to your website. Social media also has a great feat in this, but with email marketing, social media doesn’t have a chance.

3. With email marketing, your lists are yours. On social media, you don’t particularly own your audience. You could get suspended or blocked at any time if you break any rule, or not. With that, you would lose your audience but with email, there’s nothing like that.

I could as well include some statistics

  • The average email subscriber is worth $48.87.
  • An email newsletter open rate is 20 times higher than that of Facebook engagement.
  • For every $1 spent on email marketing, the ROI on it is $42.

Since we all understand the hype behind why email marketing is the best for sales. Let’s get down on how to get started on email marketing.

How to get started on Email Marketing

I am sure you must be curious about how you can start implementing email marketing in your business. Stay with me here, email marketing has different parts that make it whole. I am here to break everything down and simplify them for you.

Create a marketing strategy

team working on a marketing strategy
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

This is marketing 101. In every marketing journey, you are about to embark on, you should always have a strategy.

Email marketing is very effective and you can’t jump into it without having a strategy. Without a strategy, you will not have enough audience or not make sales at all.

I am going to equip you with the best and most proven strategy out there, even though you are starting as a beginner.

These six steps below are all you need to become an effective and powerful email marketer.

  • Know your target audience
  • Obtain the right tools
  • Create your goals
  • Build your list
  • Segment your list
  • Measure your results

There are a lot more, but these six should get you started, let’s dive more into it.

1. Identify your target audience.

Your target audience is those set of people that would be willing to buy your products. These are people that will need your products or would want you to solve their problems.

Know your buyer persona, and tailor your products and services to their needs.

2. Get yourself the right tools

Your email marketing strategy would be incomplete without having the best tools. These tools help you create, send, manage and track the metrics of your email campaigns.

An Email Service Provider (ESP) can do all the above and a lot more. An ESP gives you the ease of creating an email campaign, with lots of templates at your disposal. It also helps track how your email campaigns are doing. After getting your data, you can use it to know what works to increase sales and profit.

3. Create attainable goals

With how effective emails are, the average open rate is 21.5%. This rate also varies across industries. Knowing these stats will make you create a realistic and attainable goal.

4. Build your email list

The email list contains your audience who have permitted you to send them emails. This email list of your audience might comprise of their name, age, sex, date of birth, etc.

How do you get to build your email list? Don’t worry we would take a look at this in the next section.

A lot of people start their email list with just a few people before growing them to hundreds of thousands. It takes a lot of time to build an email list, don’t feel pressured. Don’t also feel the need to buy a list, grow them organically, it is best that way.

5. Segment your email list

Now that you have your email list full of your target audience, you would want to segment them. Nothing beats sending the right email to the right people. you have to avoid sending irrelevant emails. you can do this by splitting your list into groups based on similarities like age, sex, location, etc.

6. Measure your results

Last but not least, you have to measure your email metrics from open rates down to unsubscribe rates. ESP has made all these metrics easily accessible already.

Make small changes to your email, check the kind of effects it has on your metric, and if it’s good, you stick with it.

Now that you’ve known what it takes to create an email marketing strategy, let’s look at how to build an email list.

How to Build Your Email List from scratch

The part you have all been waiting for, building your list with an eager audience that wants to hear from you. They are a lot of ways to grow your list, organically, don’t choose otherwise. Our focus area will be on Squeeze pages, Lead magnets, and Exit intent pop-ups.

Create squeeze pages

A squeeze page is a web page that is made to capture potential customers. like its name, it’s used to squeeze information out of a visitor by limiting access to content.

It is a gateway to collect information from your visitors in exchange for something valuable. It has its disadvantage, which is a high exit rate but that shouldn’t bother you. Your main purpose for using a squeeze page is to capture leads and turn them into your customer.

You can also give your visitors other options if you are uncomfortable with them leaving your site. A link to browse other pages on your website, or products should suffice.

Capture leads with a Lead Magnet

Leads magnet sounds straightforward. It is something used to attract visitors and prospects that is added to your email list. Your lead magnet can be in so many forms most especially free, people love free things.

Let me ask you a question, do you love to give out your email? I am guessing the answer is NO. This is the same for your audience; they are protective of their email and wouldn’t want to give it out.

When you get their email, make sure you give them something valuable in return.

Do you have something valuable in mind? If yes, there are different forms your valuable offer can take.

  • Ebooks
  • Video
  • A Course
  • Webinar
  • Template
  • Whitepaper
  • Coupons
  • Discount on a product

The lists are endless as long as it is valuable.

What makes a Lead Magnet Effective?

Yes, your lead magnet might be very valuable, but it might not convert those leads to your audience. We are going to take a look at several factors that will make your lead magnet convert.

1. Free: Your lead magnet has to be free. When your lead sees a price tag, they might turn back no matter how mouth-watering your offer might be.

2. Easily useable: You might think offering them something extensive might make them convert. No, using something that is easily consumable like a quick guide is better. A quick course, a short video, etc.

3. Actionable: you should offer them something that they can apply at that very instance.

4. Relevant: knowing your target audience and their personas will help you on this one. Once you know them, you can offer something very relevant to them.

After you have come up with your Lead Magnet, you have to come up with a way to capture their information. That is where Opt-in forms come in.

Creating an effective Opt-in form

After your lead magnet, an opt-in is the next step. An opt-in form is a way to get your prospects’ information thereby adding them to your list. Your opt-in form has to be attractive because If it isn’t, they won’t even get to see your offer (Lead Magnet).

Let me walk you through the steps of creating a great opt-in form.

  • Attention-grabbing headline: The headline has to grab their attention, and clearly define the offer.
  • Great description: For your description to be great, it has to be brief and straight to the point, with no confusion.
  • Make it simple: You have worked too hard just to send them off with a complex form. Keep it simple.
  • Attractive: Your form has to be attractive not have boring colors. You can include the mock-up image of what you are offering.
  • A captivating CTA: Your Call-To-Action (CTA) is your subscribe button. It doesn’t need to have the word subscribe on it, you could put a more natural text there. “Get your free Ebook” looks more natural.

According to Optinmonster, there are 14 high converting places on your website to place your Opt-in form.

  • Splash page
  • Welcome gate
  • Floating bar
  • Your site’s header
  • Blog archive page
  • Within your blog posts
  • Your sidebar
  • In a timed lightbox popup
  • In a scroll box
  • Your footer
  • Your About page
  • Resource pages
  • On a designated sign-up page
  • In an exit-intent popup

Now, that you are ready to create your lead magnet, it is time to move on to the exit-intent popup.

Exit-Intent Popups

source- adoric

I know what you are thinking, isn’t popup annoying? Yes, it is. Hear me out, popups are different, we are not talking about those that attack you once you land on a webpage.

An exit-intent popup only appears immediately you want to leave a website. It doesn’t interrupt visitors when they are reading your content.

If the visitors found your content helpful, they are more likely to subscribe.

With the Optinmonster case study, they were able to increase their conversions up to 125% with an exit-intent popup.

That is all on building a list, there are much more ways than this, do well to check them out.

How to improve your email open rates

It won’t be nice if after you have struggled to build a list, your open rates are not on the high side. Good thing I am here to provide you with tips that will help you scale up your open rate.

There are many factors involved with open rates, we will take a look at them one after the other.

Avoid the spam filter at all cost

A lot of people starting in their email marketing journey get caught in a spam filter. I am here to help you avoid that at all costs.

Let’s list out some helpful tips:

  • Get their permission first before sending them an email.
  • Use an Email Service Provider, to avoid ending up on the spam list.
  • Send your email through a verified domain.
  • Send your emails from a good IP address.
  • Include your location.
  • Don’t use click-bait headlines.
  • Always include an unsubscribe button.

Time your emails effectively

First I want to put this out here there is no perfect time to send emails. You have to figure out the best time for you to send emails.

There is this great tool in most of the ESP which is the A/B testing tool. With this tool, you can test out the best time for you to send out emails. It will take a while to get it, and when you do be sure to use it for your future emails.

In some studies done, Tuesday has the highest open and click-through rates. Saturday is the best day for conversions.

This doesn’t mean you should send out emails on Tuesdays and Saturdays but it can be a place to start.

Delete your inactive members

You should remove inactive members after a while. Having a lot of inactive members who do not interact with your mails can make your mails go to spam.

Before removing them, you can send them a last email to engage with them, if you get no engagement remove them.

I know you struggled a lot before getting those subscribers and it will hurt to lose them.

After 4 to 6 months of a subscriber’s in-activeness, removing them will be the best action to take.

A killer headline

A headline is the first thing your subscribers see; you need to make it catchy at the first glance.

Here are some tips that can help you with coming up with a great headline.

  • Make them curious, but not clueless.
  • Include numbers, this drives them to click.
  • Do not make it boring.
  • Write in a friendly tone or manner.

Other open rate tips:

  • Use humor, they work great.
  • Optimize your email for mobile, 67% of email opens are mobile.
  • Use storytelling, it never goes wrong.
  • Always do your best to write amazing content, that way they will await your email.
  • use headlines that will make them curious.

And that’s a wrap on open rate, hope you learned a lot. let’s dive into Email Service Provider.

Choosing an Email Service Provider (ESP)

Your email marketing arsenal isn’t complete; it is missing the best weapon which is ESP. An email Service provider allows you to do tons of things. It also prevents you from entering that spam list we so much dread.

The email service provider handles all the technical stuff. It also makes creating and sending out bulk emails easy. Let’s name a few, shall we?


mailchimp landing page
screenshot by me

Since when I have started email marketing, Mailchimp has always been right up in my face. In all recommendations posts that I have come across, Mailchimp has been mentioned.

Mailchimp is easy to set up ESP, it also has easy-to-use features. It is great for beginners.

Mailchimp is the best free email service provider because it offers a free plan for the first 2000 subscribers.


screenshot by me

Convertkit is the best ESP for creators like professional bloggers, authors, musicians, etc. it is a great choice if you are just starting.

The pricing is free for up to 1000 subscribers; anything exceeding 1k attracts fees.

Constant Contact

screenshot by me

For those in the e-commerce sector, constant contact is the one for you. They allow their users to create email designs with killer templates by using a simple drag and drop method.

You can try out constant contact by using their free 60 days. Anything after 60 days attracts monthly fees.


screenshot by me

Do you want ready-made templates? Hubspot has you covered. Hubspot is a CRM platform, but they are also one of the best Email Service provider.

With Hubspot, you can send 2000 emails for free per month, but for anything outside that, you have to pay.

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