How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy – A 7-Step Guide
June 22, 2021

Studies show that email marketing continues to outperform other digital marketing channels including social media and paid search.

With an average return of $42 for every dollar spent, investing in email marketing can pay off a lot.

If you’re starting a new online business or a website, creating a proper email marketing strategy is the one thing that you should invest. You can actually get started in a few simple steps. We’ll show you how.

This post contains the following:

Step #1: What is email marketing and How does it work?
Step #2: Establish your email marketing goals
Step #3: Benefits of Email Marketing
Step #4: Build your email list
Step #5: Launch your first email
Step #6: Start your email marketing campaign
Step #7: Monitor your campaign performance
Final thoughts
Email Marketing FAQ

Step #1: What is email marketing and How does it work?

1. What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a marketing channel that allows you to send a commercial email message to your email subscribers. (We’ll see below how you will build your list of subscribers.)

Email marketing is used to inform, drive sales, and build a community around your brand.

Even though mail marketing is one of the oldest marketing channels, email marketing is far from being dead. The following stats say a lot:

  • Email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every $1 spent


Email Marketing has a surprisingly high ROI
  • In 2020, there were 306 billions emails sent and received per day (source: Statista)
  • The median ROI for email marketing is 122%. That’s four times higher than all other digital marketing channels.

2. How does Email Marketing work?

Businesses use what’s known as an Email Service Provider (ESP) to send marketing emails.

An Email Service Provider is a software that sends and manages email marketing campaigns.

It’s also referred to as an email marketing platform, email marketing tool, email marketing service, or email marketing software.

We’ll talk more about ESP later.

Step #2: Establish your email marketing goals

Before you jump in, it’s worth taking a minute to think about your goals and what you really want to achieve with email, as this will dictate

  • the type of campaigns you send,
  • who you are targeting, 
  • the content to include and
  • how you measure success.

The key to setting the right goals for your email marketing initiative is to align them with the broader marketing goals and KPIs of your business.

Is the goal to generate

  • Sales of products?
  • New prospects?
  • Participants for your event?
  • Donations for your cause?
  • etc

Email marketing is the most powerful channel to reach your audience, and it can be used to achieve a number of different goals, so it’s worth thinking about what you want to accomplish with it before you jump in.

Step #3: Benefits of Email Marketing

1. Unmatched return on investment

As seen in Step #1, Email Marketing has an unsurpassed ROI. Up to 42$ for 1 dollar invested.

Email ROI

2. Promote Your Blog Posts

A lot of bloggers, like me, whenever they publish a new blog post, they use email marketing to tell their subscribers about it. This helps them keeping contact with their readers and let them be aware of the new articles.

3. Sell Products/Services Or Increase Conversions

You can also use your email list to promote your own or affiliate products/services. Email is more effective at conversions than social media.

Launching a sale or promotion campaign? You can send an email marketing campaign to your subscribers to drive sales.

Other email marketing techniques known to increase sales or conversion rates include:

  • Emailing a discount or special offer (birthday/anniversary emails, welcome emails, re-engagement emails)
  • Abandoned cart emails (triggered whenever a visitor abandons a cart at your online store)

93% of marketers say email is their top content distribution channel

Content distribution channel

4. Brand awareness

Your email list will help you connect with your subscribers on a personal level.

You can

  • send invitations to events like webinars
  • ask questions,
  • run polls,
  • organize surveys,
  • and more.

Showing up in someone’s email inbox will help your brand stay top of mind. A personalized marketing email is more impactful than a social media post where you can’t be sure if someone has actually seen your message.

5. Easy sharing

Subscribers can forward brilliant deals and offers to their friends at the click of a button. There aren’t many other types of marketing that can be shared as easily as this. Before you know it, subscribers could become brand evangelists; focused on introducing your business to a new market.

Email Marketing - Easy sharing

6. Easy to measure

Another key benefit of email marketing is that it’s easy to see where you’re going wrong. Most email marketing software will allow you to track

  • open rate,
  • click-through rate and
  • conversion rate

making it simple to spot how a campaign can be improved.

These changes can be made almost immediately too whereas print or broadcast advertising requires quite a bit of effort to alter.

7. Scalability

Emails can be sent to a large number of recipients for a relatively low cost (compared to other marketing channels). 

Step #4: Build your email list

If you plan to use email to keep in touch with existing customers, then your email list can be built by importing your existing customers’ details, if any, into your chosen email marketing tool.

However, if you want to grow your existing email list or build it from scratch, you’ll need to start capturing email addresses of your audience.

For this, we’ve written a detailed article “How To Build An Email List For Small Businesses: 7 Proven Steps”

How to build an email list for small businesses- 7 proven steps

Step #5: Launch your first email

1. Choose the right email  service provider

Choosing The Best Email Marketing Service

Before sending your first email, you need to choose an email service provider (ESP) that meets your needs and your budget.

Popular email tools include Aweber, Sendinblue, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Convertkit, Mailjet, Mailerlite, and HubSpot — to name a few.

With hundreds of ESPs on the market, it’s hard to know which one is right for your business. 

Evaluate your needs

Here are some questions to start with:

a) Evaluate your email volume
• Do you already have an email list? If so, how many are there?
• What many emails do you plan to send, and how often?

b) What’s your budget? Some ESP offer free basic plans like Aweber, Sendiblue or Mailchimp.

c) What’s your skill level in email design? If you’re a complete beginner, you may prefer a drag and drop email editor as this is the easiest to use. Email templates will also be a good plus. Inversely, if you prefer to code emails from scratch, you’ll surely be on the lookout for an HTML editor.

d) Automated email workflows: Do you plan to set up automated email workflows? Then compare the email marketing automation facilities offered by the potential ESP.

e) Segmentation: If you’re dealing with multiple buyer personas or customers at different levels in your funnel, what segmentation capabilities are offered?

2. Manage your email deliverability by getting your email address whitelisted

You’ve probably already noticed that your spam or promotion box is full of emails that you almost never read. Avoid that the same happens to the emails you’re planning to send to your audience.  I’ll show you how to do this.

Usually, after subscribing, the signup form opens a thank you page. On this page, you have prepared a message to thank the subscriber for joining your list. At the same time, you ask them the following:

Top of the “Thank You” at Dreamed Lifestyle


a) to check for your first mail in their inbox.

b) if they don’t find it in the inbox, you advise them to check for it in their spam or promotion box and add your sender’s email address to their contacts or address book.

This will prevent your emails from being unseen or blocked and increase your email deliverability.

The goal of the whitelist process is to minimize the number of your emails that fall into your subscriber’s spam folder (also known as a promotion folder), severely affecting your email deliverability.

3. Keep your promises

a) Lead magnet: In your call-to-action, you certainly promised an incentive. It’s time to deliver it.

b) Content: In your future messages, give to your readers what they expect: newsletters, for instance, aren’t the best place to pitch your product or service. Instead, they provide a better opportunity to further the relationship with your reader: if you promised to share useful resources, send educational content, not product discounts.

c) Frequency: Agreed on a weekly update? Send an email once a week – no more, no less. Live up to the expectations you’ve created.

4. Create a warm welcome email for new subscribers

When someone signs up on your email list, they’ve put their trust in you and are ready to build a relationship with you. So please take this opportunity to engage them even further with a welcome email.

A welcome email is an automated message sent to new customers and subscribers. The idea is to introduce your brand and any content that’ll establish your relationship with the subscriber — a welcome discount, link to the latest articles, useful information, etc.

The content of your welcome email should be aligned with the content of your call-to-action. The subscriber joined because of what you promised. Please keep your promise.

It’s also the time to manage expectations by explaining what the new subscriber can expect and when.

Step #6: Start your email marketing campaign

Now that you’ve established your email marketing goals, you’ve started building your audience, you’ve chosen your ESP and even sent your first (welcome) mail, it’s now time to start building your email series.

For improving your chances of success in Email Marketing, there are some fundamentals that you should know to make sure you get the best results from each campaign.

How to create effectively email copy that converts

1. Write an engaging subject line

A subject line, is like a brief summary of your email. It should be able to communicate to your audience what the email is about, by just reading the title. A subject line is the first impression we give to users.  And this impression is the trigger for visitors to click and open the email or not. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is if your subject line isn’t captivating enough to get anyone to click and read your story.

Most email recipients mark emails as spam based on the subject line

In fact, boring subject lines or headlines can lead to up to 80% loss of your audience. This is to show you how important it is to take the time to write a compelling subject line for your email.

For more on this topic, you may want to read my post where I go into details about writing a compelling subject line.

2. Craft your email copy

Your email copy needs to offer value and talk about topics of interest for your audience.

To write persuasive, engaging email copy, following tips can be of great help:

  • Keep this in mind:  How can I help? What is my audience expecting from me? What goods or services do they need? What problem can you help them to solve?
  • Write this email as if you were addressing one person, a friend, somebody that you know and who knows you. People like to feel valued when speaking to them personally.
  • Tell a story, either your own story or a story of somebody else that is meaningful for your audience.
  • Use a conversational tone, i.e. write the way you speak
  • Show your personality. Don’t try to please everybody. Let them know your opinion on subjects you’re talking about.
  • Write to instil curiosity (to keep people reading till the end)
  • Break up the copy with short paragraphs and use bullet points where possible

Also, don’t forget that your reader is inundated with emails and many marketing messages. Some people are starting to talk about “infobesity”.

If you don’t easily believe that there’s a world of information competing for your attention, consider the following statistics:

3. Optimize your email open rate, clicks, and conversions

a. Use an easily recognizable sender name and address

Think about it. What do you check first when you get an email? Who it’s from, of course.

The sender name answers the recipient’s first subconscious question: Is this genuine or is it spam?

The best way to reinforce trustworthiness and brand recognition is to incorporate your brand name into the sender name. There are several ways to go about this:

  • Your company/brand/newsletter name on its own
  • A combination of brand name and your first name (e.g. Fred at Dreamed Lifestyle)
  • A distinct sender name to differentiate specific types of email content (e.g. Dreamed Lifestyle Monthly Events)
  • To be easily recognized in the inbox, use the same sender name and address for all campaigns.

Avoid no-reply email addresses as these diminish trust in your brand and prevent subscribers from reaching out with questions. You want engagement from your audience — why close off a potential means of communication?

b. Use Images and Visuals to Boost Engagement

In fact, studies have shown that people can recall as much as 65% of visual content up to three days later compared to just 10% of text-based content. People also follow visual instructions 32% better than written instructions.

So it’s a good idea to use visuals when directing your readers to take the desired action.

However, you have to use images and visuals with caution since another study conducted by Google discovered that the second most accurate predictor of conversions was the number of images on a page.

Fewer images per page create more conversions

c. Personalization and segmentation

Email personalization

Your email marketing can be very effective for your business but only if the campaign is done correctly. Personalizing an email marketing campaign is the best way to add value to the campaign and attract more responses.

Personalizing an email marketing campaign can be easy if simple steps are taken. They include:

  • Talk to the subscriber using their name(s)
  • Refer to their position in the funnel (consider whether the subscriber is a prospect, a new customer or a repeating customer)
  • Ask the right questions
  • Build customer personas (don’t talk to a dog owner like a cat owner)
  • Keep in mind the subscriber’s location, culture, age, gender, education, etc
  • Match personalized emails with adequate personalized incentives or lead magnets, landing pages, thank you page.

d. Split testing subject lines to improve open rates

When you pay attention to the open rates across your email campaigns you’ll begin to see what works and what doesn’t by analyzing the open rates of various email segments.

Remember that the reader will decide to open a mail based on the subject line.

To improve your open rates, you will want to split test the subject lines. How do you do this?

To perform a split test, make sure you leave the rest of the mail unchanged except the subject line. In the subject line, you can test

  • different subject line lengths,
  • different power words,
  • different sentence cases,
  • with or without the first name

A study found that personalized subject lines experienced a 26% increase in open rates.

Most ESP have features to help you run A/B (split) tests. 

4. Test your email before hitting ‘send’

Get into the good habit of always sending a test email before officially hitting the ‘send’ button. Small mistakes can easily slip through the cracks and harm your brand image.

Pay attention to:

  • Typos
  • Forgotten or incorrect links
  • Text formatting errors
  • Check the test email on both desktop and mobile.

If possible, have some team members proofread. Take advantage of the 4-eye principle.

5. Optimize your email for mobile

A recent study found that more than 55% of emails are opened on a mobile device, and that number increases to 60% on weekends. Knowing this, it’s easy to understand how mobile responsiveness can significantly impact conversion rates.

To achieve superior mobile optimization and responsiveness, follow these best practices:

  • Create a short subject line (30-35 characters) so it can be properly displayed on mobile phones
  • Use a single-column layout
  • Keep copy minimal and concise, and break it up into small chunks surrounded by white space so readers can easily skim
  • Use larger fonts to improve readability
  • Create bulletproof CTA buttons to show up perfectly across all inboxes
  • Reduce image size to speed up mobile load time

Step #7: Monitor your campaign performance

There are two places through which you can track the success of your email marketing campaigns:

  • Your email marketing tool (such as Aweber that I’m using) and
  • your website analytics tool (such as Google Analytics)

I like both because they give additional data that allows you to have a holistic view on the performance of your email marketing.

1. Email Service Provider data

Here below the stats provided by my ESP for one campaign.

Email stats example

This report presents the key metrics of my email marketing campaign, including:

  • Number of emails sent
  • Number of bounces – The number of email addresses to which your campaign could not be delivered.
  • Number of complaints – Number of subscribers who complained to mailbox providers about receiving your email.
  • Number of opens – The number of subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Number of clicks – The number of subscribers who clicked on a hyperlink, CTA or image in your campaign.
  • Number of unsubscribers – The number of subscribers who left your list.
  • Number of unique opens – The number of unique subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Number of unopened emails – The number of unique subscribers who did not open your campaign.

These metrics give you a high-level overview of how your subscribers are interacting with your campaigns and allow you to compare the success of one campaign to another. If you want to go deeper and see the exact people who opened and clicked your campaign, what links they clicked, etc., you can do so by choosing some of the other reports made available to you by the ESP.

3. Google Analytics reports for sent emails

If you have a Google Analytics account set up for your website, you can track incoming traffic from sent emails.

Google Analytics reports offer multiple options to view email marketing campaigns performance. They include the options to:

  • Filter by campaign source
  • Track sales and conversions
  • Filter reporting by keyword
  • Track A/B split campaigns

If you are interested in Google Analytics stats on your email campaign, you can find reporting for email campaigns here.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing is a powerful driver of sales & revenue for your business, and has a greater reach and return on investment than any other channel available to marketers today.

Follow the steps outlined in this guide for a quick start to email marketing and campaign success.

Get started today with a free training on how to create an online business from scratch. The full training programme contains a detailed course and practice on email marketing.

Email Marketing FAQ

1. How much does email marketing cost?

Your email marketing cost will entirely depend on the number of subscribers you have, the number of total emails you send per month, and the email platform you use. On average, a small business email marketing costs is around $20 – $300 per month.

2. What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability is defined as the percentage of emails that are successfully delivered to subscribers’ inboxes. It can also be called “inbox placement”. It is an important measure of success because emails that successfully reach the targeted inboxes have a greater chance of being opened.

Email deliverability process

Email deliverability

2. What is email open rate?

Email open rate is the percentage of the number of opened emails out of the number of delivered emails. The number of delivered emails equals the number of emails sent minus the number of bounced emails

Many people look to their email open rate to determine how successful their email marketing strategy is. While email open rate is important, no one metric should determine your strategy. Instead, you should consider multiple metrics and think about the goals you have for your email marketing as a tactic.

Email open rate =

(number of emails opened / number of delivered emails) * 100

Number of delivered emails = Number of emails sent – number of emails bounced.

3. What is email click-through rate (CTR)?

Email click-through rate, or Email click rate, is the measure of how many people clicked on a hyperlink, CTA, or image within a particular email. It can be calculated by taking the total number of clicks an email receives and dividing that number by the total number of delivered messages

Email click-through rate =

(number of emails clicked / number of delivered emails) * 100

Number of delivered emails = Number of emails sent – number of emails bounced.

4. What is email click-to-open rate (CTOR)?

Email click-to-open rate (CTOR) compares the number of unique clicks to unique opens.

Email click-to-open rate =

(number of unique clicks / number of opened emails) * 100

 This number indicates how effective the email message, design, and content performed and whether it created enough interest in the recipient to take action.

Unlike the click-through rate, the click-to-open rate is the number of clicks out of the number of opens (instead of the number of delivered emails). This gives you a better gauge of how the design and messaging resonated with your audience since these clicks are only from people that actually viewed your email.

4. What is email conversion rate?

Your email marketing conversion rate is the percentage of subscribers who complete a goal after reading your email.

Email conversion rate =

(number of conversions / number of delivered emails) * 100

Conversions = Number of people who completed the desired action.

This is an important metric for most marketers, as it indicates how effective your email marketing is and determines your return on investment.

As discussed earlier, every email you design should have a specific purpose you’d like to accomplish, whether selling a product, generating leads or participants in a webinar or increasing visitors to your site. You’ll want to make it as simple as possible for your audience to follow-through by including a compelling call to action (CTA) that will drive readers to the right page on your website.

This chart shows average conversion rates based solely on the email type sent:

Email conversion rate

6. When it comes to email metrics, where do you start?

There are metrics and benchmarks for every industry and every campaign type. That’s great, but it can make it hard to know where to start when you begin sending email campaigns to your customers.

Complicating things further, every company has its own unique audience with their own unique preferences and engagement patterns. 

But if you just need somewhere to begin, there are general benchmarks that can be a useful starting point:

  • average unique open rates in the 10-20% range and
  • unique click rates in the 5-10% range

are normal for traditional marketing messages.

In my case, the average unique open rate is around 16%, which within the average of my industry.

7. What are power words?

Power words are strong, powerful words that make someone take notice. They’re used in headlines for different types of content — such as emails, blog posts, and webinars with the intention to make them stand out in a sea of same-old headlines.

Power words, like “abandon, collapse, deadline, sinful, barrier, battle, nightmare, reward, crime, scary, horrific, death”, not only spark an emotional reaction, but they are also persuasive and call the great attention of the reader.

Example: The crimes we commit against our stomachs.

You can find a list of power words that can make the difference between a click on your headline and a click away to the next post.


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