A guide to successful email marketing

Email marketing can be an immensely important driver of engagement and brand awareness for small businesses. Here Andrea Blair from Hallam Internet, takes you through a six-step email marketing checklist.

If done well email marketing can still deliver dependable results. With the sales funnel becoming ever more complicated and GDPR around the corner, now more than ever, businesses need to take charge of every part of the customer journey. Here Andrea Blair from Hallam Internet, takes you through an email marketing checklist for success.

Marketing departments should be thinking about communicating with their customers at many different touch points. Therefore, there is a pretty long list of things that email marketing can be used for; the main ones being:

  1. Obtaining new customers
  2. Improving customer loyalty
  3. Building brand awareness
  4. Tracking and measuring behaviour
  5. Testing new products and services
  6. Generating sales

Email marketing used to be about mass messaging. These days are gone, and have been replaced by a channel that delivers a unique personalised experience. The vast amount of data being collected has allowed us to target based on behaviours and various other elements.

Getting email marketing right can often be a difficult task. Once you hit that send button, there’s no going back. Avoid any disasters by running through this email marketing checklist:

1. Nail Your Strategy

Before you even start to think about sending mass messages out to the world, you need to make sure you have a clear brand strategy. It seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but knowing how you are perceived in the outside world and the behaviours of your target audience are key before you start looking into email marketing. Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Are you clear about your competitive positioning?
  • Is this the right distribution channel for your target audience?

Do you have a solid message that stands out from your competitors, and offers the best in the market?

2. Use Email Marketing Software

Use or invest in email marketing automation software. There are a lot of good free tools out there for smaller companies who have smaller list sizes, the main one being MailChimp.

For those bigger databases, you may find restrictions on list sizes and template constraints mean that you’ll have to invest a bit in this. Most of the top email marketing automation tools are really simple to use and allow for things like personalisation and split testing, to make sure you’re communicating and not spamming. Some tools that are worth considering are MailChimp, Vertical Response, Campaign Monitor and Acoustic Connect.

Examples of marketing email software include:

  • Acoustic ConnectAcoustic Connect (formerly Silverpop) is a multi-channel marketing platform that covers email, social media and SMS messaging. Its email marketing tool that has a drag and drop editor, AI assistance and behavioral insights.
  • ActiveCampaignActiveCampaign offers a suite of pre-made automation workflows and over 250 B2B and B2C-friendly email templates. You can split test up to five different email versions to see which performs best. The platform also integrates with PayPal, Stripe, Shopify and hundreds of other software providers.
  • AWeberAWeber is a very good option for beginners as it offers templates based on your website’s URL alone, images from Canva (as well as thousands of stock images) and help from an AI design assistant. It also offers free 3,000 emails for 500 subscribers.
  • Campaign MonitorLike AWeber, Campaign Monitor can draft up an email’s design based off a URL alone, basing it on the brand colours and logo.
  • ConvertKitConvertKit is geared towards those in creative roles. Its free plan allows unlimited emails and landing pages and the ability to sell subscriptions and digital products.
  • MailchimpMailchimp works for businesses of all sizes and complexities. It has a drag and drop editor, email automations (a way of targeting customers automatically based on behavior, such as a purchase) and AI suggestions.
  • MailerLiteLike AWeber, MailerLite is a great option for beginners as it not only has numerous templates, a free image gallery and an easy-to-use drag and drop editor, but can craft email copy with it’s AI assistant (well, ChatGPT).
  • Vertical ResponseVertical Response offers various easy-to-use email marketing and landing page templates with the option of automated follow-up emails, A/B testing and an AI-powered content assistant. Its deep insights tool is very useful in identifying where your recipients click, the devices they used to open the email and where they’re located, so you can better personalise emails to them in future.

3. Follow These Tips When Composing “the Email”

Pay attention to that subject line, as that’s what drives the recipient to open your email. Keep it short, precise and engaging. The majority of emails are now read on mobile, so make sure the important bits aren’t being cut off. Most importantly, don’t forget to check it for spelling errors.

  • Urgency – make the user think that they have to click through
  • Curiosity – keep a little bit back to improve the chances of people clicking through
  • What are you offering? – people will be more likely to click through if there is something in it for them
  • Personalisation – know your audience and share relevant timely information

Segmentation remains one of the highest priorities in email marketing. The one size fits all approach of email marketing is no longer working – although you could argue that it never did work. Using your existing data to segment your emails means that you are delivering a relevant and specific experience, which will ultimately make your campaigns more successful.

Write compelling copy: ensure it is short, catchy, and engaging. Invest time in creating and repurposing good content, and its content that will get customers to open the message and hopefully continue to read, as you send them. Don’t forget the call to action.

4. Check Before You Hit Send

Is it mobile friendly? It is important not to overlook how your message comes across on different devices. Emails might still convert better on desktop, but recipients may make a decision from viewing it through mobile first! Your email marketing template needs to be responsive on mobile devices. Most email automation tools will offer this as standard, but it’s best to check.

The goal of email marketing is to get people to visit your website, so make sure you link back. Added bonus if it’s a dedicated landing page, if you want to increase conversions. Check all your links – there is nothing more irritating than a broken link or one that goes to the wrong landing page.

Check the version of the email is going to the correct list. It is common to create two versions of the same email based on behaviours.

Check your spelling and grammar, then check again. Get someone else to check. Customers are quick to pick up on these things and it could damage your brand massively. This is a vital check that you will find a lot of people don’t bother to perform.

See also: Five email marketing mistakes your start-up is making

5. Follow up and Improve

Report, review and improve. Email marketing is not about setting up your campaigns and walking away. Check your reports or stats following every email, and monitor the negative results and look for ways to improve.

6. Don’t forget GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new digital privacy regulation being introduced on the 25th May 2018. Businesses are now required to offer new consumer opt-in permission rules, and need to store and manage proof of consent. They should also offer a method through consumers can ask for their personal information removed.

I would recommend taking legal advice, to make sure you know where you stand. But for starters, you should at the very least, take an audit of your current databases. Know all of your contacts, and how you acquired them. Be transparent and review and disclose your data practices, and think of the future, so look at your upcoming initiatives to ensure compliance now.

In conclusion, email marketing is still an essential marketing tool, by far working as a better conversion tool than social platforms. By following this email marketing checklist, you can ensure that your email marketing campaigns are accurate, engaging and reach your recipient no matter which device they choose to view your message.

Andrea Blair is a digital strategist at Hallam Internet

Further reading on email marketing

Top ten tips to mastering an email marketing campaignHere, Tom Gottlieb, email marketing team leader at Wix.com, advises us on his top tips for running an email marketing campaign.

Reactivate your email list and re-engage subscribersInactive subscribers can be a drag on your email list. But a re-engagement campaign can get them involved and provide useful intel for your business

7 of the best email marketing software platforms for UK businessesWith descriptions and price points


Andrea Blair

Andrea Blair is a digital strategist at Hallam Internet Ltd.

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Email marketing

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