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Our Blog March 27, 2024

What is email marketing? Here’s Everything You Should Know.

Writen by octaadsmedia

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email marketing!

Timely, engaging email marketing may assist organisations in encouraging client loyalty and communicating in a unique one-on-one manner with customers. Continue reading to learn how.

Email is one of the oldest modes of digital communication, and its popularity has not decreased over time. With over 4 billion email users worldwide, it continues to have a larger user base than the most popular social networking sites. In 2023, around 419.6 billion emails were sent and received worldwide. With that type of traffic, email becomes a vital weapon in the armoury of any digital marketer and/or company.

Email allows marketers and businesses to communicate with customers on a more personal level by invading their private space: their inboxes. Furthermore, email marketing allows you to control the relationship with your customers; you do not have to worry about algorithms pushing you about.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing refers to sending commercial messages via email to a group of people. It involves using email to promote products, services, events, or information.

The practice emerged in the 1970s and 80s as companies began collecting customer email addresses and building mailing lists. As internet adoption grew in the 1990s, email marketing gained popularity as an inexpensive way to reach customers directly.

The first known email marketing campaign occurred in 1978 when Gary Thuerk, a marketer at Digital Equipment Corporation, sent an unsolicited email message to 400 ARPANET contacts promoting DEC’s new computers. This sparked controversy about spamming even in the early days of email.

By the mid 1990s, software tools emerged to help companies manage email contacts and send messages easily. As email became ubiquitous in the late 1990s and early 2000s, email marketing grew into a standard marketing channel along with direct mail.

Today, email marketing allows businesses to segment contacts, customize content, automate campaigns, and analyze results. It provides an efficient way to build relationships, promote brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales. Most companies now have dedicated email marketing strategies, often managed by in-house teams, marketing agencies, or email service providers.

Benefits of Email Marketing

Email marketing provides numerous advantages that make it one of the most effective digital marketing channels. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Creating personalized content.
  2. Collecting feedback and surveys.
  3. Improving sales.
  4. Communicating with your audience.
  5. Generating traffic to your site.
  6. Sending timely campaigns.
  7. Increasing leads.
  8. Reaching the right people at the right time.
  9. Producing cost-effective campaigns.
  10. Providing more value to your audience.
  11. Having a forum for self-promotion.
  12. Owning your media and contact lists.
  13. Increasing brand awareness.
  14. Saving time.
  15. Measuring campaigns’ success.
  16. Learning more about your audience.


Compared to other forms of marketing like print, TV, or radio ads, email marketing is very inexpensive. Sending emails has a near-zero marginal cost, so you can send thousands or even millions of emails without incurring huge expenses. The main costs are developing the email creative and copywriting, list acquisition, and email service provider fees. Overall, email still provides one of the highest ROI of any marketing channel.


Email allows you to segment your audience and target specific groups with tailored messaging based on demographics, interests, behaviors and more. This increases relevancy and engagement. You can also personalize emails using merge tags to include the recipient’s name and information.


Emails are highly trackable in terms of open rates, clickthrough rates, conversions, and unsubscribes. This enables you to continually refine and optimize your email campaigns. You can A/B test subject lines, content, designs, timing and more. Analytics provide insight into your best segments and offers.

High ROI

Due to low costs and high response rates, email marketing delivers substantial return on investment. According to DMA, email marketing has an average ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. Some studies have found ROIs of up to 3800%. The highly targeted nature of email combined with detailed tracking and optimization makes it one of the most cost-effective marketing methods.

Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing campaigns can utilize different strategies and approaches to achieve goals like building brand awareness, generating leads, driving sales, and retaining customers. Common email marketing strategy types include:

Broadcast Emails

Broadcast emails are sent to an entire email list at once. These are best for announcements, newsletters, promotions, etc. Broadcasts should provide value to the entire audience.

Segmented Emails

With segmented emails, the list is divided into groups who receive targeted content catered to their interests/needs. For example, customers could be segmented by demographic, purchase history, etc. This allows for more relevant messaging.

Automated Emails

Automated emails are triggered by user actions and sent automatically without individual review. These include confirmation emails, cart abandonment emails, welcome sequences for new subscribers, etc. Automated emails provide a consistent experience.

Triggered Emails

Triggered emails are sent when a specific event occurs. For example, an email after a support ticket is opened. These are customized to the recipient’s situation. Triggered emails encourage user engagement.

Personalized Emails

Personalized emails include the recipient’s name, location, purchase history, etc. to provide a customized message. These demonstrate that you know and value each subscriber. Personalization improves open and click rates.

Building an Email List

Building an email list is one of the most important aspects of email marketing. This is your audience that will receive your emails, offers, and content. There are several key strategies for building your list:

Opt-in Forms

Opt-in forms allow website visitors to subscribe to your email list. Place opt-in forms prominently on your website, such as on your homepage, blog, and high-traffic pages. Offer an incentive like a discount or free content in exchange for subscribing. Make sure to abide by email regulations and only send emails to people who have opted in.

Opt-in marketing is a sort of inbound marketing that requires the recipient’s consent before sending emails. Opt-in email marketing has multiple advantages: if the consumer grants you permission to send them promotional emails, they are less likely to discard or designate them as spam. Opt-in email marketing is more effective and ethical. Spamming clients with promotional emails they have not asked to receive will harm your brand’s reputation and is more likely to drive them away than to bring them in.

Opt-in email marketing also enables businesses and brands to better focus their email marketing efforts, as only consumers who are interested in the company or brand are likely to accept to receive email communications from it.

Lead Magnets

Create free, valuable content like ebooks, checklists, or templates and offer them in exchange for an email address. This content is known as a lead magnet, as it attracts and captures leads. Promote your lead magnets across your website, social media, and other channels.

Social Media

Leverage your social media presence to promote your email list. Share opt-in forms and lead magnets across social platforms. Run social media ads targeted to your ideal audience focused on list building.

Website Calls-to-Action

Place calls-to-action across your website encouraging visitors to join your email list. Test different wordings and placements for your CTAs to maximize conversion rates. Offer incentives and communicate the value of subscribing.

Building a segmented, targeted email list will allow you to send relevant content and offers tailored to different audiences. Take a multi-channel approach by utilizing opt-in forms, lead magnets, social media, and CTAs across your digital properties.

Email Design Best Practices

Email design is crucial for creating effective email marketing campaigns. Here are some best practices to follow:

Use Templates

  • Leverage pre-designed email templates to save time and ensure a professional look. Many email service providers like Mailchimp offer free templates.
  • Templates make it easy to quickly build emails that look great on any device. Opt for a simple, uncluttered design.
  • Consider having a template for different types of emails like welcome emails, promotions, newsletters, etc. Brand them consistently.

Optimize for Mobile

  • Over half of emails are opened on mobile. Make sure emails render well on mobile devices.
  • Use a responsive email template that adjusts for different screen sizes. Check rendering on iOS and Android.
  • Make sure content is easy to read on a small screen – use short paragraphs, large font sizes, and finger-friendly buttons.

Include Clear Call-to-Actions

  • Every email should have a strong CTA button to drive the desired user action.
  • Place the CTA button prominently above-the-fold so it’s visible without scrolling.
  • Use contrasting colors for the CTA and make the button large enough to tap on mobile.
  • Test different CTA copy to optimize for clicks. Include a sense of urgency.

Embed Sign Up Forms

  • Make it easy to convert readers by embedding sign up forms directly in emails.
  • Position the form visibly in the email body or header. Keep fields brief – only ask for essential info.
  • Offer an incentive for subscribing like a coupon code or free content.
  • Use smart forms that prefill known information to reduce friction.
  • Test sign up form placement, design and copy to maximize conversion rates.

Email Content Strategy

A successful email marketing strategy relies on creating valuable, relevant content tailored to your audience. Consider these key elements when developing your email content:


Every email should provide value to the subscriber. This could include exclusive discounts, educational content, entertainment, industry insights, etc. Avoid sending emails that solely promote your product – these come across as spam. Think about how your content benefits the reader.


Email content should directly relate to your subscribers’ interests and needs. Segment your list based on user preferences and behavior to send targeted, relevant content. For example, subscribers who purchased hiking gear may receive different emails than those who bought cooking products.


Consider when your subscribers are most likely to open and engage with your emails. Sending too many emails can lead to fatigue. Spread out your messages thoughtfully. Take into account major holidays, events, seasons and other factors that impact your industry. Time your emails strategically.


As mentioned above, divide your subscribers into segments or groups to deliver personalized content that resonates. For example, segment by:

  • Demographics like age, gender, location
  • Purchase history and shopping habits
  • Interests like hobbies, sports teams, etc
  • Engagement level like email open rates

Tailor your emails to align with each segment’s preferences for maximum relevance and impact.

By focusing on value, relevance, timing and segmentation in your email content strategy, you can craft compelling messages that convert and retain subscribers.

Email Automation

Email automation allows marketers to create sequences or workflows that send emails based on predetermined triggers and actions taken by subscribers. This removes the need to manually send one-off emails and ensures a consistent and personalized experience.

Some common email automation workflows include:

  • Welcome series – Send a series of emails over a period of days/weeks to onboard new subscribers. This helps orient them to your brand, products, content, etc.
  • Re-engagement – If a subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked in a certain period, send an email to remind them about your brand and prompt further action.
  • Abandoned cart – Trigger emails if someone adds a product to their cart but doesn’t complete checkout. Offer incentives to complete the purchase.
  • Event reminders – Send timely reminders about upcoming webinars, conferences, or other events.
  • Content recommendations – Recommend blog posts, guides, or other content based on past engagement.
  • Surveys – Seek additional feedback through occasional surveys to subscribers.
  • Promotional – Send promotional or seasonal offers on a schedule.

The key to effective automation is sending the right message at the right time based on subscriber behavior. This provides a customized experience. Automation also allows you to scale your efforts as your list grows. Just be sure to avoid over-automation by finding the right balance with one-to-one messaging. Test different triggers and workflows to optimize results over time.

Email Analytics

Email analytics provide critical data and insights that allow marketers to optimize and improve their email campaigns. By tracking key metrics, marketers can determine what’s working well and what needs refinement. Some of the most important email analytics to monitor include:

Open Rate

The open rate shows the percentage of subscribers who opened an email campaign. This indicates how appealing the subject line and preview text are. An open rate of 15-25% is considered good for most industries. If the open rate is low, try revising the subject line and preview text to be more compelling.

Click Rate

The click rate is the percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link within an email. This helps determine how engaging the content and call-to-action are. For regular promotional emails, aim for a click rate of 2-5%. For emails focused on driving an action like purchases, signups or content downloads, aim higher at 5-10%.


Conversions track how many desired actions occurred from an email campaign. This could be sales, leads, event signups, downloads, etc. Measure conversions to see the ROI of campaigns and focus on improving emails that drive conversions.


The unsubscribe rate shows how many recipients opted out of emails after a campaign was sent. A high unsubscribe rate means content is not resonating or emails are being sent too frequently. Look at when and why people unsubscribe and adjust strategy accordingly. Best practice is to keep unsubscribes under 0.1-0.2%.

Analyzing open, click, conversion and unsubscribe rates provides optimization insights to create more effective email campaigns over time. Continually A/B test subject lines, content, layouts, timing and segments to boost email metrics.

Email Deliverability

Email deliverability refers to the percentage of emails sent that successfully reach subscribers’ inboxes. It’s one of the most important metrics to track in email marketing, as it measures how effectively your emails are being delivered.

The two main barriers to email deliverability are spam filters and inbox placement.

Spam Filters

Email providers like Gmail have advanced spam filters that block emails detected as spam from reaching subscribers’ inboxes. There are a few key things that can trigger a spam filter:

  • Sending a large volume of emails at once, especially to new recipients
  • Using misleading or inappropriate content in the subject line
  • Sending from an unknown or suspicious looking domain name
  • Having a low sender reputation due to past spam complaints

To avoid getting flagged as spam:

  • Send emails in smaller batches
  • Use clear, accurate subject lines
  • Send from a professional, authorized domain
  • Maintain good sender reputation by avoiding spam tactics


You can bypass spam filters by getting added to recipient whitelist lists. This allows your emails to be delivered directly to the inbox.

Whitelisting happens automatically over time as subscribers engage with your emails. But you can request to be manually added to whitelists of major ISPs.


Properly authenticating your sending domain is crucial for deliverability. This verifies you as a legitimate sender.

The main authentication protocols are SPF, DKIM and DMARC. Having these set up improves deliverability by confirming your domain identity.

Focusing on spam filters, whitelisting, and authentication helps maximize the chances of your emails reaching the inbox. This in turn improves open and click-through rates.

Email Marketing Laws and Regulations

Email marketing is a powerful tool, but it must be used responsibly and legally. Here are some of the key laws and regulations to be aware of:


The CAN-SPAM Act is a US law that sets requirements for commercial emails and gives recipients the right to opt out of receiving emails from a sender. Key provisions include:

  • Requiring accurate header information and subject lines.
  • Prohibiting false or misleading content.
  • Requiring opt-out mechanisms in each email.
  • Requiring senders to honor opt-out requests within 10 business days.
  • Limiting email content that might be considered sexually explicit.

Senders who violate CAN-SPAM can face fines of up to $43,792 per violation.


The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes strict requirements around obtaining consent before emailing EU citizens. Key requirements include:

  • Requiring clear opt-in consent before sending emails.
  • Honoring opt-out requests immediately.
  • Providing notice of data collection purposes.
  • Allowing EU citizens to access their data and have it deleted.

GDPR violations can lead to fines of €20 million or 4% of global revenue.


Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) regulates commercial emails sent to Canadian recipients. Key provisions include:

  • Requiring opt-in consent before sending emails.
  • Mandating unsubscribe mechanisms in all emails.
  • Requiring sender identification and contact information.

Fines for CASL non-compliance start at $1 million.

Privacy Policies

A privacy policy discloses how an organization handles data collection, use, and protection. Email marketers should have a privacy policy covering areas like:

  • What subscriber data is collected and how it is used.
  • Whether data is shared with third parties.
  • How subscribers can access, update, or delete their data.

Having a clear, comprehensive privacy policy builds subscriber trust and satisfies legal requirements.

By understanding key email marketing laws like CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CASL, and crafting a privacy policy, email marketers can avoid legal troubles and create compliant, responsible campaigns.

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