How to Get Started with Email Marketing From Scratch

Table of Contents

    This guide is for people who have decided they are ready to take the plunge into email marketing and are looking for a map to get started. It’s covers everything on how to do email marketing yourself. If you still need convincing if email marketing is right for your business, read our Guide to First-Party Data, which addresses the importance of owning your audience and having a channel for direct communication. 

    What is Email Marketing 

    Email marketing is the sending of mass emails to educate your customers and entice them to take a specific action — such as making a purchase, downloading an e-book, signing up for a webinar or event, etc. 

    It’s been around since 1978 and has proven itself over and over to be a highly effective marketing channel. It gives you direct access to an app on your customers phone that they check multiple times a day. If done correctly, it has the ability to turn prospects into customers and one-time buyers into brand loyalists.

    Benefits of Email Marketing

    The return on investment for email marketing is one of the best you’re going to get. With an ROI of $36 for every $1 spent on email marketing, it’s well worth the time and investment to get started. 

    Not convinced yet? Here are some jaw-dropping benefits and stats that may help

    • There are 3 times more email accounts than Facebook and Twitter combined.
    • 79% of businesses say email marketing is one of their top 3 highest performing channels. 
    • It’s an owned marketing channel, meaning no one can take it away from you or tell you when you can reach your email subscribers.
    • Email is an app. An app that most people check multiple times a day.

    What are the Uses of Email Marketing

    How To get started with email marketing

    If you’re wondering if email is really the right fit for their business. The answer is yes. The answer is always yes. Below are the different ways you can (and should) use email marketing.

    Market Your Products

    This is probably the most obvious use and what most people think of when they think of email marketing. Use email to promote your products and services. Don’t worry about being salesy – if they subscribed to your list, they expect promotion. Word of advice though, you have to mix it up. No one wants to be constantly sold to. Balance promotion with the other uses on this list. 

    Build Relationships

    Email is makes one-to-many communication feel like one-to-one. It’s one of the easiest ways to build a relationship with your customers. Automations make relationship building easy and personalized.

    Promote Content

    Don’t just let the blog you wrote sit on your website. Share it with your audience. Subscribers love content, especially educational content.

    Brand Awareness

    Most people are not ready to buy your product right away. Brand awareness is important because the 95% of your subscribers who aren’t ready to buy right now, will be someday, and email will help you stay top of mind with them. When theta re ready to buy, you’ll be the first they think of.


    Email gives you an opportunity to introduce new subscribers to your brand, educate them, highlight your expertise, and provide value. It builds trust and gets them to the point of saying yes to your products or services. 

    Your Email Marketing Should Have a Goal

    You can only measure the effectiveness of your email marketing against a goal – how effective is it at achieving the goal. 

    Having a goal will tell you the types of emails you need to send, the content you should include, what audience you should target, and how to measure success.

    Your goal could be to sell more product, increase donations for your non-profit, drive traffic to your website to increase ad revenue, keep members engaged, increase leads for your sales team, sell more tickets for an event, etc.

    Define Your Audience

    Now that you have a goal, you need to clearly define your audience. This will impact all the next steps – your messaging, when you send emails, etc. 

    Take the time to fill out a customer persona or ideal customer profile. Knowing who you’re speaking to will remove the guesswork and make everything easier. 

    Choose an Email Service Provider (ESP)

    Choosing the correct Email Service Provider, really depends on your business type, the size of your list, and your needs. Do you only need to send emails? Do you need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to handle all customer interactions?

    List of popular email service providers.

    1. Best all around platform for beginners – Mailchimp
    2. Best for e-commerce – Klaviyo or Drip
    3. Best for email, SMS messaging, & CRM – sendinblue
    4. Best if you have a developer – SendGrid

    Build Your Email Marketing List

    6 ways to build your email marketing list

    Import Your Current Customers

    You may already have a list. If your business has a physical location, and you have your customer’s emails, you can import them into your emails service provider. If you have a huge list, you may not know how many of those people are still interested in your business. The best practice here would be to send one email letting your customers know what to expect front our emails and ask them to opt in if they want to receive them. It’s better to have a small engaged list than a huge, unengaged one. 

    Opt-in forms

    Add an email form in the header and/or footer of your website. Add another form at the bottom of blog posts and anywhere else on your website you think customers are likely to be interested in subscribing. 


    Have a pop-up on your website timed to appear after a certain mount of time on the website, or an exit intent popup that pops up when they go to close the window. Incentivize subscriptions by offering a discount or something else of value. Email is a value exchange. If you offer something valuable, website visitors will give you their email address. 


    Giveaways are a great way to build your email list, especially if you’re giving away one of your products. If people want to win one of your products, they likely would be interested in hearing more from you. If you don’t have a product to give away, use caution with this method. Giving away a MacBook or something similar is cool, but you are probably going to end up with a list of people who aren’t interested in your company and only want to win a laptop.


    Use RAEK to collect first-party data on your website visitors. Not only does it organize all your first-party website data all in one place, it adds contacts you don’t already have to your email list.

    Lead Magnet

    An e-book or how-to guide is a great way to gather email addresses. Make sure the lead magnet is something that will be of interest to your ideal customer, so the emails you gather are quality.

    Don’t Buy an Email Marketing List

    Buying a list is a big don’t. You never end up getting what is promised. A list you buy is usually packed with unengaged emails, fake emails, and of the emails that are good the majority will not be interested in your product. Your risk of being marked as spam and hurting your deliverability is high as well.

    Tie all your forms, popups, lead magnets and RAEK directly into your ESP. This ensures email subscribers start receiving emails right away. 

    What to Send to Your Email List 

    Now that you have your email list, it’s time to start sending. The email marketing goal you set earlier, and your audience will determine what you send, but some ideas are: a newsletter, promotion, big announcement, event invitation, educational content, etc. 

    Do people really want to receive a newsletter from our company?

    As long as you are providing value, yes. Newsletters are big brand builders and will keep you top of mind with your audience. 

    How do I make it look nice?

    Good question and good news. It’s easier than you think! Most Email Service Provides have drag and drop email marketing templates. Pick something you like, add your logo, adjust the color scheme, and you’re ready to go. 

    Need email marketing ideas?

    Really Good Emails is a fantastic resource for inspiration. Not only can you browse through emails of all types from companies all over the world, you can also upload emails you received in your own inbox that you think are great. 

    Best Practices for Email Marketing

    How to do email marketing yourself

    Make sure it’s easy to read

    Attention spans are short these days. Don’t write a letter. Write in short sentences and paragraphs. Use headers and section to break up the content for easy scanning. 

    Use pictures, videos, and gifs

    Visuals hold interstate, break up text, and increase engagement in your emails. If you are an ecommerce company, pictures of your products are a must. If you’re a B2B company, use pictures of completed projects, employees, community involvement, etc.

    Personalize Your Emails

    Personalization runs a broad spectrum from using a person’s name to having the entire email personalized for each individual person. Since we’re talking about how to get started with email marketing, begin with personalizing emails with the recipient’s name. People love the sound of their own name, and it’s extremely easy to do with merge tags. Your Email Service Provider will have a quick tutorial on how to use them.

    The Subject Line

    The goal of the subject line is to get the recipient to open the email. Your subject line should be clear and inspire action. Subject lines should make the recipient a little curious, enticing them to open the email. It’s against email regulations to send an email with a clickbait subject line. Your subject has to match the content of the email.

    Mobile Responsive

    The majority of emails are opened on a mobile device. Email editors have a setting which allows you to see what your email looks like on a mobile screen, make sure the layout works and make changes as needed. 


    The best time to send an email varies by industry and will depend on the goals of your email marketing. Always A/B test day and times, so you know which performs best for your audience. Here’s a round up of 14 studies on when the best time to send an email is.

    Make Sure You’re Compliant

    Email marketing in the United States must follow CAN-SPAM compliance guidelines. Here is a brief overview and link to Federal Trade Commission’s compliance guide.

    If you are sending emails to consumers in the state of California, you must follow CCPA guidelines as well. The biggest difference is CCPA requires you provide two ways to opt-out of your emails. One in the email itself and one on your website. You can find more information here.

    Automate As Much As You Can

    Automated Email Marketing

    The magic of email marketing is you don’t have to start from scratch every time you get a new subscriber. Automations will ensure every single customer is reached out to directly and make you money in your sleep.

    Welcome Series

    This is an essential automation. It introduces new subscribers to your company and can be 1-7 emails long. It also converts subscribers at a higher rate than any other email automation. 

    Abandoned Cart Flow

    This is a bit more advanced, but still not difficult to set up. Send your website browsers an email reminding them of the items they left in their cart. 

    Browse Abandonment Flow

    Browse Abandonment flows are triggered when a website visitors look around your website but doesn’t palace anything in their cart. Here is our Guide to Browse Abandonment Emails

    The Most Important Parts of Email Marketing

    The most important part of email marketing is not what your email looks like, or automations, or perfectly crafted headlines. It’s consistency and relevancy. 


    Choose a schedule and stick to it. Subpar emails sent on a regular schedule will always our perform perfect emails sent sporadically.  One of the main purposes of email marketing is to stay top of mind with your customers. You do that by consistently sending emails to your marketing list. 


    Your emails need to be relevant to your audience. If you put in the time to set a goal and define your audience, this will be the natural result. If you skipped that part, it is going to take a lot of trial an error to see what your audience connects with. 


    Recency is in line with consistency. The reason a welcome sequence is so important is that it sends an email right away. If you wait a month or even a few weeks before sending a new subscriber an email, the risk that the person doesn’t remember you is pretty high. People have short attention spans and the internet moves quickly. Set up automations to ensure new subscribers receive an email immediately upon subscribing. 

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    The RAEK Team

    RAEK was built by a group of digital marketers on a mission to help small businesses grow and easily utilize their first-party customer data.