What is Email Marketing and How Does It Work?

No matter what people say, email marketing still happens to be one of the most effective methods of online marketing that can help you build a stronger customer relationship.

It is no longer a nice-to-have process of marketing but one that is very effective and very necessary.

The only problem is most people are not able to crack the code of good email marketing.

If you can figure out how to market your business, email marketing is capable of generating up to 30 times your initial investment, bring genuine traffic to your website, and enhance your profit margins. 

That is precisely what we are doing with this detailed email marketing guide- teach you what is email marketing and how does it work, and why you should invest your time and energy into producing email campaigns. 

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is nothing but the process of connecting with your target audience through electronic mail messages (email). This method of digital marketing aims to drive sales, improve customer engagement, and accelerate brand loyalty via emails. 

While the majority of times the emails would be promoting the brand’s products and services, email marketing could be used to educate the target audience about their favorite topics. 

In layman’s words, email marketing is all about leveraging the technology of sending bulk emails or targeted email as a method to increase sales. 

The only real way to do this is by building a long list of emails from people who are interested in your business and have willingly signed up to receive your emails.

So, don’t even think about buying email data from illegal sellers, even if the database matches your target audience exactly. 

Email Marketing Benefits

There are various benefits for your brand to engage in email marketing, including the fact that it is one of the most effective ways to reach millennials of the world.

According to a study

  • 50% of them check emails from bed
  • 42% shuffle their phone for emails while in the bathroom
  • 18% even read emails while driving!

Even if millennials are not part of your target audience, there are other email marketing benefits include: 

  • It’s the most cost-effective way to connect with people, increase the number of conversions, grow revenue and build brand loyalty
  • Email marketing increases the possibilities of upselling/ cross-selling to existing customers
  • It’s a brilliant way to bypass the storm every time Google changes the SEO algorithm. Having an engaging list of email subscribers, the sudden impact of the algorithmic change comparatively will not have as bad an effect on your business

How does email marketing work? 

Email marketing is not rocket science. However, it does require a lot of trial and error using A/B testing to understand the most effective way to indulge with your subscribers.

You have to maintain the balance of making the emails worth their time and beneficial for your business. 

Here is what you need to do

  1. Create a solid email marketing strategy
  2. Find an email marketing tool that suits your needs
  3. Make most of email marketing automation
  4. Work towards growing your email subscriber list
  5. Monitor your campaigns and update them as per the result
  6. Regularly clean up your email list

Sounds good? 

Let’s understand each step in detail

Create a solid email marketing strategy

Having a plan in place for any digital marketing campaign is one of the most important tasks and email marketing is no exception. 

A detailed email marketing strategy is helpful in many ways. 

  • It will help you integrate your email marketing plans with your other online marketing campaigns like the ones you might be running on your social media, PPC ads, and more
  • Once your strategy, goals, and budget are in place, it will be much easier for you to select an email marketing platform that suits all your requirements
  • You will have a pretty clear road map of what you are doing and what you are supposed to do next. Instead, think of the next steps at every point
  • You can identify what emails can be automated and when can you publish them
  • With the right strategy, you can find the best reporting mechanisms that will help you analyze if your campaigns are working or not with data

Find an email marketing tool that suits your needs

A good email marketing tool can help you completely automate all your email campaigns. Imagine setting it up once and not having to worry about it again #HappyDays

Trust me, manually emailing hundreds of people and tracking the results is a lot of donkey work and nearly impossible. So, finding a full-featured email marketing software is the right way to go. 

There are numerous things that you can achieve with an email marketing software including

  • Easy creation of your email list
  • Multiple ways to add subscribers to your list, including direct subscriptions, easy uploads, and more
  • Publish bulk emails to your target audience
  • Get reports on the number of people who opened your email and took an action from the CTA button
  • Easily bifurcate your audience into segments 
  • Automatically send promotional emails like the welcome email, confirmation email and more 
  • Get direct sales from emails
  • Create email funnels that will help urge your subscribers to take the action you desire


Here is a list of some of the most popular email marketing tools that you can evaluate to carry out your email marketing strategies. 

Make most of email marketing automation

Flawless email automation is the dream of every marketer, and email marketing delivers on that promise. 

While there are multiple names given to automated emails, including drip email marketing, automated email campaign, lifecycle emails, autoresponders, and marketing automation, and more.

They are all the same concept which is automatically publishing particular emails on a schedule and sending them to people who have taken a certain action after receiving the email- AKA action based triggering of email. 

Supposedly, one confirmation email is triggered when a person places an order on your website, the next email is triggered when order is ready for dispatch, and then on delivery and one a week later for feedback and so on. 

Another example of drip emails would be if someone signs up to your blog that triggers the first email which portrays some of your best starting blogs, while the second email triggered after 3 days of signing up with more quality content and so on, while slowly easing them into the middle funnel or bottom-funnel content. 

The most common auto-scheduled emails are:

  • Welcome mail when a new subscriber signs up 
  • A series of drip emails that somewhat functions like the marketing funnel with emails containing top of the funnel content to the bottom of the funnel content, budging them towards the buy now button
  • e-Commerce service providers can re-engage with website visitors that abandon their online shopping cart through re-engaging automated emails
  • You can set a series of emails for your existing customers to cross-sell or upsell other products/services from your inventory
  • You can trigger a review or feedback email to your customers after a few days of them purchasing your service/product

Take steps to grow your email list

Email marketing is a game of numbers and that is why you need a big list of genuine subscribers for your email marketing to show you any real results. 

Initially, building your email list should take up the major chunk of your email marketing strategy. 

Remember, you need people to manually subscribe to your emails and not just upload a database without their consent. 

Growing your email list is not a cakewalk but it can be a great value add to your business if you are using the right approach and tools

Here are a few approaches to organically increase your email subscriber list

Go big with your content

Your content is what keeps your users coming back to you. If you are providing your users with the kind of content they like, your dream of building your email list is not going to come true. 

On the other side of the spectrum, the more value your content provides the users the faster is the growth of your email list.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse (Incentives) 

Also called lead magnets, incentives are a great way to increase your email subscriber list. You can offer ebooks, white papers, free trials, reports, and more to encourage people to give you their email addresses.

Similar to how I provide a free SEO checklist as a lead magnet. This not only helps my readers get a comprehensive SEO checklist and gives a higher conversion. 

Add a subscribe to email button on your website

Adding one hard-to-miss subscription button on your desktop and mobile site can go a long way in growing your list. 

Try different approaches to connect with A/B testing

As I said before, email marketing involves a lot of A/B testing along with connecting your target audience to ensure that you have a successful campaign. 

A/B testing is all about comparing different campaigns to understand what type of email will engage your audience more and drive more conversion. 

Here is a list of email elements that you can use to evaluate the results of your A/B testing

  • Number of characters in your subject line
  • Email format ie; are you sending HTML mails, a plain text mail or more
  • How lengthy is your email body
  • How many emails are you sending
  • The number of promotional elements in the email
  • Where are you placing your CTA
  • The lead magnet that you are using in your email sign up
  • The method of verifying the email of your subscribers, for example, a no authentication or double opt-in, etc.

Every time you use A/B testing to run any digital campaigns, not just your email campaigns, you have to monitor the different metrics. Once you identify the elements that are not working, you can remove them from future campaigns.

For email marketing, you need to monitor the following metrics:

  • The number of people subscribing to your list per day
  • The location that they have subscribed from, when you have a signup CTA at multiple locations, for example, the subscribe button in the footer, the exit popup, and more
  • Open Rate: The number of people who opened the email 
  • Click-Through Rate: The number of people that clicked on the link in the email
  • The number of people that land on your website by clicking on a link in the email
  • The number of conversions from the email, ie; the number of leads that converted to customers and the campaign from which they took the action to make the sale.

Regularly clean up your email list

There are some concepts of email marketing that you need to understand

Almost 80% of your email list will be inactive

Keep in mind that even after signing up for themselves, even if you produce great content, only 20% of your email list will open or engage with your email campaigns.  

Sometimes having a small but active list is a better approach

If you keep sending emails to people who are not opening your emails, eventually your emails will land in their spam bin. Instead, a smaller list where the majority of them are engaging with you, will overall up your campaign’s performance.

It takes a lot of money to build and maintain a huge list

Most email marketing tools like Mailchimp charge you based on the number of emails in your list. So, the inactive users in your very large list are costing you money. 

To curb the unnecessary costs and ensure that you have a list of subscribers who love your content, you need to regularly delete the inactive users from your list. I know it’s hard considering how much effort it takes to build that list but inactive users are not helping your business. It is always better to have a small list of active users instead.

What did we learn today?

Email marketing continues to deliver great results and is one of the most cost-efficient methods of marketing your services. 

Even though email marketing will not bring traffic to your website, it will surely accelerate your sales cycle by bringing more direct sales. 

That is why creating your email marketing strategy and building your email list needs to be a part of your marketing plan!


That’s all folks! 

Let me know how did this email marketing guide help you? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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