Tips for Getting Started with Email Marketing

Apr 1, 2024 | Online Marketing

Are you thinking of starting email marketing efforts or revising your current strategy? If you’re feeling a bit lost on what it should look like, then you’ve landed in the right place!

Among all of the digital marketing tasks we complete for clients, it’s a little-known secret that email marketing campaigns are one of our favourites.


Because it’s easy once you have a content strategy to put to work.

What makes it all the more exciting to use is that – with the right tools and data – you can segment your campaigns. By doing this, we’ve helped our clients maintain Open and Click rates that are higher than their industries’ averages (according to these statistics).

But it must be stated that it didn’t start that way, especially for the clients who had never sent out an email campaign before…

That’s why we want to cover the bases of getting started, the expectations to have, what to experiment with, and how to go from there.


Beginner's guide to email marketing: Proven strategies and tips

First and foremost, you need to make sure there are easy methods to get people to subscribe to your mailing list.

If you’re starting from scratch: You can start with your current list of customers if you have some form of consent to email them. As a Canadian business, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM Act before deciding.

For this reason, and for some businesses, it’s easier to begin with gathering subscribers naturally.

Ways to do this include (but aren’t limited to):
> Adding sign-up forms on your website
> Adding subscribe forms (as available) on your social media pages
> Creating campaign landing pages with CTAs to subscribe people

One of the easiest ways to incentivize people to join is to create an offer that will only be delivered via an email campaign. In our experience, one of the most successful strategies is offering an event or workshop; wherein the details to attend are delivered by email to those who RSVP (aka subscribe).

And – in case you can’t see what the next step would be – this allows you to promote offers of interest to attendees after the fact.

But let’s take a step back for a moment… especially if an event or workshop isn’t something in your immediate plans.

What can you offer that would be a good incentive to subscribe to your mailing list?

Perhaps – if you sell products online – you can deliver limited-time discount/promo codes by email.

For retail stores, email campaigns are a great way to announce sales or promotions that result in more foot traffic.

For some of our clients who don’t have an office or storefront, it’s instead about delivering FREE valuable content for people to absorb.

Initiatives such as announcing new blog posts or YouTube videos to subscribers opens a door that you otherwise wouldn’t know was there. Using this as a regular form of email communication nurtures your audience. And from what we’ve seen, it also sometimes results in sales on services/products that were never mentioned. Better yet, following up with your Engaged Subscriber group to drive a sale = sealing the deal because they already trust you based on the free content you’ve provided.

Think about what regular communication you can offer and use this messaging as the reason why people should subscribe to your mailing list.


Mastering email marketing: Essential strategies and best practices to get started

Everyone has a preference, and oftentimes, it comes down to being a question of the budget. There are free options available which may serve a basic purpose; but if you want to have access to features that make your strategy extra effective, you’ll want to do more research.

Among the popular choices our clients use are Constant Contact and Mailchimp.

As an agency, we prefer using Mailchimp. So we’re going to highlight some key features there simply because it’s what’s proven to be the most effective in our experiences. You can read this and decide if it’s right for you (note that we’re not obligated nor have we been asked to promote them), or simply use these facts to compare other platforms.

(1) The ability to schedule email campaigns ahead of time.

On free plans that we’ve looked at, this isn’t an option. We’ve also noticed that with low-tier plans that allow this, you’re blindly scheduling them by choosing when they should be sent. This in itself can be a deal breaker as we’ve found that half of the “battle” in getting people to open emails is sending them at the right time. Having access to Mailchimp’s Send Time Optimization means that we send emails at the time when the audience is most likely to check their emails. We truly believe using this has contributed to the high Open Rates we’ve achieved.

(2) The added feature of creating landing pages.

While we would always resort to creating landing pages on websites, there are more finely-tuned landing page options with some email marketing platforms. Making a simplistic landing page for your social media profile links is one idea. Creating a visually engaging and pleasing landing page to gather subscribers is another idea. While you can pay a bit extra to have it all on your existing domain, you can create these pages for free without this connection.

(3) The intricacy of creating email journeys.

These are automated email processes that get triggered when a subscriber condition is met – for example, when they first sign up. But with the ability to have multiple journeys, the possibilities are endless. You can use your imagination and just as long as you have thought out the ways to trigger the next move (and what that will be), you can have custom experiences based on actions and interests alike. This takes the thinking out of a lot of nurturing, not to mention, less need to create individual campaigns for event-based processes.

The longer story short is to go with a plan that fits with your long-term strategy. In the end, the cost can be justified as you see engagement taking place that leads to revenue growth.


Effective email marketing tactics for success: Expert insights

Much like with any other organic marketing effort, it will take time to
(A) grow your audience,
(B) figure out the best email format, and
(C) have enough data to effectively segment emails.

To make this breakdown of tips a bit easier to follow, we want to use an actual client example (without referencing them). We’ll quickly detail how we went from zero activity and a high unsubscribe rate to a 0% unsubscribe rate and a consistent 50%+ Open Rate with all emails.


The client had a mailing list – made up of 192 current and recent clients – but had never sent out any marketing-based emails before. Upon helping them create their Mailchimp account and adding opt-in forms to their website, we rolled out bi-weekly email campaigns.

There were 2 initial approaches here:
1) An email campaign to the previous clients that was a more simplistic “Hey, how have you been? Let’s have a conversation.” email.
2) A newsletter format email (of announcements) to current clients; which was what this client wanted us to do.

Not surprisingly, a portion of the audience that received the category #1 emails either didn’t open them or quickly unsubscribed. While this group was significantly smaller than the category #2 group, we understood that these people hadn’t dealt with the client in a while and they might not be interested. Essentially, we all expected reaching out to them would be a form of “clean-up” effort.

The good news is that the people who unsubscribed selected the “no longer interested” reason – important to note because you don’t want to be emailing people who are going to say “I didn’t sign up for this”. Additionally, some of these previous clients warmed up – and later converted – but let’s focus on how we got them to that point…


In order to gauge what your audience likes to see, you have to simply start sending emails. Start with a gentle approach, see what the results are, then go from there. That’s exactly what we did for the first 3 months, then we moved on to devising a new approach based on the data we had so far.

We followed up with the cold portion of the Category #1 group offering an enticing introductory promo. While this garnered more attention than the previous “warm-up” emails, it also indicated the portion of the audience that wasn’t paying attention. At this point, we knew which group we’d have to try and nurture a different way at a later time.

Upon seeing that the Category #2 group was dropping off from opening the newsletter-format emails – with some people unsubscribing – we sat down with the client to discuss. As an agency, we were already concerned that these emails were too long and tried to serve too much information at once. But seeing the decline in the statistics was the evidence needed to enforce a change.


By this point in time, the Open Rate on emails was less than 25%, the Click Rate was less than 1%, and at least 1 person unsubscribed from each email. No one enjoys seeing and knowing that, but it is activity that businesses deal with at one point or another when doing email marketing.

However, this does not mean defeat! It simply means changing the approach.

We proposed sending much shorter emails which served the individual announcements that would make up a newsletter; one email at a time. This approach also meant it was easier to produce hyper-focused Subject Lines – making it easier for recipients to know what they were about to open (and whether or not they wanted to open it).

Doing this completely turned the audience around!

And, since we were also at a point where new subscribers were adding themselves to the mailing list on a regular basis, we were finding the groove that worked.

We pushed these emails to the whole audience until we knew who was now actively engaged. On occasion, someone would unsubscribe, but the overall rate of this was dropping significantly. Additionally, the emails’ Open Rate was climbing along with the Click Rate.

After 3 months of doing the client’s email marketing this way, we finally had enough data to start segmenting.

In simple terms, it looked like this:
(1) We left the cold unengaged audience alone; only sending the occasional personalized email that offered a freebie to see if they would “re-engage”.
(2) We created a custom segment for all emails that included everyone who had opened any of these “new” emails + anyone who had subscribed since the last campaign was sent.

Since making this the practice, we saw the Open Rate climb to over 50% and it has remained consistent since. Additionally, the Click Rate is (on average) 5%. Best yet: For the past 6 months, 0 people have unsubscribed.

It may not sound like much to some, but when we talk to this client and find out that people are striking up conversations because of the information they’re receiving via email, it’s gold. Simply because, for this small business, the in-person conversations are where the sales conversions take place.

Similarly, applying the same strategy of learning (namely, tailoring to your audience) to your business can mean the same type of results.

Start by having fun, keeping it simple, then taking the queues from the audience (which content gets more attention, etc.), and stick to what works. It will take time, but it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to both communicate and convert.

Need help with your Digital Marketing Strategy? From creating a blueprint to being your ALL-IN-ONE Online Strategy Team, we can help. Reach out to us and we can meet on Zoom for a chat!

Blog Topics