Get Started with Email Marketing

There are plenty of good reasons to consider an email marketing campaign for your business. In fact, we recently wrote a blog about our favourite reasons to use email marketing. But the bottom line is, it’s a really effective way to speak to your customers about your business, and your products and services.

It’s not affected by social media algorithms, it’s cheap, you know the people on your list are genuinely interested in what you do, and it works for every customer that has an email address – no need to worry about who’s on Instagram or Facebook, or whatever!

In this guide we’ll help you get started with finding an email marketing service provider, collecting email addresses, legalities, collecting and managing data, and actually creating and monitoring your campaign.

So, where do you start…

First, choose a company to work with. This is strongly advised. You could try to manage your email marketing yourself, but there are so many legalities involved that it’s really not worth trying to manage it all yourself.

There are many email marketing options available so take a few minutes and do a little research. They frequently change their packages so it’s impossible to recommend one that will be right for you. We use Mailchimp, but at the time of writing, new users aren’t being offered some important scheduling functions, of course this may have changed by the time you are reading this so worth a look. Mailerlite and Aweber are also often recommended.

Most service providers offer free versions to lite users, so start looking at those first. In an ideal world you’ll want something that will let you create a list of at least 500 email addresses, schedule emails, and create a workflow of 3-5 emails. This will get you off to a great start, and by the time you need more than that you’ll be earning money from your list – or at least that’s the idea, so upgrading won’t be so much of an issue.

Next, make a form

Once you’ve found a company that’s right for you, you’ll want to start collecting email address.

If you are using an email marketing company you’ll need to create a form for this, and you have a few options. If you have a website you might choose to create a form to either embed straight onto a page in your website or you could create a pop up, or both! You can do this either by integrating your email marketing company into your website, or you can create the form on their website to integrate yourself. Both are easier to do than they sound – promise! But, if you struggle, don’t panic, we can do it with you in your 1-1.

If you don’t have a website, you can also create a form to use on Facebook, or you could create a landing page that people can sign up on. So there are options for you however you’d like to do it.

If you decide to go it alone, then you’ll need to find another way to collect and store your customers data. See keeping it legal (below) for more information about this.

What data should you collect?

Once you’ve figured out what kind of form you need, you’ll start thinking about the data you would like to collect.

For most businesses a customers first name and email address is probably all you need. But, if you fancied sending out a gift coupon for their birthday then it might be useful to get their birth date and month. As a general rule though, ask for the least amount of information possible. The more you ask for, the less likely it is they will sign up.

You don’t have to, but it is also good practice to use a “double opt in.” This is where you send an email that asks new subscribers to confirm they agreed to sign up to your mailing list. This protects you mostly, from those that might sign people up maliciously.

You must also include an option to confirm that they wish to receive your marketing. Simply giving you their email and name is not enough. The form templates you use will make sure this is included for you, so need to worry, if you are using a third party provider.

You must also be careful about the legalities of keeping data you don’t strictly need, such as the year of birth, which takes us neatly onto the next bit…

Keeping It Legal

There are plenty of rules that have been set in place to make sure businesses are managing other peoples data in a safe and proper way. If you use a reputable email marketing company then they’ll make sure you are doing all the right things. But, if you are managing your own email marketing then you’ll need to make sure you you display your businesses address on all your emails and you must also include a link to unsubscribe. You’ll also need to keep secure records of peoples data, including when they consented to be added to your list, how and where they consented, and what information you collected at the time.

If you store and manage any kind of data you might also need to register with the Information Commissioners Office. This is the case even if you use a third party to store your customers data, such as Mailchimp. Many small businesses are exempt from this, but it will depend on the amount and types of data collected. There’s a quick survey on the ICO’s website that will help you figure out what you have to do.

If you do have to register you’ll need to pay a fee to them, it’s not a lot, but as a guide, if you have less than 10 employees and your turnover is less than £630k the fee is £35 a year, if paid by Direct Debit (at the time of writing). If you are exempt then you can let them know on their website, and you’ll pay nothing.

Writing an email

Now, we’re ready to start writing emails!

The first email you create will be your welcome email. This is the first email you will send to your shiny new subscribers. Use it to say hello and thank you, and if you promised something upon sign up, don’t forget to tell them how to get it. You should also include a quote from one of your best recommendations and tell people a bit about what you do, and why they should love your business.

Make sure to include a call to action button that takes them straight to where people go to buy from you, book time with you, or whatever you’d like them to do next in the buying process. I like to put the call to action in a PS after you have signed off your email as it draws attention to it. And most importantly, create a workflow so it gets sent as soon as your subscribers have confirmed they’d like to be added to your list.

Tips for every email…

  • Keep it short – most people will only take in about 80-120 words, so make them count
  • You only have to write enough to inspire them to click on your call to action, less is more
  • Put a call to action on every email – aim to get a click from every reader
  • Choose a relevant, but catchy subject line. For the best results use only 6 words!
  • Don’t use “salesy” language in the subject as it’ll end up in the Promotions Folder
  • Have your logo at the top of every email so your subscribers know exactly who it’s from
  • Use your business email address in the reply/sender line
  • Give your email campaigns relevant names so you can easily find them again

Content Ideas

  • Links to your latest blog
  • Special Offers in your store
  • New Products/Events
  • Top Tips
  • Dates for your diary
  • Value you offer
  • Links to feedback forms

Creating a workflow

A workflow is a series of emails that are triggered at particular times, if you are using an email provider you’ll be able to automate this. If you are doing it yourself, this will require a lot of organisation and it can become a little labour intensive, but nothing Trello couldn’t handle.

If you have already created your welcome email, then you’ve already made a mini workflow that is triggered when someone signs up. But, they can get more sophisticated than that. It’s a good idea to create a series of emails specifically for your new subscribers that guides them through your sales funnel.

In an ideal world your workflow will have a series of 5 emails. Each one should highlight a different problem you solve, such as timed delivery slots, 24 hour web ordering, or customisable options for fussy eaters! The idea is to take your customers on a tour of your business, so you can address each of their concerns one by one. You should include your tagline on every email and include a link to buy as a PS on all but the last email. Your emails should also draw attention to your company values if that isn’t already reflected in your tagline. The last one should be a straight up, old fashioned “buy now” email.

When creating your workflow you can set up automation rules that determine what emails get sent, to who, and when. So you might send “Email 1” to all new subscribers after 1 day of sending the “Welcome” email. Then you might set the rest to follow in order every 1, 2, 3 days or whatever feels right to you. As part of your workflow you can also set rules that might stop the flow for a particular subscriber, for example, you might stop it when someone clicks a link or makes a purchase. You can make your automation rules as complicated as you like, but this will do for now. When your subscribers get to email 5, they will just continue to receive your regular emails like everyone else.

You don’t just have to use a workflow for new subscribers, if you wanted to create a campaign to sell something new, or an event, or whatever. They work well because people need to feel their questions about your product or service have been answered in order to form enough desire and trust to make a purchase. 5 Emails might be enough for some, but some may need longer, so don’t worry if people don’t always buy from you straight away. You’ll continue to email them after the workflow has ended.


Depending on the type of email you are about to send, you might prefer to only send it to certain groups of people. It will be easy to create rules if you are using an email provider, but you can also keep your own records and use them. You won’t be able to monitor open rate or click through rates though, but you will know who has purchased from you.

So, for example, you might choose to only send a salesy email to people that haven’t purchased in the past day/week/month or whatever. You might also prefer only to send to people that have bought in the past month – a feedback form for example, or only people that have opened one of the last 5/10/20 emails – such as to offer discounts to my most active customers. Or you could choose to target an email to people that hadn’t clicked a link in any emails to see if you can tempt them one last time with a discount! If they don’t click on that email, then you can consider deleting them. Which moves us quite nicely on to housekeeping!


As part of your regular housekeeping you should make sure you only have people on your list that are engaged with your emails. If they aren’t then you have the option to archive or remove them. That sounds a bit harsh but it is important for a few reasons:

  1. Space on your list is precious so don’t waste it on people that aren’t interested. If they haven’t clicked on any of the last 10/15/20 emails, they probably won’t click on any of your future ones either.
  2. When people ignore your emails, the service provider (eg gmail, or hotmail) might recognise this as a trend and start moving them into spam folders.

When managing your list you will be able to find out lots of interesting facts about your subscribers. You will be able to find out what links they are clicking, how much they are spending and how long they have been following you.

You used to be able to see how many people opened your emails, however, a new feature being offered by Apple, stops that data being recorded, so open rate can no longer be relied upon as a way to measure the success of an email. For this reason, we recommend using your emails to direct people somewhere else, such as to a blog, webpage, or shop. Clicks are still being recorded, so this is a very accurate way of monitoring your emails and lists.

Speaking of monitoring…

Once your emails are out there, it’s easy to forget about them, but it’s a good idea to check back to see how they are doing. If you are using a third party to manage your campaigns you’ll be able to find out fairly easily how your emails are doing.

Overview of email performance

In the overview, you can quickly see how many people opened the email, hoe many clicked and the sales that were made as a result of clicking through from the email. This is just a brief summary, if you click View Report you can get even more information.

In the detailed view you get to see how your email performed over 24 hours. As expected, it received a lot of engagement in the first couple of hours, but it continued to be opened. This is the benefit of using email. If this had been a social media post, it would be forgotten after 15 minutes of scrolling, but an email will sit in your notifications panel until you are ready to open it.

Detailed view of email performance

Get help

If you need help figuring this all out and making it work for your business, then let us know and we can help you figure them all out in your next 1-1.

If you don’t have 1-1’s featured in your membership, don’t worry, you can upgrade at any time to get just what you need, when you need, or you can just book a one off consultation.