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Email marketing: Getting Started

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) puts out statistics regularly on the state of email marketing.

Last year in their 2013, and most recent, report they found that companies achieve an average ROI of $28.5 for every $1 spent on email marketing. Next on the list is search engine marketing, coming in at about $20 for $1 spent.

On those statistics alone, you could say that email marketing is at least 42% more effective than the next most successful form of marketing in terms of real dollars spent and earned. These sorts of figures are a testament to the fact that email is an important part of any digital marketing strategy.

The primary reason for this is that email is direct.

It is also flexible: giving you a lot of options to work with when developing copy and design.

These two factors combined make email an interesting and powerful platform. If you’re looking for a way to increase your conversions and sales and haven’t reviewed your emails recently or have never given them the time you should, then there is no doubt that it’s high time you added email to your arsenal and learned how to do it properly.

This guide is going to teach you step-by-step how you can develop email marketing as a marketing channel that converts well for your business.

Setting Up an Email Marketing Account

There is a heap of email service providers (ESPs) out there. Many of them do similar things, many of them are fantastic products.

You might wonder why you should use an ESP at all. Why not just buy a virtual server, set up a mail server and start sending?

Here are the three main reasons to use an ESP:

  1. Ease of setup Worrying about your own mail server(s) and keeping tabs on its configuration is something you don’t want to worry about: ESPs let you get started without worrying about any of the underlying infrastructures.In our experience there are few times the hassle of maintaining your own email marketing setup is warranted: when talking to people who do take this approach you’ll regularly hear words like ‘painful’, ‘nightmare’ and ‘time-consuming’. Save yourself the struggle and research to find the ESP that is right for you.
  2. Better deliverability Most ESPs have strict rules when it comes to uploading lists or adding subscribers. This is for a good reason: using a quality ESP and abiding by their rules will help guide you through the most basic deliverability issues without a problem.ESPs send millions of emails every day and this helps you when you’re getting started: the few thousand emails you send per month is not likely to have a dramatic impact on your provider’s overall volume. In short, this is good as your campaigns are less likely to get flagged as SPAM.
  3. Everything in one place ESPs give you the ability to manage your subscribers, your templates and your results all in one place. This makes creating new campaigns and reviewing old ones much easier. Email marketing is not something that you excel at overnight so having a place to review and improve on your campaign is super important.

We’ve seen lots of companies using Qualaroo’s Nudges to turn readers into subscribers. A great, unobtrusive way to grow your list. (Sean Ellis)

If you’re wondering which ESP to use, I’d recommend trying a few different providers (most have free trials) and seeing what suits your needs. Each has its own differentiating features and services.

In terms of a personal recommendation, if you’re solely after the ability to send one-off newsletters and want the most straight forward provider with great template design functionality, we’d recommend Campaign Monitor.

If you’re after a tool that will allow you to send newsletters as well as automate your campaigns (including sending transactional emails) and segment your customers based on their actions, for example, what products they view, features they use, then we’d, of course, recommend Vero.

Get Yourself A HTML Template To Kick Things Off

You don’t need to send emails using an HTML template. Many times you’ll have more a great deal of success with plain text emails but there are probably times when you’ll want to jazz things up and it’s a common question as to how you can get started with good quality, responsive email template.

If you’re just beginning I’d recommend getting your hands on a very basic HTML template you can customize with your own logo, address, and design elements. You can improve your template over time as your email marketing gets more complex and you want to test new ideas.

Here are the top sources we’ve seen for free or cheap, quality HTML email templates:

  1. Themeforest’s Email Templates Section Themeforest is a great resource for all things digital design. When it comes to an email they have hundreds of great templates for as little as $15. You’d be hard-pressed not to find something good here that you can work with. Most are responsive and help you customize them out-of-the-box.
  2. Templateria Templateria is a source of professional templates from the guys at W3P in Brazil. Their templates are professional and Pedro and Juliana have years of email marketing design experience to help you out if you need a hand.
  3. Campaign Monitor’s Free Email Templates Campaign Monitor had a bunch of the world’s best designers release over 100 free templates. They’re smooth, simple and professional. If they have a layout that suits your needs this is a great option.

One of the added benefits of getting a template from one of these sources is that they will generally be mobile responsive. This is really important and is easily overlooked if you’re hacking together your own template. Ensuring your emails look good on mobile is important. The imperative is no longer in actually creating responsive email campaigns (this is easy enough), but in understanding how they work and importantly when they don’t work.

Armed with an email marketing provider and a basic HTML template you are ready to begin your email marketing journey. You don’t need anything more than this to get started: that is why email marketing is so great. It’s quick to get started, and the sky is the limit.

Learn more

Goto Chapter Two: Getting email subscribers

Back to: The Email Marketing guide

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