A Comprehensive Guide To Email Marketing (With a step-by-step guide to using Mailchimp)

A Comprehensive Guide To Email Marketing (With a step-by-step guide to using Mailchimp)

Do you believe that social media marketing is the only effective digital marketing channel and email marketing is dead?

Well, you are about to have this belief challenged. Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Global email users in 2019 were estimated to be around 3.9 billion in the year 2019. On the other hand, Instagram, one of the most popular digital marketing channels for most brands, announced 1 billion active users per month in the same year. So while email marketing may sound outdated for the time that we live in, it can be a very effective inbound marketing tool to reach out to a wider audience. 

Now would you as a brand want to miss out on such a wide audience base?

No, right?

It’s time for you to delve deeper into the world of email marketing and understand how it works:

Why should you use email marketing?

  • Reach out to a diverse audience: Email marketing is an effective way to reach out to people who may not be on any social media platform but could be a prospective consumer or customer for your product or service. Also, more than 90% of users check their email on a daily basis. 
  • Better conversion rate: Sending an email to a user has better chances of conversion because it is a mode of direct interaction and a customer is more likely to check out your product or service if they receive it personally in their inbox instead of through an advertisement on a social media platform.
  • Engagement: Most advertisements are one-way messages directed towards a specific set of audience. Emails can be a platform for interaction and two-way communication. It can not only facilitate feedback mechanisms but also it can help a company or brand understand the customer better. It is also a great way to retain customers in addition to attracting new ones. 
  • ROI: As per the DMA 2019 report, every brand that invests $1 into email marketing can expect a return of $42 on an average. Even if this statistic is half close to the truth, the return on investment from email marketing makes it one of the topmost digital marketing channels that are being explored by marketers to optimize their return on investment. 

What have we learned? 

It does not take an over-qualified person to understand that as a brand you can not afford to miss out on email marketing channels. Sure, other modes of digital marketing like Instagram, Youtube, Blog Marketing, etc. are just as important, brands can not afford to miss out on one of the most effective marketing channels that are here to stay. 

Did you know that by 2023, the number of email users worldwide is expected to increase to 4.3 billion, which is almost equal to half of the world’s population? 

Now we don’t have to tell you that there is a huge market just waiting to be discovered and explored through email marketing!

Let’s take a journey through this market that will help you build an effective personalized email marketing strategy for your very own business through this comprehensive guide to email marketing.

What is email marketing?

Before we start making strategies, let’s spend a minute to understand what is email marketing. 

Have you received similar emails in your inbox?

All these emails are successful examples of email marketing. Email marketing is a subset of digital marketing where brands and businesses engage with their audiences through emails in their inbox with an aim to turn them into loyal and satisfied customers. 

Steps to a successful email marketing campaign:

Step 1: Build an ethical email list 

You don’t go sit in the cars of random people, do you?

Then why would your brand go and sit in someone’s inbox? 

There are many ethical ways to build an email list. 

By ethical we mean by their permission only. Whether you are building a list through your blog or application or even through direct interaction with customers, always ask for their permission. This does not mean you can’t make the permission look interesting. 

Following are the ways to grow your email list:

  • Have an option on your blog or website for visitors to sign-up
  • Collect email addresses during direct promotions, trade shows, public interactions
  • Use your stores/offices to collect email addresses of visitors
  • Build an attractive landing page
  • Offer exclusive sign-up benefits
  • Channelize your social media following through special offers or contests by asking your followers to sign-up from their email IDs

Just a click option that says ‘enter your email for subscription’ on the blog/website might not be enough. Make your email subscription option interesting enough for people to want to subscribe. You can also offer digital products, special discounts, or personalized offers for subscribers. 

Also don’t forget the unsubscribe option!

Giving users a choice to unsubscribe later will make them more likely to subscribe as they will feel they can always go back by unsubscribing to the emails from your company/brand. 

Step 2: Regular Engagement

The first step is very easy. It is the following through on the emails you have gathered that can be challenging. It is vital that you don’t start direct, in-the-face selling from the first email itself. It is important to build a relationship to engage meaningfully with your customers. 

This is the most important part of this comprehensive guide to email marketing!

Here are a few ways to follow-through to create a regular engagement through email marketing and generate interest among your subscribers: 

  • Update them about upcoming events that they might be interested in attending
  • Display your most in-demand products or service and offer coupon discounts
  • Send them monthly newsletters. These newsletters can have regular updates about the brand, company, or other vital things apart from your product or service display that the customer may be interested in knowing about. 
  • Socially or environmentally relevant messages from the leaders of the company directly into the inbox of customers can do wonders for relationship building

Let us look at a few interesting and engaging email examples: 

In this example, Artsphere is using email marketing to send newsletters to its subscribers and update them about the upcoming events. The layout of the email template used is simple and engaging. Also, it is important to note that there is an option to unsubscribe from the newsletter at the top of the page itself. 

After this, they use the newsletter to tell the subscribers about their upcoming classes that they can opt for. 

Here is another example: 

If you look closely, you can see that the author Preeti Shenoy is using her email marketing to update the subscribers about her blogs, in which case the subscribers receive a new email every time she writes a blog. 

Another noticeable thing about this email is that she is also using it to ask the readers to check out her Instagram posts and stories. 

So guess what?

Asking your followers on social media to subscribe to your blog or website updates does not work in just one direction! There are many ways to interlink all the channels of digital media marketing through email marketing as well. 

Step 3: Automate the process

If you are a small and upcoming business or brand, you may not have the bandwidth to deal with each subscriber on your own. 

Ever tried Mailchimp?

When you send a mail using one of the email marketing tools, you can easily manage the subscribers using the tools. It does not affect the mail body but only shows a notification at the bottom saying that the email was sent using Mail Chimp. 

It is a very effective tool to send out bulk emails automatically to pre-designed lists of customers. There are also many pre-designed templates that you can use to design your introductory/automated emails or newsletters. 

There are many more similar tools like Hubspot or Constant Contact that you can use as per your requirements. 

Step 4: Email Analytics

Even in email marketing, data and analytics are the kings!

The tools that help you automate the process of email marketing also help you in analytics. Here is an example of what Mail Chimp’s analysis looks like. 

Once you have successfully run an email marketing campaign, you can use the various tools to analyze and build an even more effective marketing campaign for targeted users. 

For instance, if your tool shows you the number of subscribers who opened the mail, who did not open the mail, and those who clicked on an in-built link in the mail body, you can easily divide these subscribers into three different lists and target each of them differently. This strategy can prove to be very effective in the long run. 

Tips for a successful email marketing campaign

A successful email marketing campaign requires an impactful and effective marketing strategy. Here are some of the tips to keep in mind when you are building an email marketing strategy for your brand/business: 

  1. Set clear objectives

Just like any other marketing campaign, an email marketing campaign requires clear goals. Before you set out to lay down a strategy for an effective mail marketing campaign, clarify what you are aiming for. Create calendars and set out a decent frequency, framework, and flow of the emails for the campaign. 

Without clear objectives, what will be the measure and extent of success anyway?

  1. Don’t spam

It is common sense!

No one likes to be bombarded with promotional emails and offers of a brand, especially if they are not even opening a single email from you. In fact, it may be a good idea to send a survey to your email list asking subscribers about their expectations about the frequency of emails they expect from you!

  1. Schedule autoresponders

It is important that you make your subscribers feel like you care for them. So when a new user subscribes to your email list or unsubscribes, set automatic mails with a set template that welcomes them to your list or tells them that you are sad that they are leaving your email list by unsubscribing. 

Here is a clear example of a brand that cares, even when people who are trying to unsubscribe to the emails are unable to, because of a technology glitch. 

Wouldn’t you love to engage with a brand like this, even though you thought you wanted to unsubscribe?

  1. Maintain consistency 

Don’t surprise your subscribers with emails one after the other, especially when they subscribed to your email chain long back and may not even have a faint memory of doing that at present. This way, you only increase the number of people who would end up unsubscribing with the first email itself. Maintain consistency in the frequency of emails. 

  1. Use quality lead magnets 

A lead magnet is something that you can offer to potential subscribers in exchange for their email addresses. It can be an audiobook, a pdf, a picture, a template, a course, or any other digital product. Don’t use it as a bait. Make sure that your subscribers get something of value in return for their email addresses. 

That’s the golden rule to retain subscribers and turn them into loyal customers!

  1. Create relevant content 

The content that you send out through your emails should be easy to consume, relevant to your brand vision, mission, and also in sync with the current scenario. 

For instance, this deep-journalism start-up offers weekly insights with cartoons that can get the reader hooked to the mail at first sight. So chances are, even though the reader may not have enough time to go through the whole email, the cartoon can easily stay in their mind because of its relevance. 

  1. Update your list

In order to keep your email list active and email marketing effective, keep deleting inactive subscribers who have not taken any action on your emails for a significant amount of time. Also, keep segregating the list to target your customers more efficiently, as discussed in the analytics segment of our comprehensive guide to email marketing. 

  1. Experiment

Nobody is a born expert at email marketing!

If you want to succeed in your email marketing game, try out different variations of different elements. For instance, try out different timings and see if the response you get is any different for different time slots. This way, you can target the time slot where you can get the maximum response. Similarly, try out different mediums of content marketing examples like a video, a cartoon, a quote, a gif, contests, etc. to see which one works best for your product.

Try, try, and try again, until you succeed!

  1. Personalize

Don’t write like you are writing to thousands of people. Write in a way that the individual subscriber feels like he/she is being addressed in the email. 

One way to personalize emails is to add the name of the subscriber in the introduction. There are plenty of other ways you can make a reader feel like that one individual is the person being addressed. 

  1. Make your emails phone-friendly

More than half the users are expected to check their emails on their smartphones. There are some tips to make sure your email looks just as vibrant and engaging on a phone as it does on a laptop or desktop computer. Use smaller images that are easy to load. Use simple fonts. Don’t go aggressive on formatting. 

If you are unclear about whether or not the email looks good on a smartphone or tablet, send a test email and check!

  1. Improve

Last but not the least, use your experimentation and analytics to create new and better campaigns. What works for one brand or product might not work for another. So the only way to learn is by doing. 

After each campaign, spend some time analyzing and improving the subsequent one but also keep a track of the on-going analysis as well.

Because remember! Your subscribers would still be expecting regular updates from you!

Best tools for email marketing

Wondering how to send emails in bulk?

There are plenty of tools in the market these days for automated email marketing. 

You can use your google account or regular email account to send out emails but the chances of the account getting suspended because of increased spam rate are very high. Nobody wants that!

Therefore, it is advisable to create a professional email and then set up your account on one of these top 3 tools online to get your email marketing strategy in place: 

Mail Chimp

Easy to sign-up, simple, and free to use!

One of the most popular and used software that has made its way into our comprehensive guide to email marketing, Mail Chimp offers a free plan for a lifetime. You can easily create your own email lists, check the number of people who open your email or take an action on that email, and schedule emails after designing them on the software as well. 

Of course, their free plan is limited in terms of email lists and features but you can always opt for a paid plan as your subscribers grow. Mail Chimp also offers a platform for you to design a complete marketing plan. 

Constant Contact

If you are just getting started, this is very easy to learn and a fast-growing tool for email marketing in the market. In addition to easy analysis and tracking, each account on Constant Contact also gives you a free image library to use, integrated social media options, and all the necessary tools to automate your email marketing process. 

What more, you ask?

You can also get a 60-day free trial to see whether this tool suits your needs or not. After the two months of trial, you can subscribe to their monthly or annual packages at nominal prices. 


Using drag and drop options, you can build your marketing campaigns on GetResponse. You can create engaging forms, build attractive landing pages, use A/B testing for test campaigns, and integrate external softwares like Google Docs or Salesforce within this tool. You also get a 30-day trial period without any charges!

In addition to these three, there are other tools like ConvertKit, Hubspot, ActiveCampaign, etc. that can be explored as per the requirements of the business campaign. 

How to use Mailchimp? 

Mailchimp is one of the best tools to use for email marketing. It is easy and simple to use, has most of the necessary features, and you can start email marketing using Mailchimp for free. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use Mailchimp :

Step 1: Sign up

When you visit mailchimp.com, you will see the sign-up button on the top right corner of your screen. Enter basic details using the email address you want to use while sending emails through Mailchimp. 

Here is a basic sign-up page for your reference: 

Step 2: Account Activation

After you have signed up, you will have to activate your account by clicking on the ‘Activate Account’ link that you receive on your email. Once you do that, your account will be ready to use. 

Step 3: Select Your Plan

If you are just starting your email marketing campaign, you can start with a free plan and then invest the money as you build a good mailing list. 

Step 4: Set up your account

While setting up your account, enter the relevant information and details about your business as shown in the images below. In addition to this, you will also have to add details like the address and phone number of the business. 

Step 5: Select list size

Mailchimp offers to build an email list for your company by helping you design advertisements and landing pages as well. So select Yes if you already have an email list, to begin with. If not, you can always rely on Mailchimp. 

Step 6: Design an email

Now that your account is all fired up and ready to go, you can start designing the email you wish to send out to your subscribers or mailing list. 

You can either choose an existing template from the wide list of templates that Mailchimp offers, or you can customize your templates as well. You can also modify the existing templates as shown in the third image below: 

Step 7: Create A Campaign

Once you have designed your email template, you can easily create a campaign, enter the email addresses you wish to send the email to, and schedule when the email should go out. 

Autoresponders with Mailchimp

Mailchimp offers you another option to send emails to new subscribers automatically, which is a good idea to keep them engaged from the beginning. You can also set up autoresponders for various other campaigns and things like sharing a price quote, or sharing new product updates, and so on. 

You can set up triggers and design templates for autoresponse. You can also segment your email list into people and send them different emails through this service. The free plan has a limit of up to 5 segments. 

In case you face any issues while using Mailchimp, you can also go to their guide and tutorials webpage and seek help from the master itself. 

All the other tools have an almost similar process. You can select the one that suits all your requirements and follow similar steps to make the most of your email marketing campaign.


Want to grow your business?

Make the most of email marketing today!

It is clear by now that email marketing is far from dead. 

When it comes to email marketing, it is clear that small, but considerate steps can go a very long way. It might seem like a complicated process, but it only a matter of gaining initial momentum. Once you get a few initial subscribers and set the process in order, it will be one of the most rewarding digital marketing strategies for your business or brand.  Follow our tips and build a successful email marketing campaign if you haven’t already! 

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Pooja Bhargava

Head of Operations at italics
Pooja is the head of operations at italics, a content marketing agency based in India. She manages content development and marketing for clients belonging to a wide range of industries. She is more than 8 years of experience in SEO content writing, copywriting, thought leadership and article writing. She is also a certified psychologist and an expert in analysing consumer behaviour to generate winning content

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