A Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing

Here, we’ll give a step-by-step breakdown of how to get started with email marketing and optimize campaigns for maximum results.

Woman making an email marketing plan on her phone and laptop

Email may not be as sexy as Instagram, but what does every Instagram user have to create an account? An email address. Every consumer’s digital identity is tied to an email address. That’s why email, despite being decades-old technology, remains one of the most powerful marketing channels today.

Here, we’ll give a step-by-step breakdown of how to get started with email marketing and optimize campaigns for maximum results. 

Get buy-in from your target audience

The first step in executing an email marketing campaign is collecting email addresses. This requires convincing a consumer to opt-in to future communications from your business. To do this, you have to offer a compelling incentive that adds value to the consumer. 

One of the most common and effective ways to do this in the realm of ecommerce is to offer an immediate discount code. This gives the consumer a clear reason to give you their email address, in tandem driving sales.

Subscribe and save example - Grubhub

Example: Grubhub’s subscribe and save

Another good opportunity to collect email addresses for marketing purposes is during the checkout process. When a shopper is checking out, you should give them the option of opting in to future email communications regarding upcoming sales, company events and more. 


Glossier - Create an Account during purchase

Example: Glossier – Create account end of purchase


Finally, if you ever engage with consumers in-person at events or through field marketing, that’s another golden opportunity to collect email addresses. 

Make your first message count and don’t break promises

When you collect an email address, you should send an initial message right away to introduce your business. Also this helps set expectations, cadence and types of communication you plan on sending. For example, a fitness apparel brand might promise to send an email every Sunday with a workout and healthy recipe of the week.

Regardless of what you have planned, be clear about your intentions from the get-go. Stay true to your word. Telling someone to expect a newsletter once a week and then sending them product promotions every day, is a fast way to lose that subscriber. 

Segmentation is key to success

Not every email will be a fit for every target, which is why segmentation is critical. There are lots of ways to segment – from demographics to transactional behaviors and more. 

Most email service providers (ESPs) will have some type of segmentation tools. This helps you automate processes, although the exact types of segments they enable will vary. 

Klaviyo is a great ESP with regards to segmentation, allowing you to segment based on purchase frequency, shopping behavior, purchase motivation, browsing behaviors and more. It also updates all of your segments in real-time, which is quite helpful – especially when running multiple campaigns at once. has a great integration for Klaviyo, making it easy to leverage email to drive sales. Speak to your Client Success Manager to get this turned on today.

Analytics are your friend

When executing email marketing campaigns, it’s essential to keep a close eye on analytics to track success. The most important KPIs for email marketing are open rates, click-thru rates (CTR) and unsubscribe rates. Most ESPs will provide them, so you don’t need to put a system in place to manually track. 

MailChimp Email Dashboard Reporting

Example: MailChimp KPI Dashboard Reporting


Your open rate does exactly what you’d think it would – it tells you how many people opened your email. This reveals a lot about both the relationship you’ve built with readers and the effectiveness of your subject line. 

If your open rate is low, it indicates your readers are not as engaged as they should be. Or perhaps your subject line isn’t resonating. To increase your open rate, AB test new subject lines (MailChimp has some great tips for that) and make sure your next email provides clear value to keep readers coming back for more. 

Now let’s talk about CTR, which tells you how many readers clicked on a link in your email. If your CTR is high, you know your message is clear. If your CTR is low, you need to adjust your message with a clearer call to action. As well as revisit your customer segments to make sure you’re targeting the right readers. 

Lastly, let’s discuss the importance of monitoring unsubscribe rates. You should always aim to have your unsubscribe rate lower than your opt-in rate. Otherwise you’re going to have a very hard time maintaining your distribution lists. 

Beyond paying attention to the rate at which people are unsubscribing, you need to consider when they are unsubscribing. For example, if someone unsubscribes after receiving a newsletter, consider revising the copy to avoid losing more readers. 

The last word

Navigating the world of email marketing can be overwhelming. For those that are new to it, but email isn’t going anywhere and it shouldn’t be ignored. It is one of few digital channels that gives marketers full ownership of the message. 

Take advantage of this benefit by carefully crafting email campaigns. Use the guidelines above, and you’ll be well on your way to an email marketing expert.