Email Marketing

What is Email Marketing?

The benefits of email marketing

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Email marketing is constantly evolving and remains a powerful part of a successful digital marketing program. With a comprehensive email marketing strategy and the right set of tools, you can create an optimal email program that will achieve many goals, such as increasing conversions, raising brand awareness, and creating customer loyalty.
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With email ROI averaging around 38:1, leveraging your email program to bring in sales should have a positive impact on your business. Building automations based on your customers’ lifecycle journey can do a lot of the work for you and help your company see higher conversion metrics.


The email channel is consistently top ranked for its return on marketing investment with an average ROI of 38:1.

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Brand awareness

When someone is added to your list, whether through subscribing on your website, opting in through a contest, or by making a purchase, they are acknowledging some familiarity with your brand. Through email, you can further establish that brand awareness and make sure your company is always top of mind. Even if your subscribers don’t open and click through every single email, they’re still seeing your name in their inbox and are likely to remember you when they need another product or service that you offer. Using an established brand guideline helps raise even more awareness with cohesion between website, email, and social media designs.
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Customer loyalty

Email can be used to build relationships with your customers. By using personalization throughout the customer lifecycle, you can strengthen your customers’ connection with your company. A simple birthday email, a VIP program, updates on what happens with their donations, or relevant articles based on their history are just a few examples of how you can use email to create customer loyalty by showing your subscribers they’re appreciated and important to your business.

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How does email marketing work?

Email marketing has many layers, but the first step to getting started is choosing your Email Service Provider (ESP), or the technology you’ll use to create, manage, send, and analyze your email campaigns. You also need to know what mailbox providers (MBPs) look at to determine your email deliverability, such as authentication and reputation, and whether to be on a shared or dedicated IP.

Validity Everest complements your ESP providing crucial insights and deliverability guidance to help you generate more revenue from your email program.

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Email Service Providers (ESPs)

One of the first steps in building a quality email program is choosing your ESP. Many large CRM platforms such as HubSpot and Salesforce have email marketing built within them, offering a direct connection to list management. Other ESPs have their own built-in list management tools or can offer integrations into other services your company uses.
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Mailbox Providers (MBPs)

Mailbox providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL determine whether your message gets delivered. They check for proper authentication (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) to validate your domain and build your sender reputation. Your reputation also largely depends on your sending habits, such as sending to engaged email lists or inactive lists. Hitting too many spam traps can damage your reputation and land you in the spam folder instead of the inbox.

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Shared and dedicated IPs

Deciding whether to use a shared IP pool through your ESP or a dedicated IP is another factor in setting up your business’s email program.

Shared IP: A shared IP pool is a group of senders using the same grouping of IP addresses to send email. Since you’re grouped together by your ESP, your reputation can rely in part on the sending practices of other companies. This can be beneficial if you’re a smaller business with a smaller sending volume that’s just building up your program. However, if you’re added to a poorly performing pool, it can negatively affect your deliverability. You can track how your delivery rates are doing and contact your ESP if you notice any sudden changes.

Dedicated IP: If your business is more established and has a larger sending volume, then it’s worth considering setting up a dedicated IP. You can more closely monitor your own IP addresses and know that your reputation is reliant only on your sending practices. If you select a dedicated IP address, you would need to go through an IP warmup period when starting out to make sure MBPs recognize your domain and IP.

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Types of email campaigns

There are four main types of marketing emails: newsletters, marketing or promotional offers, announcements, and event invitations. Each one can have a place in your marketing strategy depending on the product or service your company provides. Transactional emails are typically used for communications such as order and shipping confirmations.
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Email newsletters are used for keeping customers informed about new products or services, introducing new blog posts or articles, and staying top of mind in between promotions, holidays, or events. It’s important to set up a regular cadence and template for newsletters and identify the types of content areas you’d like to feature, such as blog posts, news and updates, or a social media/influencer spotlight. Make sure the information in the newsletter is valuable, timely, and interesting. Learn more about how to attract new customers with newsletters here. The anatomy of a newsletter can look something like this:

  1. Featured article
  2. Upcoming product teaser
  3. Product/service/employee spotlight
  4. Timely article (recycle seasonal blog posts)
  5. Social media spotlight
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Marketing offers

Marketing or promotional campaigns serve to highlight products or services. These can be used for new product launches, sales events like Cyber Monday, product highlights, overstock sales, and more. Email marketing campaigns have a specific goal of earning revenue and are important when it comes to maximizing ROI. The cadence of these types of campaigns should be tested on a regular basis to ensure they don’t cause subscriber fatigue.
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Letters from the CEO, updates about service changes, weather-related shutdowns, and exciting news are a few examples of email announcements. These can be used internally for employees and stakeholders, as well as externally for subscribers depending on the relevance of the content. When an announcement is time sensitive, leveraging multiple forms of digital communication is vital. With email, you can track how many people have opened your messages and re-send to non-openers.
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Event invitations

A new restaurant opening, a charity gala, opening night for a new exhibit, and comic convention VIP invites are a few examples of event invitations. Personalize your subscribers’ invitations by adding their name or acknowledging they were interested in a similar event in the past to help get them excited about the event.
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Automated campaigns

Automated and triggered campaigns are major revenue generators. They are built based on the user’s actions and are therefore more targeted toward their interests and historical trends.
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Welcome series

The most employed type of automation is the Welcome Series. When a subscriber opts in to your marketing emails, they know to expect a welcome email shortly after and will often look for it. This is especially true if they subscribed due to an introductory offer, such as “Subscribe for 10% off your first order!” Having multiple emails in your welcome series is beneficial for introducing your brand, sharing social media channels, and reminding subscribers to use an introductory discount code or other incentive.
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Cart abandonment

The customer has already done the work of selecting what interests them and putting items into a cart. There are many reasons why they could have stopped at this point: distracted, researching other options, waiting for pay day, hoping to get a cart abandonment email with a discount code, no longer interested, etc. No matter the reason, a cart abandonment series is likely to generate the most revenue per email out of any other automation or campaign. Start by setting a delay for a specified period of time, then have the workflow check that they haven’t completed a purchase before sending each follow-up email.
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Post purchase

Reviews are a great source of material when building new email campaigns. Create a triggered email to send out after a purchase has been made asking for feedback and a review. Make sure enough time has passed so they will have actually had a chance to use the product or service. This is also an opportunity to find any areas of your business that need improvement.
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B2B sales outreach

Automations are important in the B2B email world, too. If a potential customer fills out a form for more information, they can get started in an automation that has a short series of emails that further explain the product. This isn’t in place of direct sales emails, but rather in support of them. A simple way to start is with an email that thanks them for getting in touch, lets them know a sales team member will reach out shortly, and points them to information they might find useful in the meantime.
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How to create an email campaign

Crafting your email campaign involves several steps. Creating a template for your creative briefs that covers the content and goals in one space will help keep things organized and easy to reference. Utilize your email marketing tools, such as your ESP and the Everest platform, to simplify and optimize this process.
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Define your email marketing goals

Are you trying to sell a product, inform about an upcoming event, or tease a sneak peek? Do you want your subscribers to click through to your website and make a purchase, be informed, or get excited and share the word? Before you start building out a campaign, identify what the goal is so your campaign can have a clear focus and you can set your key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking its success. Common KPIs revolve around open rates, click rates, delivery rates, and unsubscribe rates. Get started by establishing:
  • Why: Why is this campaign needed, and why will it benefit your business
  • Who: Which part of your audience are you trying to reach?
  • What: Is there a specific product or service that you want to promote
  • When: Does this fit in with your regular cadence, or is it a special campaign? Time the campaign so the audience isn’t receiving too many emails at once if they’re on multiple segments.
  • How: How will it all come together, and which members of your team have a responsibility in this process?
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Build your email list – and understand to whom you’re emailing

As you acquire your actively opted-in audience, take the time to understand who they are and what they want to receive from you. Utilize segmentation to send to the right portion of your audience. While building your email list, consider:

  • Double Opt-In: Tell subscribers to look for a confirmation email to join the email list. This confirms their email address was correctly entered and causes them to immediately engage with your email, indicating to MBPs that they want to receive your campaigns.
  • Welcome email or series: Send a welcome email or series to further introduce subscribers to your brand and thank them for subscribing. Many people opt in to newsletters hoping to get coupon codes, so this is a great time to offer one.
  • Preference center: As part of the welcome email, you can direct subscribers to a preference center to get more data points about them to help personalize their campaigns.
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Outline the email campaign sequence

Based on the goal of the campaign, identify which content sections you want to include and then organize them by priority. Create a template for your creative briefs to align strategy, content, and design. This is a great organizational tool and helps you quickly reference what was done in previous years as your program continues to grow. Elements of a creative brief can be:

  • Category: Promotional, newsletter, event, holiday
  • Audience: Which list, segment, or persona the campaign is targeted for
  • Subject line and preheader text
  • Content sections
    • Hero image text
    • Header
    • Body
    • CTA
  • Images: Brief descriptions of what the image should look like, dimensions, and max file size
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Choose the right ESP

Your ESP has a significant impact on what you can accomplish with your email program. Some factors to consider when choosing an ESP are:
  • Integrations: Is it compatible with your website backend to set up tracking pixels (for cart abandonment or browse abandonment campaigns)? Do you need it to integrate with other third-party services?
  • Templates: Does your team have the design and coding capabilities to build robust HTML templates, or do you prefer an established drag-and-drop editor with dynamic content options?
  • Segmentation: Have an audience in mind, and make sure when going through a demo of the platform that it can be recreated. Check what types of data can be segmented based on your needs, such as geolocation, purchase history, age, preference center, and more.
  • Workflow automations: Is their workflow intuitive? Does it have all the triggers, events, and actions that you need?
  • List hygiene: How do they handle bounced emails? How do they suppress unsubscribed addresses? Is it a very manual process, or can managing the list have some automation? Are there any limitations in sending to your list size and audience?
  • Growth: Can this platform grow with the goals you have set for your marketing program?
  • Budget: There are tiers of capabilities between ESP options based on your budget. You should consider whether it makes sense to pick an ESP that charges based on list size or by monthly sends.
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Craft copy that is suited for the audience

Is your brand funny, quirky, formal, optimistic, or sincere? Write copy that matches your brand’s tone across digital platforms. If your brand is informal and telling lots of puns on social media, then a formal tone in email can be off-putting.
  • Spend time on the subject lines

    After deliverability, subject lines are a top factor in determining whether a subscriber opens your email. You can have the most beautiful email design ever, but if they aren’t enticed to open your email, then it won’t matter. A/B test your subject lines to see how your audience responds to emojis, personalization, punctuation, and tone.

  • Include personalization elements and excellent imagery.

    Personalize your copy when possible. Keeping it as simple as “Hi [firstname]! Here’s a new product we think you’ll love!” is a great start. Use descriptive or visual imagery to tell a story about the product/service and appeal to why the consumer should invest in it.

  • Include calls-to-action where appropriate

    Adding links to the copy is a straightforward way to fit more CTAs in the body of the email. Subscribers are used to looking for buttons, so those are still a top design element for click-through rates. Make sure they are relevant to the content, and clear about why the subscriber should click there.

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Choose an engaging, responsive email design

Establish templates for the different types of email campaigns being sent. You want the designs to be interesting, but not too cluttered. Don’t be afraid of white space in your design; having space helps make your main goals and designs stand out. A/B test designs to try out different layouts and see what your audience responds to.
  • Choose design elements that fit your goals, such as:
    • Inverted triangle
      • Design usually starts with a horizontal image with intro text below and tapers down to the CTA button.
    • Zigzag
      • With elements in a “Z” pattern going down the email, the “zigzag” design highlights multiple segments of the email and encourages subscribers to read all the way through.
    • Boxy
      • Color blocking segments of the email visually divides the content into different sections, making it easy to scan through and find the topic most interesting to the subscriber.
    • Overlay text
      • Normally used in promotional emails marketing a specific product, this design style consists of a high-resolution graphic with sparse overlay text and a CTA button. This type of email is very design-focused and doesn’t need to have much more supporting content around it.
  • Ensure the email design is responsive
    Check that the design is responsive and that stackable elements are stacking on mobile in the order that makes sense visually.


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Test your emails and make sure they work on all devices

Run a design test in Everest to see how the design renders across multiple desktop clients and mobile devices. Sending tests only to your team might cause you to miss any rendering issues that your subscribers could encounter when opening your email.

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Schedule your campaign for the right time

A/B test days and times to find what works for your audience. Some ESPs have an option to optimize the time based on the subscribers’ habits or time zone, which is another option to try as long as the messaging isn’t time sensitive.
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Monitor your in-flight campaigns

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Inbox tests

Use in-flight monitoring tools, such as seedlist tests, to learn more about the inbox placement rates of your campaigns. Your inbox placement rates shows if your emails are landing in the inbox, spam folder, or are going missing. Seeding your campaigns lets you see how your emails will be filtered at different mailbox providers. This visibility can be used to troubleshoot any issues that are preventing your campaigns from reaching the inbox. Run your seed tests at a regular cadence so you’ll have historical comparison data and insights and can pinpoint when a change happens with your inbox placement trends.
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Measure the results and iterate

  • Open rate: The number of opens divided by the number of delivered emails, multiplied by 100. · Delivery rate: The number of emails delivered divided by the number of emails sent
  • Click-through rate: The number of clicks your email receives divided by the number of opens
  • Bounce rate: Percentage of emails that did not get delivered (could be separated into hard and soft bounces)
  • Unsubscribe rate: The number of people who unsubscribed divided by the number of emails delivered
  • Inbox placement rate: The number of emails that were delivered to the inbox divided by the total number of emails sent.
  • Complaint rate: The rate at which subscribers report your messages as spam. It is calculated as the number of “report spam/junk” complaints out of emails sent.
Using the KPIs you set when outlining the campaign goals, review the metrics of the campaign for areas of success and areas of improvement. Heat mapping is a great visual tool offered by some ESPs that allows you to see where subscribers are clicking, which can be helpful when determining which design elements are working best. Compare your metrics to industry benchmarks and previous quarters to get a big picture of how your program is performing. Commonly tracked KPIs include:

Learn more about the metrics that are essential to measure the effectiveness of your email program.

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Other email marketing best practices

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Buy an email list? Never

Privacy laws are constantly evolving, and one of the simplest ways to keep your list in compliance is by never purchasing a list. You need to have a record of subscribers actively opting in to your email program. This also helps with your delivery and reputation, since people who opt in are more likely to open and engage with your emails. People who did not opt in are more likely to report you as spam, which will harm your reputation with MBPs.
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Opt-in best practices

Growing your email list organically is the best way to have an audience that wants to engage with your emails.

  • Make it easy to opt in. Subscribers will not search through your website for a subscription box. Integrate it with your website design to find a space where it best fits.
  • For transactional opt-in, have the checkbox unselected so prospective subscribers are taking the initiative to actively opt in.
  • Include messaging on opt-in forms about what prospective subscribers can expect to receive. Make it clear they can opt out at any time and link to your privacy policy.
  • Create a preference center landing page to give other digital platforms a place to direct customers to subscribe.
  • Use a validation tool, such as BriteVerify, to validate a prospective subscriber’s email address once it has been entered into your sign-up form.
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Email deliverability optimization

Your delivery rate is the percentage of emails that are delivered compared to the number of emails that were sent. The deliverability rate is the percentage of those delivered emails that reached the inbox versus the spam folder. Follow best practices to maintain a good sender reputation and high deliverability rates:
  • Send to an active audience
    • Avoid spam traps and disengaged subscribers by segmenting your audience and sending only to people who have been active within a specified time frame.
  • Seed test your campaigns
    • Use seed testing metrics to give you the data you need to see where your campaigns are landing once they’re delivered and identify any potential issues proactively. Learn about the do’s and don’ts of seed testing here.
  • Authentication
    • Set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to help protect your reputation and prove to MBPs that your domain is being used correctly. Learn more about the top three ways to avoid spoofing attacks here.
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Clean email lists on a regular basis

Validity’s BriteVerify software is an excellent resource for regular list cleansing. The full list should be validated at least every six months to help remove invalid contact data that is fake, misspelled, or decayed and no longer active. Cleansing your list will help you avoid common spam traps, protect your sender reputation, and make sure your metrics are based on active email accounts.

Discover how Validity BriteVerify can help keep your email lists clean to protect your sender reputation.

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A/B test everything

A/B testing as many elements of your email as possible is the best way to make data-driven campaign decisions. Here are some key factors to test:

  • Subject lines: Emojis, punctuation, tone, personalization, puns
  • Call-to-action: Button colors, different phrases, location on the template
  • Time of day: Morning, afternoon, evening, based on time zone, based on historical open times
  • Day of the week: Spread a campaign out over seven days and see which days get the most responses, with each having the same subject line and content
  • Design changes: If you want to do a redesign of your template, make a couple versions and test them out to see which layout gets better click-through rates

Schedule a free demonstration to see how Validity can improve your sender reputation so you get more messages to more people.