Did you know that there are 3x more email accounts than Facebook & Twitter accounts combined? Or that you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from email than Twitter?

As a savvy marketer, you’ve probably seen the reports that show email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel available and you’re probably keen to start using it to drive sales and revenue for your business.

But how exactly do you get started? What are the steps you need to take to get up and running with email and ensure your campaigns are a success?

In this guide, we’ll talk you through the process of getting started with email marketing to help ensure your first campaign is a success.

Chapter 1

Step 1: Establish your goals

It can be tempting to simply sign up for an email marketing tool like Campaign Monitor and start sending your first campaign.

But before jumping in head first, it’s worth taking a minute to think about your goals and what you really want to achieve with email as that will dictate the type of campaigns you send, who you target, the content you include, and how you measure success.

The key to establishing the correct goals for your email marketing initiative is to align them with your company’s wider marketing goals & KPIs. Is the goal to drive new signups for your product? New leads for your sales team? More attendees for your event? More donations for your cause?

Email marketing is the single most powerful channel to reach your audience, and it can be used to achieve a number of different objectives, so it’s worth spending some time thinking about what you want to achieve with it before jumping in.

To help you identify what your goals should be, here are some examples of how Campaign Monitor customers use email marketing:

  • BuzzFeed – The popular news and entertainment website earns revenue by selling advertisements on their site, so the key objective of their marketing team is to drive more traffic. With that in mind, BuzzFeed sends regular email newsletters containing links to stories on their website with the goal of increasing the number of visits they get each month and increasing the amount of revenue they generate.
  • Rip Curl – The global surfing brand generates revenue through the sale of wetsuits, t-shirts, boardshorts and other surfing goods. The goal of their marketing team is to increase sales, so they use email to promote new products they’re launching to try to drive people to their online or physical stores to purchase those products.
  • UNICEF – The global charity organization provides humanitarian aid and assistance to mothers and children in developing nations around the world. Success to their digital marketing team is donations, so they use email marketing to reach out to their donor base, educate them on aid projects UNICEF is undertaking, and ask for donations.
  • SXSW, Inc – This lean organization organizes some of the most well-known events in the world, including the SXSW film, music and interactive festivals held every year in Austin, Texas. The goal of their marketing team is to increase ticket sales and attendees at these events, so they use email marketing to keep subscribers up to date as new artists and speakers join the lineup.
  • Soho House – This prestigious members-only club is a regular hangout for celebrities and media moguls around the world. The goal of their marketing team is to keep their member base engaged in the club and regularly using the facilities, so they use email marketing to keep their members up-to-date on events and functions they can attend.

As you can see from these examples, planning what you want to achieve with email before you start sending makes it much easier to identify what to send and who to send it to, and helps you create focused, high-performing email campaigns that will achieve your marketing goals.

Chapter 2

Step 2: Build your email list

Now that you have established your goals and what you want to achieve from email marketing, it’s time to build your email list so you can start sending campaigns that those goals.

There are a couple of different ways you can build your email list, but the right method for each campaign really depends on the goals you establish in Step 1.

Import a list of known contacts

If you plan to use email to keep in touch with existing customers, then your email list can be built largely by importing your existing customers details into your chosen email marketing tool.

For Campaign Monitor customers, you can either manually upload an existing list (from an Excel file for instance) or you can connect your Campaign Monitor account to the tool where your customer data lives (such as your CRM, accounting, eCommerce tool, and hundreds of others) and automatically sync your customer information into your Campaign Monitor account.

Before you import any contacts though, ensure you have adequate permission to email these subscribers. If you’re not sure, check out our Permissions guide or contact our support team as they’ll be happy to chat with you about permissions and uploading your list.

Build a new list from scratch

If you plan to use email to communicate with an audience whose email address you might not have yet, then you’ll need to start capturing email addresses and building your list from scratch.

Fortunately for you, there is a 2-part formula for building your email list that is followed by many of the most successful email marketers around. The formula is:

A valuable incentive + simple subscribe opportunities = large email list

While it is a little bit of a simplification, it’s also just logic. Regardless of how many subscribe opportunities you present to a visitor, it’s unlikely they’ll act without a valuable incentive. And no matter how good your incentive is, you still need to make it simple for people to subscribe if you want to get them to join your list.

The real question is, what makes for an amazing incentive? And how can you make subscribing to your list really simple and easy?

While this is covered off in much more detail in our email list building guide, here are some incentives you could use to entice people to join your email list:

  • Compelling content – If you have a blog or produce content on your website, then offering to send your best content to subscribers via email is a powerful incentive for them to join your list.
  • First order discounts – If you sell goods through an online store, then offering people a discount off their first order if they subscribe to your email list is an amazing incentive. Not only does it encourage people to subscribe, but gives them an incentive to purchase as well.
  • Free or express shipping upgrade – Offering free or upgraded shipping on your customers’ purchase is a great incentive to join your list. Not only is this offer highly relevant – particularly when offered during the checkout process – but being able to get a desirable item into their hands quicker is a powerful motivator for people to subscribe.

Furthermore, the other part of the equation is offering numerous, simple subscribe opportunities as this makes it easy for people to opt-in. While the type of subscribe form you use will depend on the incentive you are offering, here are a few ideas:

Header Bar

The Header Bar sits at the very top of your website and contains a call to action encouraging people to join as well as a form to input your email address.

Bufferopen - Call to Action - Header Bar

Campaign Monitor customers can easily add a Header Bar to their website using tools like Hello Bar and SumoMe, and any email addresses you capture will be automatically added to your chosen list in your Campaign Monitor account.


A slider is small box that ‘slides in’ to the bottom corner of your website and contains a call to action encouraging people to subscribe along with a field for visitors to enter their email address.

Campaign Monitor - Call to Action - Slider

An excellent tool for setting this up on your own website is Scroll Box (part of the SumoMe suite of tools). This simple tool makes it easy for you to customize and insert a Slider into your website and integrates directly with Campaign Monitor to feed any email addresses you capture into your list.

By following the email list building formula mentioned above and coupling a valuable incentive with prominent subscribe opportunities, you’ll find it easy to build a new audience to send your email marketing campaigns to.

Chapter 3

Step 3: Select the type of campaigns you want to send

There are a number of different types of email campaigns marketers like you can send to subscribers, and the type you choose really depends on the goals you established in Step 1.

Let’s take a look at the different types of campaigns and how they can help you achieve your email marketing goals.


An email newsletter is a regularly distributed email campaign that is generally about one main topic of interest.

Campaign Monitor customer AirBnB regularly sends a great newsletter to their network of freelance photographers.

Airbnb - Email Newsletter

As you can see, the campaign is sent monthly and contains content around a particular theme: photography tips & stories.

If your goal is to keep in touch with a list of people you already know (i.e. existing customers), then a newsletter is the perfect type of campaign to send. It will keep your business and your products top of mind and drive people back to your website.

For a deeper look at the key elements to include in your email newsletters, check out our blog post on the anatomy of a perfect email newsletter.

Marketing Offer

A marketing offer email is essentially any campaign you send with the goal of driving a direct response.

This can take a number of different forms, including:

  • A campaign showcasing some of the latest stock and encouraging people to purchase
  • A campaign offering a discount or special promotion on your products or services

A great example of a marketing offer campaign is this email from Campaign Monitor customer Pizza Hut:

Pizza Hut - Marketing Offer Email

The campaign presents one of their products at a special, promotional price and includes a direct call to action to purchase – the green “Order Now” button.

The marketing offer email is effective if your goal with email is to directly drive sales. It presents a product or discount offer and includes a direct call to action for people to click-through to your website and make a purchase.


An announcement campaign is an email sent to your subscribers announcing a new product, feature, or service.

A prime example of an announcement campaign is this email from Campaign Monitor customer Showtime announcing the launch of their new show Penny Dreadful.

Showtime - Announcement Email Campaign

The announcement email is perfect if you want to keep an engaged audience (i.e. existing customers) up-to-date on your latest products or features. While the sharing of information is the primary goal, the email may have the added benefit of driving people back to your store or website where they can make a purchase.

Event Invitation

An event invitation email is a campaign designed to increase awareness of your event and encourage people to attend.

Here is a great example from Campaign Monitor customer Lincoln Motors.

Lincoln Motors - Event Invitation Email

As you can see, the campaign invites subscribers to the launch of the 2016 MKX and contains details on the date, time, and location of the event, as well as information on how to RSVP.

As mentioned before, the type of email campaign you send depends entirely on your goals with email. If you’re looking to drive direct sales then sending marketing offer and announcement campaigns are going to return the best results, however if you are simply looking to keep your existing customers up-to-date on the latest projects, products or developments at your company, then sending a regular newsletter is going to be the best way to achieve that.

Chapter 4

Step 4: Create your first campaign

Now that you’ve decided on your goals, built a bit of an audience and selected the type of campaign you’re going to send, it’s time to start building your email.

Email tools like Campaign Monitor, with our drag-and-drop email builder, make it incredibly easy to create beautiful email marketing campaigns, but there are some fundamentals that you should know to make sure you get the best results from each individual campaign.

Structure your campaign for easy reading

Research shows that an adult’s attention span is, on average, eight seconds. With such a short attention span, you can assume people aren’t closely reading your campaigns word for word and are instead scanning through them looking for something of interest.

Therefore, writing long, text-heavy email campaigns isn’t the best approach. You need to structure your emails to help draw people into reading your content while guiding them toward the email’s call to action.

An effective way to do this is by using the inverted pyramid model:

Campaign Monitor - Email Campaign Structure

As you can see from the example above, emails following the model contain a succinct headline that highlights the key message of the campaign, as well as supporting information and visuals to help convince readers about the benefits of clicking-through. The reader is then presented with a prominent call to action button that makes it crystal clear what to do next.

By using the inverted pyramid model to structure your emails for easy reading, you’ll help ensure your campaigns grab people’s attention and get a high click-through rate.

Ensure your campaign is relevant to every subscriber

According to research, campaigns that are sent to segmented lists and contain relevant information can achieve up to a 760% increase in revenue from email.

So instead of sending one campaign to everyone, you should segment your lists and send relevant offers and content to each unique segment.

Global surfwear company Rip Curl understands the value of relevance and executes it well in their email newsletters.

Rip Curl - Email Campaign - Relevant to Subscribers

Although Rip Curl sells women’s wetsuits and bikinis as well, they know who their male subscribers are so they only send relevant products and content to their male subscribers.

By using features of your Campaign Monitor account, like Segments & Dynamic Content, you can ensure your emails are relevant to every one of your subscribers and increase the chances they’ll click-through from your campaign and make a purchase.

Ensure your campaigns are on brand and build trust

It’s likely that your email campaigns aren’t the only interaction your subscribers are having with your business. In fact, your subscribers probably visited your website or social media page in order to sign up for your email.

Because of this, it’s important that your email campaigns are aligned with the colors, fonts and branding you use across all your other customer touchpoints so that your customers have a consistent experience with your brand.

Campaign Monitor customer Freshbooks does this effectively in their email marketing campaigns. The fonts, colors, buttons and even the iconographic style they use on their website are perfectly replicated in their email campaigns.

Freshbooks - Email Campaign - Aligned with Branding

By ensuring your campaigns are aligned with the branding your subscribers see elsewhere, you build trust that the email is legitimate and increase the chance they’ll click-through.

Make it easy to convert

In order to drive your subscribers to click through from your email campaigns, you must make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

According to our own research, 41% of email opens are happening on mobile devices, so if your campaigns aren’t optimized across all devices then there’s a good chance you’re making it unnecessarily difficult for your subscribers to convert.

Check out our own email newsletter as an example:

Campaign Monitor - Email Newsletter - Drive Conversions

Because the template is responsive, the middle three sections of content stack on top of each other when viewed on a mobile device. This ensures the text and buttons remain a useable size (as opposed to being shrunk down) and make it effortless for subscribers to convert.

By applying these four fundamentals of high-converting campaigns to your first email, you’ll be able to create and send a campaign that captures subscribers attention, presents them relevant information and makes it easy for them to convert, and you’ll ultimately generate better results for your business.

Chapter 5

Step 5: Measure your results

With your first email out the door and starting to get opened and clicked by your subscribers, you’ll be able to start tracking the success of your campaign.

There are two places through which you can track the success of your email marketing campaigns: Your email marketing tool (such as Campaign Monitor) and your website analytics tool (such as Google Analytics).

The reports section of your email marketing tool is the place to go to understand how people interacted with your email campaigns.

For Campaign Monitor customers, there are a number of reports that can help you do this, but the most commonly used is the Snapshot report.

Campaign Monitor - Measure your Email Marketing Results

The report presents to you the key metrics of your email marketing campaign, including:

  • Number of unique opens – The number of unique subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Number of bounces – The number of email addresses to which your campaign could not be delivered (for a variety of different reasons).
  • Number of emails not opened – The number of unique subscribers who did not open your campaign.
  • Open rate – The percentage of all subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Click-Through Rate – The percentage of people who opened your campaign who then clicked on a link.
  • Unsubscribe rate – The percentage of people who unsubscribed from your email list through this campaign.
  • Spam complaints – The number (and percentage) of people who marked your campaign as Spam by clicking the ‘Mark as Spam’ buttons in their chosen email client (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, etc.).
  • Shares – The number of people who forwarded your campaign to a friend (using the forward icon in your email template) or shared it via social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

These metrics give you a high-level overview of how your subscribers are interacting with your campaigns and allow you to compare the success of one campaign to another. If you want to go deeper and see the exact people who opened and clicked your campaign, what links they clicked, etc. you can do so by choosing some of the other reports from the right hand side menu.

Once you’ve spent some time analysing how people interacted with your email campaign, you can take it a step further and look at what happened after they clicked through to your website.

To do this, you need to have a web analytics tool (like Google Analytics) installed on your site. If you do, and you’ve enabled our Google Analytics integration, then you’ll be able to see details of any visits to your website from your email campaigns, including how long they spent on your site, what pages they visited, what campaigns they’re coming from and more.

You can even download our Google Analytics dashboard which will show you some key statistics about your email visitors in one handy location.

Chapter 5

Email marketing is a powerful driver of sales & revenue for your business, and has a greater reach and return on investment than any other channel available to marketers today.

So follow the 5 steps outlined in this guide to quickly and easily get started with email marketing. You’ll find it is simple to create and send an email campaign, and it’ll drive unparalleled results for your business.

Join 200,000 companies around the world that use Campaign Monitor to run email marketing campaigns that deliver results for their business.

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