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The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing

Farzaneh Abdollahzadeh
May 4, 2023
Last Updated On
guide to email marketing blog header

You may come across the declaration that email is dead and no longer effective. Perhaps you have even considered whether email marketing still works and is worthwhile. The answer is simple — email marketing is alive and well. 

Email has always been a solid marketing channel for brands to engage with their target audience and deliver the most relevant, personalized messages. It is one of the oldest yet most effective and liked marketing tactics to communicate with customers and prospects with a high return on investment. According to Constant Contact, email generates $42 for every $1 in spending, and 89% of marketers use email as the primary channel for generating leads — so why not your brand?

Email marketing is not just used for lead generation. In fact, marketers leverage it for relationship building, brand awareness and to keep their audience informed of new products and content releases. Knowing that 99% of email users check their inbox every single day, you don’t want to be one of the few that miss out on this enormous opportunity. 

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of email marketing, tips and how to start.

What Is Email Marketing? 

Email marketing is a direct channel that uses customized emails to inform customers and prospects about new products and services, upcoming webinars, sales and discounts, and more. 

Essentially, you send emails directly to your prospects and customers’ inboxes with the most relevant, personalized messages at the right time to keep them in the loop of any updates, educate them on new releases, build and nurture relationships, and promote sales! It goes without saying that the success of your email marketing heavily depends on how well you craft your campaigns.

An email marketing campaign refers to a series of emails designed to nurture leads and customers, most often with the goal of driving engagement and boosting sales. Each email within the sequence directs to a specific call to action and has a different ultimate goal.

Here are some examples of various objectives your email campaign may aim to achieve:

  1. Traffic generation email marketing campaigns: Email significantly impacts your website click-through rate. It can effectively drive qualified traffic to your web pages and promote your product pages, blog posts, PDF downloads, etc. Some instances of this campaign could be welcome emails that are sent to new subscribers/customers as an introduction and to get them excited about the product/services, newsletter emails that contain updates, news, and useful information related to the brand, re-engagement emails to subscribers who haven’t visited your website in a while. 
  2. Awareness email marketing campaigns: These campaigns aim to stay top of mind for your target audience by providing as many details as possible about your brand. You want to be more recognized/heard than your competitors, so your prospects turn to you when they need more information or are ready to convert. Invite emails for upcoming events, releases, podcasts, and sharing videos (also part of a robust YouTube marketing strategy) are just a few examples of awareness marketing email campaigns.
  3. Lead nurturing email marketing campaigns: This is when brands nurture prospects towards a sale or prepare them to purchase through these campaigns. The call to action for these emails can be more direct. Since they often have a higher conversion rate, it’s recommended to send these campaigns to prospects who already have shown purchase intent. Examples of lead nurturing email marketing campaigns could be based on cart abandonment and promotional emails.
  4. Revenue generation email marketing campaigns: These campaigns are great for promoting upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Super practical for bottom-of-the-funnel prospects who have shown purchasing intent before. Promotional emails such as discounts or special offers and seasonal marketing emails that are usually tied to holidays such as Christmas, Black Friday, and Mother’s Day are great examples of these campaigns.

Why Email Marketing Is Important

Email marketing has been one of the most popular strategies since its invention in 1971 — and for good reason. There are numerous benefits that marketers reap from a successful email strategy. 

First, the cost to run an email campaign is incredibly lower than other channels, which makes it especially ideal for smaller brands. Besides, it’s easy to implement, integrate and measure.

Second, higher reach and engagement can be achieved through customized emails sent out to a vast number of your audience and directly to their inboxes. Based on the stats, 62% of online shoppers are likely to open emails about promotions or discounts, 52% are likely to open shipping or order confirmations, 43% delivery confirmations, and 40% are likely to open offers about loyalty programs. 

Next, targeted offers increase the conversion rate and ROI. In fact, direct mail advertising campaigns saw a 112% ROI, followed by email advertising campaigns at 93% and 25% of consumers are likely to make a purchase prompted by an email campaign.

Finally, email is ranked as one of the top preferred channels for consumers. It is the most common channel among 70% of Millennial consumers, followed by 69% of Baby Boomers, 67% of Gen X, and 57% of Gen Z.

Email Marketing Tips 

There is no doubt that email marketing is more than just sending out emails. While some highlighted tips for email marketing are mobile-friendly design, A/B testing and finding the correct sending time, several other tips can take your campaign to the next level.

Repurpose Valuable Content

Brands can share valuable resources, press releases, and blog content in email campaigns. Not only does this help brands to reach a wider audience and increase website traffic, but they can also be more specific by incorporating relevant and curated content for each segment. These emails can give a brief overview of the content, with a call to action that directs the audience to read the rest.

Increase Social Reach 

You can increase your social reach by sharing content and links to follow the social platforms in your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing and social media are two of the most robust marketing tools to grow your audience and brand awareness. When they go hand in hand, they can amplify the brand message, boost the reach and keep your audience engaged over time. 

Adhere to GDPR Policies 

There are strict rules and regulations regarding using personal data for email marketing campaigns. These legal requirements vary depending on you and your audience's location, but the most well-known principles include CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.

Under these regulations, brands should obtain consent, provide transparency on data usage and give individuals the right to access, correct, and delete their data. Before running any email marketing campaigns, ensure your recipients opted-in and given consent to be contacted to avoid the costs of failing to comply.

Use Alt Text in Images

Email software can often block certain images from coming through — however, alt text will still appear. This can encourage users to click a compelling call to action, especially if they're not keen to download images.  

To have a successful alt text keep the following points in mind. 

  • Stay on topic: Alt text must have relevant keywords to the image's content and purpose. 
  • Keep it brief: Ideally, 125 characters or less. 
  • Verbalize your image: Alt text is an alternative for the image, so let it actually be! Write like you are describing the image over the phone. 
  • Avoid extra quotes: The HTML code uses quotes to identify the alt text. Additional quotation marks may break the code structure.
  • Say it once: Don't repeat image captions or web page titles in your alt text. They will be visible even if images are blocked.
  • Only use it when necessary: Exclude alt text for images that are decorative or are described in text nearby.

Include Links With UTM Tracking 

By using UTMs, you can track the performance of your email marketing campaigns beyond opens and clicks. Make sure all links in your email campaigns are easy to measure with the right link attributes and UTM parameters.

You can generate the UTM codes manually or automatically and add them to every link you want to track within your email campaign. By embedding UTM tracking into the links, you can track all visits to your website from the campaign and quickly determine the best copy, GIF, image, CTA or video for your campaign by running A/B tests. 

If you are creating UTMs manually, consider the following:

  • Keep names short and clear: Long UTMs can be difficult to track and manage. 
  • Check your spelling and use either uppercase or lower: UTMs are case-sensitive, and if you use different formats, remember that they differ.
  • Make sure there are no spaces between your UTM parameters: Spaces break the UTM links, and if you have no choice, connect words with an underscore or dash.
  • Stick to a good naming convention: Make your links consistent, easy to read, and actionable. 

By using UTMs, you can track the performance of your email marketing campaigns beyond opens and clicks.

Monitor Your Contact List 

While maximizing reach is essential, so is engagement — don't be afraid to 'clean' up contact lists and remove unengaged subscribers. In fact, keeping contacts on your recipient list who haven't engaged with your emails in the last six months can significantly harm the health of your campaign.

While losing subscribers is not ideal, let's focus on the positives:

  • Lower bounce rate: An email bounces back in two different situations. Hard bounces happen if you're trying to reach invalid email addresses, and soft bounce is when you send emails to full inboxes.
  • Improved sender reputation: Users not opening or clicking on your content will damage your sender reputation. When there are no opens or clicks, it can signal that the user's email address is no longer valid (resulting in a hard bounce), or they may have already marked your email as spam. 

How To Start Email Marketing

Email marketing can be the most effective way to grow your business and boost conversions if you know how to use it. With the right strategy in place, you can truly harness the potential of this powerful marketing channel. 

Let’s start with a few key steps to set you up for success with a strong email marketing campaign that resonates with your audience and drives your desired results:

Set Goals 

Before taking any further action, setting a clear and measurable goal for your email marketing campaign is important. You need to know what goals you want to accomplish and gather the average email stats for your industry to use them as benchmarks for your purposes. 

Some of the most common objectives that you can consider to measure the performance of your campaign include increasing open and click-through rates, lead generation, promoting products or services, boosting website traffic, and ultimately driving sales. 

Select Which Email Marketing Software To Use

When choosing software, consider your budget, goals, the level of support you need, and your skill set, now and in the future.

If you are a beginner, maybe you want a platform that offers email designs, or ease of use is your priority, or you want a tool to test your emails before going out, which can be super helpful in identifying any possible issues with the layout, design or content.

Sometimes you are looking for more advanced features such as automation, A/B testing or personalization to maximize your open and click rates. Capabilities such as downloading reports and integration with other marketing channels can also contribute to the overall success of your campaigns.

Add Signup Forms to Your Website and Social Profiles

Having gated/guarded content on your website pages is an effective way to build and expand your list of opted-in contacts but to make it fair, deliver your assets in a user-friendly format in return for their generosity. By providing unique and relevant content in easy-to-consume formats such as a PDF file, an eye-catching landing page, or a beautiful video, make your prospects excited to come back and spread the word about your brand. You can’t expect your audience to give their information when your content is not tailored toward their industry, daily job or interests.

One piece of advice; to achieve the best results from your sign-up forms, try to keep them as simple as possible. Don’t make it complicated, and don’t scare your prospects away with too many questions and fields to fill in. Stick to the most essential information, such as their name and email address.

Identify Existing Email Lists

To check in on your old contacts, you can launch creative campaigns such as promotional or discount offers to re-engage them. Alternatively, you can send a quick reconfirmation email to ensure they still want to hear from you. Only engaged or active subscribers can positively impact your reputation and email campaign metrics. Old email addresses are more likely to be invalid, resulting in more bounce rates, or they may have forgotten who you are, leading to higher unsubscribe rates for your email campaign. 

Providing options such as double opt-in and opt-down is also super beneficial. Double opt-in is a quick and easy method to ensure the contacts on your email lists truly want to receive your emails. You can verify their consent by sending a confirmation email to subscribers after they submit a form. On the other side, offering an opt-down option allows your subscribers to manage their preferences on how often and what type of emails they are willing to receive from you. 

In fact, it’s better to have fewer active recipients than an extensive list of contacts who will delete your email, report you as spam, or damage your reputation.

Plan Email Content Strategy 

A targeted and well-planned content strategy will help you stay on top of your audience’s needs at any funnel stage. To increase the engagement rate of your email marketing campaigns, it’s crucial to know which segments you are targeting, whether they are ready to convert, what problem you will be solving, and what solutions you will be offering. 

So before taking any further steps, research your target persona’s needs, set the goal of your campaigns tailored to each persona/segment, and generate the most relevant and valuable content that will encourage them to read and convert. This could be a newsletter campaign, a blog round-up email, or a seasonal promotion update. 

Segment Email List 

Based on the goal of your campaign, you can break your recipients’ list into smaller, more targeted lists. Segmentation is a personalization tactic that helps send more relevant content. There are so many ways to segment your list — let’s dive into some of the categories:

  • Geographic and demographic segmentation: Knowing where your contacts live and what age or gender they are can have a huge impact on the language and offerings you use in your email marketing campaign.
  • Buyer persona segmentation: What are your audiences’ value propositions, their seniority level, what industry they belong to, what is their job function, and what is the company size and revenue? Knowing each of these pieces of information allows you to add another level of personalization to your email marketing campaign.
  • Content-related segmentations: The content you can share with segments of your email list may vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the pages they have viewed on your website, the forms they have submitted, the stage that they are at in the sales funnel, the format of content they have historically shown interest in, and the product or services they have used previously.  
  • Behavioral segmentation: You can go one step deeper and segment your list by your audience’s past actions. Have they purchased from you before? How often do they make purchases? Did they attend any of your events? What type of events? Did they abandon their shopping cart? How many pages do they view per visit? What CTAs did they click on?

What Is a Shoppable Gallery? 

Shoppable Galleries are Dash Hudson’s solution to make images shoppable for brands on-site, within URLs or in email marketing campaigns. Brands can easily convert a gallery into a Shoppable Gallery through the tool by following the subsequent steps:

  • Step 1: Add product links to your Galley.
  • Step 2: Next, set up your customizations.

And voila! Your Shoppable Gallery is ready to add to your website, to a blog post, to your TikTok link-in-bio, or to be embedded into your marketing emails. This will give your audience a preview of your best content or products and motivate them to engage with your campaign. By clicking on any links within your Shoppable Gallery, your target audience will easily get directed to the corresponding product page. 

Dash Hudson's Shoppable Galleries allow you to seamlessly integrate your most successful earned and owned content into email campaigns, which result in increased click rates, click-through rates, sales, and website traffic. This streamlined conversion process can significantly boost your business's growth.

Examples of Email Shoppable Galleries That Convert

American Kennel Club 

The American Kennel Club uses Shoppable Galleries to promote their Mother’s Day Gift Guide — they make great use of whitespace with their customizable gallery, filling the email itself with bright, clear images of their available Mother’s Day products — a variety of products that feature custom images of your beloved canine. 

Image credit: American Kennel Club


Aritzia uses Shoppable Galleries to introduce just some of their most exciting Summer releases ahead of the season. They use a clean template with minimal text to let the product shine, with multiple ‘Shop Now’ calls to action. They also use customization to their advantage, with an interactive, dynamic image at the footer that rotates their Summer shoe releases. 

Image via: Aritzia

Jenny Bird

Jenny Bird, a jewelry brand, incorporates Shoppable Galleries into their customer journey right from the start. They send a welcome email that showcases a selection of their popular jewelry pieces in a Shoppable Gallery, along with a 10% discount offer. The email includes multiple calls-to-action and encourages users to explore their top-selling collections. Moreover, they leverage this opportunity to establish their brand identity and build credibility, featuring a photograph and quote from their founder.

Image credit: Jenny Bird

How To Use Dash Hudson Shoppable Galleries in Email Campaigns

Dash Hudson helps create a seamless flow between your email marketing campaigns and social commerce with LikeShop and Shoppable Galleries. Shoppable Galleries allow you to create custom landing pages and embed customizable images and product groupings in your email campaigns. Brands can create curated items for users to shop straight from their inbox with custom Shoppable Galleries for campaigns — think summer sales, Mother’s Day, the holidays, product launches, and outfit ideas for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour — the possibilities are endless.


How can email marketing fuel your overall inbound strategy?

Brands leverage email marketing for lead generation, driving website traffic, increasing awareness, nurturing prospects, and re-engaging inactive subscribers. If well implemented, any email marketing campaigns result in long-lasting relationships with your audience and higher ROI. 

What is the average open rate for email marketing?

A standard open rate is between 20% and 33%. However, the average open rate for an email marketing campaign depends on various factors, such as your industry, the type of campaigns you are sending out, and even your subject line. For example, welcome and thank you emails typically have an average open rate of 82% and 42%, respectively. 

Does email marketing work?

Email marketing has been around for a long time, and while it seems old, it is still one of the most effective and powerful marketing tools available. Despite facing competition from other popular marketing channels such as PPC, SEO and social media, email remains a top ROI-generating tool. In fact, more than 26% of marketers use emails multiple times per month.

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