• Wirya Hassan

Email Marketing Guide: The Ultimate Primer

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Email Marketing Guide:  The Ultimate Primer

What are the different approaches to email marketing? What legal aspects should be considered and which success factors make profitable e-mail marketing? I clarify these and other questions in the following blog post all around the topic of email marketing.

Emails are regularly sent to customers ' inboxes who wish to receive information on a particular topic and who have previously subscribed to a company's newsletter. Especially via smartphones, customers are now quickly informed about new offers or discount promotions.

In addition to the company's own websites, e-mails, in the context of digital marketing, are among the most effective forms of advertising. By sending electronic messages, customers and prospects can be reached quickly, regularly and cost-effectively.

Table of Contents

1. Email marketing - Instroduction

2. Email marketing practices

3. Impulses for your email marketing

4. Email Marketing - Content

5. Email Marketing - Recipient

6. Email marketing - Sending

7. Email Marketing - Design

8. Emailing vs. Newsletter

9. Email marketing controlling

10. Email Marketing - Legal Aspects

11. Email marketing - success factors

12. Email Marketing - Benefits

13. Conclusion

Email Marketing - Introduction

Email marketing plays an important role in the marketing mix and is part of a larger array of marketing measures which are classified as online marketing. Within online marketing, email marketing can be assigned to direct marketing.

Email marketing is the practice of direct marketing by electronic means. As a component of the online marketing mix, email marketing is used to connect with a company's stakeholders. This is usually done through a newsletter. The terms web marketing or Internet marketing are also used synonymously.

Emails can be used to establish direct dialogue with customers or new prospects. As a pillar of the online marketing mix, companies can use email marketing to personally address their own target group, generate new customers and bind existing customers to their own company.

Email marketing practices

Companies that send their messages to individuals use so-called one-to-one communication. In one-to-one communication, the individual customer relationships are therefore the focus of attention. By means of a one-to-one communication, customers can be addressed individually with relatively little effort and the products offered can be tailored to them.

If emails are addressed to any number of people, this is called one-to-many communication, As a consequence, one-to-many communication does not allow the content to be personalized to the customer. Thus, individual offers cannot be created for the customers. The dispatch of a large number of electronic messages can only be implemented with appropriate tools.

Impulses for your email marketing

The CRM vendor Salesforce has put together some facts about email marketing. Here are a few key questions for your email marketing strategy:

1. The subject line is important and can positively influence the open rate.

2. The average open rate is 50% of the received emails.

3. A short subject line and especially personalized subject lines increase the open rate significantly.

4. Emails have the highest opening rate on Mondays.

5. Animated GIFs create a stronger motivation, but are rarely used.

6. Leads generated by email marketing seem to be more qualitative in B2B marketing as well.

7. More and more newsletter recipients read newsletters on a mobile device.

8. Budgets in email marketing are increasing.

9. The basic requirement for modern email marketing is a functional and well-maintained CRM system.

Email Marketing - Content

The following seven criteria are important for content creation:

1. Make the relevance for the recipients clear: focus on a specific topic and explain it clearly.

2. Using Above-the-Fold-Space: Position the most important building blocks directly upwards so that they stand out easily. They should be visible without the need for scrolling.

3. Insert appropriate action requests: Make it clear to the reader what he should do and what he gets for his actions.

4. Provide images with file names: mark the images with a corresponding file name so that the reader understands the content of the image; the image should not be


5. Avoid Spam Terms: Do not use terms related to money or profits to ensure that your newsletter is not trapped by spam filters and not considered spam and ends up in the right inbox.

6. Allow social media shares: Add a function to allow readers to share the content, so that the reader has the opportunity to publish the newsletter.

7. Write in a personalized way: The recipient feels immediately addressed when he reads his name. Therefore, insert the name of the recipient in the salutation.

Email Marketing - Recipient

There are two relevant aspects to consider when choosing recipients:

1. Recipient list must be up to date: Update the mailing list regularly so that all data and changes are documented and you no longer contact deregistered members.

2. Segment email list according to characteristics: Create recipient lists so that the newsletter is sent to the right target group with matching content.

Email marketing - sending

Error-free sending should include five aspects:

1. Enticing subject: The subject should be interesting and not more than 40-60 characters.

2. Use pre-header: If you want to accommodate information that does not fit in the subject line, add it to the pre-header.

3. Specify Sender: The address and name of the sender should be correct and trusted.

4. Test newsletter before shipping: Before you send the newsletter, you should check every feature that includes the newsletter.

5. Determine dispatch time: Send your email with consideration of the recipient at an appropriate time.

Email Marketing - Design

There are seven criteria that you should consider when designing the email:

1. Use a responsive template design: By creating the template in responsive design, you make sure that the email is optimally displayed on all devices and, for example, that it is trimmed correctly on mobile devices and tablets.

2. Set width: Keep in mind that some email programs only download the newsletters up to a width of 600 px.

3. Turn corporate design on: Do not use a new design, but align it with your corporate identity. That's how you make sure your customers recognize you.

4. Use the correct character set: Pay attention to the display of the special characters in the HTML version.

5. Use whitespace: By using colour surfaces, you divert the view of your readers from the essentials.

6. Link web version: Each email program has a different presentation. The website is always displayed universally, so your website should appear in the newsletter.

7. Offer text version: To ensure that all recipients get their newsletter optimized, you can offer text versions.

Emailing vs. Newsletter

Companies that are in contact with their customers and want to operate modern customer care cannot avoid the topic of email marketing. Various approaches are conceivable in

the context of success-oriented email marketing. Thus, a distinction can be made between the use of emails and the classic newsletter.

Emailing refers to the irregular sending of electronic messages to a large number of customers and is used, for example, when customers are in demand as part of a product launch.

Unlike emailing, newsletters are sent at regular intervals. Newsletters can be characterized as electronic newsletters that contain information and messages and are sent to the addressees via the Internet. With the help of newsletters, companies have the opportunity to provide their customers with an overview of current events or upcoming events that are relevant to them.

Within a mailing campaign, customers are usually asked to take specific action. Call-to-action elements, for example, allow customers to be redirected to the corporate landing page using hyperlinks. Call-to-Action (CTA) is used because the customer has the opportunity to buy the advertised product or to deal with the company in a different form after having received an advertising message.

Email marketing controlling

Email marketing, like any other form of marketing, also dictates the need for controlling. Opting to send emails in the hope of a good performance will rarely lead to success.

In the area of email marketing , some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) have become commonplace. These key figures are the most important from my point of view:

  • Conversion rate: The term "conversion rate" is also known from other areas of direct marketing. This is the rate of replies, orders, contacts etc. on a special mailing.

Before creating the mailing, it must therefore be clarified what is desired as a conversion.

  • Open rate: this kpi is, however, specific to email marketing. If an email arrives in the inbox, the recipient usually sees only the subject and the sender. Here he decides whether to open the email or not. The opening rate is therefore the ratio between sent and opened messages. A distinction is made between the gross opening rate, which refers to the relationship between sent and opened mails, and the net opening rate, which includes only the actual messages received in the measurement.

The measurement of the opened email usually takes place via a tiny picture integrated in the email. When the email is opened, the image is downloaded and recorded in the email controlling tool. This allows the frequency of downloaded pixels to be measured.

  • CTR: If there are links in the email, the rate of clicks on these links must be measured. Here too, a distinction must be made between gross CTR and multiple CTR. If there are multiple links in the email, and a recipient clicks more than one, it will be included in the multiple click through rate.

  • Bounce rate: Each dataset contains a certain number of "dead" email addresses, ie addresses that no longer exist or that are no longer deliverable. If an address no longer exists, the server sends an error message to the sender. Good email programs recognize these dead addresses and automatically delete them from the mailing list. As a result, the data is typically smaller, but the quality and the click rates increase. It should also be noted that some providers are suspicious of mailings with many error messages and block them as spam. Reasonable bounce management pays off for the company.

Professional mailing programs automatically measure key metrics. Google Analytics also offers the option to track links to web pages or emails.

The most important KPIs in email marketing are still the open rate and the click through rate.

These two metrics are used by many online marketing managers to measure the effectiveness of their own email marketing campaigns. Other KPIs include the delivery rate, conversion rate, logout rate, bounce rate and click-through rate. I have already presented the most important key figures. If you systematize the KPIs of an email newsletter properly, then you can distinguish three classes of KPIs:

Range KPI:

The scope of an email newsletter basically gives an indication of how many contacts were reached with the addressed target group (recipient). This is basically a rather quantitative quantity, which does not allow a statement about the actual examination of the content. But if I have only a small reach, then I cannot expect a great transaction.

Typical KPIs here are:

  • Number of newsletter recipients / subscribers (delivery rate)

  • Number of registrations and deregistrations (registration and deregistration rate)

  • Bounce rate (number of failed deliveries)

  • As a relative KPI: costs per recipient

Interaction KPI:

An interaction refers to a qualified and thus higher-quality examination of the contents of the email newsletter. Interactions are the result of the communication measures,

that shows that the contact has dealt more intensively with the email. Here are the interesting KPIs:

  • open rate

  • Click-through rate of content

  • As a relative interaction KPI: costs per newsletter read

Transaction KPI:

Transactional metrics help identify and measure the final impact of the email.

  • Conversions (number of purchases, inquiries, applications, etc.)

  • As a relative measure: cost per conversion

It is advisable to make the controlling as simple as possible and thus to collect only one key figure at each level (reach, interaction, transaction) and to manage the process afterwards.

Email Marketing - Legal Aspects

From a legal point of view , when sending mailings or newsletters, some guidelines must be followed, as otherwise warnings or penalties may follow. In general, in Europe the sending of advertising content with emails is only allowed within certain restrictions.

If emails are sent to the recipients for advertising purposes without being requested, that is without consent, they are so-called spam. Spam emails are usually sent in bulk, include advertising and are readers are tempted to open a website or make a purchase.

By law, bulk mail that has no opt-out option, its address or sender is not clear or incorrect, uses a misleading subject line and uses stolen email addresses, is considered spam.

Advertising emails may only be sent to those recipients who have previously consented to their receipt.

In Germany, §5 TMG also provides an imprint obligation for email newsletters. This must be specified or linked directly.

Such approval usually takes place through the so-called double opt-in procedure. As part of this process, users who have registered with their email addresses in a mailing list, then receive a confirmation email. Such an email will then prompt the users to confirm their registration. Only after a successful confirmation of the respective email address is the double-opt-in procedure completed and the addresses can be used with legal certainty.

Especially in email marketing, there is much uncertainty about the legally permissible possibilities. Therefore, it is worthwhile to follow the relevant judgments regularly.

Also for customer satisfaction surveys there must be an advertising consent!

More and more, often after the purchase in an online store, a customer satisfaction survey is carried out by email. The OLG Dresden has made it clear that for this there must also be a

consent. (Urt v. 24.04.2016 - Az. 14 U 1773/13 ).

Cease and desist letters in email marketing must also be complied with.

Email marketing - success factors

The most important foundation of a successful email campaign is the quality of the mailing list, the address database that the company uses when sending emails. This requires a successful acquisition of email addresses, which should be generated by the Double-Opt-In procedure already described above.

The condition that an email or a newsletter develops the effect shown is that it is also read by the targeted target groups. First of all, it has to get into the recipient's mailbox, which is not a given in the face of firewalls and spam filters. However, reaching the PO Box is not the final success factor.

The decision as to whether a recipient reads an incoming email or a newsletter also depends largely on the headline or subject line which is visible in the email client.

Successful email marketing is characterized by good content. Interesting content, consisting of a mix of texts and images, has the advantage of arousing interest among the recipients. Emails with high quality content not only tempt you to open the corresponding mail, but also to click on the link contained therein. As a result, engaging content can increase the click-through rate on the landing page, which is a key factor in the success of an email marketing campaign.

As the number of users of mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, increases, the email marketing content needs to be compatible with such devices. With the help of suitable software, a comprehensive success check can be carried out after the mailing campaign.

Email Marketing - Benefits

Email marketing is an integral part of the marketing mix for many companies, and not without reason. Compared to traditional direct marketing, email marketing offers many


  • Sending emails is cost-effective, as not only postage costs can be saved, but also material costs incurred in direct mailing for paper and envelopes.

  • In addition, email marketing is much faster, as emails, unlike conventional mailings, end up in the recipient's mailbox within seconds. Accordingly, the time required is much shorter and handling much easier.

  • In addition, professional email marketing tools make subsequent success control much easier. Questions such as: how many emails were opened, which links were clicked and who subsequently made a purchase, can be answered using appropriate software programs.

  • Also, the use of the opt-in method scattering losses can be avoided, since only addresses of people who have expressly consented to the receipt of emails are used.

  • Accordingly, the attention of the recipients is higher, which subsequently leads to a higher response rate.

  • In the context of email marketing, the address database can also be kept up to date more easily because the users of mailings or newsletters can correct or update their data themselves using a corresponding form.

  • Email marketing is a communication tool that can be used flexibly not only in terms of time but also in terms of topics. Emails, especially HTML emails, are very powerful and personalizable. So not only colour highlights and links, but also images and interactive elements, such as forms or animations, can extend the email.


Email marketing is a marketing activity that enables companies to personally engage their target audience, attract new customers, and engage in total customer loyalty.

It is possible to distinguish between two different approaches. While individuals are addressed in one-to-one communication, companies that operate a one-to-many communication address any number of people.

Email marketing can distinguish between the use of emails or newsletters. Conventional emails are sent irregularly and especially when the company is organising certain events, such as when they want to point out the introduction of a new product. However, the sending of newsletters takes place at regular intervals and pursues the goal of informing customers about current events or developments.

Email campaigns usually ask recipients to take specific actions, such as opening a link. In Germany, the sending of promotional content is only allowed if the recipient has explicitly agreed to receive such mails. In most cases, the so-called double-opt-in method is used.

One of the key success factors of targeted email marketing is the high quality of the addresses used, as it helps avoid wastage. In addition, interesting content in particular attracts the interest of the recipients and thus contributes to a higher click through rate on the email and related links. With the help of suitable key figures, a controlling of the email marketing campaign can then be carried out.

Email marketing can save costs, ensure a high speed of delivery and exploit a wide variety of design options. Thus, email, in the context of online marketing, is the most effective forms of advertising for companies.

In email marketing, builidng your own email list is an essential step. Since this is often more difficult than previously thought, I've collected some tips for you on how to

create email lists faster.

1. Questions, questions, questions

Just ask your customers. For example, a retailer at the checkout can ask each customer for their email address and record it. Then send a confirmation email (opt-in) and and the email is already legally secure. So a daily supply can be secured continuously.

2. Design lists for your email marketing

Many companies conduct trade fairs, congresses or other events. Create the following wording: "If you would like to receive information from us on a regular basis, then simply add yourself to this list and we will include you in our newsletter ". Customers and prospects will do so if they are interested.

However, keep these onsite lists so that you can prove later that the customer has entered himself into the list. But don't forget the confirmation email.

3. Use contacts and business cards

Do you have regular business contacts at trade fairs, sales appointments or events? Then use these contacts! Many just collect the business cards and wait for them to get in touch. Just send an email to the contact who gave you a business card. Thank them for the meeting and inform them about the fact that you now regularly inform them about the developments in your company and include them in the newsletter. This turns a simple first contact into a continuous newsletter recipient. If your contact does not want this, then the appointment probably didn't mean much!

4. Use good content to collect addresses with an in-page form

Do you have interesting content on your website? Good content interests people. Take advantage of your readers' interest and include an email field directly in the blog posts. A simple request "Would you like to have such interesting information regularly, then register in our newsletter!" As a call-to-action helps.

5. Use a checkout pop-up for your email marketing

Use the visitors of your website to get new email addresses. Of course you might have a menu item “newsletter" on your website, but how many people sign up for it? Be a bit

braver. If a visitor has studied the contents of your website intensively and then leaves the page, a pop-up window will help to activate it for the newsletter.

6. Remarketing campaigns to collect email addresses

Many visitors to your website look for additional information about your services and also visit other websites. What do you think about it if you continue to be present in this search process? This is easily possible with a remarketing campaign . With the help of a cookie, the visitor to your website can be identified and upon visiting other websites and your banner will be displayed. The best part is that only when the visitor clicks on this banner and redirected to the registration form of your newsletter will there be costs. Thus, this instrument offers a nice way to activate your visitors even later.

7. Post in "foreign" newsletters

Even foreign related newsletters are a great way to attract more subscribers. For example, subscribe to a newsletter from a trade magazine in your industry and offer value-added information to generate downloads and email addresses. Especially in B2B marketing, this is a very good way to collect more email addresses and make one-off advertising contacts to continuous prospects. It also gives you better control over communicating with potential customers.

8. Use XING for the collection of email addresses

Even if it is negated again and again. Even users of social media channels have email addresses and read email newsletters . Contact your XING contacts and present your email


9. LinkedIn as an email supplier

LinkedIn is now the largest business-oriented social network in the world. Again, you can ask your contacts, announce downloads, present your newsletter in different groups and thus collect further email addresses.

10. Slideshare as lead generation

Slideshare is a revelation to all Powerpoint Junkies. You can upload e-books, presentations and documents there. Slideshare offers a lead generation service. If you would like to download the presentation, you will be asked to submit your data. Thus, factual information and other email addresses can be collected.

11. Manage bounces and unsubscriptions

When winning newsletter subscribers you should not forget to edit the Fedbacks from the campaigns. Only if you regularly maintain the newsletter distribution list, this can also be

developed meaningfully.

If someone wants to unsubscribe from your newsletter, then ask for the reasons for it. This is perfectly legitimate, but this must not be a mandatory requirement. A comprehensive

selection of deregistration reasons should already be specified, a free field will be used for the odd reasons.

Also check bounces. Why could the newsletter not be delivered? Does the email address still exist? If not, it should be updated.

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