email marketing for beginners

Email Marketing has the power to take your business to the next level - if you do it right! But I’m guessing you already know that or you wouldn’t be here!

Well, good news. Whether you haven't started growing an email list at all yet, or you have, but you're struggling to make the impact you deserve, this guide will answer all your email marketing questions, provide you with email marketing tips galore and everything you need to know to start, grow and nurture a thriving email list - along with all the benefits that brings...

Chapter 1: What Is Email Marketing?

Let’s start at the very beginning, with a simple email marketing definition.  What is email marketing and how does it work? Simply put, email marketing is exactly what it says on the tin.  It’s using email to market your business. The process is straightforward; you collect email addresses in order to build an email list and then you send your subscribers emails in order to sell them stuff.

And that’s it! Well, kind of…

Is Email Marketing Dead?

‘That’s all well and good, Colette - but is email really still relevant in today’s world of SMS, instant chat and messenger bots? ’

Yes, it’s true - you will probably have heard people say that email is dead - but let me assure you that it’s not! Far from it.  In fact, with an average ROI (return on investment) of $44 for every $1 spent, it is still one of the most effective ways to market your business - and sell your products and services.

The Benefits of Email Marketing

ROI isn’t the only advantage of email marketing. Here are just a few others to whet your appetite for all things email..


You could be forgiven for thinking that social media, with its 1 billion Facebook users and 255 million Twitter users would give you the biggest reach of all your marketing channels. In fact, email far exceeds that with email users expected to hit 3.8 billion in 2018


Email also smashes social media in terms of the number of people who will actually get to see your content. Average email delivery rates are over 90%, whereas your Facebook page posts only achieve an average of 2.6% of organic reach.

Still need convincing about the power of email marketing? Check out this post on 7 Reasons to Start Building Your Email List Now

Email Marketing jargon

Before we go any further, let’s talk jargon. There’s a whole lot of it in the world of email marketing and it’s going to make life a lot easier for you if you know your CTR from your ESP… Here are just a few of the most common email marketing terms that you’ll need to understand.

Bounce Rate

This is not the same as website bounce rate, but rather, relates to the percentage of emails sent, which fail to deliver. Delivery failures are usually due to an incorrect email address or some kind of technical fault. I talk more about email bounce rates and how to improve them in Chapter 6.

Click Through Rate (CTR)/Unique Click Through Rate

An important email marketing metric, Click Through Rate relates to the percentage of people who receive your email and who then go on to click on one of the links inside. It is calculated by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of emails delivered (not sent because any bounced emails aren't included). I talk more about click through rates and how to improve them in Chapter 6.


This refers to your emails’ overall ability to reach your subscribers’ inboxes.  Deliverability can be impacted by a number of factors such as bounces, spam and other technical issues.

Email Service Provider (ESP)

This one is pretty clear when you see the full term, Email Service Provider - but much less so when it’s shortened to its more commonly used acronym, ESP.  As you might imagine, your ESP is the service you use to manage your email lists and deliver your emails.

Well known examples are Mailchimp, Aweber, Convertkit and ActiveCampaign.

Open Rate

The percentage of people who open your emails. This is a very important metric and a great indicator of the quality of your list and your emails. I talk more about open rates - and how to improve them in Chapter 6.


You must give people a choice when it comes to joining your email list.  That is, you can't just add people's email addresses without their consent. They must ‘opt-in’. It’s generally advised to use a ‘double opt-in’ in order to improve your sender reputation and to ensure that only the most engaged of leads end up on your list.

A double opt-in requires people to confirm their subscription by clicking a link in a confirmation email.  Only at this point will they be fully added to your list.

Chapter 2: Setting Up Your Email Marketing

email marketing setup

Ok, that’s the basics covered! *High five*

Now you understand the advantages of email marketing and why it’s such a powerful tool for your business, let’s talk about how you can get started...

Setting Email Marketing Goals

First and foremost, you’re going to need an email marketing strategy.  You need to get clear on what exactly you want to achieve with your emails before you do anything else.

There are so many things that email can do for you - here are just a few of the goals you might like to include in your plan:


Your emails can be a great source of traffic for your website. Each time you create new content, let your subscribers know about it and give them a handy link so they can go check it out


Email is a fantastic way to notify people about what you’re up to - and to remind them to get involved!

Planning a Facebook Live? Send out a reminder!

Got a webinar coming up? Make sure you mention it in your newsletter.

You get the drift...


Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but if you’re not using your emails to actually sell, then you’re missing a trick! Once someone is on your email list, you have a wonderful opportunity to build trust and deepen the connection between you.  And once someone likes and trusts you? They’re WAAAY more likely to buy from you...

Customer insight

Getting feedback from your customers is invaluable. This is how you learn what they want - and what they don’t.  It’s where you learn what they’re struggling with AND how you can help them overcome those struggles.

There are also a number of key email marketing metrics that you should build into your strategy and goals - but we’ll be talking about those later, in Chapter 6....

Join my Facebook community!

Choosing Your Email Service Provider

It's no wonder that a lot of people struggle to get started with email marketing because frankly, even choosing a provider can be an absolute minefield!

There are just sooo many to choose from and every man and his dog has an opinion on which you should go for!

The thing is - what might be the right choice for them, isn't necessarily the right choice for you - because it all depends on your business, your budget and ... well, a whole bunch of other things!

If you're feeling overwhelmed when it comes to choosing your email service provider, then this post is going to be right down your alley! 

<<How to Choose the Perfect Email Provider>>

PS - Want to know what I use? I'm a fan of Convertkit.

(That's an affiliate link btw - which means if you use it to sign up for Convertkit, I get a small commission).

How to Create an Email List

When you’ve found the right email provider, it’s time to create and set up your first email form and list.  This should be a straightforward process as every provider has their own tutorial or step by step guide to getting started.

As I use and recommend Convertkit, I’m going to show you how to get started with them in 3 easy-peasy steps…

Step 1: Create a Form

Once you have your Convertkit account all set up, you’ll be directed to create your first form.  This is the form that you can then use to collect all those juicy email addresses! Once created, you can add it to your website or even to your Facebook page.

You’ll be given the option to create a simple form or an entire landing page (this is a great option if you don’t want to pay out for a separate landing page service!) Don't worry if you're not sure what a landing page is - we're going to cover that in Chapter 3.

email marketing

Don't worry about how it looks - once you’ve made your choice, you’ll then be able to customise to your heart’s content!

Step 2: Create a Sequence

A sequence is the term used to refer to the email or emails which you send to your new subscribers once they’ve signed up to your form. It can also be called a ‘Welcome Series’.

If you’re struggling to know what to include in your welcome series then I have just the thing to help you...

Your Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet!

Not sure what to even write in your emails?  Don't worry - I've done the work or you 😉 Grab your free copy of my Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet and I'll lead you through  a fab 5 email welcome series that will make your subscribers fall in love with you and your biz - and ready to buy what you're selling 🙂

Download Now!

Step 3: Connect Your Form to Your Sequence

There are a couple of ways that you can connect your sequence to your form to make sure that your new subscribers receive your wonderful welcome series.

This can be done directly through your form settings, as below:

email marketing

Or you can go to ‘Automations’ and set up a new rule, as below:

email marketing

(This is what I do because I like to add an additional rule which ‘tags’ new subscribers too)

email marketing - lead generation

Chapter 3: Lead Generation: How to Grow Your Email List

Please don't make the same mistake that I did when I set up my very first email list on my food blog, Eat Drink Cook (sadly neglected now).  You see, I signed up to Aweber and then whacked up a subscription form on my sidebar and thought that was all I needed to do. Anyone who landed on my site would see the form and be clamouring to join my email list, right?


You need to sweeten the deal! People's inboxes are already over-full (I bet yours is too, yes?) so we don't hand out our email address to just any old Tom, Dick or Harry. We want a little somethin' somethin' in return!

That's where your lead magnet comes in. You offer something your audience wants and in return they'll hand over their deets.

Quality Over Quantity

Ok, time for some #realtalk before we dive into all things lead magnet.  It can be very tempting to become completely obsessed with the numbers but the term ‘size isn’t everything’ has NEVER been more pertinent than in email marketing.

Yes, you want to grow your list - but ONLY with people who are your ideal clients.

A list of 100 ideal clients is worth WAY more to you than a list of 1000 (or even 100,000!) people who don’t care about your business.

Capiche? Ok, let’s grow that list!

What is a Lead Magnet?

As the name suggests, a lead magnet is something you use to attract leads. You see, building your email list is all about give and take. You give your audience something cool and then you get to take their email address…

A lead magnet can take a number of different forms.  Here are just a few:

  • Checklist
  • Template
  • Swipe Files
  • Video Tutorial

For more lead magnet inspiration and list building strategies, take a look at my post, 30 Ingenious Ways to Grow Your Email List.

How to Choose the Perfect Lead Magnet

People aren’t going to hand over their email address for just any old free stuff - you need to create something that they really want and need!

You know one of the biggest mistakes that people make with this? It’s thinking they already know what their audience wants and needs - without even checking!

So before you rush off and do the same, please take some time to do your research. 

Here are two quick and easy ways that you can do just that…

Ideal Client Interviews

I’m all for the convenience and scale of working online, but sometimes you really can’t beat just jumping on a call with someone and having a good old natter.

I’ve done these a number of times over the course of my business and each time I’ve gained invaluable insight into who my ideal clients are, what they’re struggling with and most importantly, what I can do to help them.

TOOL TIP: I love conducting my ideal client interviews using Zoom.


A good old survey can also be a great way to learn about your ideal clients - as long as it’s your ideal clients who are completing them!  If you decide to go this route then don’t just send your survey out to anyone and everyone or the data you get back will be misleading at best…

TOOL TIP: For surveys I use  SurveyMonkey or Typeform.

3 Tips to Help You Choose Your Lead Magnet

  • Keep it simple! Think about how you can give your subscribers a quick win.
  • Focus on the results that you want to help people achieve.
  • Ask your audience if your idea is something they want!

How to Create Your Lead Magnet

Ooh, now we’re getting to the juicy stuff! Once you know WHAT your audience wants and how you can give them that quick win, it’s time to actually create it…

Now I’ve already said it once, but I’ll say it again - KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Remember - you’re giving people a quick win, not a long and complex one.

Right, let’s DO this.

Best Lead Magnet Tools

My number one favourite tool for creating lead magnets is Canva. It allows you to create professional looking images and documents even if you don’t have any design experience (which I don’t!)

It’s incredibly simple to use and even better - it’s FREE.  I pretty much create ALL my lead magnets using Canva and I definitely recommend you do the same.

For stock images, I use Shutterstock.  This is a paid service but there’s a lot more choice than the free options (plus you’re less likely to see the same images floating around everywhere else!).  

That being said, there are a couple of great free sites too. Check out Pexels and Pixabay.

Layout & Format

Soooo, at the risk of sounding like a stuck record, when it comes to the layout of your lead magnet… keep it simple!

Here are a few more tips:

  • Break up your content by using short paragraphs, headings and bullet points
  • Don't be afraid of white space - this is easier on the eye than big blocks of content
  • Pick a font and size that is easy to read - without squinting! 


Ummm… did I mention keeping it simple? I’m no designer so I won’t pretend to have a ton of insightful advice here, but I will share what I’ve discovered from creating my own lead magnets.

  • Don't use too many different colours - it can make it look too 'busy'
  • Include images to add some interest
  • Keep it on brand! Use your brand colours and fonts and don't forget to include your logo if you have one

Saving Your Lead Magnet

Now the fun stuff’s done, it’s time to cover the more techy side of creating a lead magnet.  I’m assuming for the time being that you’ve created a document rather than a video or audio file.

I’m also assuming you’ve created it in Canva… Here’s what to do next:

1. Download your file as a PDF

2. Upload your PDF to your WordPress (or other service) Media Library

email marketing

3. Make a note of the URL so that you can link to it later

email marketing

This is the URL that you will use to link to your lead magnet so that your new subscribers can access it.

How to Set Up Your Lead Magnet

Alright! Your Lead Magnet is ready to go! *High Five*

Now it’s time to create all the pieces you need to successfully collect your subscribers' email addresses and send them their freebie.

Creating a Landing Page

What IS a Landing Page

You've probably heard people talk about landing pages but you may well have wondered exactly what they are and what the difference is between a normal page on your website and a 'landing page'?

Actually, not much.  In fact any page on your website can be a landing page because in its broadest sense, the term basically means whichever page someone first 'lands' on.

However, the term 'landing page' is most commonly used to refer to the page that you create for customers to sign up for your lead magnet.  And in that instance, your landing page will be a bit different from a normal page on your site.

So, Do I Just Create a Page on My Website Then?

Ideally, no.  You see, the point of your landing page is to encourage as many people as possible to sign up for your lead magnet - and that means you don't want any other distractions on the page, such as your menu or sidebar.

So rather than creating a page as normal through WordPress (or whichever service you use), you'll want to use a service which allows you to create specific landing pages.

TOOL TIP: I use Thrive Architect (I get this as part of my Thrive Themes package) but you can also purchase it separately.

Other popular services are Lead Pages or ClickFunnels.

What Should I Include on My Landing Page?

There are a couple of things which should ALWAYS be on your landing page:

  • A sign up form (well, duh!)
  • A header to tell people what they're signing up for

Of course, there are probably a few other things you'll want to consider too...

  • An image - this could be a picture of you, a picture of your lead magnet OR just a picture that represents it in some way. Test what works best (generally speaking, images of people smiling work well)
  • Testimonials - if you don't have these yet then don't worry, but definitely consider collecting some and using them. 
  • Additional info about the results your subscribers can expect.  

Ultimately, you'll need to test what works for you and your audience - this will differ from business to business and from niche to niche.

It's worth knowing though, that the simplest landing pages often tend to deliver the best results.

Landing Page Examples

For tons of inspiration on how you can create your landing page, check out this great article from the A/B Tasty Blog.

Examples of the Best Landing Page Designs in 2018

Creating a Thank You Page

What is a Thank You Page?

Each time someone subscribes to your email list, you're taking them on a journey. First you must entice them with your lead magnet and once they've entered their details, you need to send them somewhere.

Of course, you can just redirect them back to whatever page they were on - but best practice is to send them to a 'Thank you Page'.

This is where you'll thank them for signing up and tell them what they can expect next. Here are a few things that you should include:

  • A confirmation of what they've just signed up for 
  • Instructions on what to do next (eg. 'Check your inbox for your confirmation email')

These are the basic requirements, but as with your landing page, you'll probably want to include a few of these too...

  • An invitation to follow you on social media
  • Added value - perhaps some bonus information or tips
  • An up-sell to one of your low-priced offerings

For more 'Thank You Page' inspiration, take a look at this article from the Kissmetrics blog.

10 Ways to Increase the ROI of Your Thank You Page

Creating Your Welcome Series

Competition and comparison are rife in the online world and it can be easy to get sucked into playing the numbers game.  You become so obsessed with the size of your email list that you don't give any thought to what you're actually going to do with it.

But that's not you, right? You're allll about creating a great impression and using your email marketing to actually build relationships, increase trust and make sales (woop!)

So, when someone signs up for your shiny new lead magnet, you need to give them a welcome that's going to make them remember you and look forward to seeing more of your emails landing in their inbox.

How Many Emails Should I Send in My Welcome Series?

There really is no right or wrong answer here.  The key is to keep in mind the purpose of each email.  

What are you trying to achieve?  Here are a few options:

  • Tell your story.  You're trying to encourage connection, so let your new subscriber know more about you!
  • Add more value. The more value you can give your new subscriber, the better the impression you're likely to make, right?
  • Set expectations. A great way to build trust is to let people know what they can expect from you. When can they expect to hear from you and how often? What type of content will you send them? 
  • Tell them where else they can connect with you: Let them know what social channels you're active on and give them an opportunity to connect with you there.

Your Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet!

Not sure what to even write in your emails?  Don't worry - I've done the work or you 😉 Grab your free copy of my Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet and I'll lead you through  a fab 5 email welcome series that will make your subscribers fall in love with you and your biz - and ready to buy what you're selling 🙂

Download Now!

How to Promote Your Lead Magnet

You've put so much good work into getting your email marketing started and now you get to see it pay off! Hurrah!

You've got your whole journey ready for your new subscribers.  You're giving them a ton of value and a hundred reasons to love you and your biz - IF they find you and your lead magnet in the first place...

To make sure that they do, here are five fantastic ways to get your lead magnet out there.

Content Upgrades

This might be my favourite way to get new subscribers. The idea is that you create some content relating to your lead magnet (it could be a blog post, a podcast or a video) and then you add your lead magnet as a 'content upgrade' for those who want to know more or who want some additional resource.

There's an example of a content upgrade in this very post! Have you noticed it?

You see, I've been talking about email marketing and I've mentioned how to create a welcome series - then I offered you the chance to sign up to get my welcome series cheat sheet! (PS - click that link and you'll also get to see my landing page)

And THAT is a content upgrade. I NEVER publish a blog post that doesn't have a content upgrade included and this is where I get the majority of my sign-ups.


There are mixed views on this particular method.  Some see it as overly pushy, but others swear by it, saying it's their biggest source of subscribers.

You'll have to decide if they're right for you.  To help here's a some great research from Sumo.

<<Pop-Ups Aren't Dead>>

Guest Posts and Podcasts

This works in a similar way to a content upgrade - you write a guest blog post or appear as a guest on a podcast and then you can offer the readers/listeners your lead magnet as an added bonus.

The bonus for you is that you're getting to reach a whole new audience - for free!

If you'd like more info on landing the perfect guest post then have a read of this:

<<How to be Awesome at Guest Blogging: A Beginners' Guide>>

Your Facebook Group

Now this little tip is a real gem.  I've only started doing it myself in the last few months and I've been amazed at the results!

If you have a Facebook Group for your business then Facebook allows you to set some questions for your new applicants.  (Side note - if you're not already using this function, then I definitely recommend it.  It's a great way to gain valuable insights on your members and to gauge someone's potential engagement before they join - after all if they can't be bothered to answer your questions, then they're probably not that bothered about joining - OR engaging!)

In this instance however, you're going to add an additional question... You're going to let your new applicants know about your amazing lead magnet and ask them to leave their email address if they'd like to get their hands on it.

You can then manually add anyone who does so.  I find that around 90% of my new applicants request my lead magnet when they join. And if they don't? That can be a good sign they're not your ideal client... 

Want to see my questions? Go join my Facebook Group, Fully Booked Mums to check them out!

Social Networking

Of course, your Facebook Group isn't the only place on social media where you can promote your lead magnet!

Here are some other ideas to maximise the power of social to grow your email list:

  • In other Facebook groups
  • Create an eye catching PIN for Pinterest with relevant keywords and hashtags
  • Use your Facebook Business Page cover image to promote it
  • Link to it from your Instagram bio
  • Talk about it in your Instagram stories
  • Schedule regular Tweets, using relevant hashtags to promote it 
  • Link to it from your YouTube bio

TOOL TIP: I use Tailwind to drive more than 50% of my website traffic and lead generation. To learn how, check out this post!

<<How to Use Pinterest to Double Your Blog Traffic>>

Chapter 4: Types of Email Campaign You Can Use for Your Business

email marketing

By the time you've chosen your email service and got it all set up, then researched and created your lead magnet and got all that set up and THEN actually built an email list, it can be easy to think that your job is now complete.

You can tick off 'Email Marketing' from your to do list.

Except that you haven't actually got to the email marketing part yet! 

And this is often where people come unstuck.  They've focused so much time and attention on growing their list, that they've forgotten to think about what they're actually going to do with that list once they have one...

Luckily for you, I've got you completely covered in that respect and we're going to cover all the different types of emails that you can (and should) send to your subscribers.

There are 2 main types of email campaign that you can use in your email marketing. There are triggered (or transactional) emails and broadcasts.


Let's talk triggered emails first - starting with, what on earth a 'triggered' email is...

A triggered email is just as it sounds - an email that is 'triggered' by a specific event, such as someone subscribing to your list...

Let's look at a few examples of triggered emails that you'll want to include in your email marketing strategy...

Confirmation Email

We briefly talked about 'double opt-in' in Chapter One, when we covered some of the jargon surrounding email marketing. To remind you, this is when you ask your subscribers to confirm their subscription by sending them a Confirmation Email and asking them to click a link.

Your email service should allow you to select 'double opt-in' in your email settings and this will ensure that a confirmation email is triggered whenever someone signs up to your list.

Welcome Email

This is the first email that you'll send once someone has confirmed their subscription and is now a confirmed subscriber on your list.

Your welcome email is your 'first impression'.  It's your opportunity to introduce yourself and to encourage your new subscriber to stick around!

Oh - and don't forget to include a link to the lead magnet that they signed up for...

Lead Nurture Email

Generally speaking, you'll want to send your new subscribers more than just one email when they sign up and so you'll create an automated welcome series.

After the first 'welcome email' you can send additional emails to 'nurture' your new lead and help them to get to know you and your business better.

You can automate the whole series by setting the timescale you want between each email being sent.

Confirmation of Purchase Email

If you're selling your products and services online, then you'll want to create an email which is triggered when someone has successfully purchased something from you.

This helps to avoid confusion and to set expectations about details such as delivery date and what happens next.


These are the one-off emails that you send out.  You might send them to your whole email list or you might send them to certain segments (allowing you to add a level of personalisation). Here are some examples to give you some inspiration:

New Content

Part of your marketing strategy should be to create consistent free content for your audience, whether that be in the form of blogging, video, podcasting - or a combination of them all!

What better way to give value to your subscribers (and drive traffic to your content) than to send them an email to let them know when you've published something new?

Product Update

It's also safe to assume that your subscribers will be interested to hear about any new products or services you're launching - as well as any changes you're making to your existing ones.


A regular newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your subscribers and let them know what's going on with you and your business.

You can use your newsletters for a number of different things, such as:

  • Let your subscribers know about key dates and events you have planned. 
  • Highlight any positive feedback you've received
  • Highlight the success of existing customers or clients
  • Share recent or past content

Chapter 5: How to Write Effective Email Marketing Content

email marketing

So now you know all the types of email marketing out there, let’s get to the nitty gritty of how to create marketing emails that your subscribers will love - and that are going to lead to those all important sales!

How to Write an Email

Most of us are fairly familiar with the etiquette of writing emails.  They tend to have a more informal layout and tone to other forms of written communication such as letters.  There are fewer ‘rules’ in terms of how an email should be structured.

If you're feeling unsure as to how you should write your emails and if there are any specific rules you should stick to, then good news - there really aren't! This is your business and so you can decide how you write your marketing emails!  

Greeting and Sign Off

You might want to greet your subscribers with a friendly ‘hey there’ or your might prefer a more formal start.  

Happily, there's no right or wrong way to begin and end your emails. Go with what feels good for you - as you start to grow in confidence you may find this changes.  And that's ok too!

Plain v Stylised Design

If you're anything like me when I started my business, you'll probably feel like you need to create a really beautiful and professional looking design for your emails.  

In fact, this is much less important than you might think. There's actually a school of thought which says that a plain email builds more trust because it appears more like an email from a friend might do.

Equally, you might want to fill your emails with gifs and emojis or you may want to keep them plain. That’s your choice!

Just keep your ideal clients in mind and go with what is going to feel right for them - and what is going to reflect you and your brand most accurately.

How to Write a GREAT Email

So the good news is that as long as you're keeping your ideal clients in mind when you write your marketing emails, you can't go too far wrong.

However, there are a few little email tips I can give you which will ensure that your emails shine out in your subscribers' crowded inboxes...

  • Write to ONE person: Whether you have 5 or 5000 subscribers, each person must feel as if you are writing specifically to THEM. 
  • Personalise where possible: You can customise the information that people give you when they subscribe so it's a great idea to get their name as well as just their email address.  That way you can address them personally in your emails.
  • Keep it relevant: Your subscribers have busy lives and busy inboxes - the second you start wasting their time, they'll be reaching for the unsubscribe button...
  • Always have a purpose: As with any content you create in your business, your emails should always have a purpose. Your email might be to build your brand and help your subscribers to know you better, it might be to sell something or perhaps just to deliver an important message.  Being clear on your purpose before you write your email will help you to stay relevant.
  • Include a Call to Action: Once you know your purpose, you'll need to let your subscribers know it too! Want them to follow you on social? Tell them! Want them to buy your offer? Ask them! Want them to tell you something? Invite them to do so.
  • Don't rush your subject line: If you don't get this right, your subscribers will never see all that hard work you've put into the email because they won't bother opening it!

For more inspiration on how to write a kickass email, take a look at my post, How to Write Emails Your Audience Love.

Email Subject Line 'Secrets' to Success

I've picked up a few tips and tricks during my years in email marketing (not everyone knows these though, so sshhhhhh!)

  • Try using your subscriber's name in the subject line - personalisation will generally make people more likely to open your email.
  • Experiment with emojis in your subject line.  These have also been proven to increase open rates.
  • Keep a swipe file of subject lines that you've liked to help inspire you
  • Keep it short. Although subject line length has no direct correlation with open rates, studies have shown that subject lines of around 7 words or 60 characters tend to perform best. (Plus these can more more easily seen on mobile).
  • Being specific also works well. Let your subscribers know what they can expect if they open your email.  Eg. 'Learn how to tie your shoes in 6 steps'.
  • Use an 'open loop'.  This means telling people what to expect, but without giving away the key part.  Eg. This is how to look 20 years younger'. They know if they open the email they'll learn the secret to looking young - but you haven't given the secret away in your subject line!

How Often Should You Email Your Subscribers?

This is a really common question and by now, you may well be able to guess my answer...

That's up to you - and your ideal clients!

Some businesses just send one monthly newsletter, while others send daily updates (or in some cases even more than that)!

Weekly is probably a good place to start but check-in with your audience and ask what they want from you.

The frequency of your emails should also change depending on their purpose. For example, if you're in the middle of a launch, you'll want to ramp up your visibility and consequently, the number of emails you're sending.  It's not uncommon for businesses to send five or more emails in one day when it's cart closing time!

Increasing the frequency of your emails may lead to unsubscribers - but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It probably means they weren't your ideal clients anyway.

Chapter 6: Important Email Metrics (and How to Improve Them)

email marketing metrics

Promise me something? If you're going to put all this hard work into your email marketing (and it's SO worth putting the work in!) then PLEASE make sure you measure it?

Too many people don't bother with this and then they wonder why they're not getting the results they hoped for.

You HAVE to measure your success because that's the only way you'll see if something isn't working - and WHY.  Your email metrics are no different and can provide a huge amount of insight that will help you to improve your email marketing and the results it achieves.

Open Rate

Did you know that there are two different types of open rate in email marketing?

There's open rate and then there's unique open rate.

The first tells you the overall percentage of opens that your email has received. It is calculated by dividing the number of emails delivered by the number of times they were opened.

Example: 100 emails were delivered and they were opened 50 times. Your open rate is 50%.

With unique open rate, the focus is on the number of subscribers who open your email.  If someone opens your email several times, this doesn't count as additional opens.

Example: You sent 100 emails and they were opened 50 times by 25 of your subscribers. Your unique open rate is 25%.

Unique open rate is generally the more important metric - and the one which is most commonly provided through your email service provider analytics.

!! It's also worth noting that not ALL opens are always counted.  For example, if a subscriber doesn't have their images enabled when they open your email, their open won't be recognised.

Why is Open Rate Important?

Well if people aren't opening your emails it's a sign that they're not interested in the content. And if that's the case, you need to understand why!

As we've already discussed, email is a powerful sales tool for your business. So the lower your open rate, the fewer sales you'll make.

Pretty important, right?

What is a Good Email Open Rate?

Open rates can vary hugely depending on factors such as the type of email you're sending and the industry you're in.

A welcome email which delivers your lead magnet to a new subscriber is likely to have a higher open rate than a sales email, for example.

Generally speaking if your email open rates are 25% or above then you're doing well!

Honestly though? I wouldn't get too caught up in the comparison game.  Instead of aiming for potentially unrealistic or irrelevant benchmarks, just keep trying to improve on your own performance!  Do that and you won't go far wrong.

How to Improve Your Email Open Rate

There are a number of factors which can impact your open rate so let's take a look at them in turn:

  • Sender Name: Use a person's name in your 'sender name'. People are more likely to open emails from another person rather than a business. Something like 'Your name at Your Business' could work well.
  • Good Timing: The time and day of the week that you send your emails can have a significant impact on your open rates. Research shows that Tuesdays after 12pm are the best time - but don't take my word for it. Test what works for your audience!
  • The Right Audience: The quality of your email list will also have an impact on your open rate. If you're attracting people who aren't your ideal clients then they'll be much less likely to open and engage with your emails. Makes sense, right?
  • Double Opt-In: It may seem counterintuitive to make people jump through additional hoops in order to subscribe, but it helps to ensure that only the most engaged of your audience will be on your list. And they're the ones who are most likely to open your emails. 
  • 'Cleaning' Your List: It can also feel painful to purge your list of those hard fought for subscribers. However, regularly clearing out your non-active subscribers is a great way to increase open and engagement rates. Identify people who haven't opened your emails for 60 days and send them a final email asking them to let you know if they want to stay on your list. Then (painful as it may feel!), get rid of those who still don't take the bait. You're better off without them! 
  • Encourage 'White Listing': Sometimes people don't open your emails because they simply don't see them.  If your email ends up in their spam or junk folder then they'll miss all that great value you have to offer! When someone subscribes, encourage them to add you to their contacts or 'white list' you so your emails always land in their inbox.
  • Responsive Design: According to statistics, more than half of your audience will be reading your email on their mobile phone.  If your email isn't optimised for mobile, they'll delete it without second thought.
  • Great Subject Line: We've already covered your email subject line in some detail above. Keep it brief, keep it relevant and add some personalisation. Needless to say, if your subject line doesn't grab your reader then your email is going to stay unopened.
  • Preview Pane Content: Most email services allow people to see the first sentence or two of an email in the preview pane.  This is a second opportunity for you to entice your subscriber to open. Use it wisely!
  • Relevant Content: Ultimately, if your subscribers know that you'll always send them high value, relevant content then it doesn't matter what your subject line is, when you send your email or even if it ends up in their junk folder.  They'll be so keen to read it, they'll make sure they find that email and open it every time. 

Click Through Rate (CTR)

As with open rate, you'll want to refer to your unique click through rate which tells you the percentage of people that received your email who then click on a link in it (but doesn't include repeat clicks from the same person).

Why is Click Through Rate Important?

CTR is another metric which tells you about your audience engagement. If people aren't clicking on the links in your emails then this shows a lack of interest, trust or motivation - and something you need to address!

What is a Good Email Click Through Rate?

I'll start by saying that the same caveats apply here as with open rates. CTR benchmarks will differ wildly depending on the type of email you're sending and the industry you're in.

Rather than following external benchmarks I would focus on measuring and improving your own performance over time.

If you really want a figure to aim for though, anything over 3-4% is a decent result.

How to Improve Your Email Click Through Rate

  • Improve Your Open Rates: In order to click on a link in your email, your subscriber has to open that email first, so the higher your open rate, the higher your potential click through rate.
  • Limit Choice: Studies have shown that if you give people too much to choose from they'll end up choosing nothing! Try to just link to ONE thing (although several links to the same thing are fine).
  • Segment Your List: These days, thanks to the 'tagging' system that most ESPs use, it's very simple to break your subscribers up into segments - whether that be by interest or demographic. This allows you to only send your subscribers the content that is MOST relevant to them - and which they're most likely to engage with.
  • Test Text vs Buttons: Analysis has shown that text links actually out-perform buttons but as with all these things, it's worth testing with your own audience!
  • Experiment With Images: A picture can speak a thousand words, as they say so try using images to add emphasis to your calls to action (CTA's).

Email Bounce Rate

Not to be confused with website bounce rate, email bounce rate is the percentage of people who never receive your email.  I'm not talking spam folders here - just plan failure to deliver.

Bounces usually happen because someone has provided an invalid or incorrect email address but they can also occur due to technical issues.

Why is Email Bounce Rate Important?

Well simply put, if your subscribers aren't even receiving your emails, then you have a problem!

A high email bounce rate will highlight potential problems such as out of date email addresses (caused by an old list that hasn't been 'cleaned' in a while).

What is an Acceptable Email Bounce Rate?

Under 2% is fine. Anything over 2% and you need to investigate what's going on and why your emails aren't being delivered successfully.

How to Improve Your Email Bounce Rate

If your bounce rate is under 2% then you shouldn't worry too much but if it's over that, then you might want to consider the following tips to help improve it:

  • Use your sign-up form wisely: Consider getting people to confirm their email address to avoid errors. You can also add a captcha field to avoid fake sign-ups from bots.
  • Clean Your List Regularly: This will ensure that your list doesn't contain old and out of date email addresses.

Unsubscribe Rate

Ooh, the dreaded unsubscribes! When you're just starting out with email marketing, an unsubscribe can feel like such a slap in the face!

'Why don't they like me?'

'Did I say something to upset them?'

It's horrid! 

The sooner you can get to grips with the concept that it's nothing personal - and that an unsubscribe as actually a good thing because it's getting rid of someone who wasn't your ideal client anyway... the better.

Why is Your Email Unsubscribe Rate Important?

If lots of people are unsubscribing from your email list then something is going wrong somewhere.

Either you're attracting the wrong people in the first place or you're doing something to turn them off somewhere along the way...

What is an Acceptable Unsubscribe Rate?

The average unsubscribe rate is around 1% - so for every 100 people who receive your email, you can expect one of them to unsub.

If you occasionally exceed that, it isn't necessarily a bad sign. It might be an indication that you're finding your voice and your brand and that in turn, those who aren't your ideal clients are leaving.

If your rates are regularly higher than 1%, then don't worry because there are lots of things you can do to fix that!

How to Improve Your Unsubscribe Rate

  • Attract Your Target Audience: Spotting a theme here? Yep, you need to attract the right people in the first place - that is, your ideal clients. If your list is full of people who aren't your target market then they're much more likely to unsubscribe.
  • Avoid silly mistakes: There's nothing like a typo or some other error to make your credibility take a plunge - and with it, your subscriber list.
  • Reduce the frequency of your emails: One of the most common reasons given for unsubscribing is that people are getting too many emails. If you're getting a lot of people jumping ship, then it could be time to look at how often you're emailing them.
  • Focus less on sales: Yes, I know the purpose of email marketing is to help you make more sales - but you won't do it by selling the whole time! If your subscribers see that the only reason you ever contact them is to try to get money out of them, they'll soon get sick of it and you know what happens next...

Friend, you're ready.  You have all the tools you need to go out and build a thriving email list, to write emails your audience love and to rock your email marketing.

You've got this.

Don't forget your Cheat Sheet!

Your Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet!

Not sure what to even write in your emails?  Don't worry - I've done the work or you 😉 Grab your free copy of my Email Welcome Series Cheat Sheet and I'll lead you through  a fab 5 email welcome series that will make your subscribers fall in love with you and your biz - and ready to buy what you're selling 🙂

Download Now!

About the Author

Colette Broomhead

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