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Email Marketing for Your Business: A Beginner Guide

Lauren Marinigh | May 24, 2017

Never underestimate the power of email marketing, a tactic that often gets lost among the shiny and new social media platforms that keep popping up. There are three times more email accounts than Facebook and Twitter accounts combined and it’s more likely to get a click-through from an email than a social media channel. These statistics are pretty hard to ignore, but how do you get started? We’ve broken the basics down for you.

Establish your goals

It’s pretty easy to just sign up for an email marketing tool and just start sending out emails, especially when you already have a list of emails to send too. However, this isn’t going to be very effective if there’s no goals behind why you’re communicating with your audience. Before you jump in, think about your goals and what you’d want to achieve from your email marketing. Who is your target market? What kind of content would you like to send? How are you going to measure success? Align these goals with your overall company and marketing goals, as well as your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Selecting your platform

There are several different platforms that you can use for email marketing that don’t require you to know HTML or fancy coding language to make beautiful and effective emails. Constant Contact, AWeber and MailChimp are some of the more popular ones and all come with a small cost associated with them depending on your usage and list sizes. Do your research and ensure that you select one that will fulfill the needs you need from your email marketing at this point, but also gives you room to grow.

Grow your email list

Before you do anything that involves collecting emails and building a subscriber list, it’s important that you make yourself familiar with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). This legislation came into effect in 2014 and is in place to protect Canadians from spam, while still ensuring businesses can continue to compete in the marketplace. The law does not allow you to send any commercial electronic messages without the recipient’s consent/permission. That means you can’t just take a bunch of email addresses from people you’ve been in touch with in the past and add them to a list to receive your other email communications. Another thing you can’t forget is to include an opt-out or unsubscribe method that is clear on every email communication piece you send out.

This fast fact sheet can help you better understand the law and how you can make sure you’re compliant.

Once you understand the rules around growing your email list, it’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Your first emails may not go out to thousands of people but just like anything, overtime they will grow with consistency and quality content. To attract more subscribers, find touchpoints that you can ask your customers to opt-in at such as on your website, blog, social platforms, your email signature, etc. It’s important to make it clear before someone signs up what they are signing up for. For example, if you are a business sending out lots of communications (daily or weekly) then your subscribers should know this first.

While building your list, you may want to think about segmentation depending on your company. For example, you may want to give people an option to opt-in to different communications so if they’re only interested in receiving certain things, that’s all they will receive. You also may want to think about the different audiences you may have and may want to communicate with down the line. For example, at Futurpreneur Canada our audiences are entrepreneurs, mentors and partners. Although some communications we send out may be of interest to all these audiences, some may only be relevant to certain ones. It’s important to segment these lists early on so you’re not just left with a pile of emails without fully understanding where and who they belong too.

A good way to build up your list is by offering a lead magnet which is basically something you will provide them with in exchange for their email. A lead magnet could be a special discount or coupon when you sign-up for your newsletter, a free trial, an eBook or whatever is doable for your business.

Types of emails

There are several kinds of emails that you may send to your subscribers. There are marketing emails which are informational or promotional messages sent to your selected audience. These may include newsletters, sales promotions, announcements, follow-ups or surveys. Secondly there are transactional emails. These emails are usually automated and triggered based off how your customer is interacting with your brand. For example, if they purchase something from your website, they’ll get an email with their purchase confirmation and maybe an email with order tracking or delivery information. Lastly, there are operational emails which contain important information about your business such as being closed for the holidays, if your website is down for maintenance, changes to your services, etc. All three of these types of emails serve a different purpose but are ways to engage or reengage your audience.

Build a strategy

Think through what works best for your business in terms of the types of emails you want to send and understand how and when you are communicating at different touch points to ensure you don’t over communicate. The biggest mistake businesses make is just sending emails whenever they feel like it or think of it and the lack of consistency really ends up doing more harm than good. Build out where you want to start in terms of your email marketing efforts. Maybe it’s a monthly newsletter, maybe it’s a more time sensitive campaign around different deals or initiatives you have happening. Look at the different touch points you could be communicating with your audience and figure out what fits best for your business.

Build your campaign

The email marketing tools listed above will help you build an attractive campaign or email send that fits well with your brand but there are still a few things to keep in mind when building your emails:

  • Don’t bore them with too much text. The attention span of an adult is on average eight seconds so if they open an email that’s long and wordy, they likely will just delete it. Keep it short, visual and straight to the point.
  • Check in with your audience and who the email will be sent to. Ensuring that the content you are putting into the email is relevant to everyone on your list is important. For example, you don’t want to send out an email to your whole list of subscribers that live across Canada if your email message is about a sale only happening in Toronto.
  • Think about your branding and make sure that your email messages are in line with your brand guidelines. When you visit your website, social media channels or even just look at a flyer from your business, everything should look like it falls under the same umbrella.
  • Think about optimization for your emails. With 41% of email opens happening on mobile devices, it’s critical that your email displays properly and effectively not just on a desktop computer.

Measure your results

You’ve sent out your first email(s) and now it’s time to see how successful your efforts actually were and where there is room for improvement. Many of the email marketing tools you’ll use will provide their own set of analytics to you which allow you to easily see how your emails are performing. Some of the key analytics to look at are:

  • Unique opens: This is the number of unique subscribers who opened your campaign. This will only count each person as one open and won’t count if a subscriber opened more than once.
  • Bounces/bounce rate: This number tells you the number of people your email was undeliverable too.
  • Open rate: The percentage of subscribers who opened your campaign.
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): The percentage of people who opened your campaign who then clicked on a link within your email.
  • Unsubscribes: The number of people who unsubscribed from your email and no longer wish to receive communications from you.

These are just some of the metrics that you should look at and see how they change between emails. What are people clicking on? What are people ignoring? What are people not liking? Analyze this to help you develop future email communications.


Once you’ve analyzed your campaigns, you may want to consider some of the following to improve your email communications.

1) Avoid spam filters by making sure recipients have opted-in to your communications and are clear on what they are opting in too. For more tips on this, check out this resource from MailChimp.
2) Perfect your timing by analyzing when people are opening your emails and what times and dates are getting the best results.
3) Write compelling subject lines that don’t use the bait-and-switch tactic by using deceptive lines.
4) Perfect your language by ensuring that your copy is clean, and consistent with your brand. Write as if you’re writing to one person that’s a friend of yours. What kind of tone would make you want to read it?
5) Create quality content that makes people want to stop and read and keep coming back for more. If your subscribers like what you’re delivering, they’ll want to keep reading what you’re sending.

Email marketing can be an efficient way for you to engage and reengage your audience. It can provide your audience with valuable content and information about your business and keep them coming back for more (when done correctly). Follow this guide to get started!

Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada