Many business owners are surprised to hear that email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing tactics in 2018. Email marketing offers businesses a direct point of contact right inside someone’s inbox. These messages persistently keep the recipient reminded about the brand’s offerings and gives them continual opportunities to stay engaged with the business.

Email marketing is, therefore, a critical tactic for both lead nurturing and inspiring repeat purchases. It has some of the biggest ROI (return on investment) for small businesses, in some cases reaching 73%. Yet, just 40% of small businesses use email marketing as a part of their overall marketing mix.

To help encourage you to add email marketing to your digital marketing strategy, take a look at the following quick overview of how email marketing works and the benefits it provides.

What Is The Purpose or Goal of Email Marketing?

Like all marketing, the ultimate goal of email marketing is to encourage them to spend more money on your goods or services.

The actual email messages sent can fit a number of formats or common goals. Some of the most popular categories for email marketing include:

  • Recurring offers and promotions — Whether advertising general offers or email-only promotions redeemed through codes, these emails encourage first-time buyers to sample the company and are also especially effective at earning repeat purchases.
  • Events and special announcements — Email can effectively promote a milestone moment in your company, a new product, or just an upcoming sale.
  • Drip campaigns — Drip campaigns offer advice and insight that ultimately encourages recipients to consider purchasing from a business. These emails work well for first-time buyers of big purchases, like a software subscription, but they can also maintain loyalty among current customers.
  • Newsletters and other value-add content — Content-based emails keep people engaged with your brand while subtly encouraging them to revisit your website and re-enter within your buying funnel

How Do Businesses Send Mass Emails?

There are strict rules and limitations governing your ability to send out hundreds of promotional emails out at once.

Firstly, all email marketing senders must register a unique email domain. Sending mass emails from a generic “” or “” address could quickly run afoul of standards like DMARC.

Secondly, there is the logistical concern of having to add hundreds of “To” recipients at once. You can do this through a .csv email list file, but businesses are better off going through an email marketing tool like Constant Contact, MailChimp, Emma or others.

With these tools, you can maintain your email marketing lists, create quick templates, segment your audiences according to interest — e.g. new customer leads vs. repeat customers — and other powerful capabilities.

What Kinds of Formats Do Email Marketers Use?

Ideally, your email will have graphical HTML elements that add visual interest as well as a unique, branded flavor. Many platforms like the ones listed above provide these templates for free, and you can create custom ones with a graphics editing program.

HTML formatted emails should be simple to skim through and contain enough white space to not make any particular section look cluttered. Think of it as similar to landing page design, but with even less text.

At the same time, have a redundant plain text format to offer. Plenty of people can only view plain text emails, and spam filters tend to flag messages without a plain text version provided.

How Do Businesses Build and Maintain Email Marketing Lists?

You should never purchase email marketing lists. Sending “cold contact” emails can be viewed as intrusive, and they can get sent straight to the spam folder if they are flagged by a high enough volume of recipients.

Instead, capture email addresses through your other digital marketing channels. The most effective way to do this is to offer some sort of incentive, like enrollment in a loyalty program, entry into a contest, or the promise of things like discounts and informative newsletters.

You can promote a contest on social media, for instance, and require an email signup to enter. You can also use emails as an ID for loyalty programs. Or, you can use a lead capture form on your content, encouraging people to sign up to get special content right in their inbox.

The bottom line is to ensure your email list is on an opt-in basis. Ideally, you will also let people self-segment according to the types of emails they wish to receive.

This is just the tip of the email marketing iceberg, but it opens the door to a digital marketing strategy that nearly every big brand uses to pad out their bottom line. Take a look at our other email marketing posts for more specific advice on best practices, segmenting, and encouraging a higher open rate among your recipients.