What is E-mail Marketing? Concepts, Types, Process, Platform, Advantages, Practices

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What is E-mail Marketing?

Email marketing is the practice of sending commercial messages, typically to a group of people, using email. These messages may include promotional content, offers, newsletters, and other information related to a product or service.

Using E-mail in Marketing Mix

The traditional marketing mix consists of the 4Ps that are Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. E-mail marketing is a part of promotion as it is a communication tool that helps in connecting with the existing customers and the potential prospects. E-mail is an indispensable part of every business as it fosters interaction and engagement. According to Statista, the number of global E-mail users amounted to 4 billion in 2020 and is set to grow to 4.6 billion users in 2025.

Hence, E-mail is a popular tool to promote the organisation’s products and services over the Web. It is simple to use, affordable and effective to reach a large set of audience in one shot. Brands can create a contest or a giveaway along with some informational content over E-mails to foster engagement.

Some regular mails are also sent to existing customers for providing after-sale services, offers, vouchers, give aways, etc. Promotional E-mails are sent to persuade readers to buy products and services or to cross sell them. For marketing purposes, two types of E-mails can be sent to the target audience or market. One is time-based promotional E-mails and the other is non-promotional E-mails.

Promotional e-mails encourage the target market to perform specific action by providing them a timebased information, such as the end-of-season sale or motivate them to buy a discounted item or to buy an upcoming show’s ticket, for example, customers receiving promotional E-mails from Big Bazaar for Diwali sales and exclusive offers.

Non-promotional E-mails do not focus on sales or revenue and they are regular in nature as the aim is to build a personal relationship with customers. For example, providing a free educational video to existing customers or sending healthy tips to gym members. It is important for marketers to keep a track of delivery rate, open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate and conversion rate to assess the effectiveness of E-mail campaign.

Applying the Basic Marketing Principles to E-mail Messages

Informing the customers about the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your products and services is critical to all marketing activities. Creating E-mail messages that educate the customers about the USP of your products and services is essential for a successful E-mail marketing campaign.

E-mail marketing is all about creating awareness and persuading the potential target audience to buy the products and services by convincing them that your services and products are best in the market. Hence, it is important to create a promotional message that is unique, creative and persuasive. Try to create urgency and scarcity to get an instant response; for example, buy now, before the offer goes away!

Before drafting the content of your E-mail message, firstly, you need to understand the objective of sending the E-mail to the target audience, understanding your target audience and its demographics, and preparing a long-term strategy for your E-mail marketing campaign.

Your E-mail copy should hit the emotions of love, fear, pride, greed or guilt to grab the attention of the readers or you could also tell a story. Use segmentation (process of dividing the marketplace into parts or segments) in your E-mail lists. Group your target audience or subscribers into smaller groups based on some specific criteria and send relevant and particular messages to them.

Taking Advantage of E-mail Service Providers

E-mail service providers (ESPs) offers E-mail software to send bulk E-mailseasily to an authentic list of recipients. These providers are hired for marketing automation and sending bulk E-mails. Let us study the advantages one can have by availing the services of E-mail providers, which are as follows:


Your E-mail address gets blocked if you send an E-mail to a large number of recipients without granting their permission. Sending bulk E-mails using ESP is a safe and authentic practice. One can safely send E-mail campaigns through an ESP.

Address book

The volume of E-mail addresses held by the service providers is very large and authentic. E-mail service providers’ foster speed and size as corporate mail servers have restricted the number of recipients that can be included in an E-mail. ESP servers are capable of sending E-mails quickly to a large number of recipients at a time.

E-mail tracking

ESP helps track and measure the performance of the E-mail. Metrics like open rate, conversion rate, and bounce rate can be easily tracked using these E-mail software.

E-mail legislation

AN ESP follows all the guidelines of E-mail legislation to comply with CAN-SPAM Act, for instance, clearly gaining permission from your recipients, disclosure of your identity as sender authentically, providing an opt-out feature, etc. An ESP fosters all the legal compliance and follows best and ethical E-mail practices.

Maximising Revenue With E-mail

E-mail is a long-term relationship tool. Sending personalised E-mails to your customers helps in establishing a long-term relationship with subscribers and helps in building customers’ loyalty. It helps in gaining new customers by persuading potential prospects with compelling and useful content shared with them over E-mails.

E-mail marketing offers a better ROI as compared to other marketing channels. With faster communication and more accessibility, E-mails are playing a pivotal role in the marketing campaign. Using the cliffhanger strategy can help in gaining more revenue.

The cliffhanger strategy is a content strategy that holds the users for a longer course of time that induces the reader to come back and wait for your E-mail. All you have to do is create curiosity and it fosters multiple E-mails. For example, breaking a tutorial into two or three E-mails over the course of several days.

Let us understand the revenue generation with E-mails in detail in the following subsections.

Increasing Revenue With E-mail

Using triggered E-mail marketing can do wonders in increasing revenue. Triggeringand sending E-mails to the audience that shows interest in your business is crucial for the success of the E-mail marketing campaign. Trigger E-mails have a higher open rate as compared to traditional E-mails.

These E-mail campaigns generate four times more revenue. The E-mail marketing campaign can drive better results with increasing return on investment (ROI) and higher levels of engagement. ROI of an E-mail campaign can be tracked using Click through Rate (CTRs), bounce rate and non-subscribers.

Click through rate describes how many E-mail readers have clicked on the hyperlink provided in the E-mail. The bounce rate is the percentage of E-mail receivers in your subscribers’ list who did not receive the E-mail.

Lowering Costs

E-mail marketing is a cost-effective digital marketing strategy used by brands or marketers. E-mail marketing can lower your overall marketing budget. E-mail is the best digital media that drives the highest return on investment.

The cost per acquisition in E-mail marketing is lower than other types of marketing. Collecting E-mail addresses from your website for E-mail marketing campaign offers beneficial results. The success lies in the effective use of that database.

Dividing the subscriber list into segments on the basis of demographics, geography, history or past purchases, etc., can help in triggering a personalised relationship with them. If it performs well, E-mail marketing can increase sales and client loyalty. It also aids in generating leads and additional business for a brand at a reduced cost.

The objectives of e-mail marketing are:

  • to keep in touch with the customers loyal
  • to make customers loyal
  • to take reviews or feedback
  • to capture new clients
  • to introduce new product or services

Types of E-mail Marketing

There can be E-mail advertisements, regular E-mails or promotional E-mails. There are two ways through which E-mail marketing is executed, one is with the consent or authorisation of the receiver, which is known as permission-based E-mail marketing, and the other is without the authorisation of the receiver which is considered as spam.

Let us study the types of E-mail marketing in detail.

Permission Marketing

Permission-based E-mail marketing is a legal E-mail marketing where the receiver’s authorisation should be there before sending any promotional E-mail. Permission-based E-mail marketing is all about building the lists of E-mail addresses and collecting E-mails and sending them periodically.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a toughest privacy and security law made by the European Union which helps in governing the protection and dissemination of personal data to improve digital privacy.

The conversion rate of permission-based E-mail marketing is high because people who have provided authorisation or showed interest in what you are selling will only get such E-mails.

There are high chances that the receiver of permission-based marketing will take the desired action, such as free sign up, free trial, seminar sign-up, etc. Brands use subscription to get an access to permission-based E-mail marketing so as to get advance consent of the receiver.

Spam Marketing

On the other hand, buying alist of E-mail addresses and sending bulk illegitimate E-mails is known as spamming. Buying a lead list from a company or third party or cold E-mailing is termed as spam marketing. Sending bulk unsolicited E-mail messages to a large number of audiences is also known as spam marketing. Such type of E-mail marketing is a risky proposition and should be avoided by the brands. In this type of E-mail marketing, advance consent is not given by the receiver.

Using this type of E-mail marketing can put your business at risk and also cause reputational damage to the brand name. In spambased E-mail marketing, response rate is very low. Spamming can lead to blacklisting your E-mail address.

Backlisting can damage the brand’s reputation and the entire E-mail marketing campaign. When a domain or IP or email is blacklisted, it gives the warning to the business to be careful. It also means that 95 per cent of the site’s organic traffic is gone.

Platforms for E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing has evolved with technological advancements. There are various E-mail service providers available that enable you to send E-mails to a list of people at a specific time. For example, GetResponse, AWeber, Sendlane, SendGrid, MailChimp can execute effective and relevant E-mail marketing for a brand.

These tools can help in creating customised E-mails as mass E-mails are not in trend these days. Targeted messages can be sent to a particular set of audience using these tools. Also, these tools can foster better E-mail designs.

Brands use E-mail marketing tools to improve their relationship with customers by keeping a regular contact with them on mails. There are some platforms like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc., that provide free E-mail services. One of the major decisions is to select an E-mail service provider for your marketing campaign.

Let us study some of the most popular E-mail marketing tools:


This tool is a powerful E-mail solution provided free of cost up to some extent. Advanced features, such as high E-mail volumes, are paid ones in this tool. The free version allows you to send 300 E-mails per day.

Constant Contact

It is the best E-mail marketing service for small businesses. This tool provides 60 days free trial and also provides various customisation options. It is a paid tool and has two plans on the basis of E-mail address volume. It helps in managing the E-mail list, E-mail templates, marketing calendar, contacts and more. It was first introduced for small businesses in 1998.

Get Response

This is an all-in-one online marketing platform that has additional features, like landing page creator. It has a feature of drag and drop builder to create E-mail designs. This software is a perfect fit for medium-sized businesses. It offers 30 days free trial and after that, it is paid.

Mail Chimp

This platform is one of the simplest E-mail marketing tools used by small businesses and bloggers. It helps in sending better E-mails. Although, sign up is free of cost, but this tool has upgraded plans with advanced features, like auto responders, application integration and customisation. Social media integration is also available on this platform.

E-mail Marketing Process

E-mail marketing helps in establishing brand visibility. E-mail marketing starts with the identification of target subscribers and the content or copy of E-mail. In the E-mail marketing, it is equally important to know whether your target audience is using E-mail digital media or not. Are they genuinely interested in reading E-mails? E-mail marketing is a consistent process that involves four major steps.

Let us understand these steps in detail:


This step is all about data collection, segmentation, and management. The first step involves the creation of a subscribers’ list. A subscribers’ list involves E-mail contacts or addresses who have given their consent to receive your mails.

You can use segmentation at this stage by grouping your subscribers on the basis of some demographics, such as age, gender and location, and create as many lists as you want to target them with personalised and relevant content.


This step involves content development, interaction processes and E-mail copy. It is a decision-making stage where the marketers decide which content should be included in the E-mail and the theme and format to be used to gain the maximum results.

The content and theme of your E-mail should create excitement and curiosity among the readers to facilitate engagement.


This is the action-oriented stage where delivery of marketing E-mails is done. With the help of ESP, a brand can manage this stage easily without any fear of being called a spam. These providers offer advancedservices, like E-mail styling, layout designing and targeting. Establishing ESPs scheduling and E-mail calendar is done at this stage.


This is the monitoring, analysing, reporting, and controlling stage where the marketers assess the performance of an E-mail with the help of interaction scale, campaign report, subscriber report, etc. This stage helps in improving the existing digital practices. It is important to track the open rates, unique opens, total opens, etc.

Design and Content for Successful E-mail Marketing

Before starting any E-mail marketing campaign, it is the responsibility of the marketer to collect the data involving authentic and relevant E-mail addresses. E-mail marketing is a systematic process that is majorly concerned with data.

Let us study some best practices to create an effective E-mail marketing campaign.

Building a Specific E-mail List

Having a list of relevant E-mail addresses is important for the success of E-mailmarketing campaign. The question such as how to attain subscribers, how to segment the acquired data to target the relevant audience, and how to maintain and update the lists of subscribers on regular basis, should be answered initially.

An ESP can provide an authentic subscriber list that contains the database of E-mail addresses. You also have to employ efforts to create various customer touch points and creative opt-ins opportunity to gain the consent of the viewers to receive E-mails from you. Opt-ins like website sign-up forms, social media platforms or instant chatbox can be used to collect E-mail addresses.

It is important to enrich and update your E-mail list regularly. Also, the quality of subscribers affects the success of E-mail marketing campaigns. As small qualitative engagement with potential customers is valuable than a large number of low quality interactions, so a company’s must know their target audience.

Using segmentation on the basis of clicks and subscribers’ behaviour can offer a fruitful result in the long-run. Marketers need to check the accuracy of E-mail address to clean the old data regularly.

Designing Effective Marketing E-mail

The main aim of E-mail marketing campaign is to foster interaction. This can be achieved using appealing design and optimised content. Creating unique, compelling and creative E-mail copy is crucial. All other digital platforms like website, social media are public zone. But an E-mail is considered as a personal zone and a personal asset.

It is a platform that allows marketers to move closer to the users and develop personalised communication with them and know their preferences. Your message should be relevant to the audience to get higher open rates.

Drafting a subject line that is really interesting and engaging can help in encouraging engagement. The subject line of an E-mail is the pick-up line and decides whether the recipient would read it or not. You can use a split test to check the relevancy of your subject lines with a small subset of recipients on MailChimp, etc.

The subject line should be direct and concise because it maximises the chances of the E-mail getting read and if the content is good enough, then getting responded too.

A/B testing is also called the split testing which helps in setting up multiple versions of an E-mail campaign which helps in finding best version that will drive more engagement with a subset of the audience before sending the campaign to everyone.

Spam trigger words are keywords or phrases which E-mail providers consider as red flags. Some keywords which push E-mail to spam are affordable, beneficiary, best price, per cent. Off, best price, bargain, etc.

E-mail copy is the lifeblood of E-mail marketing campaign. An E-mail copy should involve a clear call-to-action button, personal touch, relevant and structured content. There should be a proper balance of text and imagery in the E-mail message.

Adding images in your messages is a value addition. A clear call-to action button and social-sharing button should be involved. It is also important for a marketer to gain insights into how your E-mail looks on mobile and check the spam-filter results as well.

Ensuring E-mail Deliverability

An E-mail service provider is crucial as it protects the domains of companies when they are sending bulk, large volumes or automated email messages. One needs to know the key features of ESPs and the identification of subscribers who are genuinely interested in your product and services and who all are most likely to open your E-mail.

Marketers can personalise the design of an E-mail as per the interest and preferences of subscribers. Setting the E-mail Calendar and time schedule is also important for the delivery of E-mails at the right time.

As per many companies, the good time to send E-mails to the client or customers is between 5 AM to 9 PM. Various ESPs provide free subscription up to some extent wherein advanced features and services are paid.

E-mail Analytics

Using key E-mail marketing metrics to assess the effectiveness of E-mail marketing. E-mail marketing metrics such as open rate metric shows the ratio of the sent emails and the ones opened by the recipients. Marketers calculate open rate by using the following formula:

Open Rate = Number of E-mails read/Number of delivered E-mails x 100

Open rates show the total number of times recipients have opened or viewed your E-mail. It involves recipients who have opened it more than once. Click-through rate matric is the percentage of subscribers who have opened or viewed your E-mail and clicked on a hyperlink provided within that E-mail.

It measures the relevancy of E-mail content. These metrics assess the quality of targeting and segmentation. It is also important to check the number of people who have opted out or no longer subscribe to your E-mails.

The key E-mail marketing metrics are open rate, click-through Rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, unsubscribes, list of growth rate, ROI, E-mail sharing and forwarding rate.

The main component to assess while measuring the success of E-mail marketing campaign is the quality of interaction and not the quantity of open rates, and low bounce rate. It is important to answer questions, such as “Are E-mails driving any traffic to my website?, Are they leading to any conversions?, Etc.”

Effective Practices to Land in Inbox

It is important to land your E-mail in the inbox of recipients instead of markingit as a spam. There are certain practices that can help your E-mail to land in the inbox of your target audience and increase your deliverability rate. Companies often fear that their emails may land in spam or client may blacklist them.

Becoming a Trusted Sender

Sending an E-mail through a dedicated IP address allows you to become a trusted sender. Always disclose your true identity as an E-mail sender in the E-mail. Recipients should know who is E-mailing them and why.

Use a valid E-mail address to send promotional E-mails. It is always advisable to never buy subscribers’ lists as it could land you in in trouble.

Some of the strategy to land into Gmail’s main folders:

  • Avoid e-mail blasts
  • Personalise your e-mails
  • Avoid heavy images
  • Send light HTML e-mails
  • Request the subscribers to add new contacts

Minimising Spam Complaints

The marketers should ensure that their E-mail-sending behaviour and content do not lead to spamming. There are online spam checkers and even various ESPs provide the service of spam checkers.

Always ensure that you provide the unsubscribe button at the footer of an E-mail. An E-mail is considered spam when the recipient reports it as spam. So, it is better to use opt-ins that clearly ask their consent for signing in for E-mails or newsletters.

Complying With Spam Laws

There are certain laws and legal conventions that need to be followed to employ ethical E-mail marketing and to avoid calling your E-mails as spam. These laws are strict in some locations and lenient in others. Spam can be easily identified as per the guidelines of the data protection laws.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the marketers to comply with spam laws. There are certain practices that can negate this negative allegation and blacklisting by offering the opt-out of marketing.

E-mail options in your mail and providing the reason and purpose of sending the E-mail. The governing bodies that facilitate anti-spam laws are Information Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom. The Federal Trade Commission for the United States. CAN-SPAM.

Act, 2003 has enforced the national standard for sending the marketing and commercial E-mails. This law states the guidelines and rules for E-mail marketers and facilitates compliance starting from E-mail content to sending behaviour of corporates.

There is no such E-mail marketing law governing body present in India. However, in India, Section 67 of the Information and Technology Act, 2000, deals with cybercrime.

Enhancing E-mail Professionalism

Using E-mail address only for the purpose for which they were collected is a sign of professionalism. Marketers should maintain the confidentiality of the E-mail addresses provided by the potential prospects and existing customers.

It is important to grant permission from the receiver to send E-mails to their respective E-mail addresses. Maintain the subscriber data and engage with your target audience using ethical modes, such as captivating content, personalisation and use images, simple language, etc. Collaborating with a reputed ESP can help in executing E-mail marketing professionally.

Article Source
  • E-Commerce: Business, Technology, Society, By Kenneth C. Laudon.

  • E-Commerce: Fundamentals and Applications, By Henry Chan, Raymond Lee, Tharam Dillon, Elizabeth Chang

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