You’ve Got Mail: A Beginners Guide To Email Marketing In 5 Easy Steps

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

With the advent of social media and search engine optimization, picking and choosing what marketing channels to develop online can be enough to make your head spin – Google, Twitter, Bing, Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest…you get it. While many hopeful marketers chase every trending app or platform, email marketing continues to be an overlooked avenue for many small and mid-sized businesses.

Despite the saturation of recent years, email marketing offers an opportunity to create deep relationships with a wider audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Despite your industry, goals, or experience, leveraging this sales channel is somewhat of a no-brainer since it requires little to no upfront costs and has a straightforward delivery.

New to email marketing? Just want some tips? We got you. Here’s 5 simple steps you should take in order to launch your first campaign:

1. Choose A Service Provider

There are several (read: a shit ton) of email marketing service providers to choose from. Most of these offer similar services including design templates, list segmentation, and sign up forms (we’ll get into all that later). It’s important to check the pricing and features of all providers to know who is the best fit for your business and your needs. It’s not uncommon for these companies to offer trial versions or, in the case of MailChimp, unlimited emails when you have less than 2,000 subscribers. Many web platforms like Wix and WordPress also have email marketing plugins that are a little less savvy but still get the job done.

Here’s a few of the most popular providers:

Photo of’s email-newsletter pop up

2. Collect Emails

ZIn order to send emails to customers, you need a list of customers to send emails to. Collecting email subscribers is just like collecting anything in this world – quality matters. Most templated website platforms (i.e. Wix and WordPress) will have Email Newsletter fields built in that can collect emails for you right on your website.

Here are a few other ways to collect quality email addresses from people interested in your business:

  • Deliver Good Stuff: This should go without saying, but don’t send people useless content. Think about email in your own personal life. What makes you open an email from another business? Are they sending you junk or actual useful info? Now apply that to your customers. Let potential subscribers know that they can expect something good by joining your email newsletter. Whether it be sales, updates, announcements – if someone thinks they’ll be able to get useful content they’ll sign up to receive your emails.
  • Add A Pop Up To Your Website: Services like OptinMonster let you create pop up windows right on your website. These services are easy to use and let you design simple pop up windows which you can then use to collect email addresses from those visiting your website. Once created, get with your web designer or look into a Pop Up plugin to insert the pop up on your site.
  • Offer An Incentive: If you have an eCommerce Store, offer a special promo code to people who join your newsletter. Most major retailers employ this method via pop ups on their websites, which gives consumers an instant reward and then lets the retailer contact them about future sales and new arrivals. Don’t have an eCommerce Store? You can still utilize other types of incentives, such as giving email subscribers first access to exclusive content or first dibs on new releases.
  • Run Giveaways: Here at Step Out Buffalo we run sweet giveaways for both our clients and our own events, where the cost of entering to win an awesome prize is entrants’ email addresses. Email service providers like MailChimp have features that easily allow users to create email sign up forms which can then be embedded on your website. From there you can share the URL via the embedded sign up form on your social media channels, and all emails entered into the sign up form will automatically be entered into your email lists. Boom.
  • Collect IRL: If you have a retail locations or attend trade shows/events/festivals you can easily collect email addresses from people in real life. You can do this by setting up a mobile tablet with an email sign up form and offering incentives such as giveaways, exclusive offers, first-to-know content, or anything else that may be valuable to potential customers.
Photo of’s email design template in MailChimp

3. Design Your First Email

The very first thing someone will see when they receive an email from your business is the subject line. This is insanely important, because if you don’t hook people with the subject line it doesn’t matter what’s in the email because they’re not opening it. Be creative, be funny, be informative, be concise. For more tips on how to write a good subject line, check out this helpful guide from HubSpot.

Most email marketing services make designing your email campaigns a breeze. With easy drag-and-drop editing tools and pre-made templates, designing a sexy email requires virtually little to no design experience whatsoever. And if you plan on sending out emails pretty frequently, definitely utilize templates to save you some time. (For good measure, you should probably send a Test Email of your template to someone who will give you a fair critique before sending to subscribers…juuuust in case).

4. Keep It Fresh, But Don’t Be Spammy

Another important thing to keep in mind is the strategic timing of your emails. You don’t want to be that company who sends one email every 3 months, but you also don’t want to send out way too many emails. Sadly a magic formula for the perfect amount of emails you should send doesn’t exist. The best advice we can give is to just do you, boo boo. The “perfect” frequency for sending emails will depend entirely on your business and how much useful information you have to give to people.

Two general rules of thumb are

  • Keep it Fresh: The more you can deliver useful and insightful content to your subscribers, the better. If you have enough new useful information to send people an email once a day go for it. People subscribe to emails because they want to benefit or learn more, and if you have good stuff then don’t keep it to yourself.
  • Don’t Be Spammy: If you find yourself repeating the same old same old all the time, consider how that would affect you if you were the consumer, then dial it back accordingly. No one wants to receive the same deal for 15% off every day of the week, it just makes the consumer annoyed and it makes you look desperate. Pro Tip: Keep track of how many people unsubscribe to your emails. If you unsubscribe rates are higher than your new subscribe rate, you should probably consider sending less emails.
Photo of email stats from MailChimp

5. Understand the Reporting

Keeping tabs on how people are engaging with your newsletter is essential for making changes and growing your list. Things like open rates and click-through rates paint a picture of how consumers are engaging with your emails, while unsubscribe and bounce rates show how many email addresses on your list aren’t quality potential customers after all. The majority of email service providers will have analytics and reporting built right to their software, making things much much easier for you.

Here’s a list of a few of the most important email marketing metrics and what they mean:

  • Subscribers: Number of people who are signed up to receive your emails
  • Opens: How many subscribers actually opened your email
  • Open Rate: Percentage of your list who opened your email (if your open rate is less than 10% take it as a signal to update your subject lines or segment your lists)
  • Click-through Rate: The percentage of people clicking the links withing your email
  • Unsubscribed: How many people chose to stop receiving your emails
  • Bounced: Emails that were sent but not delivered (due to a misspelled email address, an email address that’s no longer active, etc)

The takeaway

Email is a great way to stay top-of-mind with people who are interested in your business. Do it right and you’ll create a lasting relationship with your customers that will benefit every one in the end!


Want to know more about promoting your business on Contact us!

At Step Out Buffalo, we help businesses promote themselves and their events on our website, email, and social media channels. Our team is comprised of experts who know exactly how to make your business or event stand out, and we’ll put you in all the right places so you get noticed by all the right people. Hit us up if you’d like to learn more about our business and/or events-based promotions – there’s a reason 94% of our readers go places they’ve seen on

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Step Out Buffalo Business

Step Out Buffalo Business is a business focused publication featuring tips and tricks for entrepreneurs and small business people in Buffalo & Western New York. We write what we know and when we don't know, we ask an expert in the field. We've gained our knowledge through experience growing businesses in various industries.

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