The Ultimate Blueprint to
Email Marketing
Email Marketing Strategy and Best Practices for Small Business Owners
Table of Contents
When it comes to marketing, we’ve heard it all.

“Snapchat is the new Facebook!”

“Periscope is the new Snapchat!”

It seems like it never ends.

That’s the way modern marketing works: follow industry trends, focus on where people are spending most of their time, and experiment with how to keep and get customers.

But for entrepreneurs, email marketing done right can skyrocket your business and help you retain your customers. The trick is doing it right.
Email Marketing: Still the Most Important Channel for Business

While there are certainly newer and shinier marketing channels out there, believe it or not, email still reigns as the most important marketing channel for business. 

Email marketing isn’t just the No. 1 digital marketing channel,
it’s also companies’ top source of data for analytics.
Campaign Monitor

Yes, email, the marketing channel that’s older than Justin Bieber, yet able to generate staggering ROI and personal touches at scale, is still the most effective way to market your small business. 
Top marketing experts still value email marketing as well:

“When you consider the intensity of the noise on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks, it becomes clearer that the best place to communicate better with potential customers is via their inboxes.”

Neil Patel

“Email marketing is not dead. If you’re not using it, you’re losing.”

"To be able to create an outstanding customer experience that is automated, that takes care of our folks no matter where they are around the world... really allows us to do what we do best, which is to create outstanding customer experiences."
Marie Forleo

"If getting your email to your leads’ inboxes is important – in other words, if having it trashed costs you money – then it’s important for you to understand how the email world works."
Landon Ray
Not only is email the most effective form of marketing for businesses, it’s also favored by your customers who want to communicate with you.
Sending email creates a direct and personal line of communication between you and your list, making it the best way to build amazing relationships with your existing customers and remarkable experiences for your new leads.

When done right, email marketing is:
Cost effective
Email throughout the customer lifecycle

Think about it like this:

Effective email marketing lets you talk to your contacts throughout their entire relationship with you — from initial outreach as a curious prospect to becoming a long-term customer. No other marketing channel gives you this opportunity.

With email marketing you can communicate with leads during all stages of the customer lifecycle:
New lead management
Expanding customer relationships
Long-term lead nurture
Getting referrals
New client welcome and onboarding
Soliciting feedback
Simply put: A highly effective email marketing strategy can take your business to the next level. 

What it takes to do email marketing well

And after 10 years of sending over eight billion emails, we’ve learned a lot about the importance of email marketing and what goes into a successful email marketing strategy. From funnel strategy to successful delivery practices, we’ve compiled our treasure-trove of valuable email marketing best practices. You’ll find everything you need to run an amazing email marketing campaign from start to finish.

Whether you’re building your first email campaign or you’re a seasoned pro, the ideas, tips and strategies in this guide are guaranteed to boost your email marketing ROI.

Get started now! 
Chapter One
Getting Your Email Delivered
Demystifying Email Technology
Since email was first created in 1978, it has evolved to meet the non-stop demand for mass communication. Originally, it was fascinating that a message could be relayed from one point to another instantly. Now it’s the centerpiece of modern day communication, commerce and innovation.

Email is used by roughly three billion people. With all of those messages zooming around the Internet, it can be difficult to understand the technology and methodology used to generate opens, clicks, and customers buying. Over the next several sections we unveil the interior workings of email and how you can harness best practices to establish a profitable online presence.
Bits & Parts of an Email
To the naked eye, it may seem that an email has only the subject line and body. However, it’s important to know that there are actually many other parts both right in front of you — and behind the scenes — that affect your open rates. Everything from “From Name” and “Reply To Address” to hidden email headers play a huge role in your deliverability rates. After all, if your email can’t make it to the inbox — it’s definitely not going to be opened!
Nearly everyone knows the basic parts of an email: The “From” information such as name and email address, the subject line and the body, but there is also hidden information in the email that your email service provider (ESP) takes care of for you — the header. Email headers are comprised of information regarding routing, authentication such as SPF/DKIM/DMARC keys, unique identifiers, unsubscribe messages and sometimes more depending on the mailer.
HTML and Text
A great way to make sure that your customers can view your email is to insert a “View this email online” link right at the top of your message. 
This allows readers to follow the link and view the email as a webpage — just in case your email doesn’t display correctly in their inbox. Another great way to make sure your customers and prospects are getting the most out of your email messages is to include a permission reminder — adding a note near the beginning about why they are receiving emails from you (bonus points for including an unsubscribe link that’s easy to find near the top!).
Spam Law Basics
CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003)

The U.S. government passed this law to make sending unsolicited email illegal, but it still allows for unsolicited mail to be sent under these conditions:

 Sender’s physical address is listed in the footer of the message
 No confusing or misleading subject lines
 Clear and accurate “From” name
CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law)
Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is significantly more restrictive than CAN-SPAM — it actually requires email senders to obtain explicit affirmative consent to send mail to their recipients. This rules out pre-checked opt-in boxes on forms with an email field.

CASL only applies to senders who have a reasonable assumption that there are no Canadian residents on their email list — for example, if they market only within the U.S.

The same restrictions as CAN-SPAM apply.
Spam Checklist
Below is a combined compliance checklist for both CASL and CAN-SPAM including:
Explicit affirmative permission (no co-registrations or pre-checked opt-in boxes) 
Physical address of sender in every message
Clear “From” Name/Address
Easy opt-out (clickable link, no additional info needed)
The same restrictions as CAN-SPAM apply.

If you’re sending bulk marketing email, it’s important all of the messages you send are in compliance with the law.

For the most part, the CAN-SPAM act is very lax — it only requires a few things:

No misleading subject lines
An easy opt-out to be honored within seven days that doesn’t require any additional information (though you can require email address).
A valid physical address for you
5 Basic Email Stats
Open Rate
The open rate of an email lets mailers know what percentage of messages sent were opened.
Click Rate
The click rate lets mailers know what percentage of emails had a recipient take action and click a link contained in the message.
Bounce Rate
The bounce rate of an email shows mailers what percentage of emails were bounced back because of full mailboxes or wrong email addresses. High bounce rates are typically caused by mailing old or purchased lists. A bounce rate of higher than 5% can cause deliverability issues.
Unsubscribe Rate
The unsubscribe rate tells what percentage of recipients choose not to receive email from the sender any longer.
Complaint Rate
A complaint is registered when a recipient clicks the “this is spam” button in their email service provider (ESP). A complaint rate above .35% will generally cause deliverability issues.
Email Service Providers: Overview
IP Reputation
The easiest way to think of an IP address is to compare it to the address of your house. It tells people where to address mail. If someone wanted to visit you, they could look up your address to find out where you are located. An IP address works in the same way. Internet service providers identify you via your IP address, allowing communications with every other device connected to the internet.

To keep track of spammers, ISPs associate IP addresses with sender reputation.
IPs earn reputations just like people and places earn reputations. Think of a crime-laden neighborhood. It’s probably not somewhere you would travel to very often, right?

Email providers do a very similar kind of sifting, filtering and decision-making about emails that we do with people and places. They are watching what each mailing IP out there is doing and silently taking note — deciding who to trust. Over time they determine if “good mail,” “gray mail” or spam is leaving the IP. When spam or “gray mail” is seen leaving an IP, that IP will start to develop a poor reputation, and less and less mail will reach the inbox if that activity continues.

Public vs. Private
Your personal computer may have its very own IP, but when you send mail it comes from the IP address your ESP uses to send messages from you and all your other clients. ESPs may have hundreds of clients, and they typically use one or a few IPs to send mail for all of them. Whenever a client sends out mail that gets marked as spam, every one of that ESP’s clients suffers. 
“It doesn’t matter what your ESP’s marketing and sales pitch says: if you’re sending from a shared IP address, you’re placing yourself at a disadvantage.”
Landon Ray
So what can you do to avoid this problem? You can get a private IP address. If you send more than 300,000 emails a month, it’s time to start thinking about getting your own IP. Your ESP can help you set this up.
Email Delivery Tips
It can be incredibly frustrating to put lots of time and work into writing great copy, perfecting your template and designing genius funnels only to find out that a significant chunk of your emails aren’t getting through!

It’s a pretty challenging email delivery landscape out there. According to a study by Return Path in 2014, only 83% of permission-based emails actually reached the inbox. 6% were sent straight to the spam folder, and 11% were blocked. It’s interesting to note that this study only included legitimate businesses trying to use email to keep in touch with contacts who actually opted in! 

There are a lot of spammers out there. According to the Radicati Group, 84% of the world’s email traffic in 2013 was spam! Since illegitimate email senders are so busy sending messages trying to convince consumers to wire money to Nigeria, waste their money on phony male enhancement supplements or participate in shady investment schemes, the spam filters of your real contacts’ inboxes have a hard job to do. You’re not a spammer, but how can your contact’s ESP tell the difference?

To get a better understanding of everything that’s going on in the war on spammers, check out "Getting Your Email Delivered" by ONTRAPORT CEO Landon Ray. 

Sender Reputation            
Your sender reputation is what ISPs use to judge whether or not to deliver the mail you send directly to your contact’s inbox. Your email deliverability is almost completely dependent on your sender reputation which is determined by a variety of factors, the largest of which is how frequently recipients mark your message as spam. How exactly does sender reputation affect deliverability? Return Path keeps track of a metric known as Sender Score, a numeric indicator of the quality of a sender’s reputation (Check out the email delivery tools later in this guide to find out how to establish your Sender Score). In their research, they found that the top email senders, those who have a sender score of 99 or 100, are able to achieve a 98% delivery rate. 

These email senders had one thing in common: an extremely low complaint rate. These top senders average complaint rate is only 0.03% - that's less than one in ten thousand! Unlike the top senders, those with a sender score of 90 only got 20% of their messages successfully delivered. Those with a score of 71 or less did far worse – nearly all of their mail was blocked by mailbox providers.

"From" Name & Address
The most important thing to remember about the name and email your messages are sent from is to make your identity obvious and to keep it consistent across all communications a contact may receive from you.

Your “From” Address is key, because along with your “From” Name, it provides your identity to both the ESPs and your readers. Because your readers are looking for identity markers via the “From” Address when they sift through their emails, it’s important that yours is consistent and immediately recognizable so your message doesn’t get trashed.

If your contacts don’t know who they’re getting mail from, they’re a lot more likely to delete your message. It can be helpful to include the name of your company or organization in your “From” Name to make it clear who you are.

 For Example:
Just like the “From” Name, the “From” email also needs to stay consistent and avoid misleading contacts. If at all possible, send from an email address that’s actually from your own domain. Many lower-end email service providers can make it look like email is coming from your own URL while they really send it from a domain of their own.

As Landon Ray says, “The problem with this is that your reputation is partially determined by that “From” address, and if you’re sharing it with thousands of other clients… well, it’s a lot like sharing a toothbrush. You could, but do you want to?” 

Your reply-to email address may be different from your “From” address, especially if you send from an address like “” Be sure the reply address is an active mailbox where you will actually see message replies. Treat each reply you receive as an opportunity to build connections with your list. Make sure to answer them and send them to your sales team, customer support or the correct contact as needed. 
Hyperlinks and Redirects
Make sure to never send out a raw URL, especially if your ESP tracks link clicks. You should avoid doing this because the way your ESP actually tracks link clicks is by redirecting your contacts to another URL to count them before sending them to your intended link. This is a big red flag for spam filters, since they can see that the URL your link is pointing to is actually different from what you’re showing the contact in the message body. In order to protect consumers from being misled, they associate these misleading raw URLS with phishing attacks and block these messages.

A much better alternative is to use a hyperlink with anchor text that describes the destination of the link. (It’s also a much more attractive option — raw URLs are usually pretty ugly.)

TIP: Avoid using links from public URL shorteners like in your email messages. Link shorteners also work using a redirect, so they send everyone first to their domain before they finally end up at your intended destination. When you include these links, your email sending reputation gets lumped in along with every other sender who sends links to these domains, spammers included.
Unsubscribe Options
Believe it or not, the unsubscribe button is an email marketer’s best friend. Why? When a contact clicks the unsubscribe button, they’re telling you that they are not interested in what you’re sending. With them off the list, your average email engagement rate will improve. On top of that, you can be grateful that they’re NOT clicking the “this is spam” button, which is far more damaging for you.

Pro Tip:

Depending on how your ESP handles unsubscribes, you can also make it possible for email recipients to unsubscribe only from certain funnels while remaining subscribed to others. Allowing recipients to control their email preferences is a great way to avoid losing people from your list. Some contacts will be interested in your weekly roundup of news and deals; others might only want to hear from you occasionally. Let them tell you what they’re comfortable with, and respect that to build a relationship based on trust with every single one of your contacts. 

Email Deliverability:
The Key to Your Success
Email deliverability is the art of consistently getting ones email into the inbox. These days, it sometimes appears that marketers are only interested in gaming the system.

There is always a new “super-charged-mad-scientist-marketer’s-system” product out there that claims to “increase inbox placement by 3%” or “increase traffic by 900 percent.”

Frequently, the methods for achieving these kinds of gains involve less-than-honest marketingtechniques, such as hiding one’s true identity or re-launching a new product under a differentbrand each month. In a world with endless options to get ahead, no matter the cost — whoneeds to play by the rules?
It might be maddening to you that marketers get away with this sort of thing. Perhaps thecurious part of you wonders if some of their tricks might actually work. We want to convinceyou, though, that these quick-fix tricks are not sustainable, and build neither integrity into yourbusiness practices nor trust with your clients. Instead, we contend that sending mail the rightway — not under the guise of any half-truths or lies — allows you to create longer-lasting andmore profitable relationships with your customers and prospects. We believe this integrity should be situated at the core of your marketing practices.
When choosing who you want to send your emails, it is important that you have a bit ofinformation about the “fine print” of the ESPs. While it is basically a requirement that theitems discussed below are already in order when mass mailing, it’s a good practice toensure that your provider has all of these elements covered. In this section, we’ve included alist of things to ask your ESP about, along with a brief description of each issue.
Sender Policy Framework
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a tool used in the fight against impersonation and phishing. To set SPF, you must create a record and then add it to the DNS (Domain Name Sytsem) Zone file of the domain you would like to protect (Note that you can only add SPF for domains you own/control). If you’reusing a “name brand” ESP, this should already be taken care of for you. If not, we would highly advise switching to another provider. A few more technical details are listed below.
SPF Record Sample:
Domain Keys Integrated Mail (DKIM)
DKIM is a technical infrastructure setting that allows a domain to be connected to an IP. Through the use of an encrypted key (preferred to be 1024 bits or more), IP/Domain ownersare able to connect domains with IPs in a secure way. This allows the ESPs out there to check DKIM values both on the sending server and on the DNS of the sending domain.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)

DMARC is one of the newest forms of authentication to be released (it’s actually still in Beta atthe time of this writing). DMARC allows domain owners to give ESPs instructions on what todo with messages if other forms of authentication are broken (spf/DKIM). This is a great toolbecause now a business owner can make sure anyone trying to impersonate his/her brand will immediately be blocked, and that business owner can be notified.
Next, we’ve included descriptions of the top tools for marketers, starting with someinformation on two free reputation monitoring services.

Domain ReputationEven the best of mailers will get blacklisted once or twice. Whether due to a rogue complaintor just a false positive, it’s bound to happen. This makes it even more important to have monitoring solutions in place and to take quick, appropriate action whenever listed.

MXToolbox: An Email Marketer’s Best Friend
MXToolbox is a great free tool for looking up more info on any mailing domain or IP such as:
URIBL is a domain blacklisting service that lists domains belonging to and being used byspammers. These domains can be anything from the Return-Path on emails, the From or Reply To addresses, or even just a domain in the body of an email.
SURBL is a great free resource to check on the blacklisting status of domains you maybe promoting.
SpamCop: Putting Bad Messages in Email “Jail” Since 1998
SpamCop lists IPs based on feedback from their community. SpamCop monitors content and bans users who post false positives. SpamCop’s blocking list is open for free to anyonethat wants to use it.
How to Measure Deliverability
The easiest way to measure deliverability at scale is via seed testing — a service done through companies like 250ok and Return Path
Handling Bounces
Bounces are inevitable and come in many different forms. The important thing is to be aware of is how to properly handle bounces. If you’re using an ESP like ONTRAPORT, it keeps up-to-date on bounce-handling protocols and definitions, meaning you don’t have to worry about it. 
Hard Bounces
“There’s No One Here By That Name”
A hard bounce is when you send an email message to an address that no longer exists. Hard bounces will usually be associated with an SMTP 554 error. If you receive such an error, it is important that you unsubscribe that email address immediately. Continuing to mail to it could cause you to hit “graved” spam traps and will cause your hard bounce rate to rise — both of which have very detrimental effects on your emails’ deliverability and reputation. 
Content Issues
The Swipe Copy Epidemic
It’s spreading like the plague and most marketers don’t realize it’s responsible for the rapid demise of their online businesses. An incredible amount of testing is done every day to determine what Landing Page, form, email, arrow, logo, headline, copy, and so on will get the best return on investment. Because of this obsession with maximizing marketing potential, it’s become commonplace that gurus and entrepreneurs alike offer their highest performing copy and pages to their affiliates in order to squeeze out as many sales as possible. This is a reasonable tactic for those looking at the bottom line. However, what they fail to consider is that the game changes when there are hundreds of people using the same copy and methods to promote the same product. 
Chapter Two
How to Design and Write Amazing Emails That Convert
Just because you send emails, doesn’t mean people will read them or even open them for that matter. Awesome content and effective copywriting are essential to increasing the performance of the emails you send.
Understanding Your Target Market

Before you can start sending effective emails, you need to know your audience; who are you writing to?

Don't spend a dime on marketing until you can answer this question. Seriously, don’t.

Poorly targeted marketing is an expensive mistake and a massive waste of time. To see valuable returns on your campaigns, you need to know who your customers are, what they care about and what messages they'll respond to.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself… The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.

Peter Drucker

You need to get into your customers' minds to craft a perfectly targeted message. How do you do that?
The easy solution is to segment your customer list, or divide your customers into smaller groups that represent several different types of frequent customers.

You probably have many categories of customers; why talk to them all the same way?
Companies that use email list segmentation see 39% higher open rates and 28% lower unsubscribe rates.

Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report

To send messages targeted as narrowly as possible to your customers’ wants, interests and behaviors, it’s crucial to divide your customer base into small, highly-targeted segments.
Of course there are challenges in doing this as well. Determining the most effective form of segmentation can be a mystery, and collecting the data can seem arduous. Spending the time or money required to develop a number of tailored messages or campaigns looks like a lot of extra work but worth every penny! Sales funnel specialist Jeremy Reeves found his email segmentation sweet spot by employing a variety of segmentation methods including surveys and user dictated email sequences.

So what can you do to avoid mis-targeting your customers and start segmenting your leads?
Bonus! To learn everything you need to know about segmentation, personas, and finding your target market, download our free ebook "Five Tactics, One Strategy" written by ONTRAPORT CEO Landon Ray.
Before you start effectively targeting your customers, you need to define your segments.

Consider these questions when defining your segments:
Are they definable based on characteristics, behavior, or responses?
Are they a big enough part of your business to warrant developing a strategy around?
Do they have members who can be motivated to take action?
Are they measurable?
Once you can confidently answer these questions, you need to determine how you want to segment your customers.

How to Segment Your Audience: Three Common Methods

1. Stage of the Buying Cycle
Segmenting by where a customer is in a particular buying cycle helps you to provide highly-targeted content to improve your conversion rates. Are prospects visiting your website for the first time? Have they visited your website but didn’t convert? Did they leave items in their shopping cart? Do you want to sell them something else? Buyers in the early stage of research have different informational needs than those ready to purchase. Create and deliver content for each step in the buying cycle in order to ensure you’re not missing an opportunity at a sale.

2. Customer Avatars
Segment customers by character types based on the traits, desires, goals, and attributes of each type of customer you have. You can easily create a “persona” and group together similar customers based on their character type. If you have two or more distinct demographics of people who buy from you, creating and segmenting your customers by avatars works amazingly well. Grouping like customers together allows you to craft specific marketing collateral designed to appeal to different character types so you can market more accurately and effectively.

How to Create a Customer Avatar:
Develop Persona Lifestyle Description
Identify Pain Points and Possibilities
Map the Buyer Journey
Write Your Customer’s Biography
Design the Campaign
Download our free guide Get to Know Your Target Market to learn more about perfecting your message. Use this free worksheet to create an amazing customer avatar for your business!
3. Product Interest
Segmenting customers by the amount of interest they have (or potentially have) in your product — is known as lead scoring. This allows you to identify which of your contacts are “hot” leads and then create email campaigns exclusively for them. For example, “hot” leads with a high engagement score can be marketed to more aggressively, while leads with a lower engagement score can be nurtured to raise their interest and engagement.

The more refined you are in creating segments, the more successful you’ll be in achieving your marketing goals.

These segments are going to help guide future marketing decisions, so take the time to really think about what type(s) make sense for your business. 
How to Determine Each Lead’s Segment
Once you’ve determined the specific segments that you’d like to start targeting more precisely, you have to figure out how to get the data you need to place leads onto your segments. Make sure you pick fields that will help your business benefit the most from the information your leads provide. Here are the best ways to gather data from your leads and start segmenting:
Buy It!

List Appending Services - Buying data can be extremely effective for ‘hard’ demographic information such as address, income level, company size, and more. Data collection companies can append your databases with their information and help you find other prospects like the ones you’ve got.

Ask for It!
Forms - Asking for information via web forms is, of course, tried and true. Forms are the easiest and most organized way to gather information about your customers.

Surveys - Utilizing surveys can be an amazing way to gather the necessary information you need to effectively segment your audience. The problem with gathering data online is that asking for anything — even just an email address — can be perceived as pushy or risky and adds significant friction to your conversion process. In general, the more information you require from prospects online, the fewer responses you’ll get — not to mention visitor’s propensity to use false fill information. Still, asking for data is often necessary, and when done right is very effective.
The first step to perfecting email frequency is to determine how to segment your list. If you have no pre-existing data to utilize, the best place to gain this information is via a survey. The objective here is to learn about the interests and goals of the diverse contacts in your list. From there, you can group individuals by criteria that matters and target each segment with content they’re most interested in, whether that be a special offer, piece of content or anything else.

Jeremy Reeves
Infer It!
Online Behavior - There’s an enormous opportunity to infer important information about your prospects by tracking their online behavior. By strategically designing advertisements, websites, Landing Pages, and email communications in coordination with profiling tools such as those incorporated into ONTRAPORT Tracking, it’s possible to learn a vast amount about specific prospects, the quality of your lead sources, and much more.
How to Organize Segments
Due to the highly connected nature of segments and contacts, proper organization is a must. The two main ways to organize segments are:

Database Systems – Dynamic systems that interact with the user, other applications, and the database itself to capture and analyze data. ONTRAPORT is a database system. You can create multiple groups that have overlapping contact records, and our system, because it’s a database, will only count the record as one contact. These systems are essential to running a successful business with a variety of segments.
List Based SystemsStatic systems that are less complex than database systems, but also far less powerful. For example, AWeber is a list-based system where you can segment people by creating different lists — newsletter lists, marketing funnel lists, sales funnel lists, etc. The problem with these systems is that they utilize fixed lists that don’t communicate with any other aspects of your system. If a contact record is on more than once list, the record will be counted as two separate contacts instead of one, which can cause a variety of problems. These systems are somewhat useable for small businesses that only have one or two segments but can be a real pain in the butt when businesses try to scale.
Think Like a Copywriter
Do you ever worry that your contacts don’t actually read your emails? Getting an ROI you can be proud of from your email marketing efforts hinges on sending messages that your recipients find engaging — and strong copy is the key. According to expert copywriter Liston Witherill, “Copy can boost your sales by almost 20 times on the same offer.” Great inbox placement and a beautiful template will take you far, but great email copy will grab hold of your readers’ attention and pull them all the way through your message, compelling them to respond to your call to action.

Even though copywriting is tough, you don’t have to hire a professional copywriter to send effective emails to your list. You know your product inside and out. You love it, and you believe in it — that means you’re already well-qualified to write about it!

Copy can boost your sales by 19.5x on the same offer.
Liston Witherill
Make It About Them
Writing great copy really isn’t about talking about you, your product, or your business. Copywriting is about getting into your customers’ minds, figuring out what matters to them, and bridging the gap between their pain points and the solution your product provides. Here’s how to write copy that speaks loudly and clearly to your ideal customer.

1) Put yourself in the customers’ shoes.
Try to look at the world from your customers’ perspective. What do they want more than anything? What is their life like on an average day? What are the biggest problems and pain points they are dealing with?

2) Give them the perfect solution to their problem.
Once you have a sense of your customers’ biggest problems, make the bridge to your product or service the solution. Show them exactly how it would get rid of their pain point for good. Focus on benefits — instead of telling them all about the features and expecting them to understand how it would solve their problem, tell them how it is going to impact their everyday experiences.

3) Tell them exactly what they have to do.
Even after you’ve successfully made the connection between their problem and your solution, you need to tell them exactly what is necessary for them to reap the benefits you spelled out. Keep it as simple as possible — what is the next step you want them to take? Maybe you want them to click a link to view a product. Maybe you want them to register for a webinar. Isolate one single action you want them to take after reading your email. This is your call to action. Everything in the body of the email should be moving the reader toward responding to the call to action.  
Build Rapport
One of the most useful tips for writing copy that makes your message recipients happy to receive emails from you is to write the way you talk. Even better? Write the way they talk. Aim to create a conversational tone that makes your audience feel as though they are reading a personal email from a good friend. You can amplify this effect by personalizing your message with merge fields. Include your reader’s name, a reference to an event they attended, a product they purchased or any other relevant information you have.
Keep it Brief
Don’t count on holding your readers’ attention for too long, even if your copy hits the nail on the head. There are likely dozens of other emails sitting there waiting for them to read, so make sure not to beat around the bush. Don’t make your emails any longer than they need to be to convey the information or offer you’re sending. 
Offer a Reward
Give the reader a reason to click. Are you offering valuable info, a special offer or a unique opportunity? Let them know what they stand to gain.

We’ll teach you to do search marketing in your sleep! - MarketingProfs
A Gift for Dad, a Bonus for You - Birchbox
What’s free and saves you money? - zulily 

Be Honest & Straightforward
You had better believe that your readers can sniff out deceptive headlines. Don’t promise them something you can’t deliver on! You’re better off telling them exactly what your email is about while also showcasing the value it offers them.

Three Simple Steps to Striking Design - Canva
SEO at a price you can afford! - Bluehost
Create a Sense of Urgency
Everyone suffers from F.O.M.O. — aka Fear of Missing Out. If your offer expires in a limited time or has limited availability, mention it in the subject line, but don’t create fake scarcity that doesn’t accurately reflect your offer — it could cause your readers’ spam radars to go off!

Eek — something you like is almost sold out! - ModCloth
Just Hours Left to Win $5k! - Weebly
Time is running out to claim your $50 - Lyft 

Trigger Emotion
Use your audience’s emotional reactions to grab their attention quickly. Instead of framing the value of your message in a purely logical way, try framing it in a way that shows them what they’d gain on a personal level from opening it. Think about what your audience values, what they hold dear and what they desire most.

Cute Things for Free. Take Your Pick! - Birchbox
Make Yourself a Hot Tech Commodity with UX Design Skills - General Assembly
You’re so close to riding in style - Uber

Use Unique & Intriguing Language
Another great way to arouse your readers’ curiosity is to use words that they wouldn’t expect to see in their inbox. Don’t be silly or outrageous, but do choose words and phrases that are colorful and descriptive, with a bit of mystery.

Fireworks and Darts and Models and Swim Trunks - UrbanDaddy
chocolate dipper + pretzel = nom - Graze
For hustlers only - AppSumo
Create a Strong Call to Action
It doesn’t matter if you’re as good at copywriting as Mozart was at composing, if you don’t spell out a single, clear call to action you won’t be satisfied with your email marketing ROI. Remember the reason you’re writing email copy: to get readers to take action. Do you want them to download a piece of content? Do you want them to respond to a specific offer? Do you want them to sign up for your free webinar? No matter what action you want your readers to take, you have to make it crystal clear. Then tell them to do it. Don’t ask too politely; don’t beat around the bush. Spell it out in black and white, and tell them exactly what will happen when they take the action.
Amazing Calls-to-Actions. Try these:
Although copywriting is an art that can be tricky to master, these basic concepts will take you far. By focusing on your readers’ unique problems, and giving them a solution that they can take action on right away, you’ll be able to write email messages that capture your readers’ attention every time.


End each email with “Shoot me a quick reply.” 

“The time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases.”
William Edmund Hick
How to Make Sure Your Email Looks Good in Every Inbox
Make sure your emails are looking pretty and converting with these design standards.

As more people worldwide browse the web using their smartphones, mobile responsivity has become more important than ever. Making sure that your emails are accessible and gorgeous on tiny and large screens alike is essential to improve conversions. Send out preview emails to yourself and use a tool like Litmus to see how your email displays on different screens.
If an email does not display correctly, 71.2% will delete it immediately.
Email Width
Email width goes hand in hand with responsiveness. People view email on such a wide variety of devices, and few things are worse than having to scroll horizontally when trying to read an email. This is handled by creating a fixed email width, so that no matter what screen size or device people are reading your emails from, they look the same.

Ideal Fixed Email Width: 600px 600px is the sweet spot — big enough for recipients to easily view your content and small enough to display correctly on most devices. Do not exceed 600px or you risk your emails looking terrible and losing your subscribers.
As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words! Adding images to your emails is a great way to engage recipients, boost conversions, and make your emails look amazing.

Size: Like the templates of your emails themselves, your email images should be fixed at 600px or less to ensure your recipients view your email how you designed it. Image height doesn’t matter as much as width, because email responsiveness solely relies on width as it scales; although, it’s still important to take image height into consideration. For example, a very tall image may look aesthetically displeasing or confuse your email subscribers.
Bonus: Nobody likes an email that doesn’t load quickly. Using an image with a large file size will inevitably take forever to load. Use a tool like to compress your photos and boost email loading speeds.
Where to find images: No one likes generic stock photography. Instead, choose images that are relevant to your product or offer. Rather than vague photos of smiling people or generic clip art graphics, use images that show off what makes your product unique. If you haven’t already, consider investing in a few professional images of your product or business.

Hint: Don’t use images like this one.
If you don’t have image resources readily available, check out these websites for free, high-quality, anti-stock photos and graphics for your email marketing campaigns:
And to make your images even better, check out these free image creation and editing tools:
Different colors create different impressions on your customers, meaning they can either help or hurt conversions based on how well they resonate with your brand, offer and audience. In general, visitors will unconsciously associate different ideas and feelings with different colors. As you can see in the portion of this infographic from Conversioner, people quickly associate actions and feelings with these colors.

So try using some color to make your emails stand out and influence your recipients’ decisions — while sticking to your brand’s design standards of course.
Web Safe Fonts
Unfortunately, you can’t choose whatever font you’d like because not all email platforms support the same fonts. Some may support your super sleek, on-brand font, but others might not, and it’s for this reason you need to send emails using web safe fonts only or else you run the risk of your emails looking hideous.

So what are web safe fonts?

Because not all operating systems feature the same fonts, web safe fonts are the universal fonts that almost all systems support.

To see which web safe fonts match together nicely, check out this post by W3 Schools. And if you want to get into the nitty gritty, check out Campaign Master’s post about web safe fonts.
Rather than just telling your audience all about the amazing features and benefits of your product, why not show them with an amazing video? 
Research shows that 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video.
Social Media Today
While you can embed video in some email services, Outlook and Gmail, two of the biggest mail clients, don’t currently allow it — so you need to get a little crafty. One awesome workaround is to link to videos, rather than embed them.

Here’s how:
Create your email.
Grab a screenshot or still image from your video.
Add a play button atop the image to give it the appearance of a video. Giikers is an amazing and free tool for this, but you can easily do this in Photoshop, Pixlr and, if you’re desperate, Microsoft Paint.
Link the image to a Landing Page, blog post, or web page that’s hosting your video.
(Optional) Set your video to autoplay to put the least amount of inconvenience on your page visitor.
Your final email should look like this:
Adding the play button on top of your image will drastically increase your click-through rate and drive more people to your video page, where you can then focus on converting them.
Video email offers a return 280% higher than traditional email
Email Monks
Unlike video, GIFs (moving image files) can be easily embedded into emails, are supported by most email clients, and a great way to capture your recipients attention. A perfectly timed GIF can turn a decent email into a great one.
For example, check out this “Thanks for Subscribing” email from Help Scout. They use a funny GIF to break the ice and add movement (though you can’t see it from the screenshot) as well as humor to the email.
So if your emails need a little something extra, a GIF could work wonders. And remember, GIFs are supposed to be fun, so get creative and let your personality shine through.

Guides to Creating/Using GIFs:
Where to find GIFs:
Examples of Amazing Emails
Sometimes it really is as easy as this… Apple has done an amazing job keeping their brand insanely simple yet bold at the same time, and this email is no different. The headline isn’t as profound as you’d expect, but it doesn’t need to be when you utilize pragmatic yet descriptive copy and a single call to action button that easily guides readers to click through to the Landing Page.
Blue Apron
This email from Blue Apron is great for a few reasons. It’s got a clear headline that offers a discount as well as introduces a new product. The top image is a gif that adds movement to the email and quickly engages the reader. The copy is easy to read, persuasive, benefit-driven, and implies a sense of urgency without being too pushy. Placing call to action buttons at the top and bottom is great, although the buttons should probably be a different color (Orange would work nicely) than the rest of their email to stand out and grab the reader’s attention.
This is a great example of an upsell email from Surfline. Outstanding imagery quickly captures the reader’s attention. It features a clear, simple headline that is benefit driven and personalized. Supporting copy supplements the headline and offers a discount to further persuade the reader to convert and even includes a deadline, which adds urgency and inspires action. The call to action button is huge, green, and stands out like a sore thumb -- but in a good way. That's what you want. They include social sharing buttons which is good, but they should be less noticeable as they somewhat take away from the radiant call to action button.
This is an amazing email from Outbrain. A strong headline and subheader proclaim the company as the best option. The image shows the reader exactly what the company does, and the copy easily makes a connection with the reader by clearly stating the problem and solution their product solves — it’s very benefit driven copy. The call to action is great, as it persuades the reader to find out more, although it should be a different color — something that stands out more, as Orange is used predominantly in the email. Add in social sharing buttons and you have the makings of a great email.
Chapter Three
13 Practical Emails You Can Send Today To Grow Profits
Email marketing has a 4300% ROI.
And here’s another fun fact:
Email conversions outperform search conversions by 84% and social media conversions by 633%.

Who ever said email is dead?

Lots of people, but they’re wrong.

It’s still the most effective marketing channel at your disposal. The bottom line is, if you’re not using email marketing, you should be, and if you are, you should be sending more emails than you’re sending now.
There are many different kinds of emails you could send. We won’t cover them all here, but as you plan to expand your email communications, here’s a helpful model to consider:
Email marketing is a way to send timely information based on your subscribers’ and customers’ behavior. The specific types of emails you send will depend on how you market and interact with your list.

There are four triggers to send targeted emails:

Initial opt-in
First purchase
No purchase / re-engagement
Discounts and promotions
Emails to Send After Initial Opt-in
It’s a miracle of cosmic proportions when you get an opt-in to your list. There are 987 million websites right now, and that number is only growing.
Email #1: Your Challenges + Wants
Send an email immediately after opt-in and ask this simple question:

What are the biggest challenges in your business today?

If the question doesn’t apply to your business, consider sending a segmentation email. Just ask which of your products or services the person is most interested in receiving. ONTRAPORT allows you to have a link that, when clicked, adds a tag to their Contact record, so you can deliver more targeted communications in the future.

Email #2: Introduce Your Company
One of the first things you should do is welcome and thank your new customer. Here’s an email from LivePlan that reinforces their value proposition:

Notice how LivePlan uses social proof — “you’ve joined over a million entrepreneurs” — to reinforce the impact and value of their offer.

Email #3: Content Follow-Up
If you receive email addresses through a content download, ask them what they thought about it!
Email #4: Educational Drip Campaign
Educational emails anticipate your prospects’ thought process and deliver information to them in the order they need it:
Price: Why is your price so high/low?
Credibility: Why should a prospect choose your company?
Fit: Is your solution right for the prospect?
Timing: Should the prospect wait a while before purchasing?
Authority: Prospects need to involve other people in the decision.
Emails To Send After Purchase

Email #5: Thank You For Your Purchase
Send an email thanking them for their business. But don’t stop there. Let them know what will happen next and what their purchase means to you.

Email #6: Receipt Email
Send an easily searchable receipt email. Receiptful does this amazingly well, and it’s totally free. Here’s an example of a discount offer on one of their receipts:
Email #7: Satisfaction Survey
A few days after purchase, send an email asking for feedback through a survey. MOO, a fantastic printing company, sends one with a lot of personality:
Email #8: Referral Request
Always ask for referrals. Keep in mind that customer acquisition through referrals is typically much cheaper than other channels. Also keep in mind something my dad always told me: “It never hurts to ask.”
A reminder of the customer’s experience
An incentive for successful referrals
Your core value proposition
Emails to Increase Lifetime Value
What a journey it’s been so far. People actually landed on your website, joined your list and bought something. Phenomenal.
Don’t stop there! Now take the time to show them that you can provide even more value.

Three essential and logical steps in place:

Cross sell
Email #9: Upsell Email
An upsell is simply selling a better version of the same product. You might have a good-better-best product line.
Here’s a typical example of how pricing works for software as a service product:

Notice that each price point indicates the value of the product. As you pay more, you get more. If you have a product offering like this, consider sending an upsell email enticing your customer to buy a better version of what they’ve already bought.
Email #10: Cross Sell Email
A cross sell is suggesting products related to a purchase. For example, if you buy a camera you might need a memory card. If you buy a new television, you might need a warranty. Here’s an example from Under Armour:
Notice that they’re cross selling right on their receipt.

If you have an ecommerce business, this is an absolute no-brainer. Whatever you’re selling, identify related products and be sure to tell your customers about them.
Email #11: Discount Emails
It costs 7x more to acquire new customers than sell to existing customers — that’s pretty staggering. Once you have them, it’s super cost effective to give discounts to incentivize another purchase. Under Armour wasted no time in sending a discount after I bought from them:
A few discount ideas include:
Bulk discount (i.e., buy one get one)
 Free shipping
 Limited-time sale 
Email #12: Seasonal And Date-Specific Emails
Seasonal and date-specific offers are a great way to use the calendar to increase customer value
Your product or service is seasonal, like letters from Santa Claus or board shorts.
You give seasonal discounts for national or shopping holidays like President’s Day.
You recognize your customers’ life events like birthdays or anniversaries.
Recognize your own milestones like time in business 
Email #13: New Content Notification
This is so obvious we almost didn’t include it, but it still has to be said.

Whenever you have new content, share it:
Blog post
Guest post
Curated content (i.e. best articles read during the week)
Upcoming webinar
Videos Courses
And more…
So Many Options, No Excuses
You’ve now seen 13 types of emails you could send immediately, but this is an abbreviated list. There are so many options I couldn’t cover them all, but you’re off to a good start with just the information in this post.

Do this: pick at least three types of emails and add them to your autoresponder. You’ll see a lift in revenue in no time at all.
Chapter Four
Program Management and Optimization
Planning and Email Marketing/Promotional Calendar
Successful email marketing requires tact.

The best place to start is to introduce an email marketing calendar into your marketing strategy. A holistic approach to your email strategy, an email marketing calendar acts as a framework from which — when executed properly — you can draw measurable results. Essentially you’re building a plan of action and plugging relevant emails into that plan to deliver your value.

With an email marketing calendar you can:
Get a better idea of your email output
Identify your priorities
Commit to a schedule
Further segment your list
Monitor the frequency of your sends
Spot gaps in your marketing efforts
Avoid redundancies
No matter the size of your business, there’s no sense in putting off building an email marketing calendar. Plus, once you start generating blog or membership content of your own, it’ll be your anchor for promotion and dissemination of that content as well.

Follow the links below to get your calendar up and running.
Launch Checklist
Prior to takeoff, every pilot runs through an extensive mandatory pre-flight checklist to ensure his or her aircraft is airworthy and safe to fly. Should just one item fail to pass inspection, it’s back to the hangar for maintenance.

The same protocol should apply to all outgoing emails. You wouldn’t deliberately send an email with broken links or grammatical errors to your list, would you?
Though one imperfect email isn’t likely to sink your business (or result in any deaths), one too many can potentially leave a blemish on your brand credibility. To keep your outgoing emails pristine and headed to the right place, we’ve included our Email Pre-Flight Checklist. It runs you through everything from spell check to spam audit and then some. 

After you’ve cleared your emails for takeoff, send yourself a preview email just to be sure nothing slipped through the cracks. Then send away.

Fly high little email. 
Common Mistakes
No matter how many emails you've written or how diligently you (and your team) copy-edit, mistakes happen! A misspelled word here and there or an improperly sized image. Few and far between, these little flubs are entirely forgivable. But well beyond the minutia of grammar and syntax exists a higher tier of email marketing mistakes that will cost you.

Follow the links below to spare yourself the backlash of a costly email marketing faux pas:
How to Avoid Bombarding
You have a responsibility as a marketer to manage the frequency or your correspondences with your email list. The tricky thing here is to strike a fine balance between engaging your list without spamming them.

You may be tempted to send your list multiple emails a day to up your chances of getting more sales. Don’t.

It doesn’t take much for someone to feel as though they’re being bombarded by your marketing.

Marketing Charts reports that 35.4% of consumers site frequency as the main reason they unsubscribe from email newsletter.
So how much is too much? There’s no such thing as the perfect email frequency — no magic number to shoot for.

How often you should send rests entirely on your niche, market and content. Whereas a weekly email may be too intrusive for some, it may be too negligent for others.

Below are some resources that’ll help you sort out the frequency dilemma:
In email marketing, split testing (also called A/B testing) is a great way to see which elements of your message work, and which don’t. By knowing what appeals most to your target market, you can optimize messages to help generate more leads, increase sales, and boost your email marketing effectiveness.
“If you haven’t been split testing, you’re probably leaving money on the table.”
Landon Ray
Will your audience respond better to a red button or a green button? This headline or that headline? One call to action or two? No matter how amazing your marketing instincts are, you can never know with 100% certainty what’s going to work best. Split testing all your emails can help you find out quickly what your audience responds to and increase email marketing conversions.

Split testing can help you achieve:
Outstanding Conversion Rates
Fast Page Optimization
A Deeper Understanding of Your Audience
Confidence in Your Message
To learn more about the basics of split testing, check out these amazing articles:
Where to Begin
We’ve all read the many, many blog posts out there about email best practices, and while they often offer very useful insights, they offer little to no personalized documentation or advice. Just because another company’s open rate went up 30% by changing their send times to Tuesday mornings, doesn’t mean that yours will follow suit.

So it’s important to take all advice you find on the Internet with a grain of salt and actually split test emails in your own business.

Marketers have learned to split test everything, as there are very few limits to what can be tested. Now let’s get down to the best things to test in your email campaigns.
Subject Line
For many audiences, short and sweet subjects lines (no more than five words) drive more opens. Meanwhile, others may prefer an in-depth description of what’s inside before opening. Test the punctuation and verbiage of your subject lines. Does your audience engage more when they see a subject line ending with an exclamation mark? Maybe they prefer vulgar copy? A/B/C/D testing works great for discovering what your audience likes to see in subject lines.
Day/Time of Send
It’s important to test what time of day gets the best open rates because different people check their inboxes at different times of the day. For example, a stay-at-home mom likely checks her email at a different time than a full-time lawyer. Think about your target customers and what time they most likely check their email. Schedule an email to go out to half of your list at that time, then choose another time (maybe even another day) to send the same email to the other half of your list. Continue testing this until you find a sweet spot. 
Call To Actions
Opens are great, but clicks drive purchases. No one ever purchased by simply opening an email — though that’s the first step. Split test your call to actions by using unique language in each version and placing them in different areas of your emails. Once you hone in on some copy and a location that works, try driving traffic to different sources and see what converts the best.
Some Additional Elements To Test:
Optimizely has created an amazing testing framework you can use to start running your split tests:
Collect Data:
Your analytics will often provide insight into where you can begin optimizing. Look for emails with low conversion rates or high drop-off rates that can be improved.
Identify Goals:
Your conversion goals are the metrics that you are using to determine whether or not the variation is more successful than the original version.
Generate Hypothesis:
Once you've identified a goal, you can begin generating A/B testing ideas and hypotheses for why you think they will be better than the current version. Once you have a list of ideas, prioritize them in terms of expected impact and difficulty of implementation.
Create Variations:
Using an email split testing software (like ONTRAPORT), make the desired changes to an element of your email. This might mean changing the color of a button, swapping the order of elements in a message, or optimizing a subject line.
Run Experiment:
Kick off your experiment and wait for people to participate! At this point, readers will be randomly assigned to either the control or variation of your email. Their interaction with each message is measured, counted, and compared to determine how each performs.
Analyze Results:
Once your experiment is complete, it's time to analyze the results. Your software will present the data from the experiment and show you the difference between how the two versions of your email performed and whether there is a statistically significant difference.
In a recent blog post ONTRAPORT Marketing Manager and resident expert Sam Flegal explained test validity like this:
“To get the most out of the information that you’re getting, you need fair testing.

Fair testing means: 
Waiting until your page gets enough traffic to reach statistical confidence
Running all tests at the exact same time
For example: Let’s say you tested a blue button on audience A and a red button on audience B. Say your results showed 50% more conversions with the blue button. How would you know if it was the button color or the audience that affected the outcome?

The simple answer is: you don’t.

Even if you ran the blue and red button test on only one audience but on variable days, you still can’t come to any firm conclusions. Furthermore, what if you only got 50 views on each version of this test? The chances that your results are a fluke are significantly higher than if you had gotten 10,000 views to each, right? This is called statistical confidence, meaning if we were to repeat our test, what level of confidence would we have that we’d get the same result?”

To learn more about statistical confidence in split testing, check out these articles:
Bonus! IsValid is an awesome (and free) tool that can help you easily calculate statistical confidence.