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Email Marketing Overview

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:


This is the definition for email marketing:

Email marketing is a structured, systematic process to deliver marketing messages to targeted subscribers.

You may want to print this out and put it up on a wall somewhere in your office, because it will guide the work that you’re doing on a regular basis.

Data management in email marketing

Data management is very important, because we don’t want to just send emails for the sake of sending emails. We want to actually collect information on our readers and use that to continue to hone and evolve our structures, and strategy, and our content. And so we’ve got to look at three different points.

  • Data collection: What is it that you’re gathering from your various readers, such as open rates and various sort of individual metrics that you can analyze?
  • Data segmentation: This looks at various points along the way that may matter to you. And, again, what matters to you must connect back to your strategy. And so you’re going to think about the specifics of which data points you’re wanting to collect and how that’s going to drive your email marketing.
  • Data management: Who actually can see this data that’s being collected? Who can access it? Who can utilize it? Who can share it? As we get more and more digital, our data management becomes more and more important.

User experience

The user experience is central, and it’s almost a mantra that you should repeat on a regular basis when it comes to your email marketing. In email strategy, it must consider the user experience of individual users and the reasons why they are using the email platform.

Everybody is different but think about your user first and foremost, because that’s really who matters in this context. Not you, the emailer, but the person who is receiving your message. Think about various audiences. Users email to run a business, or they maybe use email to keep in touch with their friends. People use email to email members of a club. There’s a lot of different ways in which email marketing is utilized based solely on audience.

And this goes for any digital marketing endeavor. Focus on your audience first. Those are the most important people in this channel.

Growth strategy

The growth strategy in email list is incredibly important because, if you don’t have people there on your list, you’re not going to have readers and it’s not going to be as successful as you would want.

  • Engage with your readers: Enough people come back to you with a response or reply, so give back to them. One of the most important things of any campaign or any digital communication engagement is to respond and engage with your readers and create captivating content that engages them.
  • Inform people: Tell people things that they don’t know. If you inform people of sort of content and information that they can’t get elsewhere, your email list is going to become more and more important to them. You’ve got to provide value to them, something that they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Incentivize readers: Once again, it kind of goes into the inform and engage aspect and combines the two, but incentivize them. Once again, what motivates them? What are the things that will get them to click on your message and read through it and engage with your content? Either click through and engage in some sort of activity like buying something that you’re advertising, or promoting, maybe subscribing to another list or joining an event that you’re putting on or just being a regular reader and maybe someone who then disseminates and, you know, cross-pollinates and shares your content.
  • Cross-sell: This leads into the idea of cross-selling. Everything is connected digitally and so your audience, the people who read your emails they become your sellers. They become the people who help cross-pollinate your content. Make sure that your email lists are easily shareable. Make sure the content is segmented in such a way that your email lists are easy to cross-sell.


One of my favorite examples of an e-newsletter is called NextDraft. It’s by a man in San Francisco whose name is Dave Pell. And it’s a wonderfully written 10-point, almost news list of the day. And he has segmented out his emails, so that each sort of bit of content is easily shareable, easily linked to, in such a way that if, for example I read something in his email, I can then tweet it out, or share it on Facebook, or post it on LinkedIn, or put it somewhere else, or just email it to a friend. That ability to cross-sell his literally engaging, informative content, incentivizes me to do something with it. Look at the structure, look at the way he puts it out there, look at the way he has created something like a WordPress blog that kind of goes along with his email strategy which works really well for him.

Email branding

Let’s now look at aligning email with strategy. Branding your email and making your email connect with your brand is one of the things that must be at the core of what you’re doing. Because, again, if you have your brand over here and your email is over here, it’s not going to connect. And as a reader I want to make sure that I’m acknowledging or familiar with the brand that you’re putting out there.

And so you want to have the sort of sense of your email design that it connects with your branding strategy. And then ensure that you’re communicating a consistent brand message, and experience across all your communication channels. And that will go really well for you as a company. You’ll see that the best emails in terms of email marketing are the ones that connect brand with strategy, and then deliver that as an output via their emails.

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Eric Stoller

Eric Stoller is a Higher Education Strategic Communications Consultant and Blogger at Inside Higher Ed. With a background in student affairs, academic advising, wellness, technology, and communications, Eric educates clients and audiences on digital identity development. As a blogger, he generates conversations, answers questions, and provides insight about a variety of tech topics, including Social Media Strategies and Email Marketing.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Evaluate inbound and outbound email marketing techniques and how they are used in marketing campaigns
  • Critically reflect on practices for managing email data and building an email subscriber base
  • Critically appraise how to optimise email delivery and email open rates for marketing campaigns

    Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

    DMI Short Course: GDPR

    The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

    You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

    You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


      Email Marketing Strategy
      Eric Stoller
      Skills Expert

      The Email Marketing Strategy module will introduce the key concepts of email marketing and enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to build highly effective email campaigns. You will learn how to think like an email marketer and recognize that your subscriber list growth and quality is a key metric for the success of your campaign. Finally, you will recognize the role of various email delivery techniques as well as the importance of balancing frequency and volume of email sends.