How to start with email marketing

Many companies send beautiful and successful email campaigns to reach their customers. Emails have a wide reach and many people often prefer an email over an app or SMS. But how do you actually start with email marketing if this is all new to you? This article provides a handy step-by-step plan.

Step 1: Setting goals

Before you start with email marketing, it is wise to determine some goals. What do you want to achieve with email? Do you want to generate more leads or encourage repeat purchases? Do you want to increase your brand awareness or perhaps just send informative emails? When setting the goals, take the company goals into account.

For example, if you are a starting online store, you may want to grow your database as quickly as possible. For example, a goal could be “50 new email addresses per week via the website”. To achieve this, a lead generation campaign is a logical first campaign to set up.

Step 2: Define a target group

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can determine who to send your email to. What does your ideal recipient look like? Consider age, interests, location. Are they existing customers or prospects, or both? The better you know the recipient, the more successful the email campaign is.

Let's take a company that sells running shoes as an example. Your target group is probably a group of men and women between the ages of 18 and 50. They are active, value their health and want to improve their performance. They are therefore interested in products and tips that help with this.

By understanding these aspects of your audience, you can create targeted email campaigns that respond to their needs, goals, and interests. This will result in higher engagement, more conversions and a stronger bond with your customers within the running community.

Step 3: Building database

When building your database, you simultaneously create your target group. You collect the data from your database organically, and not by purchasing email lists. Buying email addresses is considered SPAM and is harmful to your company's reputation. You can collect email addresses through various channels, such as your website, social media or events, to expand your database. In this article practical tips are given for building and maintaining a database.

Step 4: Segment database

Once you have built a database, you will then segment it. It is not desirable to send the same email to the entire database. By making selections, you ensure that the right person receives the relevant email. For example, you don't want to send emails to people living in Rotterdam about the opening of your store in Groningen.

Step 5: Design email template

Once you've populated the database, you can start designing your email templates. Make sure your emails have a professional look while being appealing and easy to read across different devices. Use images, catchy headlines and clear call to action to increase reader's engagement.

The first thing that your readers see is the sender's name and the subject line. They see this before they open the email, and it can make the difference between reading it and throwing it away. Therefore, make sure you have an appealing subject line for your email. You can even personalize it, increase the relevance for the recipient and make it more likely that your recipient will open the email. You can also personalize the sender's name, include the city name of the nearest store or the name of a sales employee.

You can also personalize the first sentence, when the recipient opens the email. For example, think of “Dear [NAME]”. This feels more personal than a message addressed to everyone. Then you can even personalize the rest of the email, including the images and videos. This ultimately ensures better results.

Step 6: Send email and analyze results

Nowadays, creating emails is not as time consuming as it used to be, making it easy to test different emails. It starts with sending a newsletter to your entire database. Try different subject lines, images, or sending times. Then track the statistics to discover what works best for your target group.


After you have gone through all these steps, you will see in the results that good results are already achieved with a newsletter. And with every newsletter you send you can improve the process: better segmentation, nicer design, and so on. Small improvements at a time will eventually go a long way.

If the periodic newsletters are going well, you can focus on automation and setting up specific campaigns. Consider a repeat purchase campaign or a cross-sell campaign.

In short, starting with email marketing requires some preparation to be successful, but it is mainly a matter of doing it. Set a goal, define the target group, and populate and segment your database. You can then design the newsletter, provide it with content and send it. By following these steps and continuously optimizing them, you can create effective and targeted email campaigns that result in higher engagement and more conversion.

Interested in getting started with email marketing?

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