What is email marketing and how does it work?

what is email marketing

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Email marketing is one of the marketing strategies that a business uses to get a customer or sell a product/service. To define precisely, “It is a form of a direct marketing tool which helps the business to communicate with potential and existing customers.”

Email campaigning is done to achieve different objectives:

  • To attract newer customers.
  • To ensure existing customers’ patronage
  • To learn about customer demographics and preferences.

There are 2 core types of email marketing

Transactional email

Transactional emails are those communications sent to a customer as a result of the customer’s interaction with the company. For example, an order invoice or password reset emails.

Direct emails

Direct emails refer to those emails stemming from a company’s inbox to send a promotional message to the customer.
Most mails are Opt-in emails meaning the customer’s permission is received before a business sends an email to that customer. Most companies tend to ask the customer’s mail ID at the time of purchase and get their permission to send newsletters, offer details in the future. This ensures that the email sent by the company as promotion does not go straight into the customers’ SPAM folder but hits the mark as it was designed to do.

Email marketing over traditional mail marketing

While many companies still send out brochures and leaflets to target customers and potential customers, a lot of them do digital marketing campaigns as it proves to be more effective and targeted. It proves to be environmentally friendly as well by reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

With traditional mail marketing, one may not know if a potential customer has been converted but with an email campaign, the rate of conversion is measured. A business would also be able to measure the effectiveness of the campaign, which the traditional mail marketing does not offer.

How does it work?

While traditional marketing strategies may involve multiple brainstorming sessions, a digital version is no lesser. Creating personalized content for each of the customers is quite a feat to achieve. A few features of an effective digital mailing campaign are discussed below:

Crisp and creative

An email should be crisp and attract the attention of the customer. Emails are given a lesser span of attention by a customer, and hence the email should be creative.


Emails should be relevant and to the point. Any customer may not be able to spend hours poring over the pages of email. Even a newsletter should be a single page to increase its effectiveness.

Smaller the size, better the response

The email should not be bigger in size as this will take too much of the customer’s drive space. Short and sweet messages are always a better choice to grab eyeballs. Bigger headings with eye-popping colors help in increasing the conversion rates.


While the regular promotions might already be eating up the dollars, the digital campaign should be cost-effective. As this is a highly individualistic content that will end up in a customers’ inbox, the larger the number of emails sent, the better will be the response. It helps in cutting down costs by reaching many customers in a short time.

Clear and concise

While deciding on the email marketing strategy, be clear on what objective is to be achieved out of the campaign. This will help to design a clear email. A call to action button or a landing page is important to be included in an email sent out as a promotion. This will help the company to measure how many hits have come out of the email campaign.

Automated emails

When emails are sent to many customer bases, automating/scheduling the mail at the time when the web traffic will be higher gives the best result. Ensure that the automated emails are composed in a general tone, which would be applicable to all the customers who read it. A well-written subject line with eye-catching colorful images will catch potential customers’ attention. Email marketing software(s) helps the marketers to not just draft emails but also offer lots of value-adds. It does offer a lot of other tools and resources which help to mount a good email campaign.

An email marketing campaign helps in the below ways

Improves website/blog traffic

While starting an email campaign ensure that your website has all the relevant details that the customer needs. Every hit has the potential to turn into a sale.

Brings in potential customers

While existing customers may already be aware of your product line, an email may help to reach out to newer customers. Any hit on the landing page has the potential to turn a browsing customer to reach out and do business with you.

Revenue increase

It is effective in bringing in higher returns. As it’s a cost-effective model, it would be profitable than traditional marketing strategies. A few case studies of how email marketing platforms has helped businesses grow are given in this blog post.


Email marketing works well for smaller businesses trying to get a foothold in the market. There are multiple platform providers in the market. They help to create templates, maintain a mailing list, send emails based on editable templates and to measure the response based on statistical data. Just like how word-of-mouth helps, email marketing software and email marketing platforms also promote the business to a household name.

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