Expert Guide to Setting Up Your First Email Marketing Campaign

Email proves an extremely efficient marketing channel when done well. It’s very affordable and I believe that anyone can create successful campaigns when equipped with the right advice, which is why it’s ideal for small business owners or solo-preuneurs. Roadrunner login

Email gives you a chance to really engage with your audience, nurture your leads and ultimately turn them into customers. You can also automate all your campaigns, which means you won’t need to spend hours each day working on them, giving you more time to devote to other areas of your business.

With over ten years’ marketing experience under my belt, I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to setting up your first campaign.

Step 1. Build your list

Of course email is no good unless you have a group of people who have given their permission for you to contact them. So you’ll need to start thinking about building a list.

By permission, I mean, they’ve willingly given you their email address. Just asking customers to enter their email address is often not enough to convince them to do so – they want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ so you need to provide what’s called a value exchange (sometimes referred to as a lead magnet) such as a discount code, free pdf download, eBook or email series.

Also, tell them the kind of things that you will send them – for example, that as subscribers they’ll be the first to hear about our new offers / ranges / releases.

In addition, emailing people who have not asked to be contacted are much less likely to turn into customers.

Step 2. Choose an email service provider (ESP)

Put simply, an ESP enables you to send out email marketing campaigns to a list of prospects. Most ESPs also provide a broad range of related services including the ability for you to create and build your subscriber list, customise your email templates, add personalisation and dynamic content (content that’s tailored to a particular audience), reporting and analysis.

To get you started, here are a small selection of ESPs that you might want to consider:

Constant Contact


Campaign Monitor

When choosing what provider is right for you, we recommend you start by thinking about how you plan to use email in your business, and what features you think that you will need to fulfil this.

If you’re just starting out you don’t need to overcomplicate things, so we’ve put together a handy check-list of the main things you should look for:

  • Does the provider have a range of eye-catching templates to choose from? Plus, these days most people open emails on a mobile device so check that their templates are mobile friendly, ensuring that your emails will look awesome no matter what device they are viewed on.
  • The ability to schedule your campaigns.
  • Easy to understand tracking and reporting – you’ll want to monitor how your emails are performing so make sure that your ESP offers an easy to navigate reporting dashboard so that you can quickly check your opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes.
  • Support – There will be times when, no matter how easy their platform is to use, you will need a little help. Check that your ESP has a support team that you can contact day or night.
  • Budget – Once you’ve shortlisted a few ESPs based on the points above, you’ll now want to dig into their fees as you will need to ensure that the service fits into your budget. A lot of the providers will offer monthly plans based on the number of customers on your list.
  • Delivery – It’s no good spending precious time creating your campaigns only to find that they don’t end up in the customer’s inbox! Check that your chosen ESP has delivery rates of above 98%.

3. Create your email!

This is the exciting part where you get to be creative. And if you’re not creative – don’t worry, it’s not an essential prerequisite for creating effective campaigns!

Here are a few best-practice tips that will help ensure your email doesn’t end up in the trash!

    • What’s the objective? You firstly need to consider the objective(s) of the campaign – what is the email trying to achieve? And be specific. Also, think carefully about who you are talking to. Be sure to keep your customer front of mind when putting your email together and make sure that the content is benefits driven – the reader will want to know within seconds what is in it for them.


  • Copy: Try and keep the copy concise and make use of bullet points to break it up a little. Think about what you want the recipient to do – what action you want them to take. Tip: Make it really obvious! Which leads on to…