Email Marketing Defined: What is Email Marketing All About?

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Email Marketing Definition

Email marketing is the act of sending out email to a group of people. Done correctly, email marketing gives you direct access to targeted customers.

You need to warm people up before they trust you, and that’s where email marketing comes in. If you’re a course creator, getting your website visitors to understand who you are and what you offer you takes time.

Visitors come to your website where you can warm them to your offers through email marketing. Let’s break email marketing down even further so you can master the pieces of online selling and the benefits of marketing through email.

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You want targeted leads on your email marketing list. Otherwise, the subscribers on your list won’t really be worth anything to you. For example, if you offer a course on dog training then you definitely want subscribers who first of all, have a dog, and secondly, are interested in training him or her.

In order to build a targeted list, you’ll need to make sure you’re clear on who your email campaign is meant for and what they will get out of it. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by choosing the best type of lead magnet that appeals to your target market. In the dog training example above, you could offer a free video from your dog training course as a lead magnet.

Live Testing

Marketers are always changing the way they speak. Brand integrity is important, but testing how effective a message is allows you to improve it for greater results. You’re going to discover that your initial emails might be OK, but over time you’ll learn how to perfect that message for your leads as you interact with them. You can collect that type of information simply by sending out emails and reviewing your email marketing analytics. It’s a powerful way to increase your conversions that doesn’t rely on generating more traffic.


You may have an ultimate goal, which requires you to reach thousands or more people after you launch your website and your course. Centralizing your leads and organizing them is what email marketing software does. Building your list is about building up your future consumer-base and getting them into the position to say yes.

Content Marketing

In the summer of 2013, Google redefined how online marketing would work. Content, whether it’s directly selling an online service or informing leads about who you are, is the central piece of marketing online.

By collecting your own list of targeted subscribers, you can directly control the content they see and receive from you. You might have a blog and post on social media, but those are in addition to the information you send out to your  list.

With a list of targeted subscribers, you can send out content based emails that go straight to their inbox. It’s the most direct way to implement content marketing there is.

Why Email Marketing is Important

The stats aren’t the only driving force behind email marketing and its necessity. The controlled environment offered to you and your leads allows a bit of magic to happen. Below is a better look at the bond email marketing creates with your consumer and why this is so important.

The “Personal” Target Audience

Being personal is about talking to your leads where they’re nice and comfy. You, as a brand or agency, need to come off in a real, personal way. The way messages appear in a person’s inbox lets you speak directly to them and without as many distractions to the outside world.

Mobile and Digital

Being personal has never been so easy. Mobile technology syncs your emails to the screens of cellphones. Your leads can receive and read messages anywhere and everywhere so they probably consume even more. The advances of digital technology gives us the option of sending videos, links, images and text. You have no shortage of creative media types to use.

Cost Effective

Unlike advertising on social media or through web sites and search engines, you aren’t charged for every email you send. Most email marketing software allows you to send as many emails as you see fit, keeping your costs down. Other email marketing tools charge more when you reach a maximum number of emails per month, but it’s still a low price compared to methods of traditional advertising.

Email Marketing vs Social Media

No one can deny the effectiveness of social media. Billions of eyes are glued to Facebook right at this moment. However, email marketing continues to stand out and produce results. That’s because there are less distractions when someone is viewing their email inbox. Typically they open one email at a time. When it’s your turn, they’re focused on your email and not the endless feed of new posts on a social media platform. That’s your chance to connect.

Content Stays On Top

A social media post will start to move down the slush-pile of posts as content is added by the minute in a newsfeed. Emails stay in your leads inbox until they are opened.

Less Competition

As mentioned, you’ll need to play against other content in the newsfeed of your social media readers. Emails lower the competition you face. Although other email marketers send out content also, you don’t necessarily compete against them.  Your headlines and messages can be customized to appeal to your specific reader. Unlike social media, emails don’t use algorithms to raise or lower content priority (at least not yet!).

Multi-Tier Marketing

Regardless of how you finally choose to use email marketing, it can work alongside any active social media posting you may already be doing as well as running a blog. From warm to cold leads, you can structure your marketing to appeal to differ audiences at different levels of your consumer cycle. Social media and blogging is great for making a public impression. From there, you want to collect the emails of a targeted audience. Email will then be optimal for convincing your prospect to make the purchase.

How Much Does Email Marketing Cost?

Cost is always a central concept to consider when advertising online. Tools that offer a free or low way to start are ideal for minimizing your overhead. MailChimp offers a free version of their email marketing service for up to 2,000 subscribers with limited features. ConvertKit offers all their features for lists of up to 1,000 subscribers for $29 a month.

InfusionSoft is another popular email marketing tool that includes many additional eCommerce features. It’s more of an all-in-one solution and it starts at $199 a month. If you’re interested, read a review comparing and contrasting Infusionsoft vs MailChimp to get a feel for the different levels of services you can get.

Pay Based on Your List Size

As mentioned in the previous section, entry level prices are based on your list size. If you’re starting at zero then you’ll be at the lowest pay point. However, you can incur higher fees as your list grows. With many email marketing tools, the difference in monthly fees between 2,000 people and 20,000 people can be $100 or more. However, the larger your list grows, the more revenue you’re likely to gain. If you maximize revenues from email marketing then the cost to run your email marketing software should be nominal compared to your profits.

With even a small, targeted list, you may be able to launch your course and earn thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars if done right.

Receiving Live Analytics

Email analytics tools follow the actions your readers take and provide you with data that could change how you manage your email campaigns.

Spotting trends in data is an intricate science. Marketers are only effective if they have intelligence on their leads. The changing environment for online marketing also changes the behaviors of consumers.

Email analytics give you an overview of those behaviors and what to expect. Different email marketing tools offer different features when it comes to analytics. As long as you’ll use them, it’s worth it to invest in a platform that provides you with details on the actions your subscribers take when interacting with your emails.

How to Start Email Marketing

Millions of small businesses like yours look at the prospects of email marketing each and everyday, but getting everything set-up requires a bit of know how. These is where learning about email marketing best practices will really pay off.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

Basic Technology

Finding an email marketing provider that works with your tech level and skills is important. A more robust tool like Infusionsoft will have a higher learning curve than for instance, MailChimp. Most email marketing tools allow you to try the interface for free before you start paying. Take advantage of that. Since you’ll be logging into the interface often, you want something that’s intuitive and almost fun to use. ConvertKit is one popular email marketing tool that many feel meets those criteria.

Creating a List

In order to start list-building, you need to get website visitors to opt in. This is done via a web form. With some email marketing software, you’ll need a whole separate tool to set-up a form, with others, you’ll have everything you need to start building your opt-in forms. Extracting the most from email marketing software requires you to be able to sort your leads (which is usually done by tags) as well as sorting by the specific lead magnet a subscriber might have opted into.


Once your list is in order and you’ve learned who’s who, segmenting gives you the power to send your message directly to different groups. Examples of this are when you have buyers. You can send special messages to your buyers which takes into account the fact that they’ve purchased. This way, you’ll have the ability to personalize your emails and avoid spamming by asking people to buy even though they already have.


Content is at the core of email marketing. Many small business owners write their content before ever reaching out to their leads. What may seem like a fresh batch of words sent out that day was very likely set-up by a marketer weeks before. When you create a batch of emails, you can set it up in a drip campaign. Out of a batch of 52 emails, you can send one out each week without having to get involved again for that entire year.

Types of Emails

Templates are an easy way to automate your work, but you’ll still have to know the basics when running your campaigns. We have a few listed below:

Greeting Message

Statistics show that welcome emails convert higher than any type of campaign you set-up. Getting your leads on board, and helping them better understand what you do, sets the stage. Once you’ve set that stage you can interact with them on the topic they’re expecting you to cover. Make sure your greeting message aligns with what you’ll be covering in future emails.


As a course creator, most of your emails will be educational. For instance, if you’re offering a course on “how to run a 10K marathon” then many of your emails will be geared toward proving to your subscribers that you have expertise in that area.

For instance, your emails might educate prospects on your background and your experience running 10K’s. They can also educate them on how they can run a 10K. Some of these emails may overlap with what’s in your course, which is OK. You need to convey to your subscribers that you know what you’re talking about by giving them a sample of what you’ll cover in your full course and enticing them to enroll.

Success Stories

You’ll hopefully have some success stories from people who’ve enrolled in your course. With the “how to run a 10K” example above, you’ll want to collect quotes from customers who have used your course to successfully run a 10K on their own. If you don’t have success stories yet then you can get quotes from people who have gone through your course (whether they achieved the desired result or not). You can also use your own success story. In addition, you can find people to interview who run 10K’s and use some of the same principles you cover in your course.


Not all email messages are fun and play. Your business dictates when and if you need to disclose important info about what you do or the legalities involved. For instance, if you updated your privacy policy, then it might be a good idea to let your email subscribers know about that update.

Sales and Discounts

Keeping your readers excited with sales and discounts on your course is effective marketing. These emails should be limited and should be short and simple to work with your regular educational emails.


If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing, sign-up to get information from top email marketing blogs.

Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of After gaining a Master's degree, she worked in research for about seven years. She started a training company in 2001, offering a course helping people pass a professional exam. That course has earned multiple 7 figures. She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 22+ years of experience in the trenches creating and selling online courses. Get help starting and growing your online course business here.

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