The Basics of Email Marketing

Ryan Ambrose

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Email marketing is often used in conjunction with web sites as a means to make the most of their traffic. In fact, some web sites exist to do little more than collect lists of people to use for eMail marketing by way of newsletters or eZines. It has some terminology associated with it, and while it all sounds very complex, it boils down to these fairly simple concepts.

Mailing list

This is a list of all the people who've given you permission to e-mail them, also known as an opt-in list. Opt-in lists are collected with forms on web sites, check boxes on thank-you notices, or some other way that asks if a person would like to be emailed again. My recommendation is to never send a advertising email to someone who hasn't opted in, and when in doubt, obey the first rule of spamming: DON'T.

You can do list collection and management yourself with software, or hire services to do them for you. You can also insure your own safety by double opt-in, which is where you send an email to someone who joined your list asking them to confirm their entry. This covers you in the event of a spamming accusation by giving you proof permission was given.

In addition, you must give people a way to leave your opt-in lists, or opt-out. Usually, this is done with a link, which you may have seen at the bottom of any legitimate advertising email sent to you. Those that don't have it are spamming you. Probably from a country where they can't be hunted down and thrown into the smallest, darkest hole in the ground jail cell available like they deserve. So remember that if you create a mailing list, you must give the people on it a way to opt-out.

Privacy Policies

This is another necessity to collect any sort of a mailing list. This is a written statement of what you will do and won't do with someone's information once you have it.

If you don't have a written privacy policy, people will be prone not to sign up for your lists. This is because they don't know you from Adam (or Eve) and don't want their names sold to people who spam things like chain letters or online pharmacies. So, to effectively collect a list, promote a privacy policy, and even consider getting certification for it from a third-party watchdog like Truste. This demonstrates that you're serious about the privacy of your potential readers and thus more likely to collect them.

Ezines/Email Newsletters

Ezines and email newsletters are the online, email versions of their paper magazine and newsletter counterparts. To create them, you collect a mailing list, then mail it a content-filled ezine or newsletter they want to read and matches the topics you said it would cover when you advertised it. You may have seen requests to join a mailing list of this sort in pop-up windows that drop when you visit some sites. While that's not the only way to request someone join a mailing list, it's one of the more effective ones, which is why those dumb windows keep appearing everywhere.

What do you do with an ezine or email newsletter that makes all this trouble worthwhile? You can sell ads to other parties (and the more widespread your ezine, the more they are worth per copy), keep in touch with a customer base, or promote your own products and affiliate programs. As the size of your mailing list grows, so do the number of people that may convert on any given ad, which means the promotion of sales, specials, or your affiliate programs produce more money per run. This is why so many people put a priority on collecting mailing lists and then utilizing them.

To keep readers, remember the bottom line: Content. You put ads in your content. You write interesting and useful things in your content. You keep on topic in your content. And if you stop providing content, you'll start losing readership. It's the same concept as you opening a magazine off the rack and seeing nothing but ads. You wouldn't be reading it long, and neither would anyone else.


Autoresponders are pre-typed, timed emails that work without your input. They'll do this whenever you've set them up to go, such as form thank-you letters after sales, sending out notices, advertising promotionals and contests, or other things to insure your customer or visitor base keeps coming back. You just get the copy right and the automation does the rest.

Autoresponders can also be used to increase conversion rates by slowing wearing away at potential customer resistance. They can do this by explaining relevance, educating about the worth of your product, keeping the product fresh in the customer's mind, or creating a sense of urgency. And it does it all without you having to constantly pursue your own leads. They work with both affiliate programs or selling your own product.

These things are an overview of basic email marketing and will point you in the right direction if you want to use email with your web site.

Ryan Ambrose is the web master of Financial Self-Reliance , a web site where you can learn how to actually make money online. The Email Marketing section with this article and others can be reached here .


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