A Beginner’s Guide To Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important channel of communication for brands looking to build relationships with their customers and leads. While target audiences might miss a new update on a brand’s website or social media, an email is delivered straight to their inboxes and can be read at their convenience, which makes it a great tool for sending newsletters and special offers to customers. 

But there are a few things to be aware of to ensure you get the formula right and don’t end up spamming (read: annoying) the people you want to engage with you. 

Step 1: Build a contact list

Before launching an email marketing campaign, you’ll need to develop a contact list with email addresses. This can be compiled from existing customer information or new sources such as a website pop-up or in-store poster encouraging people to subscribe to the email newsletter. Consider local data privacy laws and spam regulations when developing your contact list to ensure you have the right permissions to send promotional emails.

In order to send targeted communications, other than basic information such as names and email addresses, ask for details about people’s interests that are related to your business. This is especially helpful if you have multiple product categories. Tailoring your email content to suit a specific customer segment increases the chances of recipients taking action on the email. At the same time, it reduces the likelihood of the email being perceived as irrelevant and marked as spam, or your contact unsubscribing from the database.

Step 2: Get started with an email marketing software

Once you have your contact list ready, it’s time to set everything up on an email marketing software. There are many out there, including Mailchimp, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Marketo and more – choose one based on your needs and budget.

Many email marketing software systems will guide you through the entire process of setting up an effective email campaign. Typical features include:

  • Contact database that stores customer information
  • Signup form that can be used on your website to enrol new email subscribers
  • Email templates for different styles of emails (announcement, event, newsletter, etc.)
  • Content personalisation (e.g. customising the email greeting to include the recipient’s name)
  • Email previews on different devices
  • Email scheduling
  • Reports to track email performance

Step 3: Craft actionable emails

As much as sophisticated software could level up your marketing game with personalisation and automation, don’t neglect your fundamentals: the email itself.

Focus on crafting attention-grabbing emails that encourage action based on your marketing goals. Here are some email best practices to keep your customers engaged with your email marketing campaigns:

  • Use subject lines to stand out and make a good first impression
  • Write concisely so readers can take in key points even when skimming through
  • Focus on your target audience and how the information you’re sharing benefits them
  • Include strong calls to action with links that direct readers to relevant pages
  • Use engaging copy for your call-to-action buttons. For example, instead of “click here” or “sign up now”, try “learn more about [topic]” or “join the fun”
  • Keep the email colours, design and tone of voice on brand so your readers have a consistent brand experience

Step 4: Measure email performance

With so many elements to consider, invest some time in setting up A/B tests to evaluate the performance of various aspects of your email. For instance, running a test on the subject line could help you determine which option garners higher open rates, while running a test on the body could help you pinpoint the ideal placement for the email’s primary call-to-action button. Optimising the email will ensure your efforts achieve the best possible results.

The story doesn’t end when you hit “schedule” or “send”. After the email is delivered, it is crucial to measure its performance in order to make corrections for future campaigns.

Five useful metrics that can help you understand email performance are:

  • Delivery rate
  • Open rate
  • Click-to-open rate
  • Unsubscribe
  • Conversion rate

Email is a key component of an integrated marketing plan, and keeping track of your email performance over time will enable you to identify potential areas for improvement, further refining your strategy to build and strengthen relationships with your customers.

Need help refining your email marketing strategy? You’ve come to the right place — chat to us at [email protected]

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Building A Powerful Media List

Behind every published news article, is a compelling media story and a PR pro’s powerful stash of press contacts. This stash comes in the form of a targeted list, consisting of the contact details of new editors and journalists.

Pulling a new list together for your business is no easy feat, and can take hours on end. With the availability of media database programmes, this task’s been made much simpler. These programmes however, often involve hefty fees.

To those who are feeling the pinch of investing in such programmes, this cheat sheet is made just for you.

Who do I want to read my news?

Building your own media target list is not rocket science, but it does require some thought. For starters, consider who your audience is, and the most relevant media outlets to best reach out to them.

Besides naming these publications, break the publications down into their individual sections – think the business section of a local newspaper, or the food section of a magazine. This will effectively narrow down the scope of your search, saving you a great deal of time.

Look into major newspapers and relevant magazines

Luckily for us, most newspaper journalists have their email addresses embedded alongside their news stories. If a writer touches on a topic or story you consider to be relevant for your business, take his or her email address down.

For the magazines, check out the foreword section. It will give you a quick overview of the magazine’s editorial team and the details of the various magazine section editors.

With this, you are well on your first step to building your targeted media list.

Get online and social

If you can’t seem to locate a particular journalist’s contact details within the print publications, tapping into the online counterparts of the news outlets can be helpful. If not, move on over to the journalist’s social media pages such as LinkedIn, Twitter or even blogs.

Along the way, you will probably even learn much more about the journalist – everything from their high school, the event they have just attended and a collection of past stories they’ve covered. This knowledge can come in handy as talking points when you are in touch with the journalist.

‘Make up’ the journalists’ email

If you pay enough attention to the email addresses of journalists from the same publication, you may begin to notice how the make up of their emails remain consistent across the board.

When necessary, play around with the journalist’s first and last name to try and “guess” his email address in context of the others in the same publication. If you have the journalist’s name right, chances are, you will get the email right as well.

For example: A journalist’s email in a certain publication could look something like [email protected], combining the journalist’s first and last name to create the email address.

Suppose you’re seeking the email of another journalist within the same publication or group, your guess would then reflect the above.

If still you still can’t locate a journalist…

Simply pick up the phone and get in touch with the editorial department of the various media outlet. When on the line, be clear with the purpose of your call and whom exactly you are after.

I’m sure these friendly folks will be more than glad to assist you.

Retain the list, keep it up-to-date

Getting your list ready is one of the stepping-stones to getting the word out about your business, but the work does not end there.

Due to the nature of the industry, journalists move around, and they do it fast. As such, you will need to be on top of these movements, ensuring that your media lists are always updated with the freshest press contacts, or risk having your news stories fall off the face of the earth.

Repeat the steps above over and again – including new contacts when you spot them, and removing contacts when their emails stop working.

Need assistance on maximising the reach of your press materials? Get in touch with us directly at [email protected].


How to communicate like Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the world’s raddest man. Sure, he’s an engineer, investor, genius, innovator, and has an actual car startup. But did you know he’s also really good at email?

Musk’s success comes (in part) from his effective interpersonal skills. He’s a stuttery public speaker, but he can pitch. He’s nothing special in interviews, but is often quoted. Being an effective communicator doesn’t mean being a great talker — that’s why politicians seldom create big changes they promise.

Communicating a vision and being a leader takes tact, it’s about having great interpersonal skills: Listening, having manners, social skills, and really understanding who you’re speaking to.

Here’s three ways you can communicate like Elon:

  1. Cut the acronyms in emails:

In an interview with Henry Blodget, CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, Musk joked: “I do a lot of email – very good at email. That’s my core competency.”

His secret? Avoiding acronyms. The man hates them. I found this excerpt from his book on this Quora thread, “Why is Elon Musk so good at email?”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.56.11 pm

Singapore’s multi-cultural business environment both breeds and suffers from too many acronyms. When staff in a big company are from different parts of a region, they might not want to spell out the whole word, but how many times have you looked up from your desk and hollered, “Hey does anyone know what AFB is!?” Sure you’re saving on word economy, but acronyms are not good for productivity.

Like Musk says in his email: “No one can actually remember all these acronyms and people don’t want to sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees.”

So, the next time you’re sending an email out to staff, be clear! It saves everyone time and gets them on the same page.

  1. He cuts the jargon

Musk isn’t an eloquent speaker, but the worst thing than a shaky voice is one that’s full of buzzwords. In this perfect pitch for Tesla he breaks down his problem and solution in a way the audience can understand, not just in a way he understands. The man got people on their feet, over batteries.


Musk finds a common problem and tells us about a simple solution. It’s classic storytelling. See the full article on how to pitch like him here.

  1. He uses real content to advertise:

Wait but Why is a personal, yet investigative tech blog followed by thousands of people. But at the end of the day, it’s a blog with stick figures on it. Musk called up the writer Tim Urban and asked him to interview him for SpaceX and Tesla. Um what? Check out his post published two days ago on the Huffington Post.

After Urban finished gathering his brains from off the floor, the blogger agreed and met up with Musk to write the multi-part blog series.

Musk is so good at cutting the crap, he doesn’t advertise Tesla. According to Urban, he refuses to advertise for his electric car startup, because “he detests vague spin-doctor phrases like ‘studies say’ and ‘scientists disagree’, and he refuses to advertise for Tesla, something most startup car companies wouldn’t think twice about – because he sees advertising as manipulative and dishonest”.

Bonus lesson:

You don’t have to be a great orator or rocket scientist to communicate your vision. All it takes is thinking about making things clear and simple for your audience. If Elon can make electric cars and space travel easy to understand, you should be able to, too.

The last lesson on how to be more like Musk is a bonus one: Always say what you mean. We’ll leave you with this quote from the part one of the interview with Musk:

“He’s been saying the same things in interviews for a decade, often using the same exact phrasing many years apart. He says what he really means, no matter the situation – one employee close to Musk told me that after a press conference or a business negotiation, once in private he’d ask Musk what his real angle was and what he really thinks. Musk’s response would always be boring: ‘I think exactly what I said’.”

Do you need to better communicate your messaging through effective content? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

Image Credit: Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont (CA, USA) by Maurizio Pesce. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

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