What Is Email Marketing? - a Comprehensive Guide To Email Marketing


By Admiles May 06, 2024


Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves the use of email softwares to send promotional messages to prospects.


Email Marketing


At Glance


● Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that involves the use of email as a digital channel to promote a company's product or service. 


● Email marketing remains the best digital marketing channel to build consumer-business relationships.


● The first marketing email was sent by Gary Thuerk and generated $13 million in sales.


● Email marketing has an industry leading return on investment(ROI) of $44 for every $1 spent. 



Understanding Email Marketing


Email marketing is one of the most successful marketing channels after search engine optimization and the most "consumer-centric" which enables businesses to build good relationships with their customer base. 


Email marketing remains one of the oldest, popular and still profitable marketing channels. Even in the future of the Internet, email marketing is expected to remain pivotal to businesses as it serves as the go-to medium for consumer-business communications. 


In 2023, over 347.3 billion emails were sent and this number is expected to reach 392.5 billion by 2026.  Due to the large number of email users who at the time account to over 4 billion, email marketing remains a prominent practice amongst business developers and marketers.


The first ever email marketing campaign was carried out by Gary Thuerk, a Digital Equipment Corp staff who sent 400 promotional emails and generated $13 million in sales. Adjusting this sales value by inflation over this period, Gary's email marketing initiative generated roughly $100,193,417 as of May 06, 2024.


Gary Thuerk is known as the "Father of Email Marketing" and the "Father of Spam" for sending the first unsolicited commercial email message to 398 ARPANET (the precursor to the Internet) users in 1978, promoting Digital Equipment Corporation's new computers. 


Thuerk's email, sent to 393 West Coast ARPANET users, was a promotional message for DEC's new mainframe computer, the DECSYSTEM-20, which supported packet switching and the ARPANET. 


Thuerk's email was initially successful, with DEC believed to have sold several machines due to the mass message, but it also sparked controversy and was criticized for violating ARPANET rules and being an annoyance to recipients. 


As such, Thuerk's email was at the same time considered the first instance of spam, and it marked the beginning of unsolicited commercial email messages on the Internet. 


How Does Email Marketing Work?


Email marketing works by enabling businesses turn users or individuals into lasting and paying customers or consumers.


By adopting various email marketing initiatives, businesses can engage and create a lasting relationship with users or customers effectively driving up revenue.


Using an Email Service Provider(ESP) businesses send and manage email marketing campaigns with the ultimate goal of building lasting consumer-business relationships. An ESP is an email marketing software specially designed to enable businesses create, test, and manage email marketing campaigns.


Some ESP comes are part of a larger marketing service provider called the customer relationship management (CRM) software. Using an ESP for sending out marketing emails is essential to maintain good email deliverability rates, avoid spam filters, access advanced tracking tools and create a great brand image with personalized designs and customizability.


As such, choosing the right email service provider(ESP) or email marketing software is pivotal to attaining the best marketing results. Some of the best email service providers and marketing softwares include:


Sender.net(Most Beginner Friendly Email Marketing Software)


Getresponse(Most Popular Email Marketing Software)


MailerLite(Best Alternative To Getresponse)


Flodesk(Most Cost-efficient Email Marketing Software)


Sendpulse(Multi-Channel Marketing Automation Platform)


Systeme(All-In-One Marketing Software)


Keap(Best Alternative To System)


Importance Of Email Marketing


Email marketing plays a crucial role in contemporary business, providing a platform for building lasting customer relationships.


As a cornerstone in digital marketing due to its enablement of farwide consumer reach and engagement, email marketing boasts significant influence in business growth with several brands reporting astounding sales and expansion post execution of email marketing campaigns or initiatives. 


Scaling and yielding results, by implementing effective email marketing strategies, companies can drive increased engagement, conversions, revenue, and customer loyalty.


The following success story demonstrates the significant impact and importance of email marketing on a business:


Dell’s 109% Sales Increase Post Email Marketing Campaigns


Reportedly, Dell experienced a 109% increase in income after adopting a mailing campaign with the body of the mail all full of GIFs. 


This was during the launch of its Dell XP 12 Convertible Ultrabook, a hybrid of a laptop and a tablet in 2014.


Given the products uniqueness to the market at the time, Dell had to sort through strategies of what best approach to tell the world how a convertible ultrabook works without boring them with a great wall of texts. 


GIFs won the stage by generating a 6% increase in open rate, a 42% rise in click-through, and overall 109% increase in revenue.


The logic behind the use of GIFs to tell a story through email was that it gave a precise yet informative touch to Dell’s email marketing campaign.


As with most successful marketing campaigns, a creative tagline is essential to setting off the story on the good side of the viewer's mind. 


Dell achieved selling an entirely new type of product with their creative tagline, "Go from dreaming to doing in a flip," via a visual element that would bring it to life.


Dell 109% Income Increase Email Marketing


Dell’s decision to create a Gif animation that showcased the XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook flipping effortlessly from a laptop to a touchscreen tablet in addition to its creative tagline was all that was needed to grow its income by 109%. 


In its simple form, Dell’s campaign proved an effective way to demonstrate the versatility and functionality of the Dell XP 12 Convertible Ultrabook. 


“It’s a great way for a customer to get a full understanding of how that product is going to work in their hands,” David Sierk, Consumer & Small Business Email Strategy, Dell said.


Looking past history to today, Dell still employs email marketing and various digital marketing initiatives to build unique customer relationships and drive sales and business growth at scale. 


Looking through the above email marketing success stories, we can derive various points of value that's obtainable from marketing campaigns done through mail that includes reach, personalization, direct line of two-way communication for relationship building.


With jaw-dropping return on investment(ROI) of $44 for every $1 spent, email marketing's importance for business growth cannot be overstated as it is both cost effective and highly rewarding.




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