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What is email marketing?

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Mar 062014

What is email marketing?

First there was the carrier pigeon, then came AOL and nowadays you can get a virtual monkey (MailChimp) to deliver your messages electronically. So what exactly is email marketing?

“Sending an electronic message persuading a specific audience to take a specific action.”

Or we might just say:-

“Promoting stuff via email”

Email marketing is a direct descendant of direct mail. You know, those long typed letters with yellow highlighter liberally applied promising you treats galore. It’s a personal message.

Without a specific retail outlet, most businesses make their sales via email. Not just those with electronic shops, selling products online. If you’re a web designer, you will undoubtedly receive enquiries and send quotes via email. Even though social media may initiate some sales conversations, most will be concluded by email.

Email marketing is the name for those personal, targeted messages sent directly to your a list of contacts. So is it just large companies using email marketing?

Who uses email marketing?

In recent years sending professional email campaigns has got easier and cheaper with programmes like Aweber and MailChimp (no affiliation with either) offering free services to businesses with small lists. More than 5 million people use MailChimp alone and it is just one of a number of platforms available.

Why do they use email marketing?

In comparison to postal marketing, email marketing is cheaper, quicker and gives you more useful information as well as potential sales. For example, if you use a programme like MailChimp, you can track reader behaviour such as opens and clicks, allowing you to do targeted follow up activity, either more email messages or phone contact. This is way beyond the simple redemption of a coupon, the only quantifiable or useful outcome of many postal campaigns.

In addition the rise of the use of smart phones and tablets (estimated to be over 1.2 billion and 200 million respectively by the end of 2013)*  means email is now accessible at the office, at lunch, at home, at the gym, on holiday and in the bath. It is our constant companion and we turn to email for information, products and services for all areas of our lives: our work and play.

This makes email marketing an attractive choice for small businesses in particular. For those with deeper pockets there are sophisticated integrations and auto-responders that can send targeted follow up messages. Have you ever left your computer with a shopping basket half full only to find an email from the company half an hour later encouraging you to go back and complete the purchase? Those companies are using robots to track activity and send follow up marketing messages. Neat or scary depending on your point of view. So what about all the email marketing jargon?

What does all the email marketing jargon mean?

Here’s a quick run down for you:-

  • Email campaign – the name MailChimp uses for every email you send out whether it’s an offer, a full blown e-newsletter or a simple plain text thank you note.
  • Email list – this is a list containing at least the email address for every contact, but often has first name, last name and other relevant information you want to use to target your messages, such as purchase history or birthday.
  • Subscriber – a contact on your email list
  • Opt-in – someone actively joins your list i.e they fill out a form on your website giving their email address and asking to be added to your email list.
  • Soft opt in – in the UK, soft opt in permits you to send marketing messages to those who have enquired or purchased from you in the past as long as they can unsubscribe easily and as long as the marketing messages relate to the same subject (this is my loose interpretation and does not constitute legal advice – I’m not a lawyer). Read it for yourself here.
  • Unsubscribe – when people ask to be removed from your email list. By law, you must remove them when they ask.
  • Subject line – the text that appears next to the FROM text in email inboxes
  • Email formats – your email can be sent as HTML (hyper text mark up language or as I like to call it, all singing, all dancing with images, colours and the rest) or plain text. Read about Pros and cons of 3 different email formats.

So what are businesses doing with email marketing?

How do businesses use email marketing?

It varies. Some businesses send e-newsletters, a round up of news, events, offers and tit bits on a regular schedule e.g. bi-monthly. Others send a series of promotional emails for e.g. workshops, festivals, seminars or other events. Others still, send a series of sales emails that follow in a sequence. Excited, want to get started?

What do you need to know to start email marketing?

The law around email marketing is designed to protect consumers from unwanted and unsolicited marketing messages. Check the law where your country operates. In the UK you need to familiarise yourself with the Data Protection Act and the rules governing Email Marking. The Information Commissioner’s Office spells it all out in plain English. Don’t be afraid, go take a look! Remember too if your subscribers are from another country you might want to familiarise yourself with their laws. 

Good practice dictates that you’ll send well targeted messages to a list of opted in subscribers i.e. people who’ve asked to receive your information and crucially you’ll give the chance to unsubscribe at any time. Programmes like MailChimp and Aweber provide automatic unsubscribe features with a link in every email.

In practice the law is different if you’re sending business to business marketing messages. As long as the marketing messages are directed at the business and not say offers for holidays for individuals then, in the UK, at the time of publishing, you don’t have to adhere to such strict regulations. If in any doubt, consult a lawyer (that’s not me!).

So let’s take a look at the nitty gritty. The hub of your email marketing activity is your list.

Your email list

Most businesses collect email addresses in the course of their business. It’s simple to start a list. Simply ask for opt in. Something like,

“We’d like to send you offers and news about our business, please tick if you’d like to join the list.”

This, or something short and snappy like “, Get StyleMail”,  can be written on your booking form, on a sign up form on your website, with a QR code on the back of your business card or anywhere else potential subscribers might see it. So what do you do with all these email addresses?

Small and micro businesses may keep their contacts in:-

  • Email programme like Gmail, Outlook or Contacts for Mac
  • In an external database like a booking system
  • On a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel
  • In a note book

Once you have a central location for your contacts, programmes like MailChimp allow you to import data in a number of ways:-

  • Adding subscribers one by one
  • Copying and pasting from a spreadsheet
  • Integrations with a number of platforms including Google Contacts

So there’s your shiny new list, now you need to look after it.

Keeping your email list clean

If you use programmes like Aweber and MailChimp they take care of that side for you. If not you need to manage:-

  • Unsubscribes – when someone asks to be taken off the list you must ensure they don’t get sent any more emails.
  • Hard bounces – email addresses may be incorrect or defunct. These need to be cleaned off your list.
  • Soft bounces – sometimes there’s a temporary problem with an email meaning it can’t get through e.g. Mail box is full. Some of these may function again and others will eventually become hard bounces I.e. Not functioning.

You’ll want to update your list regularly. How to keep your email lists fresh and up to date. And of course you’ll want to keep attracting new subscribers.

Building your list

Building your list is not a one time activity. It’s something you need to work on week in week out, like all your marketing activity. Think of your email campaigns as a group of products you want to promote. Use every possible platform and opportunity to ask people to join your list, such as:-

  • Sign up form on your website
  • Sign up tab on your Facebook page
  • A link in your email signature
  • A link in your Twitter bio
  • A pin with link on Pinterest
  • QR code on leaflets, business cards
  • Exhibition banners
  • Promotional goods like pens
  • At networking events
  • At the till
  • On feedback forms
  • During presentations
  • In conversation

Keep Googling ‘Build your list’ for more ideas. You’re probably thinking a programme to manage all this for you, sounds like a good idea.

Which programme is right for you?

MailChimp (not affiliated) has a Forever Free programme offering a generous allowance of lists up to 2000 subscribers and up to 12000 CHECK sends per month for free. If your list is bigger than this, then you want to carefully check out comparison tables like this one [add link] to find the best fit for you. The platform takes care of delivery and you’re building a good clean list, but why exactly do you want to send out emails?

What’s your goal?

In 2013, the majority of email traffic comes from business email, which accounts
for over 100 billion emails sent and received per day.

Email Statistics Report, 2013-2017 Editor: Sara Radicati, PhD; Principal Analyst: Justin Levenstein

The number of emails sent continues to rise, so it’s getting harder to get noticed. You will not get away with vague or poorly targeted messages, so take a long hard look at what you want to achieve and then consider the best way to do this. You should expect to refine and tweak what you do over months and years. It’s not a quick fix. Here are some of the outcomes you might want to result from your marketing emails:-

  • Sales enquiries
  • Bookings
  • Member renewals
  • New subscribers
  • Quote enquiries
  • Collaboration
  • Fundraising
  • Sell tickets
  • Raise awareness
  • Get people out marching on the streets
  • Get people talking

Once you’re clear on that, you need to decide what type of content you want to send.

What content should you email?

Here’s a sample to get you started:-

  • Special offers
  • E-newsletters
  • Event promotion
  • Thank you’s
  • Information/articles
  • Article + offer
  • Blog articles
  • Members’ news
  • Industry news
  • View from
  • Quote of the day
  • Prices
  • Market round up

So you’ve planned your fabulous content, now there’s one more crucial element, without which all your efforts can be wasted.

The call to action

The call to action is simply the instruction usually at the end of your email that tells people what to do next. For instance:

• Read more
• Get a quote
• Sign up to the waiting list
• Book now
• Check availability
• Tell a friend
• Register for the event
• Give your opinion
• Follow us on Pinterest

So how did your campaign perform?

Email marketing delivery and click through

Programmes like MailChimp and Aweber allow you to see which subscribers opened your email and which clicked on links (when and how many times). Now this is all very exciting but what really matters, is whether your email met your objectives. Did you get enquiries from it, did people book tickets, did you get more fans on Facebook? If you didn’t, then you need to look at the reason.

Does your email need follow up?

One email will rarely clinch a sale if it’s the first time the subscriber has seen the offer. So planning a series of follow up emails at the outset makes sense. If it’s an event, short to the point messages outlining different benefits of attending are ideal. If it’s an information product then a series of articles highlighting different aspects can work well.

To find out more, browse the library of articles on

Jan 282014

(and 3 ways to get creative with a single column email template)

Have you noticed how kids will personalise their school uniform? A uniform is imposed to ensure order, consistency and tidiness. It’s easier for teachers, parents and the community to identify children by their uniform. In theory, every child looks the same. It’s neat and tidy.

In practice, children have always found creative ways to personalise their look. Whether that’s crazy hair, a funky bag, a cool jacket, discreet jewellery or other more outlandish embellishments.

It’s the same with email marketing.

Did you know,

“51% of people open their emails on mobile devices now?”

(Aweber e-news 23.1.14)

More and more of us scan emails on our phones which means we need to move towards templates that are easy to read on those screens. That means single column templates.

However it doesn’t mean we have to accept a dull and uniform approach and throwaway any creative embellishments.

Innovative email marketing programmes like MailChimp and Aweber have been offering mobile responsive templates for some time. That is, templates that re-size according to the screen size. So they look good whether viewed on a large desktop screen, medium size tablet screen, or small phone screen.

What’s the problem with 2 or 3 column templates?

2 or 3 column templates look great on a large screen, but on a small phone screen, MailChimp, for instance, stacks the columns one on top of the other. That can completely mess with your message, as your prime offer information in the top right hand corner, gets sunk to the bottom of the email.

So, you’re persuaded to try a one column template, but you’re concerned that you cannot get the layout you want……….

3 ways to get creative with a single column template

Here are 3 ways to get more creative with a one column template in MailChimp:-

1.Split individual text blocks into 2 columns.
2. Use image with left or right caption blocks to create effect of 2 column on desktop version while they stack on mobile version
3. Split header block into 2, use square logo & welcome message.

Let’s take those one at a time:

1. Split individual text blocks into 2 columns

Within a single column template in MailChimp you can split text blocks into two. On the screen shot, you see under settings you get to select 1 or 2 columns.

Using this option ensures that e.g. An offer you put in the right column will only stack under the left column of this text block I.e it won’t get pushed to the bottom of the email. And what about images?

2. Use image with left or right caption blocks

If you haven’t already experimented, take a look at the image blocks with right or left caption.

They can be used for offers, destination photos or inspirational shots to go with a snippet from your blog, sales page or other page on your website. Again using this block gives the effect of 2 columns on a large screen but stacks one on top of the other on a small screen. And what do you do with the header?

3. Split header block into 2, use square logo & welcome message

A traditional newsletter always begins with a header featuring the company logo and name of the e-newsletter. In the hurried world of email inboxes, we need to grab people’s attention quickly.

So consider splitting your header and jumping straight in with your message in the left column and putting your logo in the right.

With all these options use the Preview mode in MailChimp to see how it might look on a small screen. Even better send tests to Android and Apple mobiles.

“I like my 2 column template and I don’t like change”

I know where you’re coming from! If you’re getting good results then stick with it, but it’s always worth being open to change. You never know, it might improve your response rates!

Just as children find the most ingenious ways to stamp their mark on their school uniform, you don’t need to be confined by the one column template. Go and experiment.

Have you experimented with layouts? What have you found?

Best regards


P.S. Need help with your email marketing or MailChimp?  I now offer online coaching (via Skype or Google hangout) to help you with email marketing and writing content to promote your business.  Get in touch for a quote.

Dec 132013
Tiger bounces! Use a nudge in your email marketing strategy instead

Tigger bounces! Use a nudge in your email marketing strategy instead

Tigger bounces piglet. Tigger is neither subtle nor gentle and it leaves poor piglet feeling baffled and overwhelmed. A nudge empowers where a bounce leaves no free will.

This is especially true when it comes to email marketing strategy.

To get emails noticed in ever more bloated inboxes and keep subscribers on side you need to work harder and smarter. One way is to use your email to nudge rather than make a fully formed offering.

What do I mean by a nudge?

I think of a nudge as gentle pressure, a hint or bait. A nudge is listed in my Concise Oxford Dictionary as a verb that means : to push gently with elbow to draw attention privately.

Email is, after all a private and direct form of communication. That little push with the elbow can be a simple sentence, image or button whose sole purpose is to get the reader to click through to more information. A nudge like:

  • Bookings open for 2014 Festival
  • One day archive sale
  • Read the next instalment
  • Bookings open for January workshops
  • Introducing our winter soap collection
  • Have you heard about the Browns?
  • What’s hot at this year’s show
  • Win VIP tickets to the festival

Perhaps you have a freshly pressed list of business prospects gathered from networking events. They’re not ready to buy from you yet, they hardly know you. You can still use the nudge technique. Think article headlines.

  • Why physiotherapists are talking about video marketing
  • 5 ways to increase profitability on your web design jobs
  • 8 traps to avoid when setting up as a freelance copywriter
  • 10 ways to get a better return on Facebook advertising

These headlines intrigue and urge people to read on.

Why use a simple nudge?

Inboxes are crowded, smart phone screens are small, readers are impatient. Email clients, like Gmail, allow users to block images in email. Spam filters are hungry to capture and devour any emails that look suspicious. It’s hard to get through and harder to get read.

Remember the power of little notes? In your lunch box, or on your pillow. Those few words from someone special, made your heart leap. The nudge has that same appeal of simplicity, brevity and “it’s just for you”.

Another advantage for the time pressed, rural business owner, it is far quicker to create, format, test and send. But where does the meat of the content go?

How does this work in practice?

The substance of your offer, be that an article, offer, news, tips, entertainment, a photo gallery, a video, a survey, competition or game, is hosted elsewhere. On your blog or website. The email is then a simple nudge to go look at the content. That’s not all.

Get more meaningful statistics

Another benefit is: your email contains a hyperlink to the meat of your content.

That gives you far more accurate reporting. Open rates recorded in programmes like MailChimp and Aweber are generally lower than actual open rates.

That’s because the mechanism used to record open rates relies on an invisible image being downloaded by the subscriber’s email client. If images are blocked, the email won’t be marked as open. Plain text emails won’t be recorded as opened either.

Click rates on the other hand, are far more reliable. If they got as far as the link and clicked on it, you know for sure the email was opened and read.

Let’s take a look at an example

This email from Toast, a Welsh clothing business, uses a clean, simple message to drive customers into stores.

Email from Toast, a simple nudge - a good part of your email marketing strategy

Simple nudge email Toast

When do you use this nudge technique?

Consider it another tool in your kit. It will be more powerful and effective if interspersed with longer emails.

Time of day plays a crucial part in your email strategy’s success

An email received at 10am will only get read if it requires immediate action whereas an email received at 9pm lands in front of the subscriber when they are in a totally different mood. She may be checking her email on a tablet on the sofa, unwinding from a long day.

An attractive offer to browse a beautiful collection of clothes, art, toiletries, books, film reviews can be seen as part of that relaxation process.

Whereas, in my experience, 11am on a Sunday can be a good time to send a nudge to go look at some personal development courses or career enhancing study.

Doesn’t the idea of a nudge, break the rules of copywriting?

Rules like: setting out a problem; a solution; offering a guarantee and so on. Not at all, the nudge simply entices people to go consume all of that elsewhere on the web, away from the hated inbox, supported by the branding of the sending organisation.

A big bounce has its place and you’ve gotta love Tigger for his sheer enthusiasm, but a nudge, subtle, understated and friendly can quietly get you a much better response from subscribers who act with pleasant anticipation rather than being ambushed and left feeling disappointed.


If you’d like help with your email marketing, consider a 1:2:1 coaching session in person, by phone or online. Find out more.

Email Marketing using MailChimp


For those struggling to get to grips with email marketing

No Monkeying Around! learn to create e-newsletters and sales emails with MailChimp

MailChimp, online email marketing solution

This practical “bring a laptop” workshop is ideal for small business owners and marketing officers. Delegates will learn how to put together a sales email or e-newsletter using MailChimp, an online email marketing solution, free for lists under 2000 contacts.

This workshop can be delivered at venues where there is robust wifi and technical support on site. It is a full day workshop usually running from 9.30 – 4.00 pm (times can be adjusted to suit).

Check my Events Calendar for upcoming workshops or find about hiring me to run a MailChimp workshop for your organisation.

“77% of consumers prefer marketing messages as emails than through any other medium.”

According to a recent poll by Aweber, email still wins out against social media and text messaging, as the preferred marketing medium for both consumers and small businesses.

For those keen to use email marketing but struggling to create attractive, compelling emails?

We all see plenty of sales emails landing in our inbox but sending e-newsletters or sales emails can be a headache. Where to start? How to build a database and get bulk emails sent out? What about the legality of email marketing? Then how on earth do people get those fancy images into an email and what about headers and footers?

Introducing MailChimp

Mail Chimp is online email marketing software, ideal for small and micro businesses. For fewer than 2,000 subscribers, and less than 12,000 emails per month MailChimp offers a Forever Free account (subject to a few conditions). For greater capacity, Mail Chimp also offers paid accounts.

Learn from a rural marketer

I’ve been using email marketing for my own and other rural businesses since 2007. Not being a computer programmer or coder, I’ve had to learn to use digital tools like MailChimp by working my way through tutorials and articles until I got to grips with it. I’ve trained over 200 people to use MailChimp.

Some, running micro businesses had little confidence with digital tools, others were web developers and marketing officers wanting to quickly pick up new skills. All have found the hands on practical workshops a good investment of time, helping to develop more digital marketing skills and sharing ideas and challenges with the group.

This workshop is ideal for those wanting to start sending out professional looking e-newsletters and sales emails. It will also help those switching from another email marketing programme like Constant Contact. By the end of the workshop, delegates have the chance to set up a test email campaign in Mail Chimp. Here’s what’s covered:

The MailChimp workshop covers:

  • Set up: ensuring every delegate has an account set up in Mail Chimp
  • Overview: Mail Chimp terminology
  • Lists
    • Anti-spam laws
    • Creation:uploading your database to Mail Chimp and adding individual contacts.
    • Groups: how to add sub groups to your lists.
    • List segmentation: how to select specific contacts for a specific campaign.
    • Integration and apps: automatic social media integration, Mail Chimp on mobiles
  • Templates
    • Overview: a tour of what’s on offer including templates for mobiles, pre-designed templates and branding your own
    • HTML and plain text
    • Selecting and creating your own templates
  • Campaigns
    • Tour of an email campaign: header, footer, body content
    • Uploading and editing text
    • Adding links
    • Uploading images
    • Delivery: testing, scheduling and sending
  • Measuring: overview of reports and what they mean
  • Summary

What do past delegates say about Juliet’s MailChimp training?

Here’s just a few reactions (people say such nice things!).
By email

“Juliet is a great teacher, always approachable and considerate to everyone’s requirements in the group. I valued being able to bounce ideas around with other people and get some feedback. I came away buzzing with lots of new ideas – thanks Juliet. Would always recommend!”  Lindsey Hedges, natural and organic skincare products”, Akamuti

From Facebook

Attended Juliet’s Mailchimp course on Wednesday and on Friday sent out the first new-style Gower Walking Festival newsletter. Already had great feedback. Thanks Juliet” – Isobel Kate Williams

“Thanks for the Mailchimp workshop at Cardigan yesterday Juliette. Full of great information and easy to follow as usual. Regards” – Heather Bennett, Photographer
“I am now looking to put into practice all I learnt yesterday with a big Mailchimp newsletter this week. Thank you so much for making it so simple!” Tamara Morris – Denmark Farm Conservation
From feedback forms
Juliet really opened my eyes to what I could do with my business through e-marketing. I came away feeling excited about the potential for increasing interest in my services to charities and social enterprisesJane Ryall – social enterprise consultant
A practical and informative workshop which opened my eyes to the possibilities of MailChimp which I was not aware of. It was great to be taught in a relaxed environment by an approachable tutor who can answer questions.” Manon Tomos, Trainee Legal Executive, Agri Advisor
I found the practical side very interesting and it was good to work on a project that we would be circulating to clients and ensuring maximising our service to clients” Pam Davies, Practice Manager Agri Advisor
Great course and really got me to think about how I can use MailChimp for technical updates and newsletters. I have no excuse now!” Catherine Nakielny, KN Consulting

I find the new terminology the most challenging thing about email marketing. Juliet, her guidance, clear advice and  delivery have been the best thing about today. I would recommend this workshop because of the it is beginner friendly and the step by step guide and 1:1 help and guidance.” Emma Owen, Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo

I wanted to find out how to use MailChimp more efficiently. I find it challenging knowing how to attract attention initially with email marketing. The best thing about today has been thinking more about subject lines. I like all the content of today, very informative. Thank you, enjoyed that very much, would like to come to more.” Pearl Powell, Apple Blossom Cleaning Company
I had no idea what to expect. Thought it would be very tecchy so glad it wasn’t as complicated as I thought. I find the law about emailing certain groups the most challenging issue. The best thing about today is everything we have learnt. Especially, compiling lists and groups, draft campaign and meeting new people. I’d recommend this workshop because it was friendly and relaxed, very insightful and useful for business. Thank you!” Jo Kemp, The Recruiter Group

And from Twitter

Jane_RyallNov 09, 9:09am via Twitter for iPhone

Just attended excellent #emarketing training with @JulietFay. Highly relevant for anyone trying to gain new business #Wales #marketing


KNconsultingNov 08, 10:54am via Web

Getting tips on using e-mail to promote services with @JulietFayMessage me your details to receive technical updates on lamb production!


Just back from v informative email marketing course today with @JulietFay at @walesbotanic TY – @SoftyCottages



Delegates will be sent instructions on how to set up their Mail Chimp accounts and details of what to bring to import contact information

Delegates should bring:

  • Wifi enabled laptop (older laptops sometimes cannot connect to wifi, be sure to test yours before booking and paying for this workshop).
  • Business logo in a jpeg file format
  • Any pre-designed html templates
  • Log in details for email, Mail Chimp and business social media accounts

This workshop is presented in English.  Any queries at all, please contact me.

MailChimp Specialist

I run private workshops and in-house training across South and West Wales and have been hired to run Email Marketing Strategy and practical MailChimp workshops for for organisations and projects such as:

Attend a MailChimp workshop or get 1:2:1 coaching

Check my Events Calendar for upcoming workshops. If you don’t see a suitable event, contact me and let me know what you need. If there’s enough demand, I’ll consider running a private workshop. If you’re in a hurry, or need specific help I also offer 1:2:1 coaching in person or online.

Hire me

Would you like a practical MailChimp workshop for your project, organisation, staff or members? Find out more about hiring me as a trainer.

MailChimp, Email Marketing workshop, Carmarthenshire


Are you struggling to get to grips with email marketing?

No Monkeying Around! learn to create e-newsletters and sales emails with MailChimp

MailChimp, online email marketing solutionBring your laptop and learn how to use MailChimp, an online email marketing solution, free for lists under 2000 contacts.

If you subscribe to my e-newsletters, look out for the £20 workshop voucher in your inbox. Not a subscriber? Sign up now!

Book now!

Friday 8th November 2013, Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire


Agri Advisor

SA19 8AX Llanwrda
United Kingdom

Friday 8th November 2013 from 09:30 to 16:00 (BST)

9:15 – 9:30 – Arrival
9:30 – 3:30pm – Workshop
3:30 – 4:00pm – Close
(Includes light complementary lunch)

“77% of consumers prefer marketing messages as emails than through any other medium.”

Read more.