What is Email Marketing and how it works

June 2, 2022 Updated: June 2, 2022
What is Email Marketing and how it works
What is Email Marketing and how it works

Welcome to this simple beginner's guide to understanding what email marketing is and how it works.

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing is a type of Digital Marketing where you collect emails from visitors (list building), then send messages to those subscribers promoting products, services, or simply content (blog) while developing relationships with them, which increases your revenue & web traffic.

The Advantages of Email Marketing

There are many advantages of Email Marketing when compared to other digital marketing strategies, which include but are not limited to:

- Low Price
- Best Targeting
- Easy to setup
- Easy to track and improve.

Is Email Marketing still relevant?

If you think email marketing is outdated and constitutes a kind of spam, you should reconsider it, Statistics say the opposite, let’s take just a few examples:

  • The average ROI through email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent.
  • Over 4 Billion People Use Email — and that Number is Growing
  • By 2022, Over 347 Billion Emails Will Be Sent Every Day
  • 89% of marketers use email as the primary channel for generating leads.
  • 87% of B2B marketers say email is one of their top free organic distribution channels.
  • 99% of email users check their inboxes every day.

Types of Email Marketers

Theoretically, there is one type of Email Marketers, but considering how people try to practice email marketing, we can distinguish three distinct ways:

Regular Email Marketers

The “Legal” form of Email Marketing is email campaign, or newsletter, email sent to many recipients, referred to as an ’email list’: people who subscribed to our lists, allowing us to send them emails.

Bulk Mailers (spammers)

Spam emails are unsolicited emails sent to people who don't give permission to receive them and most often don’t want to receive them. Usually, the recipients of spam emails don't necessarily fit the target audience.
These emails are typically promotional communications sent by “advertisers” to pitch products to people regardless of whether or not they will be interested in the product or benefit from it.

Bulk Mailers collect, scrape, or buy emails to build their list, and then start sending them direct promotional emails that usually contain affiliate links to earn a commission, and in most cases, directly in the message body, without a landing page.
Between Regular Email Marketers and Bulk Mailers, there is what is called “Cold Email Marketers”

Cold Email Marketers

It’s easy to get confused between cold emails and spam emails. While both are sent to recipients without their permission; cold emails and spam emails refer to two different things.

A cold email is sending a message to prospects you haven’t interacted with before with the intent of building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Unlike spam email, cold email is a short message that doesn’t promote anything, sent to one or a few validated addresses of related recipients (in most cases, B2B), with a clear signature (website, contact, location address), attempting to convert the target prospect into a subscriber (email list) or a continuing customer. To emphasize, overdoing it may appear as spam. In general, cold email has a lot of rules that make it differ from spam.

It’s best to keep marketing emails separate from cold emails because, even if done the right way, sending cold emails from the same system or database of contacts (same IP address) as your marketing emails may harm your sender's reputation and email deliverability overall, that’s why most email marketing applications or services doesn’t allow sending cold emails.

Email marketing system structure

Before starting to work with Email Marketing, you need to understand the Email Marketing System Architecture.
In general, any Email Marketing System (EMS) consists of two parts: a sending server (SMTP) and an Email Marketing Application (EMA) and when linking them together we get the email marketing system.


SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

I won’t annoy you with technical terms and details; SMTP is the technical part. To keep things as simple as possible, it’s a “thing” that allows you to send emails over the Internet.

You have the option of building your own SMTP servers from scratch or using an SMTP service.

Examples of SMTP applications and services: AWS SES, Mailgun, Mandrill, Sendgrid, Postal, PowerMTA, and Postfix.

Email Marketing Application

it is the interface that allows you to manage everything in your email marketing system: create and manage your email lists, setup email marketing campaigns, monitor your campaigns (open and click rates), analyze results, manage your sending servers, and so on.

Here is a list of some of the most popular Email Marketing Applications: Mailwizz, Super Mail Sender, Mautic, Mailster, Interspire.

As with SMTP, you have several options.

The first option is to subscribe to an email marketing application and pay monthly, annually, as you go, or even subscribe to a free plan if it exists and fits your needs.

The Second option: Install an Email Marketing Application Like Mailwizz, Mailster, Mamura, Interspire, or other applications and pay once for the application. In both cases, you have to have SMTP and connect it with your Email Marketing Application.

The third option is to subscribe to an Email Marketing service that will give you both parts (SMTP and the Application) combined into a simple interface for managing and starting your email marketing campaigns, without worrying about any technical stuff.

Here is a list of some of the most popular email marketing services: ConvertKit, GetResponse, Sendinblue, AWebe, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Drip, MailerLite, CampaignMonitor.