Email Marketing: A startup perspective

With the emergence of new digital marketing tools, social media platforms and traffic channels, some might be led to believe that email marketing is outdated. This, however, is definitely a misconception as the use of email newsletters is still considered one of the most effective tools for nurturing leads, raising brand awareness, and even selling product. 

This is especially the case for startups, that are often cash-strapped but growth-oriented. For startups, acquiring new customers is often a big part of the company’s marketing strategy as growth numbers are critical in securing a foothold in the market, building important data, and raising funds from investors. However, an equally if not more important marketing objective that has far-reaching effects is retention.

Enter email marketing. 

What Exactly is Email Marketing

In its most basic form, email marketing is simply sending emails to your list of customers, with the content of these newsletters ranging from promotional offers to useful information and daily news. These emails are used to inform, drive sales, and build a community around your brand.

What kinds of emails are used for email marketing?

There are usually two types of emails that are popular among startups and online businesses – promotional email and informational email. 

Promotional emails usually come in the form of one-time offers, new product releases, upcoming webinars etc. In these promotional emails, a compelling Call-To-Action (CTA) is a must as it drives your reader to take action on. Otherwise, a good number of your readers will end up unsure of what you want them to do or how to proceed. A good call to action has to be specific and actionable, like completing a purchase or register for a webinar. Additionally, it can draw on a sense of urgency by limiting the time an offer is available for, or by making your product seasonal. E.g. Promoting the image of summertime and selling outdoors equipment when the seasons are about to change. 

A common type of promotional emails is Abandon Cart emails, which are emails that are sent to customers who add products to their cart, but quit before checking out on an online store. It is almost a given that every online store should implement some sort of abandon cart email series to recover sales, as a large proportion of customers online actually end up leaving before completing their purchase. 

The second type is informational marketing. These emails are written in the form of a regular newsletter or useful content that work to ensure that your customers tune in to your other emails, remain interested in your content, and keep engaging with your business. You can think of it as a retention tool that distributes content that is valuable to your audience.

Optimize Your Startup's Growth

Most startups fail in their early stages due to inefficient cash flow management, and the large majority tend to overspend on customer acquisition. This draws crucial funds that could be directed towards marketing and reinvesting into growing the startup. Nevertheless, while lowering customer acquisition costs should still remain a high priority, retention is a key factor to turning an acquired customer into a productive asset for your company in the long run. While there are almost an infinite number of innovative ways that you can retain customers, email marketing is by far the proven leader in generating predictable results.

Email Marketing provides a cost-efficient channel for generating revenue organically for businesses, with a substantially high return on investment (ROI) of about 4400%. This outperforms many other traffic channels, especially paid advertising on social media or search engines. Of course, these channels complement each other, and a combination of strategies leveraging both paid advertising and email marketing to follow up on leads would benefit a business far more than either method used in isolation. 

However, budget-friendly is not the only reason why “Email Marketing” is a must-have for any business. Email marketing can also be massive revenue drivers on an existing customer base for established businesses. According to McKinsey, the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media. This means that reaching out to your existing customers could multiply your revenue

Not to mention, email marketing also reduces the competition that you face on other digital marketing channels. Your subscriber should already have some interest in your business as they have provided their email addresses on a signup form, so they are already further down the conversion funnel than a cold lead on a social media platform. Isolating these leads and presenting your content to them in an email without the distractions of other social media posts and ads absolutely helps you to retain their attention to a greater degree. 

Prerequisites for your Email Marketing Strategy

A good email marketing strategy also requires a solid execution plan for it to come to fruition. As you might expect, it is crucial to get your infrastructure right early on in the process, even if you change your email marketing strategy later, since the cost and risk of migrating systems can be high after you have built a large list of contacts.

So what are some of the things to nail down before starting an email marketing campaign? 

Choosing the right software

There are dozens of different Email Marketing Software (EMSs) out there in the market, each with their own set of pros and cons. What’s important is knowing your objectives and requirements when making your decision!

Some questions that could be useful to think about are:

  • How much am I willing to pay for this channel?
  • How often and what content do I send to my subscribers?
  • How detailed do I need my customer segmentation to be?
  • How much automation do I need for my business?
  • Are you a pro or beginner in email marketing? What skills do you have? 
Not sure about what other questions to ask? Or need a professional to run through your email marketing plan with you? We are a digital agency that have helped many small businesses and startups scale their email marketing systems from scratch, and our team is always happy to hop on a call to help you out!

Right Content, Right Person, Right Time

A great piece of software is at most just that – a tool to deliver content to your customers. What is important is how you use that tool to its fullest potential. This means sending the right content to the right person at the right time.

This definitely takes practice, but some easy steps that you can implement on your own is by focusing your content on users that have a demonstrated interest in your products (they have liked your content on social media, added something to cart, or made a purchase in the past). This allows you to be more aggressive with your promotional content as the customers are closer to making a purchase, and trust your brand more. 

Needless to say, your list of subscribers should be collected by your website or social media platforms, and never bought from a third-party provider. Buying subscribers can be a violation of privacy laws in many countries, and even then, purchasing email addresses almost never results in a worthwhile organic growth for a business. This is simply because the quality of subscribers is low. They did not build trust with the business, and were not warmed up to the brand for these subscribers to convert efficiently into paying customers.

And remember not all of your subscribers have the same interest as each other. Segmenting your subscriber will help you bring a closer and more personalized content to them. It will not only motivate them to open your email but also establish a relationship between you and your business. 

*Final Tip: Don’t try to flood your customers with your emails.

Overwhelmed with all the tasks while starting up? Or don’t have the time to fully research marketing tool? No worries! Check out our Omnisend article and learn more about an email marketing automation tool that’s a good fit for most applications. If you’re curious to learn about how email marketing works in a marketing funnel, you can also read more about funnel strategies in our article about the 5 stages of a sale funnel.


GrowthFunnels is a global web design, E-commerce and digital marketing agency that specializes in helping small brands and startups scale their businesses online. As a full-service provider, our services include social media marketing, SEO/SEM, email marketing, and strategy coaching.