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Email 101


What is it?

Email is simply a channel to communicate with your current or potential customer. You can use this channel to acquire, activate, retain, upsell, get feedback from customers and more. Here we will explore how email can be used for acquisition of new customers.


Collect email ids (as primary or secondary CTA) in your website or content; using cross promotions and partnerships; using competitions, sweepstakes, giveaways etc. Remember by capturing an email, you’re simply capturing a lead - this lead needs to be nurtured before this person turns into a customer. The types of emails you’re sending in this instance are usually marketing emails: educating customers, advertising offers, creating brand awareness etc.


When someone gives you their email, they have given you permission to contact them via this channel. This is push notification’s elderly uncle. Less ephemeral and not dead yet, but everyday there’s a new prediction on when it’s going to die. You be the judge of how often your target customer engages with email, and use accordingly.


Incite curiosity with the subject line to get your customers to open your email, offer value or entertain the email reader enough for them to click on the call to action, or at least open your next email.


Common Mistakes Founders Make

  • Subject Line doesn’t align with the content inside the email

  • Emails aren’t segmented out based on the buyer personas (One email for everyone)

  • Emails contain too many CTA’s that seem “salesy”

  • The emails don’t contain a question or a CTA

  • The email length is too long, or email size is too big (stuffed with images)



Fictitious Example

Let’s say you are selling a Subscription Commerce product for men’s clothing (an alternative to Trunk Club) at $100/month, there are two parts to acquire new paying customers through Email. Step #1: Acquire an email list of target customers by offering something easier to sell (ex: personalized suggestions on clothing types for various body types for different occasions, widget to calculate how much mental energy you expend choosing clothes depending on the number if items you have vs Mark Zuckerberg), behind a paywall, so potential customer has to enter their email id and some details like whether they’re seeking this info. for themselves or for their partner, brother, father etc etc., and once in the clothing advice section, they enter height, weight, number of items in closet etc. to personalized clothing recommendations for different occasions or hours spent/year choosing clothing. The data you collected helps you qualify & segment the leads. Step #2 Now that you have an email list of highly targeted & segmented leads, you can now email them personalized useful advice in a drip sequence and over time introduce where and how your product fits into this new future you’re creating for them. If this seems like a lot of effort (time, $$$), it may or may not be depending on what other alternatives you have to acquire these customers at a lower effort.


Real World Example

Harry’s ran an impressive giveaway campaign that helped them amass a large of potential customers even before they launched.

B2B startups frequently run lead nurturing campaigns, usually set up as drip sequences (there’s a lot of high quality content, googlable, on this).

Find more great examples at the Hubspot blog here.


Related Keywords

Bounce Rate, Click-Through Rate, Conversion Rate, List Segmentation, Opt-in, spam, DKIM, drip campaigns, lead nurture, email sequence, marketing email vs transactional emails, Read/Open Length


Related Content

Email Marketing Category on 500 Startups Blog  500 Startups Team

Email Marketing for Startups  Susan Su, Distribution Partner at 500 Startups

Email for Startups PART 1: Email Marketing Fundamentals  Susan Su, Distribution Partner at 500 Startups

How to Suck Less at E-mail Marketing  Sean Percival, Partner at X2 Labs

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