E-mail Marketing and Its Applications

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Although the importance of social media channelshas drastically increased in the last decade, e-mail marketing is still the most lucrative internet marketing strategy. Astoundingly, e-mail marketing can drive a 3800% return on investment (ROI) for a business.

The process of capturing leads for an e-mail marketing campaign often starts from a website or a blog. Valuable, SEO-friendly, high-quality content drives traffic to a website where the website owner can collect the e-mail addresses of the visitors using e-mail marketing techniques such as signing up for exclusive content offers.

E-mail marketing works because when visitors consent to get e-mails, they are usually interested in the value proposition as presented. This increases the chances of conversion; after an opt-in form has been submitted, the conversions mainly depend on how effective the appropriate email workflow meets with the users needs and interests via their inbox.

It’s important to understand that once someone signs up for receiving e-mails, they must receive real value in exchange to avoid their unsubscribing at anytime later. So, adding value to the customers’ journey and keeping them engaged with quality e-mail content is necessary.

While it depends on the organisation’s marketing objectives how it uses e-mail marketing to its advantage, at its simplest and according to Tay (2020), [BJ1] it can be generally be categorized into three types (although further categorisation of up to as many as 12 has been noted).

E-mail Newsletter

There is no limit to what a business can promote with an e-mail newsletter. Once a website visitor signs up for a newsletter, the business is free to send any relevant content.

An E-mail newsletter allows businesses to promote their products, offer discounts on them, give tips to their subscribers, and much more.

It helps build brand awareness and recognition. There are a few things to keep in mind while creating an e-mail newsletter.

  • The length and type of the content
  • Placement of graphics
  • Design of the e-mail
  • Call to action

Behavioural E-mails

E-mails that are sent to subscribers based on their behaviours are called behavioural e-mails. It will not make sense if a promotional e-mail is sent to a subscriber who just signed up. They will be expecting a welcome e-mail after signing up. This process of ‘personalisation’ ensures that a consumer can be engaged more closely to their needs, stage of customer journey and other circumstances of personal situation.

For example, when a visitor subscribes to an e-mail, they get a welcome e-mail in their inbox. Another example would be when a subscriber has bought something, and the business approaches them to review the product or consider buying another product (cross-sell).  It can also be much more granular than this and with marketing automation, the detail of personalisation available is quite significant through powerful marketing platforms and their CRMS.

Each e-mail can be easily personalized using an e-mail marketing tool like Mailchimp. Personalized e-mails are triggered when the user takes a certain action.

Transactional E-mails

The third type of e-mail is transactional. A receipt, billing statement, invoice, and order confirmation are examples of transactional e-mails.

While this type of e-mail may not seem like a converting one, if used sensibly, it can lead to increased conversions. This is because customers engage with transactional e-mails more.

Therefore, transactional e-mails are liked by customers. But, it’s up to the organisations and marketers how theyleverage them for maximum value provision across the lifetime of a customer.

Here is a useful video from Google Garage on Email Marketing:


This was a short introduction to e-mail marketing and the three main types. E-mail marketing, when done strategically and with considered planning, can bring a business up to 3800% ROI.

  • To learn more about e-mail marketing, click here.
  • And, here is an insight into e-mail marketing trends in 2021.
  • Use this resource to get in-depth knowledge about e-mail marketing.

Article co-authored with Zain Khan


  • Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, E. (2016) Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice. 6th ed. New York: Pearson.
  • Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2019) Digital marketing. Pearson UK.
  • Chaffey, D. and Smith, P. R. (2017) Digital marketing excellence: Planning, optimizing and integrating online marketing. 5th ed. London: Routledge.
  • Ryan, D. (2020) Understanding digital marketing: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. Kogan Page Publishers.


  • Hartemo, M. (2016) Email marketing in the era of the empowered consumer. Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 10(3), 212-230.
  • Zhang, X., Kumar, V. and Cosguner, K. (2017) Dynamically managing a profitable email marketing program. Journal of marketing research54(6), 851-866.

Published by Dr John Bustard

I am currently a Lecturer in Digital Transformation within Ulster University Business School, specifically within the school's largest department: Management, Leadership and Marketing. Previously, as a researcher, lecturer and doctoral candidate I focused on digital events and delivered classes to MSc & BSc level. My duties have included coordinating and guest lecturing on Marketing Communications, Enterprise & New Venture Creation, e-Business Strategy, Research Methods. My particular passion is through exploring Digital Marketing approaches which enhance student awareness and appreciation of the impact of digital and an enquiring mind to understand future technology applications. *All views are my own*

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