Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Email Marketing for Online Start-Ups

One of the most valuable marketing tools in an online start-up company’s toolbox is email marketing. Granted, there is a thin line between “email marketing” and “spam”. It is essential to understand the difference between the two in order to conduct a successful email marketing campaign.


One should always provide something of value in an email marketing campaign. For years, skilled marketing personnel have found a way to add value to snail mail marketing campaigns. For example, companies requesting that potential customers complete and return a brief survey often include a one-dollar bill as payment for submitting the information. Most people feel obliged to complete the survey, rather than just pocket the money. The same principle applies to email marketing. While it is impossible to include money in an email, it is possible to provide potential customers with something of value. One could include a coupon good for a certain percentage off the first order placed with the online company. Alternatively, if the company provides a service rather than a product, one could include a “free tip” in an email newsletter. Companies that offer financial services could include free advice about retirement funds. Companies that offer website design services could include free advice about one aspect of a successful website.


One should take care not to inundate potential customers with email. On average, workers receive approximately forty-five emails per day. Generally speaking, no one wants to receive three or four additional email per week from a company that is trying to sell something. This type of intrusive marketing is the equivalent of a persistent telemarketer calling every day during dinner to sell replacement windows. One should try to limit the number of email marketing pieces to one piece every two or three weeks. The sole exception to this rule of thumb is an “opt-in” email campaign. Such a campaign requires the customer specifically to elect to receive email on a frequent basis. If a company can offer an enticing hook, potential customers will request the company’s email. A company that sells a product could offer a “deal of the day”. A company that provides financial services could offer a “stock tip of the day”. A company that provides website design services could offer a “design tip of the day”. One should bear in mind that it is a time-consuming prospect to prepare a value-added email every day. Depending upon the company’s available personnel, a “deal of the week” may be more appropriate.


The key to a successful email marketing campaign is to provide something of value to potential customers on a timetable that suits their needs. It is essential that your email is CAN-SPAM compliant with the ability to ‘opt-out’ and that you choose a reliable sender to manager your emails (Constant Contact, Bronto & CheetahMail to name a few.)

Chris Kenney is the Director of Online Marketing at Gemvara.  Gemvara allows user to customize their pieces to select a design, metal and gemstone.  Gemvara offers a wide selection of promise rings, wedding bands, men’s rings & gemstone jewelry.