Email Marketing Basics – GETTING INTO THE INBOX

Freshback Media - Email Marketing

Email Marketing Basics – GETTING INTO THE INBOX

At Freshback Media, we specialize in online marketing. And email marketing is still key to your customer acquisition AND retention strategies.  



So you have an email database you’ve been collecting for a few years. Data gathered through customer signups is just sitting there waiting to be monetized. You’ve installed some sexy email marketing software, uploaded your dataset and hit send…and you cross your fingers hoping it does the following:

  1. Get into the inbox
  2. REALLY get into the inbox, not just the social or promotions folder
  3. You hope the user opens it and goes “Wow! I want that”
  4. You anticipate lots of returning customers flooding to your website consuming your beautiful product.
  5. You hope your email blast turns into instant ROI…..

Except nothing happens. Or very little. A few clicks and signups, maybe a handful of sales. It didn’t set the world on fire and you feel a bit jaded.

No worries! You just need to sort out those 5 steps above. How?



With billions of emails hitting inboxes year after year, inbox penetration is the hardest part an email marketer needs to get right. At Freshback, we understand the importance of data capture.

People consume so much digital information that competing for inbox placement is now the norm. So your email needs to stand out. To do so, you need to BUILD BRAND RECOGNITION. People don’t like surprises – random emails from brands you never heard of or remember signing up for will not lead to the greatest results.

You need to ensure your database knows who you are, what you do, and how/when/where they signed up for your email newsletters.

If you aren’t sending branded emails with a clear From Sender and subject line, your email comms will:

  • End up in the junk folder
  • Be ignored by the recipient
  • The recipient will unsubscribe or press the spam button
  • The large email clients (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc.) will block your messages i.e. they never make it to the user’s inbox.


Email Data Acquisition

The customer doesn’t like unwanted surprises. So good email marketing begins with good data capture:

  1. A clean, clear sign-up form detailing your brand, your offer to the consumer, a positive single opt-in (double opt-in is even better).
  2. Clear Terms and Conditions and Privacy policy: ensure your user knows what they’re signing up for.
  3. Automated responder email (Auto-responder): once a user signs up, send them a newsletter confirming their registration. It sounds simple, but initial welcome email validates your user’s email address. N.B. This is also referred to as double opt-in.


Email Data Hygiene

How old is your data? Depending on the email client (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo), the age of your database DIRECTLY affects your inbox penetration. If you email older data i.e. anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked on an email you’ve sent in the last 6 months, then you run the risk of getting blocked. Old, non-responsive data is the NUMBER ONE KILLER of email marketing campaigns. Hotmail, Yahoo, and other large email companies monitor the emails you send and who you send them to!


No Old Data!

If you’re emailing old, inactive data, chances are these email addresses could have been converted to SPAM TRAPS – dead email addresses that email companies use to “trap” email marketers that do not keep their databases up to date. So keep your data clean. Remove any non-responsive records from your database. And do so regularly.


Branded Emails

It might sound like a broken record, but a clear From Sender and Subject Line make all of the difference. Big brand recognition from start to finish and it’s smooth sailing for the most part. Make sure your brand is consistent in every email – colors, font style and sizes, slogans and taglines. Place a header and footer with a clear unsubscribe link to build trust with your users.



“Don’t spray and pray – because the glory days are gone.”

If Fashion Brand X, for example, no longer can we get away with blasting 100,000 generic emails and expect fantastic results. We need to personalize emails.

Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer advanced targeting features such as age, gender, postal code, date of birth, previous purchases and more. If you capture this data from your users at the point of sign-up, this enriched data will drive sales and ROI.

Why is this? You can now segment your email marketing based on these user attributes. Fashion Brand X can send now send its female customers a “silky spring dresses” email, while its male audience receives “Toughman leather jackets” email. So targeting makes all the difference.


Clear Call-to-Action

Email marketing is still one of the strongest and most responsive forms of marketing on the planet. At Freshback Media, conversions are King. User sign-ups are great, but you need your email marketing to drive regular traffic to your website.

But to make it work, you must give the user what they want. Make your call-to-action big and bold – this click leads to a sale. Keep that mentality and do your best to get the consumer excited about that click! So make it sexy!


SPF, domain keys, MX records and Feedback Loops

Without getting too technical, there are certain frameworks other techy things that dramatically improve your email deliverability.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF), mailer exchange (MX records) and domain keys are necessary tools for bulk email delivery. Usually, your webmaster or system administrator will need to configure these on your platform.

A feedback loop is a digital mechanism between an email marketing platform and the email service provider e.g. Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc. Feedback loops are critical to inbox deliverability. These records and data feed tell Hotmail and the rest who you are and where your emails are coming from. They also send error messages to your email platform whenever you hit delivery bottlenecks and other issues. See end of the article for more info.



Remember that email databases are just people. And people like routines. So email your customers on a regular schedule. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or once a month, email your users on a regular basis – so they get used to receiving your email at a certain time of day, week or month.

While we’re just scratching the surface on email marketing, these steps are a great foundation for email best practice. Before you know it, you’re sending 250k a month and your customers love you.


Useful links:

Return Path Deliverability experts and nice guys –

More on Sender Policy Framework:

Info on domain keys:

More about MX records:


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Eli Bouscher