Mastering the email ecosystem for effective marketing

From creating a campaign to understanding spam laws, columnist Scott Heimes explains why you need to think about all the parts of the email marketing campaign life cycle.

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link-email-mobile-world-ss-1920Understanding the email ecosystem can be complicated, but it’s an essential element of executing a successful email program. It’s crucial to think of the entire program life cycle and consider all of its moving parts as equals.

Email delivery is a moving target, and each aspect of the campaign deserves the same attention to ensure maximum deliverability and ROI. This begins with understanding the ins and outs of the ecosystem.

Learn the rules of email

Before implementing an email marketing campaign, marketers need to understand the laws and policies that surround email, specifically spam, to ensure their mail is authentic and wanted. Two of the most important laws are:

  • CAN-SPAM: Enacted in 2003, CAN-SPAM sets rules for commercial email and provides recipients with the right to request to stop getting emails. To ensure marketing email is compliant, senders can begin by always honoring opt-out requests, not using false or misleading information, and monitoring all mail sent on your brand’s behalf for authenticity. You can view all of the CAN-SPAM requirements here.
  • CASL: In effect since 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation applies to all commercial email sent to or from a computer system in Canada. To ensure compliance, marketers must honor all unsubscribe requests and obtain proof of consent to send mail. You can learn more about CASL here.

While marketers should familiarize themselves with spam best practices, other policies to consider are:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Authentication: An email authentication standard that compares the sender’s IP address to a list of IP addresses authorized to send mail from that domain.
  • DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM): Helps internet service providers prevent malicious email senders by validating email from specific domains.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC): An email protocol that uses SPF and DKIM to determine the authenticity of an email message.

Understanding each policy can become confusing, but using an email service provider (ESP) will help monitor email programs and ensure proper compliance and maximum deliverability are achieved.

Create a campaign

With the help of an ESP and best practice knowledge, kick off your email marketing campaign with a welcome email, newsletter or promotional or discount email. These are all common and effective emails to begin with when building out a program.

A welcome email establishes the relationship tone with the recipient, the newsletter lets the recipient get to know the brand better, and promotional or discount emails give recipients the deal they might have been looking for.

Once marketers have set a regular sending cadence for the program, they can determine the best headers, subject lines and message content that resonate best with their recipients. These aspects of the campaign help marketers understand their subscribers’ wants and needs, which creates greater engagement.

Reach the inbox

Once the campaign is up and running, marketers can see what messages were delivered and which messages resonated most. Marketers can analyze delivery rates, opens, bounces and clicks and unsubscribes to tailor their campaign even further. A/B testing is another tactic marketers can use to test every aspect of an email for greater engagement.

Marketers should review their statistics against initial goals and dissect what may have gone wrong and what is working best. Depending on how the results compare to the goals, senders can improve their methods surrounding how they collect email addresses, how and when they send to recipients, and how they choose to remove recipients from lists.


Before kicking off an email marketing campaign, implement authentication methods and establish the brand’s reputation as a sender by complying with spam policies and best practices. This directly affects whether messages land in the inbox or spam folder, or if they get blocked.

Once the campaign is up and running, continue to review metrics to understand what works and what needs to be revisited. Review the successes and areas for improvement, and note where you’ve made progress. Every marketer has a reason for using email to grow their business, and properly understanding the email ecosystem can help marketers reach their goals.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Scott Heimes
Scott Heimes serves as Chief Marketing Officer at SendGrid, where he is responsible for the company's brand strategy, driving demand for its solutions and leading global marketing operations. Scott oversees corporate marketing, demand generation, corporate communications, partnerships and alliances, international expansion and SendGrid’s community development team.

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