A couple of weeks ago the SitePoint Email Marketing Kit arrived on my doorstep and I posted a full set of unboxing photos along with a promise to do a full, detailed, multi-part review. Well today I'll be bringing you the first part of that review as a general introduction and overview to the kit so far.

Getting Started

As with the Web Design Business Kit, The Email Marketing Kit comes beautifully packaged in a supremely high-quality folder (or 'binder' if you're from the US of A). The kit itself is made up in what is in my opinion the perfect configuration; the manual is in the folder and all the relevant documents are on the CD which is attached inside the front cover. If you read my review of the Web Design Business Kit (hereafer referred to as the WDBK) you might have seen that I thought the documents folder was a little wasteful, well this time I think they've got it just right.

Once again, before you start reading you're going to want to have a notebook and pen handy because there are going to be a lot of points and "to-do items" that you're going to want to take note of as you go along. It's worth noting that while the WDBK has pages printed front and back, the Email Marketing Kit only printed on one side of each page - so while there are the same number of sheets in the folder, there are actually about half as many pages. However, don't let that get you down - the content that is on each page is crammed (and I mean crammed) full of useful information. In a sense, the WDBK is light reading compared to this one.

Starting Your Email Marketing Campaign

Rather than taking a general look at the kit as a whole, we're going to delve into it in a bit more detail to not just give you a review of the documentation - but to actually apply the advice given and see how well it works. So for the most of this "part 1" section we'll take a look at the beginning of the kit, and the first steps to getting an email marketing campaign off the ground.

Initial Impressions

Two things I LOVE about this kit right off the bat - Firstly, the very beginning of the kit addressed my number one concern with doing any form of email marketing: "How can I do this without being labelled as a spammer?". Author Jeanne Jennings knows her audience extremely well, and if I had any previous doubts they were instantly laid to rest when I read this. Secondly, Jeanne is prolific user of foot notes - I don't think I've ever liked foot notes this much? One of my issues with the WDBK was that there were statistics quoted (really useful ones), but almost no referenences to where the data was taken from. Jeanne provides super detailed references for almost everything, ones that I would feel confident using and quoting myself - which instantly increases the value of the kit for me.

Jeanne has a slightly different writing style to Brendon Sinclair (author of the WDBK), while Brendon comes across as an old and extremely knowledgeable friend, Jeanne reads more like an extremely driven professional who isn't afraid to go into technical details. The upside of this is that she seems to provide a lot more detail in all the areas discussed, the downside is that the kit without question requires more concentration to read.

Beginning The Work

One of the first things that Jeane talks about in detail is the 8 different types of emails that you can send, which was a big shock to me. I had always been under the impression that there was one formula for a newletter, and you altered the content based on what you had to talk about. I was wrong!

I can't tell you all 8 specific types of email, because otherwise what would be your incentive for buying the kit yourself? However, what I will do is show you a couple of the "types" that I've mocked up some designs for, and will be using for my email marketing campaign. Please bare in mind that these don't represent actual news items or promotions, and are filled with dummy content.

Short and sweet:

eml1

Long and content-filled:

eml2

That's It For Part 1

I'm just getting started, and there's a lot more to come including my experience using Campaign Monitor, coding up these designs, and actually sending out some of my first newsletters. I'll also have a custom signup page sorted out this week so you can subscribe to the newsletters themselves and see exactly what I'm doing.

In the mean time, drop me a line in the comments and tell me what you think so far - or what successes and failures you've had with your own email marketing campaign, and don't forget that if you're interested in getting your own copy of the kit - you can download some free sample chapters from SitePoint.