What exactly is an email marketing platform and what does it do?

Published about 1 year ago • 5 min read

What exactly is an email marketing platform and what does it do?

An email marketing platform (EMP) is typically a 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) solution that marketers can use to manage their email subscribers and everything that goes with operating an email marketing channel effectively. (By the way, it's also commonly referred to as an email service provider, or ESP).

There are lots of fancy and complex things that go on behind the scenes, but as users of such platforms, thankfully we don't really need to worry too much about these since the EMPs take care of it for us.

What EMPs can take care of for us...


These are the very crux of every email marketing system, without whom there'd be no point in having a system! Whenever someone subscribes to our email 'list', the become a 'subscriber'.

Subscribers must always have control of what we send them (using their 'preferences' settings), and be able to unsubscribe at any time. We can collect personal data whilst we have subscribers on our list, which allows us to get even better at making their experience a more relevant and enjoyable one for them. Our chosen EMP allows us to do this.

Landing pages and opt-in forms

These are what we use to collect the details of our email subscribers; you'll undoubtedly have seen, and probably used these before. Here's an example of one on my website;

You can see in this opt-in form I'm asking the subscriber for 'First Name' and 'Email Address'. For me, this is enough information to be requesting at this stage; I can personalise emails using their first name, and I know where to send the emails (email address is always mandatory anyway).

Email broadcasts and sequences

These are the two different types of emails that we create for our list; 'broadcasts' are single-use, one-time emails that we create and send to our list (or a segment of our list).

Email 'sequences' are a series of prewritten emails that are sent to our list in a drip-fed schedule, based on how we configure it; for example, we could have a 'Welcome Sequence' that contains 5 emails, delivered over a period of 9 days. Sequences are designed to be used repeatedly, for as long as we have a use for them.


The secret sauce to email marketing platforms - process automations! We can design and configure our EMP to do whatever we want it to do, based on certain triggers or events happening. It removes the possibility of human error by delivering the right email, containing the right content, at the right time, EVERY time.

We can configure our EMP to send subscribers an offer for product 'A', 3 days after they have completed a sequence 'X';

For example - "Send every subscriber who completes the 'How to get started with LinkedIn' sequence, an offer to purchase my "LinkedIn Deep Dive Power Hour - £195".

This can be set-up once, and can be automatically repeated for EVERY subscriber who follows this flow, ad infinitum.

There is a ton of other stuff that an EMP can be configured to do for us, but the ones above will hopefully give you a good idea of the main functions and attributes you can expect to find when you get started.

P.S. As an aside, there are dozens (if not, hundreds) of EMPs to choose from, but I always recommend ConvertKit for service-based solopreneurs because it does everything you'll need, and at an affordable price (starts at $9/m).

Are you answering your clients' questions?

What happens when your ideal client does a Google search for the thing you offer? What's their typical behaviour? Let's dig in a walk in their shoes for a few moments...

Let's imagine I'm a potential client of yours; you sell website development services, and I'm in the market for a new website.

Here's what's inside my head (I may not have ever verbalised it, but it's what I'm thinking)

  • I'm not 100% what I should be typing into Google Search - is it "Website development"?
  • How does it work - do websites exist and I just buy one that someone can add my content to?
  • I wonder how much a website costs to have developed?
  • Do I need a website designer in addition to a website developer - or is it one person?
  • Do I need to create all the words and images for my website - or do they include all that?
  • I've heard about websites being ranked on Google - is that part of what I'm buying?
  • I want my website to have my domain attached - do I need that first, or later on?
  • I wonder how much it costs to run a website, on an ongoing basis.
  • etc...

You get the gist - my head is full of quandaries and questions. 🤷🏻‍♂️


  1. I search Google for "website development" and start to click on the links that are returned.
  2. I look at various websites that lie under the links; I can see all sorts of different services, but not really sure what each is.
  3. No matter where I look, I can't actually see detailed pricing, and the sites that are giving numbers aren't really clear about what's included for the price.
  4. I keep searching, keep clicking, and bingo! I find one that begins to explain to me in very clear terms, everything I need to know. They tell me what's included and what're add-ons. They break down what's mandatory versus optional functionality. They make it abundantly clear how the end-to-end delivery process for website will be meaning I can plan the entire experience.

Now, even though this is a very simple and contrived example, hopefully you can see what happens when a website visitor arrives on a website that gives them what they need or want to know - they're MUCH more likely to buy from that website than to continue clicking and scrolling.

So, be honest with yourself, are you answering your clients' questions when the land on your website - or are you one of the ones that they click away from to find the one they end up buying from?

P.S. If you want to go deeper on this model, then check out Marcus Sheridan's book, "They Ask, You Answer". He transformed his business (and his fortunes) by designing and implementing this approach to business. 👇

Not every company or product logo has to cost £1,000s!

Nike's first ever logo (the "Swoosh") was designed and created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a designer that Nike founder, Phil Knight hired at $2/hour.

The logo was delivered to Knight for the princely sum of $35 (around $250 in today's money) - not a bad deal a logo that has changed very little in the last 50+ years!

Below you can see the original logo versus the one being used today - they removed the name 'nike' in 1995, but other than that, it's hardly changed at all!

P.S. If you're one of the people who pronounces Nike like "hike" or "bike", then just know that it's actually pronounced "Nikey" as in rhyming with "spikey". I discovered this when I listened to Phil Knight narrate his autobiography, "Shoe Dog", during which time he must have said the word "Nike" a hundred times - each time calling it "Nikey" (as in 'ni-key').

Knight also circled the correct pronunciation option from the two choices offered up by 2 students in a letter they sent to the Nike founder in 2014, to settle a debate;

P.P.S. "Shoe Dog" is a fantastic book, if you haven't read it yet, you have a treat waiting for you! 😊


If we're not already connected on LinkedIn, then let's fix that now!

If you're new around here, let me give you a brief intro to who I am and what I do;

👋 Hi, I'm John, a freelancer with 30+ years of experience in software development, business start-up and growth strategies, and digital marketing, specialising in email marketing.

I help service-based freelancers grow their businesses by showing them how to effectively implement an email marketing system that'll bring them leads, prospects, and new clients, complemented with proven success strategies for solopreneur-type businesses.

Get regular tips that are easy to implement and perfectly suited to freelancers. Discover the secrets of attracting your ideal leads and turning them into loyal paying clients, using the power of ConvertKit.

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