Email marketing can be intimidating—the terror of being blacklisted for spamming keeps many businesses from exploring this very effective marketing channel. However, a 2013 study found that 77% of consumers chose email as their preferred channel for receiving permission-based promotional messages. Your customers want to get email from you.
So to get you over the hurdle of exploring email marketing, we are debunking the 5 most common myths that keep marketers from developing and executing successful campaigns.
We think this myth has spread so that marketers don’t have to focus attention on email marketing. Back when email marketing started, it was viewed as a low-effort/high-return tactic. That simply isn’t true anymore. Good email marketing takes strategic planning and a lot of time. So, yes, email marketing is dead if you just want to send out messages on autopilot without segmenting your list or personalizing your messages. However, if you are willing to treat email marketing as a serious channel, then it will yield results—data from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. predicts that the global market for email marketing will reach $15.7 billion by 2017. Don’t you want a piece of that? The key is to understand your customers, what they want, and how they want to hear from you.
Strict anti-spam rules have put an intense fear of buying or renting an email list into many marketers. And for good reason—there are many lists out there that will land you on a blacklist quickly if you use them for your email marketing. But the fact is, with a quality list from a respectable vendor, there is no reason to shy away from buying or renting lists. You do, however, need to be mindful of what you are buying and how you structure your campaign. When you are looking for an email list, work with your list vendor to find addresses that have opted-in to receive certain kinds of offers. These permission-based lists give you, well, permission to send to the recipients. Make sure you have targeted your prospects well too. The more accurate you are with your target, the more likely you will be to get a list filled with people who will be genuinely interested in your message. Finally, make sure you make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your list.
Yes, there is research that shows the most likely times for customers to open emails are 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and 3 p.m. on Thursdays. And if you send emails at those times, you may see a jump in open rates. But the reality is, when people look at email is based on a variety of factors. The answer to when your customers will read your emails exists in your own data and metrics. You need to study your lists and campaign analytics to find out when your customers are engaging with you. That’s when you send emails. If that happens to be Tuesday at 10 a.m., great. But if it’s Friday at 11 p.m., be prepared to change your email schedule. Your email analytics will tell you what you need to know for each customer segment.
This is a close cousin to myth 3, and assumes all people are exactly alike. But you know all customers are not alike, at all. True marketers struggle with the sweet spot number—where the tipping point of reminding customers you exist and annoying them is. After all, annoying them leads to unsubscribes, and you don’t want that. Again, your data will tell you how often to communicate with your customers. Automating messaging, doing A/B split testing, and segmenting your lists will give you a wealth of information about what your customers will respond to and how often they want to hear from you. Listen to them. And know that different segments may respond in completely different ways.
There was time when the word Free in the subject line would get a message delivered straight to the spam filter, but that really doesn’t hold true anymore. As ISPs have gotten more savvy about how they measure engagement, they’ve lightened up on the trigger words. The key is engagement. If you are sending messages with the word free in the subject line and your recipients are opening and clicking, then the ISPs know that isn’t spam. Today it is all about interaction. And that means you have to test your messages. Test subject lines, test messages, test everything. Find what your customers respond to, and that is your formula for making it to the inbox.
Email marketing is here to stay. The way you have to do it is what is changing. Be diligent. Follow best practices. Send your customers relevant messages. Segment and personalize. If you do those things, your email marketing efforts will pay off.