Entrepreneur
Article

The Myths of Email Marketing

By Charles Costa

Are you currently using email marketing campaigns to promote your business? If not, is it because you feel that email campaigns are irrelevant for your business? If you are using email campaigns, are you sure that your campaigns are as effective as possible? As with many other things in life, the field of marketing is filled with rumors and anecdotes which sound great but in reality can harm your company.

Fortunately, the examples listed below will help you significantly improve your email marketing strategies. While this article is focused on common myths of email marketing, another SitePoint article provides additional insights on email marketing best practices.

Myth: There Is a Best Time to Send Emails

While marketing experts often recommend researching the best times to post content on your business’s social media accounts, email is a little more flexible. Social media posts need to be timed because social streams are fairly dynamic and it’s impossible for most people to automatically see every post within their network.
Email on the other hand doesn’t need to be timed because customers aren’t waiting specifically for your messages. In fact, data from AlchemyWorx shows 85% of emails are opened within two days of being sent however only 21% of conversions happen within two days of the email being sent.

Myth: There Is a Correct Frequency for Marketing Emails

When it comes to creating an email strategy, figuring out how many emails to send to your customers can be a challenge because in many cases you don’t want to flood your customers’ inboxes, but on the other hand, you still want them to be familiar with your brand. As long as you are adding value to your customers you can get away with sending frequent emails. The best way to figure out the right number of emails to send is to have multiple frequency tiers, and to know the exact purpose of your messages.

If you’ve ever signed up for an account on a major website, chances are that you’ve seen multiple subscribe options on the signup form. By offering multiple subscription options to your customers, you can develop different loyalty tiers and tailor your content to different audiences.

As a bare minimum, you should be sending out emails once a month so that your brand remains familiar to customers. In general however, you’re best capping your email blasts to once a week as you don’t want to overwhelm your recipients. Additionally, you shouldn’t create filler content just to make your emails more frequent. The best way to minimize unsubscribers is to ensure all your material adds value to the reader. If something doesn’t, then leave it out.

Myth: Everyone Should Receive the Same Email

Going back to my point about different tiers of email frequency, when you are sending out emails, although opt-in forms allow your customer to immediately decide how often to be contacted, there are other cases where this isn’t possible. If you run an eCommerce site for example, figuring out how often to contact a customer after a sale can be a challenge.

Fortunately, the solution to this is simple. By using automation, A/B testing, and segmentation to make sense of your traffic and optimize the content sent out to your customers. For example, if a customer purchases clothing from your site, you could send them follow-up emails about clothing sales. If they purchase electronics, then send them alerts about new products in that space.

Taking this concept a step further, by analysing your email activity logs, you can spot your most loyal readers and tailor additional exclusive content to them.

Myth: Newsletters Must Be Short and Sweet

Although most marketing material needs to be concise to keep the reader’s attention, newsletters should be used to help build a long term relationship with the reader. You should start your newsletters with a call-to-action to encourage conversions, but aside from that you should have additional useful information to keep them subscribed.

You can even repurpose content for your newsletters if you’re short on time and need material to send out. Check your archives and look for well-performing content from a few months back. While you should still tweak the content a bit, in general you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with your material.

Conclusion

The one common thread of email marketing is that you should treat this medium as a method for building a long term relationship with your audience, rather than for trying to make a one-off sale. As with most things in business, what works for one company isn’t necessarily going to work for another. This is why you need to conduct ongoing tests of your email campaigns to ensure that they are actually serving their purpose.

  • http://www.design-write.com Lee | DesignWrite

    Thanks for your thoughts on email marketing myths, much appreciated.

    I would argue the first point in so far as to say there are best times to send to your target audience. For instance, if you are dealing with B2B businesses, it’s more than likely not a good idea for your recipients to receive emails first thing on a Monday morning. Whereas for a B2C business e.g. a shop; 9am on any morning would be fine as business would more than likely be quiet at that time.

    It all comes down to customer profiling and doing as much research on your target audience(s) as possible to find the ideal time(s) to send out email – when do they check their email?

    I absolutely agree that all recipients should not receive the same email. Personalised emails with specific messages and CTAs will make click-throughs more likely.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Lee

    • http://hightechrealm.com Charles Costa

      Hey Lee,

      Excellent point. As with anything I think it’s really a matter of knowing that there’s no one size fits all approach to any business strategy. In fact when I did an article on landing pages, I emphasized the importance of A/B testing to ensure that your content is optimized to your audience.

      Personally from my experience I haven’t yet tried running emails at different times, but I’ll definitely give it a shot!

  • Joseph

    Thanks for busting the “Short” email myth. We have a weekly newsletter which includes a lot of sections – news stories, sales and promotions, new products, featured product of the week, a recipe, course offerings, club news, tips, etc. It’s not a single-topic email advertising a specific sale or event, it’s more like a magazine, so of course, it’s going to be quite long. We follow a similar format every week, so people will know which sections interest them, and can ignore those they don’t care about. And of course it’s laid out nicely so you can skim the headings and graphics to see what each section (2-3 paragraphs) is about.
    Sometimes I wonder if it should just be a list of headings with links to web-based articles. But I tend to ignore those types of emails myself – I want the info now, right there in front of me. Even the teaser type, that give the first paragraph and a “read more” link, I find annoying and am rarely willing to follow through on reading more. If I’m interested, I start reading it and haven’t had to waste time clicking to go load a page into my browser.
    I think the key is to have something worth writing about and not just shovelling out garbage just to get an email out. Repeating a section, such as a month-long sale is fine, but tweak the heading and freshen up the content.

    • http://hightechrealm.com Charles Costa

      No problem! The key with any type of long newsletter is that you need to provide structure to the content. Make it easy for people to go to the sections that they want to read – I like having 300 words per section and then a read more link if applicable.

    • Pete

      Hi Joseph
      I think you make some good points, but from the view of a customer, I don’t know of any business whose products/news would warrant a weekly email – it’s rare to actually have that much relevant, interesting information. I’d simply unsuscribe to this kind of email. Newsletters (non-product-sales) are different – for example, I gladly lap up Sitepoint’s information, though I’ve someties been tempted to unsubscribe when the emails get too ‘3rd party product flogging’ heavy. Weekly emails may be of interest to die-hard loyal customers, but it’s extremely important to note that the bulk of email recipients aren’t these people – your unsubscribe stats could be telling you you’re losing a group of people who like the product, but not enough to love a weekly email. The risk is that you lose these people forever via unsubscribe.

  • Pete

    Interesting article, however I disagree with your view that once a month is a minimum rate of email sends. A better rule might be ’email as frequently as you have new, relevant information of interest to your contacts’. For most outfits flogging stuff, this is probably not once a month, and more likely 3-4 times a year. I would wager ‘once a month’ emails that try to get people to buy stuff are an invitation to ‘unsubscribe’. While I understand your commercial motivation in sending emails once a month at a minimum, as a customer I regard this as too frequent from a place trying to sell me stuff. The golden rule should be content though: it’s rare, but if you actually have interesting, relevant information, you should send it when you get it. For businesses selling stuff, this is unlikely to be higher than once or twice a year during range changeovers. Remember, the goal is loyalty and conversion, not email marketing services fees.

  • http://cozmotek.com cozmo technology

    Thanks for posting this article. Email marketing can have its pros and cons. I think that this list is very beneficial and informative.

  • Christina Mayer

    Thanks a lot for this article. Cool stuff!

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