Marketing Myth #1: Email Marketing Is No Longer Effective

This is the most common misconception I hear when I talk to people about e-mail marketing. Many think that the sheer volume of e-mail that we all receive on a daily basis has ruined the effectiveness of e-mail as a marketing tool. And the fact that spam has received so much attention in the news lately also hasn’t done much to instill confidence in this medium.

In my opinion, the idea that e-mail marketing is no longer effective really stems from people failing to make the distinction between spam and legitimate, permission-based e-mail marketing. While it’s true that spam is not an effective marketing tool — it never really has been — permission-based e-mail marketing continues to be a

  • tremendously powerful
  • easily trackable
  • instantly measurable way to market your product or service.

A recent DoubleClick study reports that 69% of American e-mail users have made purchases online after receiving permission-based e-mail marketing.

That’s great news for companies who continue to use e-mail as a marketing tool. The fact that almost 70% of people have made purchases as a result of receiving an online promotional offer demonstrates that e-mail remains one of the most effective marketing tools in history.

Legislature is reviewing law to make email marketing illegal.

Marketing Myth #2: E-mail Promotions Will Damage My Credibility

There is a pervasive myth among some small- and home-based business owners that using e-mail as a promotional tool will cause subscribers and customers to have a lower opinion of your business.
Now, I’m not sure who started this rumor, but I’ll bet that it was someone who didn’t do a very professional job of putting together their own e-mail campaigns!

If you launch a poorly designed e-mail campaign, of course you will damage your credibility. The same goes for a direct mail campaign filled with spelling mistakes or an offensive newspaper advertisement. However, if you spend some time creating a well-formatted promotional e-mail that is of real value to your customers and subscribers, you will actually enhance your credibility.

In a recent report, eMarketer found that 67% of US consumers said they liked companies who, in their opinion, did a good job with permission e-mail marketing. This is proof that an e-mail marketing campaign that is well-designed and properly delivered will actually enhance your credibility among your customers and subscribers, as opposed to damage it.

The key to delivering an e-mail promotion that your opt-in list will appreciate is paying attention to quality. Here are three easy steps to ensure that your customers and subscribers receive professional, quality messages from you every time:

Make sure that your offer is directly relevant to your subscribers’ interests. If they opted-in to learn more about gardening, don’t send them offers for candles.

Be sure to proofread everything you send out at least a couple of times. And get someone else to proofread it for you as well.

Sign up for a free e-mail address at each of the most popular e-mail services, like Hotmail and Yahoo!, and test your e-mail promotions to those addresses before you send out your mailing. This will help you catch any formatting glitches that might show up in those services.

Remember, if you are selling a product or service over the Internet, e-mail is probably the only dialogue you’ll ever have with your customers and subscribers. This means that, along with your web site, your e-mail messages are the only tools you have to build trust and credibility. If you do a professional job creating and testing your e-mail messages before sending them out, your customers will get a great impression of your business and feel comfortable conducting business with you.

Marketing Myth #3: My Customers Will Think I’m Spamming Them

Here’s where we need to talk a little bit about the difference between spam and legitimate, permission-based e-mail marketing. Spam is basically unwanted e-mail that has been sent by a company with which the recipient has had no prior contact. Spammers usually get their lists of e-mail addresses by “harvesting” them from newsgroups and chat rooms, or through a wide range of other unethical sources.

Permission-based e-mail is quite the opposite. Marketers who practice this type of e-mail marketing have previously been in contact with the individuals on their opt-in lists. The people who make up their lists include current and former customers, as well as those people who have left their e-mail addresses with the company for the purpose of receiving e-mail from them — be it a free eBook, a newsletter, or promotional messages.

And studies indicate that e-mail users are well aware of the difference between the two. According to IMT Strategies, more than 80% of people feel negatively towards spam, whereas 78% of the people surveyed in a recent DoubleClick report said that they wanted to receive e-mail from their favorite online merchants.

Now, if 78% of people actually want to receive promotional e-mail from you, you’re doing terrible damage to your bottom line if you aren’t using e-mail as a marketing tool. And unless you really are spamming, you don’t need to worry that your customers will think that you are (as long as you follow a few simple rules like providing clear unsubscribe instructions). Your customers are smart enough to tell the difference.

Marketing Myth #4: People Will Unsubscribe From My List If I E-mail Them

Another really common concern among online business people is that their customers and subscribers will start unsubscribing from their list if they receive promotional e-mails. The only time these companies e-mail their customers and subscribers is when they want to notify them of some company event, like a move to a new location or a total redesign of their web site.

It’s true that if you never send any e-mail to your customers and subscribers, you won’t get any unsubscribes. There’s nothing for them to unsubscribe from! But what was the point of collecting all those e-mail addresses if you aren’t going to use them? The fact of the matter is that people who leave their e-mail addresses with you fully expect to receive e-mail from you. Why else would they have given you their contact information?

Still not convinced? According to a joint study recently released by The Direct Marketing Association and the Association of Interactive Marketing, 63% of companies surveyed reported that e-mail marketing was their most effective customer-retention tool. A “customer-retention tool” simply refers to a method of preventing your customers from buying products or services from your competition rather than you.

Customer retention is one of the most important aspects of any business. Losing a customer to your competition is very harmful to your bottom line, because one existing customer is more valuable than a list of potential customers.

And remember, a few unsubscribes here and there isn’t going to destroy your business. In fact, people who unsubscribe from your list as a result of responsible, well-written e-mail marketing campaigns are actually doing you a favor! After all, why would you want to waste your valuable time and resources on people who have no interest in your offer?

Marketing Myth #5: E-mail Campaigns Are Difficult To Design And Deliver, manage the process

Whenever I’m talking with someone who insists that e-mail marketing doesn’t work, I always ask them if they’ve ever actually tried it themselves. Most of them admit that they haven’t. When asked why they haven’t tried it themselves, the answer is almost always the same: They think that the process of creating and sending out an e-mail promotion is too complicated or too difficult.

Those of us who do use e-mail as a successful marketing tool know that nothing could be further from the truth. Once you’ve learned the basics, the process is a breeze. And there are new tools being created all the time that make the process even easier.

When we conducted a comprehensive survey of our customers and subscribers, we asked what some of the biggest challenges you faced as marketers were. Here are the three most common answers:

  • Growing and Managing Your Opt-In List
  • Writing Effective E-mail Promotions
  • How to Avoid Having Your Legitimate E-mail Promotions Mistaken For Spam

Final Thought

Armed with some basic information and a few simple tools, any business can make e-mail a profitable component of their marketing program. The truth about e-mail marketing is that it remains an incredibly powerful and cost-effective way to sell goods and services, despite what the people behind the myths would have us believe.

The key to making e-mail advertising work for your business lies in understanding how it can help you build and maintain relationships with your customers (and customers-to-be). The responsible use of permission-based e-mail will allow you to tap into the profit-generating potential of your opt-in list more efficiently — and cost-effectively — than any other marketing tool.