Email Marketing: Separating Fact from Fiction

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Sometimes it's best to begin by stating the obvious:  email marketing works, period.  According to Search Engine Journal, for example, email marketing has the highest ROI, a head-turning 4,300%, of any inbound or outbound marketing strategy. Still not convinced? Then, consider these email marketing statistics from Hubspot:

  • 75% of businesses say that email offers "excellent" to "good" ROI
  • 86% of consumers want to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly, and 15% want them daily
  • 86% of professionals prefer email when communicating for business purposes

So, Why the Hesitation?

There are all sorts of reasons some businesses are hesitant to leverage the power of email marketing. Some don't know how to build a reliable email database, or how to effectively target customers or create compelling email content. Others don't like getting promotional emails themselves and assume their customers feel the same way.

For many, however, the problem is lack of accurate information. They've heard this or that half-truth about email marketing and simply glommed onto it. That's a mistake. Given the marketing benefits of carefully-structured email campaigns, and the potential for a huge return on investment, it's important to know what's true, and what isn't.

That said, here are 4 common myths about email marketing, and the truth behind each of them:

1.  Promotional Email = Spam

It doesn't. The spam rules created by internet service providers (ISPs) are specific and relatively easy to comply with. For example, emails get "spammed" if they:

  • Don't have permission from the recipient;
  • Include "spammy" content:  this includes things like misleading subject lines, links to disreputable websites or use of ALL CAPS;
  • Violate terms of the CAN-SPAM Act:  this includes requirements like including an unsubscribe option in every email; or
  • Have an unauthenticated sender ID:  this can happen when companies send emails using their own servers.

One reason this myth persists is the sheer number of spam emails that go out every day. In March 2017, for example, almost 57% of all email traffic was spam (according to Statista). That doesn't mean, however, that all email is spam, or that recipients can't easily distinguish between spam and legitimate promotional emails, or that legitimate emails will be mistakenly flagged as spam.

2.  People Are Turned Off by Promotional Emails

They're not. While it's true that consumers are more skeptical than they used to be (which is one of the reasons inbound marketing is so popular and effective), they generally don't extend that cynicism to promotional emails. 

Again, it's important to separate fact from fiction. A recent MarketingSherpa survey confirms what Hubspot reports:  more than 90% of consumers want to get promotional emails from companies they have a relationship with. More than 60% say they want to get company emails on at least a weekly basis. 

3.  You Have to Be an Expert

You don't. The best providers of email marketing services make it easy to create, send and track eye-catching emails that reach the right customers at just the right time. They also make it simple to effectively segment your email database and personalize messaging to key target groups, to use professionally-designed templates, and to measure your results for continual improvement.

4.  That's Impressive, But Nothing Beats Social Media, Right?

Wrong. It's true that social media marketing can be a powerful tool to put your business and your products in front of prospective customers, but dollar for dollar, email marketing trumps social media every time. As Kissmetrics points out in 5 Reasons Email Marketing Crushes Social Media Marketing for B2B, email marketing drives more traffic, and higher-quality traffic, than social media posting.  It's also more personal and more transactional (meaning it leads to more sales) than social media. 

Maybe you have some solid reasons for not using email marketing to engage prospective customers and drive sales. It's a mistake, however, to avoid email marketing (or any marketing strategy for that matter) because you don't have the facts, or have the wrong facts. If you're not sure what the facts are, or what a particular marketing strategy can do to help your business, get some smart guidance from marketers with the experience to steer you in the right direction.

To learn more about the ways our email marketing can help you increase sales and grow your business, check out our resource center