Most businesses would be aware of the high return on investment that email marketing offers. There is a wealth of information and strategies that can be found online for how to maximise the performance of email marketing campaigns. However, what you might not be aware of, is there is also a lot of misinformation out there. I’m going to examine some of the commonly promoted myths, explain the shortfalls of these beliefs and what might be a better practice or belief to adopt around email marketing.
#1. People hate emails
Perhaps you’re one of many businesses that are scared to embrace email marketing because you’ve bought into the myth that people hate emails. Maybe you’ve heard the statistic that 25 per cent of subscribers on most companies’ email lists unsubscribe within one year and think ‘what’s the point?’ Well, think again. Yes, it’s true that many customers receive lots of unwanted emails each day, but it’s not true that all emails are unwanted. The fact that a customer has given you their email address tends to suggest that there is something about your business, products or services which interests them. As long as you know your market well and continue to provide them with content, resources and special offers that are useful, interesting, relevant or valuable to them they will continue to happily remain on your email list for years.
Tip: Know your customer persona, research their demographics, age, income level, needs, motivations and pain points. Create content specific to their needs and motivations and use analytics to track both the conversions and open rates of your emails.
#2. Emails should be the same for all subscribers
This is not true as not all subscribers follow the same exact linear life cycle. Some people will visit your website and sign up to your emails simply to learn more about you. They may not yet have purchased a product or service but may be considering it in the future. This group of subscribers will need email content that ‘warms them up’. By this I mean that they will need informative content that builds enough trust to create a sale. This could take many forms e.g. a blog post which offers them free and relevant advice about a problem they have or a link to a story in a newspaper which chronicles a recent achievement or award your business was recognised for.
These types of content help inspire confidence in your brand and establish your business as an expert in your industry. This gives the consumer the reassurance they need to purchase from you. However, other people who join your email list may already be customers who have purchased from you. They may have different content needs for example discount coupons for repeat purchases, notifications of upcoming sales and new product arrivals. You will also have different calls to action with these subscribers. It is entirely appropriate to send an email to encourage this group of email subscribers to leave a review of your product or service on your Google+ or Facebook page. Yet sending an email with this call-to-action to the first group of email subscribers who have never purchased from you would be entirely out of place.
Tip: For this reason, it is important to set up different email lists to separate subscribers with different needs. This practice is known as list segmentation. Services like Aweber and Mailchimp allow you to create multiple email lists.
#3. You have to teach your email list to open your emails
To put it simply as possible, customers are not dogs that need to be trained. If you believe this myth you are likely operating from a business paradigm that is too focused on the needs of your business and not focused enough on the needs of your customer. As Peter Drucker, the late management consultant and educator famously said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.” The same is true of email marketing. If you know your customers well enough and are providing customers with email content that they want, you will never have to teach your subscribers anything.
Tip: Focus on providing emails of value. Put the customers’ needs at the heart of your business and email marketing plan and everything else will fall into place.
#4. Emails should only be sent on a certain day at a certain time and you should never send the same email twice
While there’s a lot of research that has been conducted to investigate days of the weeks and times where emails have the highest open rates, it does not always make good business sense to only send emails at that time. For example, the timing of a special offer or holiday sale may make it appropriate to send an email (or even a couple of emails) at different times of the week to encourage customers to take advantage of the special deal. Furthermore, even if your general industry data tends to suggest that Tuesday at 4pm is the best time to send emails, this may not mean that this is when your customers check their emails.
Tip: Always make marketing decisions based on what the analytics are telling you about your specific audience, rather than relying on generic industry data. Secondly, don’t be afraid to send out additional emails at different times in the event of special promotions to maximise exposure.
#5. There’s nothing that can be done to retain a customer who wants to unsubscribe
There’s many reasons why a customer may want to unsubscribe from your list. A common reason why people unsubscribe is they feel they are receiving too many emails. They may like your business and want to receive periodic updates but don’t want to receive regular updates. This doesn’t mean you should less emails though to all your audience. Some customers are happy to receive multiple emails per week while other customers may only want to receive a monthly update.
Tip: By creating an unsubscribe page that asks customers if they would like to stay on your list but receive fewer updates, many businesses find that they are able to retain at least ten per cent of subscribers who initially intended to unsubscribe.