I have some bad news: odds are that you’ve fallen for some really bad email marketing myths, and they’re likely killing your results.
The good news is that once you understand these myths (and the morsels of truth behind them), you will be able to double your results as an email marketer.
Myth 1: Only big business can do email marketing effectively
I can’t blame anyone who has gotten this impression. I blame the marketing gurus who have created such a perception.
Here’s the truth: most marketing advice out there is targeted at large enterprise-level businesses. This is why it is usually overly complicated and focuses on advanced features and strategies.
If you ever get overwhelmed just looking at most marketing advice and think “we could never implement all of that”, you’re right. It takes entire dedicated teams of developers and specialists which a small or medium-sized business just doesn’t have.
The good news is that you don’t need that stuff in order to make a killing with email. In fact, the really basic, simple fundamentals account for most of the results with email marketing. And any business, including small and medium-sized businesses can apply the fundamentals.
Don’t be fooled by the “experts” who spend countless hours talking about super-advanced nuances that really make a 0.1% difference. If you make billions in sales, those 0.1% tweaks do add up, so if you’re a big business, they are important. If you’re not, those overly convoluted tactics make no difference. To learn more, check out the guide to Effective Email Marketing for Small Businesses.
Myth 2: You need a huge list to get any benefit
This myth betrays a complete misunderstanding about how email works, or why it is so effective. Here’s the secret right away: email works because of its unique properties as a communication channel.
In an ideal world, if you wanted to get the best conversion rates, you would reach out and talk to every lead, personally, on a one-to-one basis. However, that’s not something you can apply at scale. This is where email comes in. It is the one channel that can be used at scale, to talk to multiple leads at the same time, and still come pretty close to giving them that “one-to-one” experience.
So it really doesn’t matter how many other leads you have on your list. Effective email marketing makes the recipient feel like you’re talking to them directly. If you provide enough value, they will develop loyalty and interest. They’re not thinking about the rest of the leads on your list when they read your emails, trust me.
And remember, you do have to communicate with leads to convert them into paying customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing social media posts or retargeting them with ads. You have to educate or remind them of your existence somehow. And, as it turns out, email marketing is the best way to do that.
Myth 3: Sending too many emails will hurt you
While this one is true in theory, the reason I call it a myth is that most people are too far in the other extreme. Most small and medium-sized businesses don’t send enough emails, at least not if we look at their yearly volume.
And this is an important side note we have to make here as well. A lot of businesses will be sporadic with their volume. They will have periods where they get motivated and bombard subscribers with a bunch of emails, followed by periods of very few emails. While those weeks of high-volume make it seem like they send a lot of emails, their yearly average will be quite low.
This kind of inconsistency is terrible for deliverability. And ironically, when their deliverability goes down, people will think the volume itself was the issue. A high volume and frequency isn’t a problem in and of itself. The thing that hurts you are all the sudden changes in volume and frequency. This is what lowers your reputation and deliverability.
You want to commit to consistency, and decide to increase your volume over time. That is to say, don’t be shy about getting you a point where you are sending emails more frequently. Just make sure to ramp up to it over time and avoid any sudden changes.
To learn more, check out our popular guide: Email Frequency: Don’t Get It Wrong, Follow These Best Practices.
Myth 4: You must boost open rates at all costs
Every myth has a morsel of truth to it. In this case, the truth is that open rates are indeed important. It is something you should use as one of your main metrics of progress and success. In fact, one of the beauties of email marketing is that “analytics” are simple. You just need to look at your open rates and click through rates.
However, this can be taken to an extreme by people who get caught up in making sure each email has the highest open rate possible. This often ends in clickbait-ish subject lines as well as overpromising and under delivering.
Sure, the subscriber might fall for it a couple of times, but eventually they will either stop opening your emails, unsubscribe or mark you as a spammer. So you need to look at open rates on a longer time frame, observing the trend over time.
If, for example, you start to apply more personalization and segmentation tactics, you will and should start to see higher open rates, over time. That’s a good thing and a sign that things are working. This is what we mean when we say “increase your open rates”. We don’t mean “trick as many people as possible to open the email you’re sending out today”.
Myth 5: Every email should sell something
This is both a myth and a true statement at the same time, it just depends on your definition of “sell”. You should indeed have a goal with each email. It doesn’t matter if the email is there to welcome them, deliver value, or just inform them. The email should also “sell them on something”.
It might sell them on why your brand is trustworthy. Or it could sell them on how valuable your emails are, and why they should keep reading your emails. But most of it should be done as a “soft sell”, not a hard sell.
The “selling” in this case should be more akin to persuasion and interwoven throughout the email indirectly. For example, you might tell a story about how you helped a client and indirectly demonstrate why you’re good at what you do, thereby “selling them” on your value.
Now, this isn’t to say you should never ever do a hard sell. You should indeed have outright special promotions, limited-time offers and all that good stuff. However, these should be one off-campaigns. Most of your emails should sell indirectly. Otherwise you just risk annoying people and earning a high unsubscribe rate.
Myth 6: You need expensive complicated all-in-one software
This is similar to the first myth, and somewhat related. In this case there are two culprits. On the one hand are those marketing experts pushing unnecessary complexity. On the other are software makers who use this as a marketing angle.
The fact is this, if you master only the features that existed 7 years ago, you will make a killing with email marketing. This is because most of your results come from applying the fundamentals well.
Unless you’re an enterprise and can dedicate entire teams to implementing stuff, you’re just going to spread yourself thin. Most people do not realize it is impossible to even use that many features effectively unless you’re a big business.
Software makers rely on people’s inexperience with implementing advanced marketing. This is why their marketing angle revolves around “all the features” you get. The implied idea is that “the more features you get, the more results you will have, automagically”. As if the features are going to implement themselves and you’re going to wake up tomorrow as an expert at 300 different things.
The really sneaky thing is that they purposefully limit the lower-tier plans. They take basic features and move them to higher tier plans. And then, they make these higher-tier plans super expensive.
The way that they justify the higher price is by stuffing the higher-tier plan with a ton of features you will never need, nor get around to using. So you’re kind of bullied into getting an expensive plan to get a basic missing piece. It’s a good idea to just avoid this whole thing and pick a good email marketing service provider.
Myth 7: Every customer needs to get a perfectly personalized customer journey
This is related to the previous point, and comes from the same place. Both marketing gurus and software makers like to talk about all the fancy and cool super-advanced personalizations that are possible today.
Just like with most myths on this list, there is a truth behind the myth. In this case, it is true that the closer you get to a “perfectly personalized customer journey”, the better. And with the technology we have these days, it is actually possible. You can make sure that no two subscribers have the same experience or get the same email.
But here’s the part that they leave out. Even basic personalization will get you most of the same results as perfect and super-advanced personalization. It’s just that everyone talks about the “ideal implementation” and hyper-personalization.
This, again, gives the wrong perception in people that personalization only works when you do this super-elaborate and intricate overly complicated stuff. You can get 95% of the same results, by doing 5% of that work. Leave unnecessary complexity to big businesses.
To learn more, check out: Our Guide To Personalized Email for Higher Conversions.
Myth 8: You must have a very low unsubscribe rate
It is true that if you’re doing everything right, over time you’ll end up with a list that has lower unsubscribe rates than your competitors. However, a low unsubscribe rate is a destination, and not a goal. But what do I mean by that?
Well, take deliverability for example. Some people will hear that unsubscriptions are a bad signal to the email providers, and that they lower your reputation. In turn, they might become a bit extremist in the pursuit of making sure people don’t unsubscribe.
The obvious example being marketers who wrongly decide to make it difficult to unsubscribe. This is just going to result in people marking your emails as spam. You always want to make it super obvious how people can unsubscribe. Yes, more of them will unsubscribe, but this is less damaging than people labeling you a spammer.
Another (less obvious) scenario is when people decide to destroy their own signup rates. They get the idea that “unsubscription rates must be lowered at all costs”, and then reason that “eliminating low-quality leads is the solution”.
They can often take this to an extreme and decide that only the most qualified people are allowed in. Everyone should be a thirsty raving fan before you even let them in, so that’s going to ensure low unsubscription rates, right? Sure, but it also ensures you’re giving up a ton of potential profit.
The truth is you want to strike a balance. You don’t want just any random email address, but you don’t want to hyper-qualify so much that your conversion rates go down. What you want to do instead is to learn how to segment and differentiate subscribers after they sign up.
You can and should use a welcome sequence to learn more about the subscriber, and differentiate the higher and lower interest leads. You can then treat them differently. And even if you ascertain that certain leads have a very low interest, you can still find ways to monetize that subscriber, without annoying them.
Myth 9: Emails have to be sent on a specific day and time
It is true that some days and times work better than others, but this is something you learn about over time. I see way too many people paralyzed with anxiety about sending times. The fact is that “a campaign sent” is better than “an ideal campaign” you never launched.
When we talk about sending times and days, we just mean that you should pay attention to it. This is something that you will learn to gauge over time. It’s just one of the many things you will play around with and test over your career as an email marketer.
If you find yourself not sending an email because you didn’t meet an arbitrary “ideal day to send” deadline, you’re taking it too far.
Myth 10: You need to be an expert at email marketing to get good results
This is the worst myth of all, because it misses the main benefit of email marketing. Email performs better than all other channels because it works well even if you do just the basics. Going beyond the basics only adds marginal benefits.
We’ve kind of touched upon this when we discussed big businesses, and it is kind of related. The fact is that fear sells, and so many experts will blow things out of proportion to get your attention. They will hyper-focus on super-advanced little tweaks to email marketing, and make it sound like it changes everything.
My mission with small and medium-sized businesses is to get them to just start sending emails, and implement the fundamentals. This is what is going to make you money, create loyal fans, and produce sales on autopilot.
If you ever find that you put off writing or sending emails because you “first need to learn more”, this is a sign that you’ve fallen for this myth. The truth is that you can take a weekend to read and implement everything in our beginner’s guide to email marketing. That’s all you need to get started and get good results.
After you find that you’re consistent with the beginner stuff, feel free to learn more, and add complexity. There is no rush, since consistency with the basics should already be getting you a lot of the results you’re seeking.
Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side
There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.
If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.
I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.
Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.
Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Note that we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.