4 Most Common Excuses for Avoiding Email Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Email marketing has become one of the most widely misused marketing media.  Because of that many myths, fears, and inaccuracies float around about how and if it should be done. 

If, can be thrown out.  It can be done.  Many companies run valuable email campaigns that drive sales leads and revenue.  If one organization can do it, so can others.  The real question is how should it be done and is it worth the time, energy, and money necessary to roll out a quality campaign.

My next posts will deal with the 4 most common excuses for not doing email marketing and some ways to overcome them.

Website Offerings: Don’t Advertise What You Don’t Have

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to advertise a product or service that you couldn’t provide, would it?  Yet that’s what many websites currently do.  They manage to create interest, get a user to take action, and deliver . . . nothing.  This most commonly happens with newsletters, downloads, or trial offers.  If you offer something, deliver it.

While this can happen on any offer (i.e. downloads or trial offers don’t email the document or link to an active page), it happens the most with email newsletters.  “Sign up for our newsletter” is prominently posted on the site.  A handful of people are intrigued and put their information in.  Then they wait, and wait, and wait until finally, nothing happens.  So the best case is the user doesn’t remember signing up for the newsletter and forgets your organization exists, the worst case is they remember and carry a negative opinion of your ability to deliver what is promised.  Neither option is very appealing. 

Thankfully there are some easy solutions to this problem.  The first, either do a newsletter or don’t. Commit to it and have a plan. If you can’t commit to it, don’t offer it on the site.  Too often people set up the offer waiting for a flood of people and neglect the handful that come in.  Have a plan for an interrim solution or don’t get started because most companies will have that in between time of sending to less than 100 people.  The other common mistake is doing half a dozen newsletters, posting them to the site and abandoning the project.  This is even more detrimental.  Every visitor can see the original attempt, which is typically poor, and how long before you gave up.  It’s like an advertisement not to sign up for the newsletter because despite what you say, it doesn’t exist anymore.  You’re showing visitors how good you are at not delivering on a promise.  Again if you don’t do a newsletter anymore, get it off the site, even the archives.  People will notice a 2 year lull in your weekly newsletter.  Incidentally this same rule applies to a business blog, if you’re not going to post, remove it.

Don’t advertise what you don’t have.  Downloads, trial offers, newsletters, and yes, blogs can all be valuable tools on your website.  But a tool is only valuable if its used.  If you’re going to have them, use them.  Have a plan to maintain it and look to make it as efficient as possible.  If you do give it a go and can’t make it a valuable part of your marketing, then stop doing it but get rid of it everywhere.  At least visitors will know what you’re offering and what you’re not offering and will see only what you plan to deliver. 

– Eric

Reputation Matters in Email Marketing

Many people try email marketing and get frustrated by the lack of results.  Usually they rent a list, hastily put a message together, and blast it out.  Then when they get no results, they complain that email doesn’t work.  Their email didn’t work because it’s spam.  Email marketing works if it is done intelligently and responsibly.  Better yet, it builds on its own success.  The better the campaign, the better the results, which makes an even better campaign, which then produces more results.  Why is this?  Because reputation matters in email.

Every time an email marketing communication message is sent it builds reputation, either positive or negative.  Over time that perception is built up.  If it’s a positive one the recipient will be more and more likely to view the sender as a credible resource and be more open minded to working with them.   

After a while it’s almost impossible to change the reputation because the audience has a pre-conceived notion of what the email will be and its hard to sway them in another way.  That’s great if you’re offering intelligent valuable emails, but terrible if you’re sending sales message after sales message that’s regarded as spam.

In fact it’s not just your audience that makes this judgement.  ISP’s keep track of your reputation by recipient responses.  Some judge solely on reputation, others might go for a reputation 80%, content 20% split.  Using spam reports and recipient complaints greatly dictates how they handle your email messages.   So not only is your ROI based on the quality of the campaign, so is the deliverability rate.

Obviously this is important to maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing but there is an underlying warning to building a reputation.  Many people decide to dabble in email marketing.  They sign up for a low cost service, use the pre-defined templates, throw a poorly thought out sales message together, and send it out.  When the sales or leads don’t flow in, they do it again.  The patient ones might do this a dozen times before declaring email as a wasted medium.  Unfortunately what they’ve done is make email marketing an even harder avenue for them to take advantage of.  They’ve set a bad precedent and formed a negative reputation.  It now takes even more work to get results from email.

So what hold true for many marketing and communication methods, applies to email as well.  Put some thought and time into what you’re doing before you do it.  Do some research learn what works and what doesn’t.  You can read books, hire consultants, contract it out, go to seminars, listen to tapes, whatever works for you.  The information is there, take advantage of it.  If you don’t you’re bound to make a  spam campaign, form a negative reputation, and make future sales and marketing efforts harder.  Email marketing will build a reputation, make sure it’s a positive one.