5 excuses to ignore email marketing — and why they are wrong

You’re tired. You’re burned out. You have a lot to worry about. This list pretty much describes everyone these days. I feel your pain. But one area that can alleviate some of your frustration is your email marketing program.

If you’re reading this piece, then clearly you need some motivation to start growing your email marketing program. I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why someone shouldn’t focus on email marketing. Here, I’ve rounded up five of the most common excuses I’ve heard to show you why they’re wrongheaded. In fact, growing and nurturing your email list is a surefire way to see your business scale, as you’ll find great ROI on your email no matter the size of your business.

1. My list isn’t big enough

We don’t have millions of subscribers.

Our list is mostly friends, family, and referrals.

We should just grow our list then talk to them later.

Subscriber list sizes are relative. Even with millions of subscribers, you may have a list full of folks who aren’t reading your emails. Subscribers are low-quality if they don’t actually engage with your brand. They may not have opened an email in a year, which means that they might as well not be subscribed at all. If your brand only has 10,000 subscribers, but they were all added organically through voluntary sign-ups, you’ll probably get a ton of ROI on the list. For example, here are some numbers to illustrate the return that you might see from sending just five emails a month to a list of 10,000 subscribers. These are numbers you can expect from an organic, fresh email list:

  • 50,000 sends
  • With a 40 percent open rate, that’s 10,000 opens
  • With a 15 percent clicks-to-open rate, that’s 1,500 clicks
  • And a 3 percent website conversion rate means 45 orders

At that rate, you got 45 orders from five emails. Not much effort for a nice ROI. Now imagine that some of your 10,000 subscribers forward the email to a friend to brag about your brand either because of your excellent products or because you have a great referral program. Next, that friend may also forward to a friend. If you can also drive additional traffic to your site, you’ll see the numbers trend consistently upward. Soon, you’ll have 50,000 subscribers who are making hundreds of orders per month. None of that would have been possible if you hadn’t emailed the list the first time.

Even at smaller list sizes, it’s possible to learn a lot about who your subscribers are and what they respond to so that you can fine-tune your strategy for later. If you have 1,000 subscribers but you’re waiting until you have 10,000 to start emailing them, then your first 1,000 subscribers will probably have forgotten about your brand by the time you send them an email. Consistent communication is necessary to learn about your audience by seeing what types of emails they find interesting and then capitalize on those interests.

2. Too many email will annoy my customers

I don’t want to annoy and lose customers.

They don’t care what I have to say.

Unsubscribes are bad.

Your customers are signed up with you for a reason. Assuming you’ve acquired your list in legitimate ways, the subscribers have voluntarily accepted email marketing. Even if it was just for a discount, they trust you enough to let you email them. That gives you a lot of leeway! Try some different tactics, use some off-the-wall subject lines, and be creative to see what sticks. And even if they unsubscribe, that’s not really a bad thing. Think of it as organic list-cleaning. Someone who has unsubscribed was definitely not going to buy from you, so let them go. Focus on your core audience that is engaging most fully with your brand.

3. I don’t know what to say

What do I even say?

I don’t have time to come up with ideas.

I’m not a writer. I’m not interesting.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Email is not always about amazing copy. Sometimes a strong visual or the right enticement, such as a promotion, will make all the impact you need. As you’re ramping up your email program, even minimal communication is better than none at all. So don’t overthink it; simply come up with a handful of ideas and start planning a calendar. Some options include a promotion or sale, featuring a particular product, or simply thanking your customers. As with all email marketing, the important thing is to send some messages and see how your subscribers respond. What emails have the highest open rate? What emails convert the most orders? Use these lessons to build out your calendar accordingly.

4. It’s not worth it

What will I even get out of this? There’s no upside.

Email is dead.

We should use other techniques.

OK, come on. Are we still saying email is dead? How many times do you check your own inbox a day? How many customers have you acquired through email? Email remains the marketing channel with the most ROI. Check out the famous chart from Neil Patel, which shows that, for every dollar you spend in marketing, you’ll get the most return from email. This will become an important factor as your business scales and your marketing dollar is spread across different categories. Growing your email program is always worth a shot. After all, you don’t have much to lose due to its low-cost nature.

5. It’s too complicated

I don’t know how to start.

What system do I use?

Will I end up in spam?

Finally, some legitimate excuses! Marketing can be technically challenging if you’re not looking in the right place. Fortunately, a surplus of user-friendly ESPs (Email Service Providers) can help you get started these days. And If you already have a well-established email program, there are other CDPs (Consumer Data Platforms) to help you segment your subscriber list so you can create personalized content like product recommendations based on price point and category.

Ending up in spam is another valid concern. Fortunately, many ESPs have built-in parameters to help you avoid this fate. Also, here is the No. 1 rule for avoiding ending up in spam boxes: Don’t send spam! Send to subscribers who want your emails, use relevant content, and you have nothing to worry about.

By embracing your email program and understanding that it’s not too difficult to get going, you’re one step closer to success. Now that your excuses have been debunked, it’s time to get to work.

Need help getting started? See our post on the email flows every brand should have.

This piece was originally published on Built In.

Author avatar
Will Pearson