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Five misconceptions your C-suite has about e-mail

It’s 10am. Do you know where your executives are? If not, rest assured that I do know one place that they aren’t. They aren’t somewhere talking about the finer points of your e-mail marketing strategy and how it plays an integral role in customer retention and loyalty.

All signs, however, point to this economy as having a major impact on the inbox as more companies turn to low-cost marketing solutions. As a result, it is imperative that e-mail marketers work to debunk the following misconceptions about e-mail within their company’s C-suite.

1. E-mail is cheap
E-mail may be extremely cost-effective relative to other marketing tactics, but executives who proclaim that it is “cheap” are dangerous and must be stopped. “Cheap” e-mail thinking has put many a company on the slippery slope to sending more email instead of better email. The net result isn’t higher ROI, its bigger deliverability problems and dissatisfied — if not angry — subscribers.

2. E-mail is easy
The belief that “e-mail is easy” goes hand-in-hand with “cheap” thinking. Far too many executives than I’d care to imagine cling to the notion that e-mail is easy because they send e-mail every day — from Outlook. Laugh if you want, but remember many of these same executives were the ones who once clung to the notion that building a Web site shouldn’t cost so much “because their teenager just built one.”

Doing e-mail is easy. Doing e-mail really well is hard. It takes a cross-functional team with representatives from marketing, IT and customer service. It takes people with knowledge of CRM, point-of-sale and data integration.  Most importantly, it takes a thoughtful, long-term, subscriber-centric strategy. Sorry, but there’s no easy button that can do all that.

3. E-mail is vertical
At MediaPost’s most recent Email Insider Summit, CareerBuilder.com CMO Richard Castellini emphasized to attendees that e-mail should not exist in a silo. His firm belief is that the e-mail team adds tremendous value when its voice is heard across the organization.

Properly deployed, an e-mail team is vertical, horizontal, and diagonal. Wherever an e-mail leaves the organization, the e-mail team should be on hand to help clarify messaging, ensure consistent branding and optimize performance. The earlier they are invited into the conversation, the more impact they can make.

4. E-mail is tired
There’s an old adage in sales that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If your company is feeling that e-mail is tired, perhaps the issue isn’t the e-mail medium, it’s your approach.

E-mail remains the number one activity on the Web. E-mail continues to deliver the highest ROI of any online marketing medium. Every social media Web site is built on e-mail as its principal means of user communication.

This is not a tired environment, but it is one where better results will take collaboration, inspiration and hard work.  

5. E-mail is last
The final misconception about e-mail in the C-suite is that it is the punctuation at the end of a good marketing program’s sentence. Executives with this belief love hearing all about the exciting creative in their new campaign, but they give short shrift to how the company leverages e-mail across all touch points.

Companies that allow e-mail to fall to the bottom of their line item budgets and project plans are likely to reap below average ROI from the medium. E-mail is not an afterthought; it is a primary, direct and infinitely affordable communications channel with your best customers and prospects.  

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