E-Mail Myths and Realities
Myth: There's no reason to pay for professional copywriters—it's only 50 to 100 words.
Reality: One of the key reasons e-mails don't work is amateurs are doing the writing. Professionals know 90 percent of the work is creating a compelling offer, and it's harder to do that in 50 to 100 words than in a four-page letter.
Myth: Old-time direct mail writers don't understand this new media.
Reality: These are the writers who have mastered the principles of direct response—the same principles required for e-mail marketing.
Since the technical person is the only one who knows how the technology works, he gets the job of "marketing." You'd never ask your printer to do your direct mail creative. I regularly consult with fine copywriters, and none are creating e-mails. The "because you can" principal creates e-mails that flash, move and animate. The technology is "cool," but it detracts from the message, and annoys the reader. Marshall McLuhan was wrong; the medium is not the message—just the transportation vehicle.
Myth: HTML is the best because you can graphically enhance your sales message.
Reality: Most consumers have slow dial-ups. The consumer will "kill" your message before the HTML has enough time to load. The offer is more important than the graphics. Consumers' attention spans are even shorter with e-mail than other media.
Myth: The prices for e-mail lists—$100/M to $250/M—are realistic.
Reality: Loads of names are being rented at $5/M. There are people offering to sell you one million names at $5/M, and give you a second million free. I've personally been offered $1.50/M to sell (not rent) my e-mail names and addresses.
Do research and some negotiating. The same rules of recency/frequency/monetary should apply to e-mail lists, but they don't. People who market e-mail lists, even traditional list brokers, seem to forget the basics. There are dozens of e-mail list databases that will work on a cost-per-click, or cost-per-action basis. Postal mailing list data cards are a thousand times more realistic than e-mail data cards.