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5 Pervasive Myths About Email Marketing That (If Believed) Could Derail Your Business Is email marketing worth it anymore? Time to debunk the biggest myths and set the record straight.

By Pedro Sostre Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • Myth #1: Email marketing is dead
  • Myth #2: People don't read emails
  • Myth #3: Younger audiences don't use email
  • Myth #4: Email has low open rates
  • Myth #5: Email marketing equals spam

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With new social platforms emerging every year, many entrepreneurs wonder if they should leave email behind and look ahead to new avenues. Did you know that email is still the second biggest marketing channel for startups, right behind social media? That's right! It's all thanks to its low cost and incredible return on investment (ROI). According to the study by Litmus, it remains one of the best ROIs out there; companies can expect to make a whopping $38 in return for every dollar they spend on email marketing.

As the CEO of Builderall, an all-in-one digital marketing platform that has supported over 2,000,000 small businesses, I often get asked if email marketing is still an effective strategy in this new phase of our digital age. Is it dead in 2024?

I'm here to debunk the biggest myths and set the record straight. Today, I'll share my insider knowledge to help you see the light.

Defining email marketing

Before we debunk these myths, let's make sure we're all on the same page about what email marketing actually is. Many people have misconceptions about this form of digital marketing, which can turn them off — and that leads to missed opportunities.

Email marketing is a direct marketing strategy that sends promotional or informational messages to a targeted audience via email. It goes far beyond blasting promotions or cold outreach. Done right, it builds meaningful relationships between your brand and subscribers. It's a way to keep them engaged, and ultimately, it's another way to drive sales.

Some examples include

  • Newsletters
  • Promotional offers
  • Product updates
  • Even personalized content based on a subscriber's interests.

Related: 8 Simple Email Marketing Tips to Improve Your Open and Click-Through Rates

Myth #1: Email marketing is dead

Let's tackle the elephant in the room first. No — email is not dead! In fact, it's far from it and still going strong.

According to data provided by Oberlo, 80% of businesses rely on email as their primary customer retention channel. That means they're using email to keep their existing customers engaged and coming back for more.

But that's not all. HubSpot found that 60% of consumers made a purchase thanks to a marketing email they received. That's a huge testament to the power of email marketing in driving revenue for businesses.

Myth #2: People don't read emails

I can't tell you how often I hear this myth. Sure, our inboxes have gotten pretty crowded over the years, and many of us receive dozens or even hundreds of emails daily. It's also true that a good chunk of those emails might get sent straight to the trash or spam folder.

However, according to HubSpot, 46% of smartphone users still prefer to hear from brands via email over other channels.

If you establish trust and send relevant content, subscribers will welcome your emails with open arms.

This stat also highlights the importance of putting care in your campaigns by using compelling subject lines and other email elements to stand out in a crowded inbox.

Myth #3: Younger audiences don't use email

Gen Z and millennials are the next generation that will have some serious purchasing power. It's only logical for businesses to look for new and innovative ways to approach them, as they're often portrayed as being glued to their screens and obsessed with social media platforms.

These stereotypes lead many people to assume Gen Z and millennials are too obsessed with TikTok and Instagram for old-school strategies like email. Let me prove them wrong again. According to the Attest U.S. Consumer Trend Report, 53% of Gen-Z enjoy weekly emails from their favorite brands. For millennials, it's 66%.

Of course, you'll want to cater your approach to each audience (throw in some slang or a meme here and there,) but don't count email out. These generation segments still use and prefer it.

Myth #4: Email has low open rates

The next myth I wanted to touch on is more tangible. Some say email performs poorly compared to social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. For that, we'll have to look at the open rate.

Open rate is an essential key performance indicator (KPI) in digital marketing because it tells you how many people are actually opening and reading your emails. MailChimp benchmarks tell us the average email open rate across all industries is 34.23%. While that might not sound amazing, it's definitely not bad either.

With optimization, that number can grow much higher and bring benefits. As reported earlier, that's why so many businesses still rely on email as their primary customer retention channel.

Related: This One Thing Is the Secret to Higher Email Open Rates

Myth #5: Email marketing equals spam

Finally, allow me to go full circle and return to the definition of email marketing. Too many people confuse general email marketing with a somewhat shady practice: cold outreach.

Cold emails are unsolicited messages sent to people who have not expressed interest in your brand or products. You essentially buy or scrape a list of email addresses (unbeknownst to the recipients) and blast bulk emails, hoping to catch a few leads. They're often used for prospecting and can come across as intrusive if not done right. That's because nobody gave you permission to contact them.

On the other hand, email marketing is about building relationships with people who have already shown interest in what you offer. They might have signed up for your newsletter through a lead magnet or opted in to receive your updates. That's a big difference!

It is this latter form of communication that 81% of businesses use email as their primary customer acquisition channel. It drives results without spam tactics.

Final thoughts

While many entrepreneurs may feel attracted to the latest shiny object or technology, these myths cause many entrepreneurs to overlook email in 2024.

When executed correctly, email marketing remains an indispensable growth lever for startups and established businesses alike. Now that you know the truth, utilize email marketing to boost conversions and retention. With a strategic approach, you may see even higher open rates and ROI than the studies show.

Pedro Sostre

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Builderall, Speaker, Author

Pedro Sostre is CEO of Builderall, an all-in-one marketing platform that has supported 2+ million businesses worldwide. He authored "Web Analytics for Dummies" and has worked with organizations including WeWork, Republic, the NFL and more. He studied disruptive strategy at Harvard Business School.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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