How many people do you know who don't have an email address? I'm guessing not many. Even seniors are quickly adopting this mode of communication, and among other adult age groups, email use is nearly 100%.

No wonder email marketing has been found to be more effective than social media in customer acquisition, and to have an ROI 95 times higher than direct mail. In fact, successful email marketers typically make $3-5 per subscriber per month.

If you struggle to make even $1 for each subscriber, check to see if any of the following myths are sabotaging your email conversions.

1. Myth: You have to train your subscribers to open your emails.

Truth: You have to tell a story that gives subscribers a reason to open your emails.

Your subscribers aren't dogs, so why train them? Instead, give them a reason to read your emails. Prepare a narrative, delivered over a sequence of emails, that makes them want to open your emails over and over again.

What should this narrative be about? If a person joined your email list to get free content from you, then you already know what they're interested in. The rest of the narrative should be aligned with that interest. One email in the series could be as simple as, "What did you think of the [free content] you received?" And others should help subscribers get to know you better, so they can decide if they want to keep following you. If you consistently deliver value through your emails, then your subscribers will keep reading them.

2. Myth: People hate emails.

Truth: People hate bad, irrelevant, useless email.

Intuition tells you not to send emails too frequently, because people are too busy and they hate getting too many emails. But when you consider that 39% of people check their email 1-3 times a day, and another 34% check their email inboxes all day long, you'd come to the opposite conclusion: People love to get emails and reading them!

What they don't like are boring, useless, or irrelevant emails. The average open rate for commercial emails is around 20%. There are no studies to back me up, but I'm guessing the average open rate for emails from Mom is 100%. It's not necessarily because Mom is a more entertaining, compelling, and brilliant email writer. Rather, it's because of the relationship.

Cultivate a relationship with your subscribers and email your list as often as you want--as long as each email is a good one--and yours will be the email they read.

3. Myth: Subscribers go through a linear life cycle.

Truth: People follow a non-linear process.

Conventional marketing wisdom says customers go through a sales cycle like this: First, you attract prospects and turn them into subscribers. Next, you convert them into customers. And finally, you wow them with your product or service, so they'll keep buying from you and even spread the word.

In reality, you have to wow your audience, not just after the sale, but also at every step before, during, and after the sale. Instead of a cycle, prospects and customers go through increasing levels of engagement with you or your brand, as they move from being strangers to evangelizing fans.

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They can spend money with you at lower rungs of the ladder, but the higher they go, the more they spend. They aren't floating through the cycle, either; they're actively moving from one level to the next. They have to choose to move up the ladder.

You can encourage this movement, by making each email an opportunity for subscribers to invest in you, not only in the form of their time, attention, and energy, but also their hopes, dreams--and money. Reward their investment with valuable content, something they can use that resonates with them. This includes responding to each and every email you receive.

Email marketing success isn't as hard as some make it out to be. Focus on getting to know your audience, relating with them with authenticity, and providing value in your emails.

Published on: Dec 9, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.