8 Email Marketing Myths Exposed

Speaking in digital marketing terms, email marketing is one of the oldest techniques. Email marketing has been used by marketers for over 10 years, and it has continually grown and improved. However, there are still a number of cynics out there, who either see it as not worth their time, too old fashioned, or too expensive. These myths can seriously impact your email marketing campaign; the recipient may not be as open to email marketing, and your boss may not see it as a worthwhile venture.

Today, we aim to bust 8 common email marketing myths, and silence those cynics once and for all:

1. Certain words land you in the spam filter

There are certain words that email marketers have always tried to avoid: ‘Free’, ‘Cash’, ‘Save’, ‘Offer’, ‘% Off’ to name but a few. These words became ‘taboo’ back in the day when email inbox spam was rife, and whilst those days aren’t exactly behind us, spam filters have got a lot better at determining whether an email is spam or not.

Spam filters look at other areas to analyse if you’re a genuine sender or not. Your ISP reputation plays a massive part, and even without including any trigger words, your email could still be blocked if you have a poor reputation.

These days, one single trigger word should not get you caught in the spam filter. The words ‘breast’, ‘enlargement’ and ‘free’ don’t flag up issues when used separately, but when put together in a sentence, you’re asking for trouble.

2. People on your email list want to hear from you

Not everyone that signs up to your emails may actually want to receive them. You may be thinking ‘Well, why did they sign up in the first place then?’.

Truthfully, at one stage or another, that person did want to hear from you, but now they’re disengaged. A person may have opted in thinking your emails would be something they aren’t, as a result they see your first few emails, end up disappointed, but don’t get round to unsubscribing. Or the contact may read your emails for a while, but are no longer engaged. They may have moved, got busy with a new job or abandoned that email address, but again, they don’t bother to unsubscribe.

These two examples highlight why you should not rely on your unsubscribe figures to work out how many contacts are engaged. It’s important to analyse how they have engaged once they have clicked within the email, as this will show who is and is not engaged. Send a re-marketing campaign to those who are not or those who don’t respond at all.

3. Unsubscribe are a terrible thing

Not so. When people choose to unsubscribe from your list, they’re doing you a favour. They are cleansing your list for you. Because you don’t want to be sending emails that are not opened, deleted or bounce back do you? Or even worse, the contact marks your email as spam, which will affect your sending reputation.

A healthy unsubscribe rate is under 1%, but don’t panic if it’s higher – reanalyse your campaign and move on.

4. Email cannot be used as a lead generator

Email is historically used as a lead generation tool to existing contacts, but not many marketers use it for generating new leads.

First, keep in mind that emails could be shared to people not on your list. This means if you include a lead generation call to action in your email, and then the email is forwarded on to someone outside of the list, you have the opportunity to generate a brand new lead. The same applies for social sharing links – get them included! You never know who could see your email.

Secondly, use email to nurture your subscribers. If you have contacts who subscribe to your newsletter, why not include a call to action which encourages them to subscribe to another type of email you send, such an invite to a webinar, or a whitepaper download. This helps turn subscribers into leads.

5. Emails have to be designed perfectly

We’ve previously looked at whether HTML or plain text emails are better, and we’ve also looked at the benefits of using a professional email template, but this is where you should use your common sense.

Your email should represent your brand; it should send a consistent message so that the recipient knows who you are, and why you’re sending an email to them. Test design variations; different placed and coloured call to actions, different sized and placed images and social sharing buttons. The only way to improve your campaigns, and to truly understand how they are reacting, is to test, test, and test again.

6. By following the law, I’ll reach the inbox

Not necessarily. By following the law (of whichever country you’re in) ensures you won’t get fined – or jailed. But you cannot ensure that you will reach the inbox, just because you are emailing people who opted in.

Work on your sender reputation, whilst abiding by the law and your deliverability rate should increase.

7. Open rate is very important

Many people assume that because 99 contacts out of 100 opened the email, it has been a roaring success. But open rate metrics can be very unreliable. Depending on your Email Service Provider’s system, they will calculate this in different ways. Some will only count an open if the images have been downloaded, others count an open if it has been viewed in a preview page.

Consider looking at click through rates, instead of open rate to understand how contacts are reacting to your campaign.

8. Open rate is not very important

I know this contradicts point 7, but don’t stop looking at your open rate completely. Open rates can still be useful as a comparative metric. If you’re looking at which subject line, or friendly from name is performing better, segment your send and compare the open rates.

So while open rate isn’t the best metric for measuring the effectiveness of your campaign, it’s very useful when comparing segments.


What other myths should we expose next? Feel free to comment or find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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