Mythbusters: Top 10 Email Marketing Myths – Busted

When you're seeking advice about email marketing tips  to engage potential customers, you'll hear industry experts say, "Don't do this," or "Be careful of that." But some advice is based on myths and anecdotes based on isolated incidents or outdated data. When creating your own email marketing strategies – you have to do what you think will get prospects more excited than third-graders on their last day of school.

Here are  11 common email marketing myths debunked.

Myth No. 1: Every subject line should be descriptive

Busted: You know your target audience better than anyone else, and if you don't think you need to include a lot of information in the subject line of every email, you don't need to force it. Instead, it's important to write catchy and creative subject lines that intrigue customers and make them want to read your awesome email campaigns. Adding some humor now and then will also help you keep potential clients from unsubscribing from company messages.

Myth No. 2: It's OK to send to purchased lists if you include an unsubscribe link

Busted: Do you want your customers to report your emails as spam? If so, go ahead and use purchased lists. A blog post for MailChimp referenced research that showed a purchased list has an abuse rate nearly 6 times higher than a list with no purchased contacts.  How are you supposed to get customers interested in your offerings if they aren't even reading your emails? Stick to lists that were generated using proper permission-based sign-up.

Myth No. 3: You can buy an opt-in' email list

Busted: Sorry Charlie – there ain't no such thing.  Think about it – 'opt-in email marketing' means that the recipient has explicitly given *you* permission to send something of interest to them.  In the B2B (business-to-business) market especially – how could a list broker send you a list of contacts that have pre-opted in to your list?  

Myth No. 4: Hide the unsubscribe link and fewer people will unsubscribe

Busted: Fewer people might unsubscribe directly – but a whole lot more are likely to hit 'This is SPAM' in their email clients.  And guess what?  As an Email service provider, we're required to remove those people from *all* of your lists.  What's worse is that SPAM complaints impact your email reputation.  Get more than about 1 complaint per 1,000 emails sent (this varies from ISP to ISP), and you're well crafted email campaigns start going into the spam folder, sinking your email response rates faster than the titanic.

TIP: Make your unsubscribe link BOLD AND VISIBLE.  Add a second unsubcribe link and/or 'Update preferences' link to the email.  Our internal tests have shown that this can reduce spam complaints by as much as 50% – which means better email delivery rates.

Myth No. 5: You need a monthly newsletter

Busted: The attention span of your subscribers is getting shorter, making it even more important to keep your emails short, concise and relevant. Instead, post your lengthy updates about the company on your blog and social media outlets.  Most emails should contain digestible bits of information that can lead the members of your email database to engage further with your brand. The days when customers had time to sit around and read extensive newsletters are past.  

Myth No. 6: Presentation (email design) trumps email content

Busted:  Your subscribers and customers sign up to get valuable, relevant and useful content (and in many cases – good deals / special offers.)  We're not saying it's ok to send ugly emails – we're saying focus on delivering quality content that your subscribers will find relevant is a much better strategy than spending a ton of money on a beautiful graphic-intensive email.  More than 70% of email clients block images by default anyway.  Come up with a creative email subject and intro, relevant body, and don't forget the call-to-action.  

Myth No. 7: The bigger the list – the better!

Busted: Our analysis shows an almost inverse relationship between list size and recipient engagement.  Why?  Several reasons.  A bigger list means more recipients who are likely to click 'this is spam' – hindering delivery rates.  If you have 3,000 emails going to the same company at the same time in a campaign… Guess what?  That volume won't go unnoticed by said company's IT team, who may decide to quietly block your emails to reduce their email server and support load.  Also – lists often grow because they aren't properly maintained – like removing people who never even open your emails after 2 years.  And old email addresses are often re-cycled as spamtraps by blacklists and spam filter companies.  Of course if your email list is big because you bought, purchased, rented, traded, scraped, dictionary-attacked to get email addresses, you're asking for trouble anyway.

Myth No. 8: It's best to send emails on Tuesday morning

Busted: Many studies show that different times of day are the right time to send out email blasts, but in the end, it's all about the wants of your customers. You can easily figure out their preferences by testing certain times and seeing when  the messages saw the highest click, open and unsubscribe rates. An article for MarketingGum said that the morning may simply be a better time than the afternoon because many professionals often start out their days by going through emails, and are more focused on other tasks later in the day. Using Pinpointe's drill-down and timeline reporting for email campaign results to help you find the best time to press send.

Myth No. 9: Don't reuse previous emails

Busted: It's actually a smart strategy to re-purpose previous emails and content that performed well in previous weeks and months. Your clients often receive multiple emails instead that they go through each day, so recipients who remember receiving a similar email will be few and far between.  

Myth No. 10: Any web designer can design an email campaign

Busted: This is soooo busted.  Unfortunately, major email clients — including Outlook (thank you Microsoft) and Gmail support less than 50% of HTML and/or CSS code.  What's worse – best practices for web design (like, using CSS styles for example) are dead wrong when it comes to email design, since Gmail for one – politely ignores your email's CSS style definitions.  

TIP: Use an inbox preview tool to see exactly how your emails will display in email clients.  For example, Pinpointe's email campaign previewer renders your email in the top 30+ email clients – including mobile devices. Pinpointe pre-flight also helps debug your HTML code – so your designers can see exactly what code won't work.  Download  '33 Tips for Designing HTML Emails' and hand it to your HTML designer before he/she starts and you'll be in good shape.  

Myth No. 11: Never use pop-ups to collect email addresses

Busted: Surprise!  We confess – we believed this myth for a long time.  But after checking out recent blog articles claiming that pop-ups do work when done right – we decided to check it out for ourselves.  Our blog is designed with WordPress so we installed Pippity – a WordPress pop-up plugin. Guess what?  We've seen an immediate 55% increase in monthly subscribers – and those subscribers are staying subscribed and 'engaging' with our email campaigns.  'Nuff said.