When it comes to email marketing, separating fact from fiction isn’t always easy. Statistics, reports, and media each can paint extremely different pictures—rather than setting clear standards and practices for email marketers. To help sift out the truth, here’s a demystified look at eight of the most common email marketing myths.
1. Email is dead: Marketers have been wrestling against this assertion for years. This declaration, however, is nothing more than folklore, say both Alex Lustberg, CMO of digital marketing solutions provider Lyris, and Angel Morales, cofounder and chief innovation officer of email marketing automation provider Smarter Remarketer. In fact, more than 87 billion consumer emails are sent and received every day, according to research firm The Radicati Group; analysts predict that this figure will to surge to more than 88 billion by *2016.
2. Everyone who opts in wants to receive email: There are a number of reasons subscribers opt in, Lustberg says, and the desire to receive a slew of brand emails isn’t always one of them. A customer, for instance, may provide an email address to see a company’s inventory or simply to download a whitepaper, he says.
“[An] opt-in shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing proposition,” Lustberg explains. “This is where the importance of progressive profiling and preference centers comes [into play].”
3. Marketers should implement a frequency cap: When it comes to email frequency, some marketers draw the line at a few emails per week. But unless they’re sending batch-and-blast emails, marketers should hold off on setting frequency limitations, says Coleman Easley, email marketing manager of loyalty program provider Excentus Corporation. Putting a cap on email communications, he says, can restrict marketers from optimizing and personalizing from one campaign to the next.
4. Advancing from batch-and-blast, to segmentation, to personalization is the way to go: Although many marketers abide by this widely accepted evolution in email marketing, Graeme Grant, president and COO of personalization solution provider CQuotient, says that it’s actually easier to skip segmenting by groups and go straight to automatic personalization.
“If you go directly to what that customer is after, by definition, you bypass segments, and you’ve gone straight to what’s most relevant to that individual—which is better than a segment—and can be, with the latest technology, executed as a single blast,” Grant says.
Marketers, however, shouldn’t abandon segmentation altogether. Grant says that segmentation can be useful for trend reporting and internal communications.
5. The bigger the list, the better the revenue: In slight contrast to Grant’s claims, Lyris’ Lustberg places a little more emphasis on segmentation, especially when managing lists. Although Lustberg acknowledges that marketers can still obtain a return on investment through spray-and-pray techniques, he points out that emailing smaller, more segmented lists generate more revenue. He says that’s because batch-and-blast emails so often produce less engagement and result in less deliverability.
“It’s the quality of your list,” Lustberg says. “It’s not necessarily the more email you send.”
6. The most creative emails should reflect marketers’ personalities: Marketers love to show off their creative chops. However, Excentus’ Easley says the most effective email copy is determined by data and technology, rather than marketers’ personalities.
“Let the data direct the final touches of personality that this email is ultimately going to have when it reaches everybody,” he advises.
7. Behavioral targeting is always reactionary: Sending personalized messages in reaction to customers’ behaviors is a common practice, Grant says, such as with shopping cart abandonment emails. But today’s marketers don’t have to wait for customers to make the first move. Grant says that marketers can pair behavioral data with other customer information to send messages such as product recommendations that are informed by predictive analytics.
8. Shorter subject lines are best: When it comes to subject lines, short and sweet are often preferred. However, Lustberg warns that this method isn’t written in stone.
“A subject line needs to be engaging; it needs to be meaningful; you should test it,” he says. “But a short subject line doesn’t necessarily give you better results than a long subject line.”
Corrected: Originally stated 2018