17 Email Marketing Myths You Need to Stop Believing Immediately
Email marketing is one of the most effective tools in a marketer’s toolbox.
Did you know that when it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more? Or email marketing has an ROI of 3800%?
As a savvy email marketer, you’ve most probably read these stats before. But even though email is one of the most effective and oldest marketing channels out there, there are still a lot of misconceptions that linger around this channel which can hurt your conversions. If you're curious to find out what those myths are, we've compiled a list of 17 myths.
Stop following these myths before it’s too late.
The focus of every email should be on conversion
Email marketers focus on conversions; it is tough to change the mind-set. They don’t do it for the heck of it. They do it because the ultimate goal of every marketing campaign is to increase conversions. It’s growth above everything else.
That is, until the growth slows, email performance declines and ultimately people stop clicking.
If you craft every email to increase conversion, you’ll end up promoting your products and services all the time. And subscribers will stop opening your emails. You must add value to the inbox first. Focus less on conversions and more on increasing engagement and developing relationships with the subscribers. In time, they will start buying from your emails.
Don’t focus on short term conversion – keep the focus on engagement, as selling without engagement is a hit or miss. Engagement is a gateway to guaranteed long-term conversions.
Permission-based emails will always land in the inbox
No there is no guaranty that if you’ve taken permission, you’ll reach in the inbox. There is no dispute that permission is essential, but it’s the first step, not the whole staircase.
If you want to land in the inbox not just once or twice but every time you have to engage your subscribers, why? Because nowadays most mailbox providers consider subscriber engagement as the primary matrix in their filtering decisions.
The more engaged your email list is, the more likely they are to open your emails and take the desired action. And the more the keep opening your emails the more the chances that your marketing emails will start landing in their Primary Tab.
Keeping your subscriber super engaged is critical if a sizable share of your subscriber base consist of Gmail users.
Google is encouraging users to unsubscribe from promotional emails that they are not engaging with. So, if your email subscriber hasn’t opened the email from your brand in the last 30 days or more, it will show them a message like this:
This smart unsubscribe feature is till now available only on mobile devices (iOS and Android).
Many marketers believe the path to land in the inbox is permission when in reality it’s engagement.
Email marketing doesn’t work anymore
That’s a big myth - email marketing is still the best way to engage customers; the only catch here is you’ve to keep it fresh. Why?
Because, over time, this channel has become very competitive. Every retailer is using mailers to target its customers left, right, and center. Subscribers have become accustomed to ignoring emails; if you want to capture their attention, your email messages need to be fresh and unique.
When creating emails, think about how to capture attention, not just about conversion. If you can’t capture attention, you won’t be able to drive conversions anyways.
Including words like "Free shipping," "Clearance” can hurt your email deliverability
You have no doubt heard this deliverability rule before; if you use certain words in your copy, your email will land in spam. This used to be the case years back, but it isn’t true anymore.
Because spam filters have become super intelligent with time and they have stopped applying these filters. As these words-based spam filters can most of the times return false positives—and can be easily thwarted by spammers. Instead of content based filters spam filters have started relying on sender reputation and subscribers engagement.
People will unsubscribe when they want to leave your list
Sometimes they will, but often they won’t. So, it’s your responsibility to be proactive and remove these disengaged subscribers from your email list.
Why is it essential to remove unengaged subscribers from your list?
Well, the answer is very simple subscribers’ who aren’t opening your emails are not clicking through to your site. This can skew your CTR (click-through rates) and can affect your email deliverability too.
Now the question is how to decide the time-frame to consider a subscriber as inactive? There is no definite answer to this question - exactly how long will depend on the type of products you are selling. For example, if you are selling replenishable goods like grocery two months can be considered as inactivity, but it may be different for a jewelry site.
Before you remove subscribers from your list, you should try to win-back them. If they don’t open these emails, you can remove them from your list due to inactivity. If you don’t know how to do that – take a page out of Pottery Barns book:
Send time optimization is the key
Everybody’s talking about send-time optimization, but marketers still struggle to optimize the send time for every single one of their subscribers. The question isn’t whether you’re optimizing your send time – everyone is, to some extent. Answer these pressing questions instead:
- Are you still doing mass-level optimization by simply targeting your subscribers by their time zone?
- Are you taking individualized insights into account?
If you aren’t taking individual insights into account your send time is optimized not personalized. Because two people in the same time-zone will not always like to open the email at the same time, for example, one person might prefer to check their email in the morning, during the commute to work. Another might choose to check it at night when winding down from the day. So, if you want the best opens rates, you should send emails at different times to different subscribers.
Now you must be thinking about how to personalize the send time for everyone on your email list. Well, today's marketing automation tools make these actions possible. If you want to customize the send time for subscribers’ our platform includes a feature called Send Time Optimization. This AI-powered feature predicts when to send a particular email to a subscriber basis on their past behavior.
Swap send time optimization with send time personalization.
Sending emails is enough to drive conversions
The biggest email marketing myth I see marketers are guilty of believing is if they send emails they’ll get conversions. Just because you're sending emails doesn't mean you will get returns from this channel.
You can drive conversion from this channel if you give subscribers what they’ve signed up for.
There's no exact formula to find out what exactly people want. It really depends on your subscribers. Just follow their behavior.
Nobody likes promotional emails
No, people love promotional emails as long as you follow these simple rules:
- Offer them something valuable
- Personalize the copy
- Time it right
- Add some fun or excitement
- Craft compelling subject lines
Email is a standalone channel
Well, this one isn’t a myth! You can use email as an independent channel, but to leverage its full potential, you should integrate it with other marketing channels. For example, you can send a discount coupon in your email and follow up with an SMS reminder to encourage more people to avail the coupon. Remember, if you want better ROI from your email marketing you should integrate it with other channels
Here’s a quote from Loren McDonald, a Marketing Evangelist:
“In the next 5 years, email will be seen as not just a high-ROI channel by itself but rather a platform that integrates with and makes other channels more successful.”
Sending triggered emails is enough
If you want better conversions from your emails it’s not enough to send triggered emails – you should take it a step further.
Well, by personalizing your triggered emails. At Netcore's Smartech, we conducted a study we sent a non-personalized triggered mailer to one batch and a personalized one to another batch; the personalized version received both better open and click rates. Here’re the results:
Personalized Triggered Emails Non-personalized Triggered Emails Average open rate: 56% 23% Average click rate: 37% 11%
The subject line can make or break your email marketing
Well, this one isn’t a myth! Subject lines are the door to your email marketing world. But they’re overhyped – they aren’t the only factor that can affect your open rates.
68% of Americans say they base their decision to open an email on the ‘From’ name.
Also, your preheader copy (preview text) which is often overlooked can affect your open rates a lot. So, use this space wisely to complement or supplement your subject lines.
Design is all that matters
This is the single biggest mistake email marketers make. They just don’t pay enough attention to crafting the message and keep the focus on the design.
Carefully think through what action you want your subscribers to take. Whether you’re writing a promotional email, cart recovery email or welcome email, every word you write should convey your message clearly and convincingly.
When it comes to email marketing, it’s not just the design that matters: it’s also the message.
Basic segmentation is enough to drive conversions
No two people on your email list have the same needs and requirements. Yet, again and again, email marketers send the same email copy to everyone on their email list.
Don’t make this mistake. Now I know there’re very few marketers who aren’t segmenting their email list, but there are very few who are digging deep into it. The deeper you go, the better the chances that your emails will be super targeted; the less you segment, the less targeted your mailers will be. Don't underestimate the benefits of the former.
Given below is an image to show why email list segmentation is so important:
Exclusivity doesn’t matter in email marketing
It does. Stay away from sending the same messages you’re sending on your other marketing channels. Why? Because your mailing list aka your subscribers are your most precious asset.
There’s no appeal to an offer if it’s available to everyone. Also, ensure you mention in your message that the deal is only for customers who’ve subscribed to your mailing list to make them feel that they are part of something special.
When crafting subject lines, the focus should be on personalization
You hear it all the time, and it’s woefully true. Adding personalization in your subject lines can boost your email open rates. But when writing your subject line the emphasis should not just be on personalizing it, but being concise too.
Because, 67% of emails these days are opened on mobile devices, and your subject line will get truncated if it’s more than 4-7 words. Given below is an image from a study conducted on the length of the optimal subject line:
The subject line is the most crucial element of an email, but it’s often the most ignored one — once written, you should edit it and try to cut your text as much as possible.
To me, a good subject line is two things: it’s concise, and it’s personalized.
Email marketing is on its deathbed
No, it’s not – ask any marketer, and they’ll agree with me. But it’s not about marketers only even consumers believe that too. There has been a study conducted on consumers to find how many of them think that email will still exist in 10 years. Given below are the results:
There’s a reason most people say email marketing doesn’t work anymore; even though it does. It’s because they’re doing it wrong. Don’t be one of them.
Email marketing is a numbers game
The idea that you need to send a lot of emails to get good results from email marketing is nonsense. But we've been told for an eternity that email is a numbers game. And it's still a popular belief today.
But email is not a numbers game anymore. Far from it, actually. You should focus on sending relevant and personalized content to your subscribers’ inbox. And you should focus on building relationships with them.
Email marketing is more than a numbers game – the real goal should be engagement.
Email marketing still works; in fact, it plays a critical role in building relationships with customers along with converting and retaining them. But, if you want good results from this channel, you need a clear vision and a detailed strategy.
Also, you need to avoid email marketing mistakes. So be aware of the myths and misconceptions presented here – and do take the necessary steps to correct them – if you do that you will start generating a tremendous ROI from this channel a lot sooner than you think.
Are there any other mistakes that you’ve made while doing email marketing? Share your past experiences and advice in the comment section below to help other marketers like you.
Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She has been in the internet marketing industry for nearly ten years, specializing in content and product marketing, lead generation and engagement strategy.
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