The world of email marketing is full of myths.
It seems like every year, a few new trends emerge. A new best practice, a new secret only a few marketers use, or some kind of new strategy makes its way into the conversation.
By the following year, however, we all realize it was nothing more than a myth and continue using what “works.”
6 Email Marketing Myths That Are Actually True
That doesn’t mean every myth is equally without merit, though. There are actually a number of “myths” email marketers should believe because they are demonstrably true.
Here are six of the most important examples of email marketing myths that aren’t myths at all:
- Successful email campaigns are the result of bad email campaigns
- Tuesday is the best day to send emails
- If at first, you don’t succeed…
- Short subject lines lead to higher open rates
- It’s all about lead quality
- Email marketing doesn’t work (when used incorrectly)
1. Successful email campaigns are the result of bad email campaigns
Long before impressive email platforms made it easy to upload templates, modify them as necessary, and send different messages to different segments—marketers had difficulty realizing their goals.
Those days are long behind us now, luckily. Because of this, you may hear old email marketers claim the best emails are the result of bad ones, and you may write it off as an email marketing myth.
However, there’s actually a lot of truth to this sentiment.
You shouldn’t tolerate lackluster efforts. Blasting your list with emails is now known to be poor user experience and impersonal. Each and every one of your company’s marketing emails should be the result of deliberate consideration.
Still, the fact remains that your first effort is almost always your worst effort, especially if you later invest in A/B testing and continue to improve it.
So, don’t beat yourself up too badly if your first email doesn’t hit every metric you were hoping for. At the same time, even if it does well, don’t become complacent. Run tests to learn how you can do even better.
2. Tuesday is the best day to send emails
Subject lines aren’t the only way marketers use testing to improve. In fact, testing open rates for different days of the week is one of the most popular components marketers use. This teaches them which day of the week provides the best opportunity for opened emails.
The obsession makes sense. Realistically, you only have five days to choose from (most B2B marketers would agree weekends are a hopeless cause). In some cases, Mondays are ignored, perhaps because recipients only have time for the most important emails at the beginning of the week.
Friday gets a similar treatment.
The idea being, clients are busy. Why would they spend any time reading an extra email when the week’s deadlines are quickly approaching?
That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You have a one-in-three shot of choosing a day that could significantly impact your open rates and conversions.
Legend has it that Tuesday is far and away the winner.
The reason this is technically a myth has to do with varying businesses. Every industry is different. Every market is different. Every company’s list is unique. You can’t generalize across different variables.
With that being said, Tuesday is the safest bet and it’s not even close. So, if you’re starting from scratch, start there. Then, try Thursday. Then, try Wednesday. As we just covered, testing marketing myths is always your best bet.
3. If at first, you don’t succeed…
Alright, this might not qualify as an email marketing myth, but it’s certainly a cliché. And for good reason. Far too many marketers ignore iteration when it comes to better open rates and engagement.
There is a widespread misconception–practically a myth in itself–believed by marketers. The misconception is: Every email you send should be unique. Aside from automated responders and transactional emails, marketers almost never send out the same message twice. It simply isn’t done.
If you subscribe to this belief, it can make your life as an email marketer difficult. Say you only see a 30% open rate. That means 70% of your list never even saw the message you worked so hard on. And now, it’s back to the drawing board. You’re writing yet another message that 70% of your list may ignore.
The good news is, “if at first, you don’t succeed,” you really can try, try again. In fact, doing so can actually increase your email open rates by 30% or more.
Here’s what you can do:
After sending an email, find the recipients who don’t open. For those recipients, the problem was most likely the subject line. Perhaps it was time of day or, as we just touched on, the day of the week you sent it. More likely than not, however, your subject line failed to grab their interest.
All you need to do is separate that segment from those who opened your message. Then, resend the message with a new subject line in about a week.
Just like that, you’ll likely see a higher open rate than you would have from your initial email. Better still, that means more leads are seeing the message you worked so hard on creating.
4. Short subject lines lead to higher open rates
For a long time, conventional wisdom among copywriters has always been to let copy be as long as you need–but no longer.
Then, came the advent of landing pages and opinions began to waver. Having one long page on screen didn’t suffer from the same problem as multiple-page, physical sales letters from yesteryear. All of a sudden, copywriters had plenty of room to work with and even sufficient space to add images and videos.
Then, social media sites came along. Twitter was especially impactful in cutting copy back down to size as it became practically an artform to introduce web pages in as few words as possible (not unlike meta descriptions).
Recently, though, longer landing pages have become popular again. Even Twitter doubled the size of their posts.
This has left many email marketers unsure of what makes the most sense for their subject lines. Is shorter better? Or is it preferable to provide more room for a better pitch? Should you entice clients with a cliffhanger message?
Fortunately, Return Path reviewed more than 9 million marketing emails’ subject lines to see how length impacted “read rate” or how many recipients marked messages as read.
As a result, we now know that the best subject lines tend to be on the shorter side, between 9 and 14 words long or about 40 to 50 characters. So, not too short but definitely not overly verbose subject lines.
5. It’s all about lead quality
The importance of lead quality is another email marketing myth that grew from sales wisdom. Lead quality continues to prove itself over and over. When door-to-door salespeople first became popular following the Industrial Revolution, it was generally a numbers game. You might try to find neighborhoods where your prospects looked best, but after that, you just knocked on one door after the next.
Eventually, phones simplified sales. Modern technology combined with subscription services empowered salespeople to focus on “lead quality.”
For generations, its importance went uncontested–that is, until the Internet made it possible to send hundreds of thousands of emails at once. Suddenly, the numbers game was back en vogue.
Many marketers are still focused on it, too, treating the importance of lead quality as secondary.
But the pendulum appears to be swinging back. The recent inaction of GDPR means lead quality is mandatory throughout the EU, and for many websites servicing EU citizens. If cllients don’t want to be on your list, you could face serious consequences for contacting them.
Still, even without the threat of legal repercussions, lead quality deserves to be every email marketer’s main priority.
This means unsubscribers aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If they’re not interested, maybe they weren’t good leads. Your list may see stronger growth without them.
Many marketers have even claimed unsubscribers are good. Emails are now sent asking uninterested clients to unsubscribe, going so far as to provide a unsubscribe CTA.
A nice, long list is great, but prioritizing quality over quantity continues to be your strongest move as a marketer.
6. Email marketing doesn’t work
Finally, let’s end with the myth that email marketing doesn’t work. Everyone knows that email marketing offers the best ROI, so why would this make our list?
Because it only works for companies that put in the effort. This requires building a list of quality leads, segmenting them providing them with helpful content, and testing to see what works best.
Follow these simple steps consistently, and email marketing will be your company’s best marketing asset.
Of course, plenty of email marketing myths exist that truly are false. Just like any marketing channel, we’ll always see trends regarding emails–promises of effortless success and untold secrets.
Stay focused on best practices–like email marketing myths that aren’t myths at all. Best practices are used because they’ve proven to work time and time again. Stick to what works, and your email marketing campaigns will do better than stay en vogue. They’ll succeed.