Understanding Common Fallacies and How to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy
Email marketing can be complex – especially with the outdated and incorrect information circulating – but it’s not an excuse to stray from or abandon that marketing channel. On average, marketers see a $38 ROI for every $1 invested into emails. Have you seen a return on your email marketing efforts? To encourage and boost your excitement for email marketing, we’re busting the most cringe-worthy myths we’ve heard. Take this information and apply it to your email marketing strategy.
Myth: Email is Dying
Email marketing is not dying. According to Litmus, since 2011, the average time spent reading an email has increased by over 6%.
So, how do you optimize each campaign to get the most out of that extra 6%? To increase your average read and engagement time, you need to revise your campaigns. Optimize each message for the quick readers and glancers. Make sure your subject lines and preheaders are short but informational. For the skimmers and scanners, highlight your main message points through big headings and bullet point lists. Use attractive but not distracting images, and be sure to go through our deployment checklist before launch.
Myth: Gen Z and Millennials are Ditching Email Communication
Email communication is preferred for professional and commercial correspondence. Although it may seem like social media is controlling the way Generation Z and Millennials communicate, email still leads in personalization and brand-focused messaging. Channels like FaceBook, Snapchat, and Instagram are overcrowded with ads and are primarily used for socializing with friends and family. To motivate Gen Z and Millennials to purchase from your company, you need to amp up your newsletters. From our own observations and experience working with millennials, we have found these to be the most important factors to incorporate when developing email campaigns.
- Mobile-friendly emails are everything. If your email campaign isn’t compatible with their mobile device, they won’t engage and (more likely than not), they will unsubscribe. Be sure to use a mobile-responsive email template when creating a new campaign.
- Limit the number of emails you send per month, but expand on content. Millennials don’t want to be overloaded with emails. Instead, they want personalized messages that are relevant to their interests and addresses their needs.
Myth: The Only Purpose of a Subject Line is to Increase Open Rates
Subject lines are meant to inform and entice subscribers about the content of your email. If your subject line is relevant, accurate, and attractive, you will have more opens and click-throughs. Don’t try to trick your subscribers with irrelevant information or “alternative facts.” Be truthful, but witty. Test the length of your subject line in various devices, browsers, and apps to ensure visibility and clarity.
Myth: Subject Lines are the “Deciding Factor” to Whether or Not Your Email Is Opened
Sender name is the deciding factor to whether or not your email gets opened. Subject lines certainly have an impact, but subscribers are typically basing their decisions on who they know and trust. If the sender’s name is unrecognizable, subscribers will most likely ignore that message. Double check that your company name is displaying correctly and that your email is from an actual person (avoid using a email@example.com addresses).
Myth: Subject Lines Must Include a “Hook”
Adding a “hook” to your subject line can be enticing, but it’s not necessary. In fact, according to most email users, a descriptive subject line is more important than a humorous one. Since every business is different, we urge companies to evaluate their own subscribers to decide what they’d respond to best.
Myth: ALL CAPPED SUBJECT LINES WITH EXCESSIVE EXCLAMATION POINTS CAN TRIGGER SPAM FILTERS
Spam filters cannot be triggered by capital letters and punctuation, but it can lead into decreased open and engagement rates (audience based). ESP’s, like Gmail and Outlook, do not scan or flag subject line formatting. Subscribers may be turned off with the excessiveness, but it’s ultimately your decision whether or not you’d like to include capital letters and capitalization in your subject line.
Myth: Adding Specific “Trigger Words” Can Put Your Email Into Spam
There are no such thing as “trigger words.” ESP’s, email services like Gmail and Outlook, will only put your email into spam if you have existing sending issues. Common “trigger word” misconceptions: make money fast, BUY NOW, work from home, etc. Regardless, you should try to avoid any “trigger words.” Subscribers may view these aggressive sales phrases negatively, and unsubscribe/report your campaign as spam.
Myth: Background Pictures Can Ruin Your Email
Many people believe background pictures can ruin an email because ESP’s, like Outlook and Thunderbird, have trouble rendering them; if used correctly, background pictures can be an innovative addition to your email. Use background images as if they were a style. Include them to highlight your brand or emphasis a section, but not for presentation purposes. This way, clients who see the full rendered image get a creative addition, while those who don’t, don’t miss any important details.
Myth: Emails Must Be Designed Between 550 and 600px
It’s encouraged to design your emails with those sizes in mind, but it’s not required. 600px is a safe display size but, with the influx of devices, it’s more important to create a responsive template than one that fits “the standard.”
Myth: Emails Are Only Effective if They Look the Same Across Devices and Browsers
Emails are effective if they’re optimized for each type of device and browser. Unlike print, there are certain limitations to visual display for emails. To create an effective email for each type of client, you need to understand the capability of each device/browser and conduct testing.
Myth: Unsubscribes Cause the Most Damage Between You and ESP’s
Unsubscribes have no impact on your sending reputation. Normal unsubscribes can be a good thing – clean list equals targeted marketing and more conversions. “Unsubscribe and report as spam,” however, is a different story. To avoid being marked as spam, double check that your unsubscribe link is correct and easy to find. Make the process as simple as possible for your un-subscribers.
Myth: Unopened Emails is the Worst Thing that can Happen
Unopened emails are disappointing, but they’re not the worst thing that can happen. At most, it can affect your future campaigns. To improve your email open and engagement rates, we suggest cleaning out your inactive emails.
Myth: Spam Folders are Never Checked
Although spam folders are meant to filter legitimate messages from the illegitimate ones, it’s not uncommon for subscribers to check their spam folders. According to various studies, roughly 60% of all email users check their spam/junk folders on a regular basis. People understand that the system isn’t perfect and will check these folders for missing messages. What does this mean for email marketers? Though your emails may be marked as spam by ESP’s, subscribers may still be seeing your message. It’s vital that your sender profile identification is clear and your subject line/preheader summarizes the legitimacy of your message.
Myth: “Spam” is Everything BUT What’s in Subscriber’s Inboxes
False. “Spam” is only what lands inside of a subscriber’s spam/junk folder. Recently, Gmail, one of the most popular ESP’s, introduced email categorization. By default, emails can be arranged in a person’s inbox folder, social folder, or promotional folder.
Myth: You Can Improve Your Sending Reputation By Adding New IP Addresses
Sender reputation is developed from your company’s domain and public data, not by IP address. Unfortunately, many people fail to understand the way ISP’s and ESP’s work together. Imagine your company as a digital fingerprint. Your company data and information is stored indefinitely on the world wide web and cannot be masked by new IP addresses or ISP (Inbox Service Provider), much like your fingerprint. The only way to improve your sending reputation is to change your practices. Work on sending more relevant and personal emails to subscribers who want to receive your messages (no list purchasing or renting).
Myth: Inbox Providers Are The Cause of Deliverability Issues
Deliverability depends on the company’s sending reputation with ESP’s (Gmail, Yahoo, etc), not the Inbox Provider (like FireDrum or Constant Contact). Email deliverability is completely reliant on a company’s permission practices. Are you following permission guidelines? Best practices? If not, your email will most likely land in spam boxes and junk folders. Like any web-based program, hiccups and outage issues are inevitable but they should only be temporary. Long term deliverability issues root from a negative sending reputation.
Possible Causes of Deliverability Issues:
- Your emails don’t include text areas (giant images cannot be read by ESP’s and will be marked as spam).
- Your email list hasn’t been cleaned recently (more inactive emails = higher risk of spam traps).
- Your ISP (Inbox Service Provider), isn’t recording and automatically deactivating people who unsubscribed from your list (FireDrum does!)
- You’ve integrated a new policy or framework that is causing people to “unsubscribe and report as spam” more often (change can be difficult. If you’re implementing big chnages, let your subscibers know and review any concerns that they may have).
- You’re starting to send more campaigns and people are acting negatively (this may lead to an increase of “unsubscribe and report as spam” reportings).
- You purchased or are renting an email list that contains a spam trap or blacklisted email. Learn more about blacklisting.
Myth: According to CAN-SPAM, Marketers Must Obtain Legal Consent to Send Individual’s Their Emails
In the U.S., consent is not required to send emails. However, you must always present an unsubscribe option in each email to be compliant with CAN-SPAM U.S. policies. What does this mean? In simple terms, purchasing subscriber’s (lists of email addresses), is not illegal. Well if it’s not illegal, why aren’t more people doing it? Although list purchasing is not violating any U.S. laws, it is a highly discouraged practice and comes with expensive penalties if one is caught. Learn more about CAN-SPAM and sending through our blog post “Deliverability Metrics.”
U.S. CAN-SPAM Laws:
- Emails must include an unsubscribe option
- Emails must include clear sender identification
- Emails must include postal address of sender
Myth: CAN-SPAM Laws Only Apply to the Country Your Live In
CAN-SPAM laws may differ from country to country, but international laws apply to everyone. These international laws are meant to protect subscribers who may live in countries outside of where the business is based.
International CAN-SPAM Laws:
- Email unsubscribes MUST be processed within 30 days
- Emails must include a working unsubscribe option
- Emails must include clear sender identification
Tips to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Subscribers and ESP’s:
- Require a double opt-in for new subscribers (after individuals confirm their signup on your website, require them to confirm again through your first email).
- Include an extra unsubscribe option somewhere in your newsletter.
- Don’t be deceptive with your email subject line/preheader content. Be clear on what you’re offering.
- Don’t try to hide your contact information – make sure it’s legible, easy to find, and accurate.
Myth: Double Opt-In is Required
Double opt-in is not required but is encouraged. By adding a double opt-in to your newsletters, you’re building your company’s credibility and protecting your relationship with ESP’s. Be transparent with your subscribers and let them know what to expect. Since double-opt ins require extra work, we suggest rewarding new subscribers with a special discount or prize for completing the process.
Looking for more email marketing tips? Subscribe to our blog or contact the experts at FireDrum Email Marketing directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.