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The 6 Biggest Email Marketing Myths, Debunked

marketing-myths-debunked-650
I heard that if you send an email without consent and you turn into a bronze statue.

Last year, the number of emails sent and received totalled over 205 billion.

The world is, without a doubt, addicted to our inboxes. And because of that, despite what the clickbait-generating marketing “gurus” want you to believe, no, email marketing is not dead.

Nor will it be dead in the foreseeable future.

In fact, one McKinsey study suggests that email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Twitter and Facebook combined.

us-customer-acquisition-growth

So, if email is here to stay, then it makes sense for marketers to understand it as well as possible. And a big part of that is clearing up the many dangerous myths that have been repeated so often that they’ve somehow become “facts.”

Today, we’ll look at the six worst offenders.

1. Tuesday is the best day to send marketing emails

You’ve almost certainly heard this one.

And if you haven’t, just play the scene out in your head: imagine that someone asks you to guess the very best day to send a marketing email?

“Ok,” you think. “Well, let’s see…

It wouldn’t be Monday, because people are getting in and catching up. It wouldn’t be Friday, because people are getting ready for the weekend. Wednesday and Thursday, people are already in full swing and probably focused on work.

So, it must be Tuesday.”

And just like that, you’ll have reached the same conclusion as thousands of other email marketers, who accept as fact that Tuesday is, without question, the most effective day to do email marketing.

Except that, well…it’s not. Not for everyone, at least.

In HubSpot’s Science of Email report, they took a look at the impact that the day of the week had on email open rates, and here’s what they found:

hubspot-day-of-the-week

For all but the largest lists, Tuesday was actually the worst day to send marketing emails!

My hunch is that those Tuesday emails get lost in the noise of those other email marketers diligently obeying the “best practices.”

In fact, Thursdays, Fridays and even weekends outperformed the rest of the week.

Ultimately, every list is different and you’ll need to test for yourself.

But don’t get caught in the Tuesday trap.

2. You can only send a particular email once

You spend hours writing a marketing email that you hope will help your business. It’s clear, punchy and will bring a ton of value to your readers.

You need to get this email in front of them.

And so you send the email, and get an open rate of around 30%.

While it’s great that 30% of your list saw the email you toiled over, that means that 70% of your list never got to read it.

Missed opportunity, right?

Not necessarily.

I absolutely love this tactic shared by SumoMe founder Noah Kagan (and taught to him by Neal Taparia from EasyBib), for getting more mileage from every email that you send:

Step 1. Take the SAME email you sent and CHANGE the subject line to something new

Step 2. Email it out a week later JUST TO YOUR NON-OPENS

Simple, but incredibly useful.

Here’s how Noah’s email results looked from his initial email:

scheduled-email-name-1

And here’s how they looked for the re-titled and re-sent email:

scheduled-email-name-2

That’s 30%+ more opens than if he hadn’t repackaged the original email!

We’ve tested the same strategy at Groove and gotten results ranging from 5% to 40% more opens per email.

3. Keep your marketing emails short

Have you heard people wax poetic about how “Email is a short-form medium!”

I know I have.

But it’s not that simple. The truth is that it all depends.

When I read Joanna Wiebe’s excellent advice on landing page copy, I punched the air in agreement (yes, it looked ridiculous, and yes, it made me happy to work from home with nobody around):

Like everything, the length of your page depends on your visitors and prospects. It’s not about picking one length or style of page out of a hat and simply shoving your messages into that. And it’s not about copying Crazy Egg, Flow, Groove, Dropbox, Uber or any other sites out there!

You can apply this same framework to email marketing.

What do your visitors and prospects care about? And how much are they willing to read about it?

Close.io tested emails of varying lengths in a drip marketing campaign, and one of them brought in more free trial signups than any other. Look at how long it is:

StartupSalesDripEmail

Don’t worry about cutting your message short just because you want to stuff your email into an arbitrary word count. Yes, you should write economically, but don’t be scared of testing long-form emails!

Want more help writing emails that convert?

Check out our Smart Guide to Email Marketing Conversion for more pointers.
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4. Keep your subject lines short

As soon as smartphones began to take off, article after article popped up about testing your subject lines to make sure that they fit on Blackberry screens.

“Keep it to 25-30 characters,” they said.

Chalk that up as another one of those assumptions that might sound valid, but isn’t necessarily that important.

Return Path looked at more than 9 million marketing emails sent in February 2015 to see how subject line length affected the average read rate, and here’s what they found:

subject-line-length

While most marketers stuck to 21-50 characters, actual read rates didn’t really drop off significantly for longer subject lines until they started to get really long.

5. Unsubscribes are bad!

Some email marketers love to brag about their low unsubscribe rates.

But really, that’s not any different than bragging about Facebook likes. It’s a nice metric, but it means absolutely nothing for your business’ bottom line.

hbr-comic

But bragging about not having many unsubscribes is even worse, because unsubscribes are actually awesome: they remove people from your list who are unlikely to buy from you, which in turn saves you money with your email software provider (almost all of them charge based on the size of your list).

In fact, savvy email marketers strategically try to get unqualified leads to unsubscribe from their list on purpose to maximize the ROI of their email marketing efforts.

6. Marketing emails should be branded and polished

Do marketing emails need to look nice?

Not always. In our own testing at Groove, for some of our email drips — especially in customer onboarding — plain text emails with no logos or colors at all convert the best.

In fact, this is the highest-converting email in our entire onboarding drip, performing about 35% better than the same copy in a branded template:

alex-from-groove-email

For comparison, here’s the “branded” version of the same exact email:

groove-email3

We’re not the only ones to have had plain text emails win.

HubSpot tested the claim that HTML emails performed better than plain text ones, and here are just a couple of the results they found:

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plain-text-html copy

Again, it all depends on your audience, who might prefer the conversational, personal feel of a “regular” looking email over a well-designed one.

When it doubt, test.

Don’t buy the email marketing myths

Email marketing is incredibly valuable. It’s powerful, cheap and easy to implement.

But there’s a lot of bad advice out there out there.

I hope that this post convinced you to not take any of these common myths at face value.

As with any kind of marketing, test to see what works best for your unique audience: what works on them is all that matters.

About Len Markidan
Len Markidan is the head of marketing at Groove, makers of simple help desk software for teams. Read his weekly posts on the Groove Customer Service Blog and follow him on Twitter.
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Comments:

  1. Lonn Bradley

    Hi,
    How did HubSpot account for HTML/gifs affecting open rates vs. plain text? If the emails looked identical in their inbox, recipients aren’t consciously choosing one format vs. the other. Was it just spam/junk filtering?

    (12)
    Reply
    • Brandon Burkman

      I agree. It would make more sense if HubSpot claimed more conversions, but opens? Less complex code in the plain-text email HAS to have some factor in these findings, don’t they?

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      Reply
  2. Miranda

    Interesting article, it’s nice to see more about testing for different audiences rather than following best practice no matter what.
    One thing I wasn’t sure about was Hubspot’s tests on plain text versus html; the results shown were the open rates rather than click or click to open. A drop in open rates could be based on deliverability of html/gifs, rather than actual user preference? I guess if a company wants to boost overall performance plain text might be the way to go, but it would be interesting to get a better idea of the user’s direct engagement with the content, should deliverability of html templates improve in the future!

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    Reply
  3. online fashion

    Hi,Len Markidan.
    Thank you for sharing this great article. I will try to use your method. I have a womens fashion accessories online store and I want more sale from my store. So, now I will start Email marketing for sale. But I am not sure How can i improve my sale with Email marketing.

    (2)
    Reply
  4. Jacqueline Hayes

    Great post, Len. Email marketing is not dead and will, in my opinion, always be relevant. Thank you for dispelling the notion that you only get one shot at the email – that once it’s out, it gone. Just as you should repromote a blog post on social a week or two later, you can certainly resend your emails, tweaking the subject line and mailing list to increase reach. Again, excellent post.

    (1)
    Reply
  5. software development company

    I think Email marketing is good for sale any product. And it’s the great way to increase sale. You have shared the article with many idea. It will help all email marketer. So, I want to say Thank you Markidan.

    (1)
    Reply
  6. Calvin T

    Thanks for this.

    It’s strange that the open rates are affected by images / gifs. I could imagine that the click throughs would be an issue, but if they haven’t yet seen the email, how would gifs “turn the subscriber off”. Weird.

    (1)
    Reply
  7. Tahir Majeed

    Hy,
    Thanks for sharing to this informative article. In this Article You describe the business through Email . Exactly through Email business is more easier than Twitter and face. I learn many things in this article I try it to implement these email type of business in our small business and will get Many Advantages
    Once again thanks for sharing and please share these type of business Article.

    (0)
    Reply
  8. Dez Calton

    As always is the case, take the best practises as they are those for a reason but then test yourself and go with the data.

    (0)
    Reply
  9. Paul Tran

    Nowadays, there are a lot of mail marketing: free type, paid type… These help us increasing income/benefit… For me, to build an email marketing is so hard. Up to now, I have not built one for my own. I will do our best to make one.

    Thank you for your post,

    (0)
    Reply
  10. Emily Cruse

    I agree with previous comments. The era of Email Marketing is increasing day by day and it will never dead. It is the great method to increase sale.

    (0)
    Reply
  11. Louis Lh.

    Definitely keep the email short and easy to read. Coming across emails like reading a blog post with very lengthy content, definitely think why not send subscribers to the actually blog post instead.

    (0)
    Reply
  12. Direct Mail Marketing

    Nice post !! keep it up my site as soon as possible !
    We are your direct mail marketing experts.

    (0)
    Reply
Comments