If you’ve been doing email marketing in the past couple years, I think you’ll agree with me when I say: email marketing is NOT dead.

If you need some convincing, here’s a quick fact: email marketing ROI (return on investment) has increased from $40 in 2016 to $44 in 2018 (for each dollar spent), according to the DMA Insight studies.

Today’s article will deconstruct popular email myths, backing it with data, so you can make the right email marketing decisions for your business and grow your email list faster.

1) Your Emails Should Be Well-Designed

Many email beginners get intimidated by the perception that their emails should have a beautiful HTML design:

What’s the alternative, you may ask? Sending a plain text email, which looks something like this:

Only send heavily templated HTML emails if your product is highly visual and it makes absolutely no sense to not include images in your emails – for example, if you’re an e-commerce store, a retail brand, or a B2C business that sells highly visual products or services.

The problem with HTML emails is that they trigger the Gmail “Promotions” tab, have a higher chance of triggering the spam filters, don’t look personal, and are easy to mess up if you’re not a designer (by making the design too cluttered, colorful, or include too many calls to action).

The main advantage of a plain text email is that it feels personal. If you’re a good copywriter, you have a real chance of building an authentic relationship with your reader. Additionally, it’s easier to stay out of Spam and Promotions folders, and make the call to action (CTA) in your email more prominent.

Consumers say they prefer HTML, but when tested, the open rates and click rates are higher for plain text emails

2) You Should Use Buttons for Your Email CTA

Here’s the difference between a button and a text link (hyperlink) CTA:

Here’s the deal with the call to action in an email:

  • It has to stand out (i.e. don’t bury it in a block of text)
  • It’s not just about the call to action, it’s about the content around it (are you giving your readers a good reason to click on the CTA?)

Use a button and a text link call to action. This way, you cater to both types of readers: those who skim and those who actually like to read.

When you use hyperlink CTAs, start with an action verb, such as this: “Click here to download this now”.

3) Popups Are Evil and Should Be Banned from the Internet

Everyone seems to hate them, and yet every other website you visit has at least one. WHY?

Well, because popup opt-ins still work. An average popup converts at 3%, and when your traffic is hundreds or even tens of thousands of people, this makes a noticeable difference to your email list.

Here’s how to make a popup worth putting on your website:

  • Wait a few seconds before showing a popup (how many times have you clicked out of a popup that loads immediately after you visit a website)?
  • Give a compelling reason to subscribe to your list (a coupon, a freebie, a stellar value proposition for why they’d want emails from you)
  • Make your copy fun and personal. When half the Internet uses popups and many leave the default text in there, being real and personal is the best shot at getting through to people.

Be less like this:

And more like this:

4) Your Subject Lines Should Be Short

The common advice is that the shorter the subject line is, the better.

MailChimp, an email service provider that sends over a billion emails a day, is blunt about this: for most users, there is no statistical link between subject line length and open rate.

But there’s a caveat: for subscribers reading your campaigns on mobile devices, shorter is usually better because longer subject lines get cut out by most email apps. And nowadays, you can expect at least 50% of your subscribers to be on mobile.

Shorter subject lines often perform better not because they are short but because brevity evokes curiosity.

Instead of asking yourself “Is my subject line too long?”, ask “Am I making my readers FEEL something?” Are you able to surprise, intrigue or tease in your subject line?

If you make your subscriber feel an emotion, they are going to open your email. If you can do that in three words — fantastic. If it takes you 15 words, they’re probably still opening it.

5) Email Automation Is Only for Advanced Marketers

Email automation is a “must,” not a “nice to have,” for all marketers, even the beginners with a list of 100 subscribers.

Email automation campaigns can be as simple or as complex as your business objectives and resources.

If you have an email list, no matter how small, you need a welcome email drip campaign. When someone just signs up for your list, they are very high-intent, meaning they are very likely to open an email from you. You have to use that opportunity to welcome them to your community and provide value that will keep them coming back to you.

Teams that are more advanced and have bigger budgets can do more complex email automation comprised of workflow diagrams, with decision matrices based on the actions taken by the prospects.

6) Unsubscribes Are Bad

People who unsubscribe are giving you a gift by letting you know that they no longer belong in your target audience. This means that you now don’t have to keep paying for subscribers who dilute your open and click rates and were never going to convert anyway. Yay!

You should still check your unsubscribe rate, of course, but as long as it’s under 1%, you’re doing well. And make sure you’re adding subscribers at a higher rate too, so overall your list keeps growing.

And always, always make your unsubscribe link prominent. If someone wants to stop hearing from you, they’ll find a way to do that, and by making the unsubscribe option prominent, you’re avoiding getting filtered or marked as spam.

7) Younger Generations Don’t Use Email

73% of Millennials prefer to receive their corporate communications via email, because it’s “part of everyday life.” A study from Adobe found that as a group, Millennials are more likely to check email outside of work hours. Moreover, 70% of Millennials check their email from bed (vs. 52% of the general survey population).

So the claims that Millennials and younger people don’t use email as much are unfounded, although it is true that Millennials use email differently:

  • Millennials are mobile first. Always make sure your emails look stellar on mobile. ‘Nuff said.’
  • Millennials have highly attuned BS detectors. They can sniff the fluff from afar. They prefer real, authentic brands they can trust, and emails they can relate to. The Hustle is doing a great job of connecting to the Millennial audience.
  • Millennials demand personalization and relevancy. Millennials in the U.S. are tech-savvy and they’ve grown up with highly personalized advertising (read: that eBay item you’ve browsed that keeps following you across the Internet). They expect brands to know what they want and serve those needs. If you don’t, you’re not relevant. Delete.

8) The Bigger the List, the Better

Who cares if you have 50,000 subscribers if only 500 of them are people who’d even consider buying from you?

It’s good to keep an eye on your email list size, but what you should really care about is the number of highly targeted, engaged subscribers who are warm prospects for your business.

Conclusion

We’ve gone through a lot here! But what worked for someone else might not work for you, and what worked at some point in the past might not work right now.

So the only solution is to test everything and see what works for your audience, now. Listen to good advice, test it, and then use it if works for you.

Email Marketing Myths: How to Enhance Your Email Marketing Strategy

PS. Important tip: use “PS.” as much as possible. It’s one of the most-read elements in your email. So put something important there (👆), or at least something entertaining.