4 Email marketing myths that need to self-destruct yesterday

Conventional wisdom describes the things - true or not - that a group of people agree on.

If that conventional wisdom is based on accurate assumptions, then great! But it’s based on erroneous assumptions, then not so great. Everyone’s just blithely doing the wrong thing, solely because they’ve always done things that way, and everyone’s agreed that it’s the best approach.

The good news is that those who choose not to blindly follow conventional wisdom have a huge edge over those who do.

With that in mind, here are some myths that the email marketing community continues to swear by. Run counter to these myths, and you’ll have an edge over the herd that’s running with them. Enjoy.

Myth 1: we must only email at specific times

Marketers absolutely tie themselves in knots over this one. They’ll be just about to press send on an email, then panic and stop. “It’s 3pm - shouldn’t we wait ‘till morning?” “It’s Friday - shouldn’t we wait ‘till Monday?” And so on, and so forth.

I spent about four seconds googling this, and found this blog by Mailerlite. Here’s what they found:


Pretty clear. It doesn’t matter at all when you send your email.

Here’s the reality: if you have a reputation for sending good emails, that people get value from and want to engage with, then they’ll open them. If you send it in the middle of the night, they’ll open it in the morning. If you send it on the weekend, they’ll take a look on their phone while they’re skiving off their chores.

Conversely, if you build yourself a reputation for sending spammy, boring content that doesn’t add value, then people won’t open it. It might be 9am, and they’re sitting at their computer with a cup of coffee. Doesn’t matter. They won’t open it, because they know that it sucks.

So don’t fret about when you send. It’s wasted energy. Put your energy into writing emails that people actually want to read. Then send them whenever suits.

Myth 2: We have to segment everything

I blame modern email marketing software for this one. It’s made segmenting far too easy. It’s relatively trivial to split a list into two, three, five or ten different groups, each one getting a different message.

And this can be great. If you can split your audience into groups that are going to respond well to different messages, then of course you should do so. But I’ve seen many businesses essentially segment for its own sake.

For example, I’ve seen businesses split their newsletters into two groups: current customers, and current leads. They’ll make some one-sentence adjustment to the very beginning, then the rest of the newsletter will be exactly the same.

Now they’ve spent time writing an extra sentence, building another newsletter in their email marketing system, and proofing two newsletters. When they find inevitable mistakes in those newsletters, they now have to go make changes twice. In fact, they’ve doubled some of their work in exchange for some pointless segmenting.

So when you segment, ask yourself how different your two emails are going to be. If the answer is “not very,” then flag it. You’re just creating work for yourself.

Myth 3: We mustn’t email too much

If you are petrified of people unsubscribing, the natural next step is to pull back on the number of emails you send, lest you annoy your audience. This is well-intentioned! But it’s also incorrect.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to email sequences. These are sets of emails you send people when you’re trying to get them to do something or the other - maybe convert from a trial version of your software to a paid version, or even just set up a demo with one of your sales staff.

You want to nurture your leads, but you don’t want to overwhelm them and have them drop off, so you space your emails out. Maybe once a week or so.

This is very polite, but it falls flat on its face. A week is a long time. By the time email #2 rolls around, they will have completely forgotten what email #1 said. You’d be lucky if they remember who you are in the first place. Good luck building up trust and loyalty over time at that rate.

So don’t be afraid to email people frequently. But there’s a caveat here - you have to email them good content frequently. Some of my favourite email sequences have been every second day, or even daily. I didn’t mind; in fact, I looked forward to them, because the content was relevant and interesting. If you nail that, then you’ll have permission to email your customers more frequently.

Myth 4: People love the visuals and hate text

This is one of the most infuriating myths. It goes like this: “People won’t read very many words, so we need to make the email super visual.”

This myth completely disregards the context of the email. Email marketing is like no other marketing channel in that it goes to people who are sitting down and expecting to read. How many emails from your colleagues have two sentences, a big picture, and a giant button? None. Yet, you probably read them all (or at least, most of them).

Look at this monstrosity from video editing software WeVideo as an example:

wevideo monstrosity.PNG

Feels to me like there’s a very compelling story to be told here. Summer’s overyou probably have lots of great footage of your friends and family. Things like BBQs, hanging out at the pool, backyard cricket, etc etc. And what better way to capture that footage forever than to make a bunch of nice edited videos? You could even do it on the bus on your way to work - that’s how easy WeVideo is.

I’m biased because I just wrote it, but I think that story would make pretty good case for buying WeVideo. But instead, they chose to use the space to stick in a giant banner, then write two sentences that say essentially the same thing as the banner.

So remember that your audience are not stupid, and they’re in their email inbox. Not only do they know how to read, they intend on reading. Give them something good to read!

Bottom line: produce good content

I think these myths propagate because they make everything feel easier and more under your control. If you tell yourself “well, we sent all our emails precisely at 9am on Tuesdays, we segmented it 15 different ways, we only emailed once a month, and we made sure every email had no more than 2 sentences,” then you can convince yourself that you’re doing everything you can to achieve your goals.

But there’s only one thing you need to do to achieve your goals, and it has nothing to do with these finicky details. You have to write good content. That’s it. If you achieve that, all these other things fall by the wayside. And if you don’t achieve that, it’s not going to matter how many of these myth boxes you managed to tick.

One more thing

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