There are a number of email marketing myths that constantly circulate. In this article I aim to debunk 8 of the most common email marketing myths…


Myth 1 – “Email Marketing is dead”

In the words of Doctor Frankenstein “It’s alive!”

Email marketing results have shown time and time again that the channel is most certainly not dead, in fact it’s thriving! The most recent statistics from the Direct Marketing Association show that email marketing Return on Investment (ROI) has reached new heights in 2014 at a massive 2,500% – that’s almost £25 ROI for every marketing pound spent on email! (Source: Direct Marketing Association National client Email Report)

Email Marketing is the perfect fit for any business wanting to build a relationship with subscribers and generate revenue.  Whether your organisation is Business 2 Business (B2B) or Business 2 Consumer (B2C) focussed, email marketing can be effectively used to engage and convert subscribers as well as drive direct sales for your business.

Plus, email marketing underpins EVERY OTHER PIECE OF MARKETING you do to prospects. However you are driving traffic to your website, whether this is through search engine marketing Pay Per Click (PPC) or advertising your site or blog content on social media for example, email marketing provides the means and the technology to strategically and effectively capture their information in order to create a targeted, interested database and build your sales funnel to reach your business objectives.

Myth 2 – “Email Marketing is Spam”

As we covered in our recent blog post Spam, Ham and Jam, email marketing and spam are two completely different things.

Spam emails are unwanted and you didn’t ask for them – you probably don’t even know the company that’s emailing you or certainly didn’t opt in to receive communications from them! Whereas email marketing has an opt in at its heart and relevancy in its soul – only being sent to people who have explicitly opted in and WANT to receive emails from you.


Myth 3 – “Tuesday afternoons are the best time to send an email”

There are various pieces of research that state a certain time of day and day of week to send an email for optimal results (and you’ll see different pieces of research stating different days and times!). But think about it… even if this is true and everyone then sends at this time, it very quickly becomes the worst time to send as everyone hits their subscribers all at the same time (and don’t forget, a proportion of your subscribers will more than likely be signed up to your competitors emails and other brands as well as yours!). Also, this research is formed from an average of the data being analysed, meaning it is not the same for everyone. You need to test this theory on your own list and determine when is best for your subscribers in terms of send time. What works for one company won’t necessarily be the best time or strategy for you to follow.


Myth 4 – “Shorter subject lines work best”

Again, there has been a lot or research published around which length of subject line performs the best. But in my experience, this is a rather simplified view of subject line performance. Not only does the length make a difference (and in some cases longer subject lines will work better as you can be more descriptive setting subscribers expectations more about the contents of the message), but also the techniques you use to craft your subject line, how this fits in with other messages that are being sent and the frequency with which communications are sent. Again, I recommend testing this for your audience using simple A/B split testing over a number of emails to gain a view of what works over time for your audience to determine the best techniques to use.


Myth 5 – “A high open rate is the only thing you need to be concerned with”

Following on from the last myth, often the performance of the subject line and the corresponding open rate can be misleading. For example, I have seen campaigns that have generated a lower open rate than average, but have gone on to achieve a higher click through or conversion rate. In these cases, it is usually where a more specific subject line has been used that really clearly describes the content of the email, meaning that only people who are really interested in the subject or offer open the email and are therefore are more likely to convert – it is highly appealing to the right people. Whereas a more general subject line, may get more people to open the email, but they then find the subject or offer isn’t quite what they thought or doesn’t really relate to them and conversions are lower.

It is therefore critical to not view open rates in isolation, but t instead look at them in conjunction with your other statistics; such as click rate, unsubscribe and complaint rates, and most importantly, your conversion rate from campaigns.


Myth 6 – “Using spam words will get you sent straight to the junk folder”

Back in the day, content was king in terms of deliverability and your placement in either the inbox or junk/spam folder (or if your message went missing). Nowadays, although content is still one of the factors that effect this placement, it is by no means the most important or the first thing that ISPs such as Outlook (Hotmail), Yahoo! or Gmail (for example) look at.

Your Sender Reputation (made up of many factors including the content you send, frequency and volume of sends, complaint rate and more) is now more important. If you have a good Sender Reputation content becomes less relevant in this decision. However, if you have a poor Sender Reputation content is taken into account more and an excessive use of spam words will result in a penalty (such as being sent to the junk/spam folder).


Myth 7 – “Sending more email is a bad idea”

In part, this myth is actually true for two reasons:

  1. If you normally send an email to your subscribers once a month for example, and you suddenly increase this to once a week, without asking permission and setting subscriber expectations, you will likely see a rise in complaints and unsubscribes associated with this increased volume.
  2. If you send email every day (for example) and you don’t have anything valuable to say, you dilute your message and are at risk of overwhelming subscribers.

However, this myth is also untrue for one main, and critical reason: it is fine to send more email, as much as you want in fact, as long as you let subscribers know and set their expectations of this send frequency on sign up, and you make sure that every email you send is adding value for the subscriber and serving them in some way.


Myth 8 – “It’s fine to send the same content to everyone”

When email marketing was in its infancy, the common practice was to send the same message out to everyone in your database (the ‘batch and blast’ method). And while on occasion this is still OK to do now depending on the message you are imparting, it is much more desirable (and will help you to achieve better results) nowadays to segment your list and send targeted relevant messages to different segments of your list. By providing messages tailored to different types of subscriber in your list, you are able to make your emails more personal and relevant to their interests, needs and desires, creating communications that result in higher engagement rates and ultimately, more conversions.



Email marketing is all about testing what works for you and your audience.

Have you come across any email marketing myths you’ve disproved? Let me know in the comments below!


Post written by Kate Barrett of Shine a Light Media.

Kate has over 10 years experience working directly on client email marketing programs, she have a proven track record of increasing results; from opens and clicks to conversions. Speaking, blogging, research and DMA membership mean that she is always up to date with the latest email marketing news to feed her passion!

Kate is helping the Goal Setting Collective work on the goal of building their list – why not join the collective so you can benefit from what she has to say?


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