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5 Email Marketing Myths That Are Holding Your Campaigns Back

True or false: the best time to send a marketing email is at exactly 9:41am on the second Wednesday of the month. Ok, that’s an easy one (the answer is false, for those playing along at home), but separating fact from fiction isn’t always so simple when it comes to email marketing. 

Some email marketing myths are pervasive, and adhering to them can actually be harmful to your campaigns. As such, we’ve decided to bust a few email marketing myths, to help your campaigns reach their full potential. 

Stop following these 5 email marketing myths that are holding your campaigns back! 

MYTH #1. Don’t Send Too Many Emails

MYTH: Sending too many emails will cause subscribers to disengage.

FACT: Increased send frequency can be beneficial, as long as it comes with an increase in value. 

When it comes to email marketing, is less better, or is it a case of the more the merrier? According to many, sending too many emails causes subscribers to disengage. This is accurate to an extent – no one wants to receive emails from the same brand every 5 minutes – but increasing your send frequency isn’t always a bad thing. 

Put simply, increased send frequency should come with an increase in value. 

If you’re sending more emails just for the sake of it, that’s a big no-no. However, if you send more emails because you have more to offer, that’s perfectly acceptable. 

A case study by Alchemy Worx demonstrates this by analysing Aviva Insurance’s send frequency. They found that when send frequency increased from annual to monthly to several times per month, the brand enjoyed a 45% increase in email revenue, while also quadrupling their unique and total clicks[1]

Further, studies have found that sending 4 emails per month doubles the number of customers who will open at least one email[2]

Ultimately, the key to success is not send frequency, but relevancy. eMarketer found that sending relevant content increases open rates by 39% and revenue by 24%, regardless of send frequency. While no subscriber wants to be inundated with a mountain of marketing emails, as long as your content is relevant, there’s no inherent problem with sending more frequently.

As with most things pertaining to email marketing, there is no definitive ‘send frequency’ rule. Optimal send frequency will vary from company to company to suit different audiences.

Sending too many emails can be detrimental, but so can sending too few. It is imperative to find the sweet spot that suits your business, content, and audience. 

MYTH #2. Millennials Don’t Use Email

MYTH: Email is dying because millennials prefer newer technologies.

FACT: Millennials currently spend more time reading and responding to emails than any other generation[3]

Younger generations are all about exciting, new technology, making email a relic of the past, right? Wrong. This particularly pervasive email marketing myth couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In reality, email is still going strong among younger generations. Millennials currently spend more time reading and responding to emails than any other generation[3]. 73% of millennials say email is their preferred platform for communicating with businesses, while on average millennials spend five hours with their inboxes open per day[4]

Millennials are actually more likely than the rest of the population to check their emails outside of work hours – 70% vs 52%[5], with half of millennials aged 18-24 checking their emails while in bed in the morning. 

Additionally, 71% of millennials will take action from an email that contains their “preferred marketing content”[6]

Not only do millennials still use email, but it’s one of their key communication platforms. Therefore, buying into the myth that millennials don’t use email would mean ostracising a huge potential audience! 

MYTH #3. Avoid Spam Words 

MYTH: Spammy phrases such as ‘free’ and ‘best value’ will send your emails straight to the junk folder.

FACT: Thanks to sophisticated spam filters, individual keywords have little effect on deliverability, according to a study of more than 540 billion subject lines[7]

How many times have you been told to avoid spam words like ‘free’ or ‘save’ in your subject lines? For years, this held true as a piece of best practice. However, these days, spam filters are more sophisticated, diminishing the impact of so-called ‘spam words’.  

A comprehensive study of more than 540 billion email subject lines found that traditionally spammy words such as ‘free’ or ‘best value’ have no meaningful impact on whether your email ends up in the junk folder[7]. Similar results have been achieved in tests by Mail Chimp and Hubspot, showing that keywords have little impact on email deliverability[1]

According to Email on Acid, “using words like ‘free’ in your subject line has no effect on your deliverability”[1]

Of course, this doesn’t give you free rein to use these words and phrases however you please. Context is still important. If you are offering something for free and want to get that message across in a legitimate manner, using the word free will likely have little impact on your deliverability. On the other hand, if your subject line reads ‘FREE! WIN BIG TODAY!!!’, you might have a problem. 

The bottom line? Due to sophisticated spam filters, keywords and phrases have little impact on email deliverability – as long as they are used in an appropriate manner. 

MYTH #4. Unsubscribes are Always Bad 

MYTH: Unsubscribes mean your emails are failing. 

FACT: An unsubscribe rate under 0.5% is normal, and can be a useful tool for campaign analytics.

No one wants people to unsubscribe from their emails, but, contrary to popular belief, unsubscribes can be a good thing. 

No matter how good your emails are, unsubscribes are going to happen. Obviously, a noticeable spike in your unsubscribe rate is cause for concern, but a steady unsubscribe rate is perfectly normal. 

According to a thorough analysis by MailChimp, the average unsubscribe rate across all industries for emails sent to at least 1,000 subscribers is 0.26%[8]

In many ways, an unsubscribe can be seen as a positive: you’re no longer wasting valuable resources marketing to someone who is not interested in your content. 55% of marketers say database quality is the largest barrier to effective email marketing, so unsubscribes are doing you a favour by improving the quality of your database[9]

According to Campaigner, rather than unsubscribing, 60% of people will simply delete an email, while 23% will mark it as spam[9]. As such, an unsubscribe can be regarded as a positive engagement  – it’s certainly better than being marked as spam. 

Given this, it is best practice to ensure your unsubscribe button is clearly visible in your emails. By allowing people to easily unsubscribe, you will be left with a more engaged subscriber database. 

Further, unsubscribe statistics can be used to gain insights into your campaigns, including what subscribers responded negatively to, what they liked, and opportunities to optimise future sends. 

MYTH #5. Send Time Optimisation

MYTH: Tuesday afternoon is the best time to send emails.

FACT: The optimal send time varies from business to business, and is dependent on your audience. 

There are countless articles and studies claiming to reveal the best time to send a marketing email. Unfortunately, the ‘best’ time is a myth. 

While some send times are certainly better than others (sending at 3pm on a Wednesday is probably better than sending at 2am on a Friday night), the best time to send an email depends entirely on your audience. 

Most analyses of email send times find little significant difference in open rates on different weekdays. For example, an analysis by Marketing Charts found that emails sent on a Monday have an average open rate of 10.4%, while emails sent on a Tuesday or Wednesday both have an average open rate of 10.7%, and emails sent on a Friday have an average open rate of 10.3%[9]

Given how close these open rates are, the ‘best’ time to send an email will vary from business to business. 

Conventional best practice suggests that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8am-3pm are the best times to send emails. However, data by WordStream contradicts this. First, they found that the best time to send emails for their brand was Thursday between 8-9am, with average open rates of 25%. Yet, their worst performing emails were sent on Tuesday & Wednesday from 8-10am[10]. On these days, they got open rates of only 5% – despite being sent at some of the ‘best’ times.  

This contradictory evidence shows that the best time to send emails varies depending on your audience and content. As WordStream discovered, “there is no single “best time” to send an email – it depends on your audience”[10]

While some times are definitely better than others – the middle of the week, middle of the day mantra is a good starting point – the only way to find the definitive ‘best’ send time for your business is to understand your audience, and consistently A/B test your campaigns. 

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