7 fears, myths & fallacies holding email marketing back

McKenzie Gregory


Common email myths debunked by Justine Jordan of Litmus

At this year's Marketing United conference, we invited Justine Jordan (VP of Marketing at Litmus and Grand Poobah of the #emailgeeks community) to officially shatter some common fears, myths, and fallacies that have permeated the email community for years. 
From the idea that some words are inherently "spammier" than others to blaming email clients for deliverability issues, here are the seven false generalizations about email marketing we have to abandon for good if we’re going to move forward as an industry. 
Justine laid down some hard email marketing truths at Marketing United 2017


MYTH 1: If you use "trigger" words, you'll automatically land in the spam folder

If you’ve worked in email marketing for a while, you’ve likely seen plenty of blog posts on this topic. The idea dates back to a time when spam filters weren't nearly as intelligent as they are now, and things like ALL CAPS, terms like “buy now,” or excessive use of exclamation points (!!!!) in a subject line could cause an email client to flag your message as spam. 
The truth: While we still wouldn’t necessarily recommend using any of those things in your subject lines for the sake of quality copy, the most important thing that influences your inbox placement is your sender reputation


MYTH 2: You must follow the spam laws of the country you live in

Most email marketers know that securing proper permissions from their subscribers is important, but many operate under the notion that they only must follow the spam laws of whatever country they operate in as a business. 

The truth: Actually, you have to follow the spam laws of any country you send TO. If you're an American company and a portion of your audience is from Canada, you have to make sure you’re adhering to CASL when you send to them. 

MYTH 3: Brand standards apply to all channels (including email)

Your emails should look exactly like your website, your print pieces, your packaging, and your signage... right?
The truth: Wrong – email isn’t like any other medium. For instance, rendering issues can arise when you use brand fonts instead of web-safe fonts in your email design. 

MYTH 4: Delivery problems aren't your fault 

Many email marketers like to point fingers at email clients or their email service provider when they experience delivery issues. 
The truth: Time for some tough love: If you aren’t making it into your subscribers’ inboxes, it’s usually your fault. Delivery problems can often be tied to poor email marketing practices (buying email lists, sending irrelevant emails that get flagged as spam, etc.) that have affected your sender reputation. 

MYTH 5: Gmail will *%&# everything up

Yes, yes – Gmail was the bane of email designers' existence for years. BUT… 
The truth: As of September 30th, 2016, Gmail now supports: 
• <style> tag embedded in <head>
• responsive email + media queries
• font styling
• accessibility


MYTH 6: Emails have to look the same everywhere 

"Email clients all have slightly different ways of rendering HTML emails. Rather than accepting this, email developers have tried to hack their way to identical emails across a multitude of email clients. A very honorable task to undertake, but it can result in bloated and hacky HTML code which can be a nightmare to manage and keep up to date."
The truth: It’s ok if your emails look different in different clients, so stop coding like it’s 1999, get bold, and experiment with so-called risky tactics like CSS animation and interactivity. 

MYTH 7: You MUST follow email marketing (and design) “best practices” 

Design examples:
Emails should be 600 px wide. 
Only use web-safe fonts. 
Don't use background images. 
Strategy examples: 
The best time to send is 10 am on Tuesday.
Subject lines that include X, Y, or Z will do better. 
The truth: At some point, everything in email marketing became about shortcuts and easy answers – but anyone who tells you a certain strategy will work 100% of the time is full of it. You HAVE to continually test and learn about your specific audience to do effective email marketing.  


Hungry for more from Justine and the super smart folks at Litmus? Explore their blog

Interested in more Marketing United content? Check out our video library


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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