Are you buying #AlternativeEmailFacts as truth?

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In the age of misinformation, email marketers need to get their facts straight. Columnist Chad White debunks five dubious and commonly accepted claims about email marketing best practices.

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As a former journalist, longtime researcher and American, I’m profoundly troubled by our national struggles with the value of science, the need for evidence and the meaning of the word, “fact.”

With the US government currently imposing gag orders on research and coining terms like “alternative facts” to try to justify their rejection of the truth, we’re in dark times.

My colleague, Kevin Mandeville, lightened things up a little by poking some fun at Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway’s assertion of alternative facts by creating the #AlternativeEmailFacts hashtag. He used the hashtag on some dubious statements about email marketing and encouraged others to join in. And join in they did, with nearly 100 alternative email facts served up over the course of a few days.

Some of the statements were simply ridiculous (and constituted anti-waffle rhetoric):

Waffles and Email don’t go together. #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Clinton Wilmott (@ClintonWilmott) February 9, 2017

Others seemed cathartic:

@KevinMandeville MS Word is a supirior HTML rendering engine #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Mark Robbins (@M_J_Robbins) February 8, 2017

And a few were perhaps cries for help:

Print designers create beautifully responsive email mockups #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Andrea (@happy_daifuku) February 8, 2017

But many took jabs at old truths, outdated advice and baseless thinking that, unfortunately, too many marketers still embrace. However, there’s no nefarious purpose here. Rather, marketers embrace this kind of information because they see it again and again in blog posts, articles and social media.

Sadly, just as reputable news outlets have been tainted by the rise of misinformation campaigns and fake news sites, email marketing best practices have been undermined by out-of-date advice that’s echoed endlessly across the internet until it has the ring of truth.

#AlternativeEmailFacts that need to be debunked

Here are five #AlternativeEmailFacts that need to be vigorously denounced:

The best time to send all your emails is at 10am on a Tuesday morning. #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Jaina Mistry (@jainamistry) February 8, 2017

Marketers have been seeking the answer to this question forever, but there’s no universal best time to send an email to maximize response. Every brand’s ideal send time varies depending on their audience.

Plus, it can also vary depending on the message and call to action. For instance, a “buy now” CTA may do better in the evening, while a “tweet this” CTA may do better in the morning. There’s no easy answer. You have to test for yourself.

You need subscribers to move you to Gmail’s Primary tab. #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Kevin Mandeville (@KevinMandeville) February 8, 2017

It has been four years since Gmail introduced Tabs, and some brands are still upset by their emails landing anywhere but the Primary Tab, so they try to manipulate Google into changing their placement. I said it in 2013, and I’ll say again:

By asking subscribers to move your email from the Promotional to the Primary tab, you’re essentially closing your store at the mall and deploying door-to-door salesmen that interrupt your subscribers’ conversations with their friends and loved ones. You’ll surely be more visible, but also probably more intrusive and ultimately less welcome.

People don’t convert on mobile so you don’t need to care about it #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Elliot Ross (@iamelliot) February 8, 2017

While consumer behavior has definitely depressed mobile conversion rates, poor mobile email and web design have always been the bigger culprits. As brands have adapted to mobile-friendly email and landing page designs, conversion rates have risen.

Make sure your brand’s font is displaying by creating an all image email. Brand consistency is paramount. #AlternativeEmailFacts#marketing

— Andrew Beeston ✉️ (@niphal) February 8, 2017

If you’re applying your print brand guidelines to your email design, then you’re ignoring the unique design constraints of email and creating suboptimal subscriber experiences — and customer experience trumps strict adherence to brand guidelines. My colleague Kevin Mandeville and I had a lengthy discussion about image-based emails recently in our 47th episode of the Email Design Podcast.

Emails need to look the same across all email clients #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Courtney Fantinato (@CourtFantinato) February 8, 2017

This is similar to struggles around print brand guidelines. Brands want consistency, but in email, that’s no longer a winning strategy. That’s because consistency means playing down to the lowest common denominator.

Instead, the smart strategy with email is to provide enhanced experiences in email clients where they’re supported, and use fallbacks to provide a consistent, minimally acceptable subscriber experience. Responsive design is a perfect example of this, with mobile users and desktop users being given different experiences — potentially wildly different experiences.

The truth is that email marketing is hard. And it’s gradually getting harder.

Email marketing is so easy even a bad high school student can do it. #AlternativeEmailFacts

— Chad White (@chadswhite) February 8, 2017

As we strive to become more customer-centric, data-driven and trust-fostering, the credibility of the advice, insights and other content we consume is of utmost importance. I urge everyone to be skeptical of unsupported assertions and unproven sources.

Cultivate your circle of trusted advisers. Unfortunately, not everything you read on the web and on Twitter is true.

If you know of some #AlternativeEmailFacts, feel free to chime in on Twitter.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Chad White is the author of Email Marketing Rules and Research Director at Litmus, a provider of email creation, preview, and analytics tools. He has written thousands of posts and articles about email marketing — as a journalist at Condé Nast and Dow Jones & Co.; as a researcher and analyst at the Direct Marketing Association, Responsys, and Salesforce.com; and in his current role.


 

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