Chapter - 1
The Top 7 Email Marketing Myths Debunked
Email marketing myths too many people believe (and shouldn't).
Usually, myths are harmless, but there are a few myths in email marketing that you might believe in that could end up being detrimental to your campaign. So, let's start on the right foot by addressing any email marketing myths and misconceptions to ensure you have a better email marketing experience in 2023.
Myth #1: It's a good idea to remove/hide the unsubscribe button to reduce unsubscribes.
Fact: By removing the unsubscribe button, you will lower the number of unsubscribes. But is it a GOOD idea? Definitely not.
Increase your chances of landing in spam
When you remove the unsubscribe button, you are caging people in your email list. This will only enrage them and encourage them to report you by marking your emails as spam. Thus your domain reputation will go down the drain, and your emails will start landing in spam. By doing this, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot and ruining your email marketing efforts.
Firstly, you will be violating the GDPR, as per which you are required to provide an easy way for people to opt out. The GDPR' Article 7(3) reads:
"The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her consent at any time […] It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent."
When you remove the unsubscribe button, you will violate this, and this action could have financial and legal consequences. Read more about the consequences of GDPR violations in our guide.
You will also be violating other legal policies like the CAN-SPAM Act.
- Damages your credibility and reputation
When you remove the unsubscribe option from your emails, you are taking away the right to consent from your subscribers. That’s not ethical and will jeopardize your brand image and credibility for building a long-term relationship with your audience.
Myth #2: Avoiding spam trigger words can help you land in the inbox
Fact: No. By simply avoiding spam words, you can no longer avoid the spam folder.
Back in the 1970s and 80s when email marketing became popular, spam filters used to look out for several spammy words to understand which emails were spam and which weren’t. And email marketers could avoid those words to avoid triggering spam filters. But, spammers had also used this technique to enter the inbox, so spam filters had to become smarter to stop spammers.
So, spam filters used by mailbox providers and internet service providers started to look beyond just a few words to identify spammers. As we mentioned previously factors like IP and domain reputation, authentication, email engagement, etc. play a bigger role in determining whether your emails will land in spam.
So, you need to focus on the above-mentioned factors rather than trying to avoid spam words if you want to land in people’s inboxes. Read this article by Litmus to get more information about this.
“Use Targeted List: Always send out emails to a very targeted list of people who have opted in to receive your content. If this is not done, it will increase your unsubscribe rate and your spam rate.”
- Rohan, Biking Know How
Myth #3: Google is killing AMP emails
Fact: Google is deprioritizing AMP HTML for the web, not AMP for Emails.
People have misinterpreted the phrase “Google kills AMP” that has been going around everywhere as Google killing AMP for Email, but that is not true. Google has deprioritized AMP HTML for web pages.
Previously Google has been ranking web pages with Google AMP integration higher because they had allegedly prioritized those using their tech. But, in April 2021, Google announced that AMP would no longer be considered a ranking factor for web pages. Read this article to know more about how Google “killed” AMP web pages. So clearly, this has nothing to do with AMP for Email, which remains unscathed.
In fact, interactive emails are here to stay. Microsoft recently developed its version of interactive emails called Actionable Messages. Actionable Messages are similar to AMP emails, allowing users to engage with the email without leaving the inbox. However, they are still limited as they can only be used internally to send to certain Office 365/Exchange Online Server users. Whereas AMP for emails is supported by Gmail, Yahoo, Mail.ru, and FairEmail.
Myth #4: AMP emails will automatically help improve email deliverability.
Fact: Not necessarily.
To send AMP emails, people must complete all the sender id authentication protocols and get whitelisted with Gmail, Yahoo mail, or Mail.ru. And while authentication can help improve your chances of landing in the inbox, it's not necessarily guaranteed.
Email deliverability is more than just authentication. Several other factors determine whether or not your emails will get delivered to the inbox, like IP & domain reputation, sender reputation, email sending frequency & volume, email list acquisition & hygiene practices, etc.
💡 Related guide: Everything You Need to Know About Email Deliverability
Myth #5: Emojis in the subject line can cause deliverability issues
Fact: Emojis don't cause deliverability issues.
There is no data available to prove that using emojis will increase your chance of landing in spam.
Some people have seen a correlation between emojis and spam in their campaigns, but it's usually not the emojis themselves but how they have been used. If you use them in a way that annoys your audience or makes you seem suspicious, they might mark your email as spam.
For example, if your subject line is “❤️ Valentine’s Day sale 10% off 🎁” your audience might not have a problem with the subject line. But if you overuse emojis or use inappropriate ones like “❤️❤️❤️ Valentine's Day 🍑🍑🍑,” it might prompt them to mark you as spam.
Also, overuse of emojis can cause accessibility issues as it would be a bad experience for people who use screen readers. For example, this is how a screen reader would read these subject lines:
❤️ Valentine’s Day sale 10% off 🎁 - “Red heart Valentine’s Day sale 10% off wrapped gift”
❤️❤️❤️ Valentine's Day 🍑🍑🍑 - “Red heart Red heart Red heart Valentine’s Day sale 10% off peach peach peach”
Here are some best practices you can follow if you want to add emojis to your subject line:
Use only one emoji per subject line if you could.
Put it at the end of the subject line like “Valentine’s Day sale 10% off 🎁.”
Don’t use emojis in between the subject line as they break the sentence flow when read by screen readers.
“In 2023, it's time to stop treating emails as transactional pieces of content. Instead, it is time to delight your end users with the kind of content that they'd like to read and talk to them in their language, as you would with a friend. And get your basics right — accessibility and readability across platforms and devices.”
- Tejas Kinger, Plum HQ
Myth #6: It’s okay to send image-only emails.
Fact: No, it's not.
Brands usually send them because it's easier to create these than an HTML or AMP email. But it’s a bad strategy to send image-only emails for the following reasons:
Accessibility issues Your email will not be accessible to everyone as screen readers or voice assistants used by blind and visually impaired individuals cannot read text inside an image.
Potential spam issues Image-only emails are generally used by spammers as spam filters can't read the text in images. So, email clients usually block image-only emails from being delivered or route them to the spam folder.
Failure to load or Increase in load time When the reader's internet is slow, your image-only email will not load immediately. So they might have to wait a while to know what your email is about or might never be able to read it.
Bad reader experience Image-only emails are usually not dark mode friendly as they have a certain background color that doesn’t change in dark mode. So readers are taken aback by the bright background when they are accustomed to reading with a dark background.
Even if you try to make the image dark mode-friendly by using a PNG image with no background, it won't work. This is because while the background is now dark in dark mode, the text is also dark making it impossible to read.
And there are other issues associated with image-only emails, like responsiveness. All you need to know is that image-only emails are not worth it, and you’ll see better results with normal emails like all text, HTML, or AMP.
Myth #7: Unsubscribes are a bad sign.
Fact: Not always true.
Unsubscribes might be devastating for marketers who assume it means they are failing in their marketing efforts. But that's not the case - unsubscribes can be a good thing.
Unsubscribe action shows that the person wasn't an engaged prospect or is someone who is no longer interested in your offering. So they wouldn't have bought from you even if they had stayed. Unsubscribe events help you to have a filtered list of people who are interested in your product.
So, going forward, don’t dwell on the number of unsubscribes. Rather, focus on engagement (open rate, CTOR) and conversions. And, if you avoid a high unsubscribe number, you should implement a sunset policy and remove inactive prospects from your list before they choose to unsubscribe.
“Ask yourself before sending any email: what’s in it for the recipient? Am I sending this to benefit me, or the recipient?”
- Natalie Jackson, Co-host, Humans of Email
“Get everyone involved in a project from start to finish together before you start, the strategy team, email designer, email coder, the web team, think about all the people in the business it will pass through and get everyone to put their heads together - you'll be amazed at the number of email marketers that work in silo from all the other departments!”
- Jay Oram, Head of Dev, Action Rocket
“Revisit your welcome series — it's one of the best ways to build relationships with your readers. Look through your data and see what you can improve: Maybe it's adjusting a subject line, or testing out an additional email in the flow, or swapping in new content. There are always a few opportunities here to help you make your welcome series a little better.”
- Dan Oshinsky, Not a Newsletter & Inbox Collective Founder