At the 2017 Marketing United conference, Justine Jordan, VP of Marketing at Litmus, called me out. Marketers—myself included—hold many "universal truths" regarding email. However, some of those truths are actually myths in disguise—and they're holding us back.
Myth #1: Email is the best place to showcase your brand standards.
You've invested hundreds of hours defining your brand standards, and perhaps thousands enforcing it across your organization. Marketers are taught to be the primary brand ambassador—as we should be.
But when do brand standards hold us back?
Don't get me wrong—the look, feel, and tone of your brand is important. But email doesn't care how great your brand font looks on your website. Not all email clients render equally, and it is in your best interest to design with email-friendly fonts in mind.
This doesn't mean abandoning ship and starting from scratch. Take a look at how Girl Scouts solved their email rendering problem:
If the Girl Scouts custom font, Trefoil, doesn't render properly in the email client, they have designed the backup version with Arial. That way Girl Scouts is still controlling their brand standards but with a font that will render safely in all email clients.
For reference, there are the tried-and-true web safe fonts:
Sans Serif Web Safe Fonts
- Arial Black
- Trebuchet MS
Serif Web Safe Fonts
- Courier New
- Times New Roman
Design your email with a backup in mind that looks great with your established brand standards. Not all email clients render all fonts, so it's best to plan for this ahead of time to make sure your email always looks great.
Myth #2: The purpose of email is to "blast" as many people as possible.
Yes, list building is important. However, the quality of that list matters more. Email that is specific and personalized for the user converts 94% more leads than general "email blasts."
Jordan urges marketers to stop treating email as a channel for pushing information, but a conversation that builds a relationship over time. Your reader has allowed you entry into their inbox, so make your communications worth their time and specific to their needs and interests.
Myth #3: The purpose of email is to drive revenue.
Well... that's not untrue, but it is missing the point.
Yes, email is a useful tool for closing business, but it will not be effective if it does not resonate with your audience—and in order to send email that resonates with your audience, you need to put their needs first.
Respect your customer first.
At the very least, email must be respectful. Did your subscribers opt in to receive your emails? Do they know what to expect? If not, address this first before moving forward. Doing so will not only improve your email metrics—it's the law.
Does it work?
Once you have permission, the next need is email functionality. Do all the links and images work? Always send a test to yourself before deploying. Want bonus points? Test your email in different email clients to see how your message renders for all of your users.
Is the information relevant?
Rather than trying to hit the broad side of the barn, segment your lists based on interests. Your hospital's OB-GYN patients are likely interested in pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, menopause, breast cancer, family planning, etc. But none of your patients are interested in all of these topics.
In order for your email to be most effective, segment your list based on who your customers are and their unique interests and circumstances.
For example, you could create list segments based on where an expecting mom is in her pregnancy, recommended screenings by age group, healthy recipes for single women, or recipes for busy families, etc.
If the email content speaks directly to your customer, you build trust and keep them coming back for all stages of their health and wellness needs.
Are you leaving a lasting impression?
Continuing with the OB-GYN example, you can serve your practice's business needs and leave a lasting impression by being proactive. Not only is the content relevant and helpful, but it is anticipating your customer's needs.
For example, rather than leaving the onus on the patient to schedule his or her next visit or calling them the week before in the middle of the day, send an email. This way the patient gets the information on his or her schedule and has all of the details right at their fingertips. Simple transactional emails can go a long way with building trust and making our customers' lives easier.
Here's a retail example:
Jordan used Airbnb for some business and personal travel. Airbnb used her behavior on their website to send her relevant marketing emails with booking suggestions for those cities.
Myth #4: They won't unsubscribe if we make it difficult.
This should be a no-brainer by now, but it bears repeating. The size of the list does not indicate email marketing success. If we live by this myth, it is only logical that we would make unsubscribing as difficult as possible.
Pretty sinister, right? If we are using email to build trust and relationships with our subscribers, why would we trick them this way?
If a reader wants to unsubscribe, it is OK to let them go.
Your list will be healthier for it. However, if you see an influx of unsubscribes, that is an indicator that the content you're sharing may be missing the mark. We can't assume what our readers want—we've got to ask them.
The Bottom Line
Email should—at the very least—respect the reader. The potential to build trust and delight our customers and prospects with segmented, relevant email is huge. Don't miss the opportunity to use this versatile marketing channel to not only win business, but leave a lasting impression.
Remember: Your brand is not your font and color selections—it is what everyone else out there is saying about you.
Need more marketing myth busting in your life?