4 Common Email Marketing Misconceptions . . . Demystified 'Mine is bigger than yours' is simply not the way to go.

By Paul Ford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Email lives in a fluid environment: What may have been completely taboo yesterday may well have turned out to be a best practice today. And because of this constant evolution in email, marketers may be using old bad habits when they create a new email marketing campaign. Below are four common misconceptions about those campaigns.

Related: 7 Statistics That Prove Email Marketing Isn't Dead

1. The bigger your email list is, the better

You're far better off sending email to a smaller, but highly engaged, list of recipients, as opposed to a million subscribers who want nothing to do with your message. "Good-list hygiene" is a key best practice for any email program.

It's recommended that you review and clean your list every six months. You don't want to continuously send email to invalid email addresses, as this can have a negative impact on your metrics. If people aren't engaging with your messages, you should stop sending them email, especially since ISPs are looking at engagement metrics to determine delivery.

2. Subject lines don't affect deliverability.

Subject lines can make or break the open rates for your email. Therefore, it's imperative to continuously test the content, tone and length of your subject lines to see which ones work better. Often, the results of your tests will surprise you, and your gut instincts will be proven wrong.

It is also important to have data to back up your decision-making. A recent study found that seven words was the most common subject line word length (14.0 percent of subject lines). Three-word subject lines (1.6 percent of subject lines) have the highest engagement rates (21.2 percent, compared to 17.2 percent overall and 15.8 percent for seven-word subject lines).

Related: 3 Steps to Maximize Your Mobile Email Marketing

3. Getting to the inbox is the end game.

Yes, you definitely want to make it to the inbox, but if your email just sits there and doesn't get opened? Not great. You shouldn't put all of your eggs in one basket; considering the wide range of potential problems -- with delivery, opens, clicks, unsubscribes and spam reports -- many factors weigh in to determine the health and success of your email program.

Good email deliverability comes from knowing how to send the right message to the right person, at the right time, with the right frequency. Dig deep into your engagement metrics to determine if you are sending to the right person. If someone hasn't opened an email you've sent in months, it's time to cut the cord. If you see a big spike in your unsubscribe rate after a specific campaign, that's your data telling you that your message wasn't what the recipient was expecting.

4. More images mean the email is more enticing.

Get the message across first; look cool second. A few crisp, well-placed images can do wonders to promote an email from good to great, but you have to deliver on the purpose of your email first. Marketers are often tempted to go big on visuals, but forget that; they increase the risk of emails being classified as spam. If images are unavoidable, emails should be sensibly balanced, with at least two lines of text per picture.

Given that traditionally 20 percent of email goes undelivered, you want to make sure you follow best practices to ensure that your next email marketing campaign gets you to where you want to go.

Related: 4 Reasons to Use Direct Mail Marketing Instead of Email Marketing

Paul Ford

Vice President of Product and Marketing at SendGrid

Paul Ford is the vice president of product and marketing at SendGrid, a leading email-delivery platform. SendGrid delivers over 15 billion customer-engagement emails each month for online customers such as Pinterest, Spotify, Uber and FourSquare as well as many traditional enterprise customers.

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