Email marketing myths

There are loads of best practice articles, whitepapers and blogs out there.

Sometimes it gets confusing to see the truth from the myths. So I’m are going to dispel some of the myths for you.

“The subject line is most important thing for getting an open”

Actually no it isn’t, but it is an important factor that plays it’s part. There are actually other things to consider. Firstly, the biggest factor that determines if your email is opened, is actually the previous set of emails you sent to that subscriber. If they found nothing of relevance or value then they are likely to stop opening your emails no matter what you put in the subject line.

Secondly, it is often the ‘From Name’ used that has more influence, which is why we recommend using a ‘First name – company name’ combination which generally gets 20-25% more opens.

“10am on Wednesday is a great time to send email”

It might be this week, or in 2 months time, but the concept of a best time to send email is nonsense. By all means test this, but don’t expect your results to be too reliable or repeatable, especially as reader habits can change on a daily basis. Clearly avoid sending emails in the middle of the night, unless your target audience are Vampires, but don’t worry about scheduling emails for an optimum time. We recently analysed our data to see what times were the most effective with our clients. The results pointed to a number of results appearing as more successful. However it strongly depends on the nature of the email and the recipient.

“You cannot use the word FREE”

He is some FREE advice, yes you can! Junk mail filtering based upon keywords is very old hat now, so go ahead and use ‘free’ as much as you like.

“Gmail’s promotions tab is killing email marketing”

Research has shown it isn’t. Gmail implemented the promotions tab as a means of keeping some semblance of control with all the emails you receive. It helps a customer keep personal emails separate to commercial emails, making it easier to stay on top of everything. It’s probably had a small impact, but most people won’t notice anyway, and it certainly will reduce the amount of spam complaints as consumers no longer need to aggressively manage their email in the same way.

“You need to send more and less email”

There is always one person in the industry who insists it’s ok to send more and more emails, as it will increase the number of clicks you generate. That’s fine when measured in the short term, but in the long term you are going to fatigue your database. What makes this argument less convincing is when it comes from people who make money from sending more and more email campaigns.

Then there is another argument, that you need to send ‘less email’ – and this is often where you might be encountering junk issues at big providers like Hotmail and Yahoo. Be careful of this approach though, and consider if really that is going to help, or is it simply that you are on a shared IP with less desirable senders who are bringing you down? If thats the case, sending less email will actually do nothing to help.

“Deliverability is 100% down to your sending reputation”

If you are using a shared IP, your reputation is actually down to everyone else’s email as well. A good shared IP is great as it allows you to benefit from the reputation of other good senders. While a bad shared IP clearly leaves you with no hope of building a good reputation.

Thats why at GraphicMail we are very picky about who we work with to ensure when on a shared IP you are safe in the knowledge that you are sharing it with the very best.

Feel like I’ve missed something? Drop your question in the comment box or get in touch with one of our email experts today!


Gain customer reviews with email

Customer reviews are a great means of boosting on-site conversion rates.

I for one always read reviews for products I wish to purchase, and they have a major role in the decision making process. Getting customers to post reviews and share their opinion is often a challenge for many, however one main technique to collect the bulk of reviews is through post-purchase email. Here is my guide for maximising your review collection rates:

1. Incentivise

A review email which uses some form of incentive for leaving a review will always dramatically outperform ones that don’t. If discounts don’t suit your brand, then prize draws offer an alternative means of delivering that reason for leaving the review. Don’t forget you are asking your customers for their time, so an incentive will help.

2. Keep it simple

Your review email should only have one objective – to get a review. Do not try and achieve multiple things with this email, there are many other opportunities for this. Also, this means removing all clutter and distraction from your email, and having big, bright call to action buttons for taking customers to your review page.

3. Remind customers

As with all key campaigns a reminder will add a significant boost. Even if you don’t have a tight enough integration with your reviews provider to know if a review has been left, a good halfway step is simply only remind those that did not click on the first email.

4. Automate

Trying to manage the collection of reviews manually is not going to be manageable in the long term. Ensure you set-up a feed of orders, and the items they have purchased to your ESP so you can trigger the review request for the appropriate amount of time after their order has been dispatched.

5. Make it easy

Making it easy for your customers to provide you with a review is essential. Don’t confuse the customer and over complicate the journey by making it a long winded and complicated process. Instead, include a obvious link directly to the review page, or perhaps embed the review into the email itself.


Email marketing reporting techniques

Reporting is more than just opens, clicks and the odd heatmap.

There is far more insight to be had which will directly lead to important discoveries to influence your upcoming campaigns.

Drill into segments

As I’m sure you already know, segmenting your emails to make them more relevant is an effective way to improve engagement levels of your campaigns. But why don’t we ever report by segment? With GraphicMail, you can break down any campaign, or series of emails by whatever segments you wish. This also helps you understand what segments you should be tailoring for. A simple set of examples would be to split your results by gender. Or maybe by the type of product they first purchased. As soon as you start seeing big differences in performance you can start coming up with hypothesis why, and test these out with a series of segmented emails.

Where is decline occurring?

Is your email marketing on the decline? Perhaps there is a drop in engagement levels relatively early on from new subscribers as they decide the emails are not for them. By running a GraphicMail ‘Lifecycle’ report, you can identify how quickly new subscribers are dropping off, and then start to plan out what special emails could help reverse this in the early stages of their experience.

Dashboards – data at your fingertips

Analysis often takes time, and as busy marketers you might always find something else to do before you allocate quality time to review statistics. This is where a good dashboard with all the KPI’s you need for email comes in. Configure it to your own needs and reporting periods, set a schedule and have it emailed to you so you can’t miss it. Chances are you will spot anything going wrong far quicker than before.

What types of email are working?

I bet you don’t just have one type of email you send. There will be a variety of themes and types of messages that you send. Traditionally, being able to report on the different performance of these is difficult as there is no aggregate function in most ESP’s. This is where the tag system in GraphicMail comes into its own. By creating tags and assigning them to your emails, you can literally segment your results by anything you want – from the topics in the email through to what the weather was like on that day! Only then can you start seeing patterns and differences between the types of email you send.

Data Warehousing

If you have a team of analysts within your business, the chances are that they will want raw data to work with, not the pre-prepared reports an ESP usually provides. Use a platform that has numerous ways to get data out via exports or APIs. Make sure you are getting you real-time updates into your data warehouse.


Email marketing design

When creating a new email marketing design, we appreciate that the process isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem.

If you are looking at how you can design a winning email, then read on for our top ten tips on email marketing design.

1. What does the reader want to know?

Email marketing design will always depend on your objectives for sending the email. It could be you want to communicate news items, promotional offers or new products. Whatever it is you want to talk about, ensure the content is relevant to the target audience, and the key piece of information or ‘take away’, is the most prominent item within the email.

2.The ‘Marmite’ of email marketing design

Unfortunately, design is subjective, thus meaning there is no clear right or wrong answer. One person may love it and another may hate it. Also, personal preference will only get you so far. The most important thing for you to ask yourself is ‘is this right for the customer?’ If you ask yourself this question repeatedly, then your design cannot fail.

3. Build around a table

One of the most proven and most reliable ways to build a new email is through using tables. Not only will your end results look better, but some email clients including Outlook and Gmail will not render modern styling such as margining, padding and floating.

4. Make it clear

Keeping your email marketing design short, the content concise and the call to actions clear, will not only make your email more compelling for the reader, but will also make it easier for them to a). Understand what it is you are telling them, and b). What it is you want them to do.

5. Increase the flow of traffic

Always include clickable links and call to actions within your email marketing design. This will not only give you more options when it comes to tracking the results of your emails, but will also drive additional traffic to your website – giving you another opportunity to engage with your clients and capture data. Always ensure the links work and they take the reader directly to the relevant page. The last thing you want is to provide a bad customer experience and risk a potentially healthy conversion rate.

6. Carefully select your images

Remember, you are essentially telling a story, and the best way to get your story heard is to make it as visually enticing as possible. The best way to do this is to include relevant images. Positioning your images alongside related text will ensure the readers’ eyes are drawn to the message or product you are promoting. That said, less is more, so don’t rely too heavily on images to tell your story, as around 60% of email recipients block images from displaying by default. Always include ALT Tags – a text alternative for images in these instances, so your recipient can gain an idea of what the image is. Additionally, search engine spiders use ALT tags to translate what an image represents.

7. Less is definitely more

Emails are scanned, not read. Therefore, any body of text within the email should not exceed four lines. The more text you include, the less likely it is to get read. Be sure to make all your text easier to read by using a plain font such as;

This combined with standard sizes for headings, sub headings, body text and links, will help the reader to navigate their way through the contents more efficiently when scanning.

8. Never be afraid of ‘white space’

White space is underrated. Whilst some view this as another opportunity to squeeze in one more offer or message, it does in fact, act as a natural resting point for your readers’ eyes, again helping them to navigate their way through the email more easily.

9. Don’t risk an email being unopened

With so many potential online threats coming from emails, it is important for your subscribers to instantly know the email has come from you, and only you. Otherwise, you risk them sending it to their ‘trash can’ without a second glance. Use a subject line that uses your brand tone of voice and position your logo and website link consistently across all of your emails – this will also help with brand recognition and build trust.

10. Give them a ‘get out of email free card’

Always make it easy for your subscribers to ‘unsubscribe’ should they wish to. Not only is this a legal requirement, it also makes sense. If your subscriber wishes to go, let them. You can always offer them alternative frequencies and subjects with the use of preference centre, but if they want to leave, let them.


Inactive Subscribers… What to do about them?

Recently I was approached by a client with a couple of questions… 

‘What percentage of our email database are inactive?’ and ‘How can we re-engage our inactive subscribers?’

You might be surprised to know that on average nearly 70% of a subscriber database is usually classed as ‘inactive’, we can define ‘inactive’ as a subscriber that hasn’t opened or clicked on your email for an extended period of time.

It’s a classic debate within our industry, and from my experience between us ‘the experts’ and the board level. Is it better having higher volumes to send to so we can say how large and glorious ones database is, or can we convince that a small, engaged and reactive subscriber database will perform better. My suggestion to aid in this debate would be, let’s keep the high numbers but let’s find out which subscribers are inactive, and look at how to re-engage this proportion of your database.

In your email marketing platform perform a quick insight report on engagement. You can define and find who your inactive subscribers are very easily (hopefully, otherwise change platform)!

A re-engagement campaign is a good way to try and rekindle that flame with your subscribers and, dare I say it, delete and cull some of the bad subscriber data if need be. Here are some easy steps to follow when considering a reengagement campaign:


Firstly identify who they are and define what inactive means to you.  Whether it is, when a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in the last 10 emails sent or hasn’t opened an email in the last 3 months.  I’d recommend hasn’t opened in the last 90 days as a benchmark.


Next consider how you want to reengage your subscribers. If subscribers haven’t been opening emails then this isn’t going to be easy. You need to give a compelling reason to re-engage with your brand.


There are a many options on how you go about re-engaging these subscribers, a personalised subject line that prompts a reaction is best. Once you gain the open the next mission is to gain a click, ask if they want to be on the list still, let the subscriber know what they are missing, or most commonly give them an incentive.

Say goodbye:

After your re-engagement campaign, you will still see some subscribers are still inactive. At this stage it is time to say goodbye.

Keeping your lists active and engaged, by getting rid of the dead wood you’ll increase results, decrease costs and see improvements in testing.

This process can be timely and for some emotional… to save on performing such campaigns regularly, make sure your welcome program is as robust as possible. Gather as much information as you can when a subscriber is most responsive to you. This will lead to more targeted communication and in turn less inactive subscribers in the long run.