The Biggest Email Marketing Myths

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Doing email marketing right is challenging in the best of circumstances. But it’s made more difficult by all of the outdated and just plain wrong advice out there that leads marketers astray.

To put you on the right course, we’re busting 25 email marketing myths (many of which you’ve probably heard repeated so many times that you’d swear they were true) and providing you with the resources to get to the truth.

Let’s bust some email marketing myths!

MYTH #1: Subject lines have the biggest impact on whether a subscriber opens an email.

TRUTH: Your sender name, not your subject line, has the biggest impact on whether your emails are opened. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #2: Millennials don’t like email.

TRUTH: Millennials prefer email for commercial communications, just like other age groups. Plus, they’re very bullish on email’s long-term staying power. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #3: CAN-SPAM requires brands to obtain consent before sending people email.

TRUTH: The U.S. is one of the few first-world nations with an anti-spam law that doesn’t make consent a legal requirement. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #4: Subject lines can only impact email open rates.

TRUTH: Subject lines can affect deep metrics—all the way down to conversions. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #5: Consumers are spending less time with email.

TRUTH: Consumers have been spending steadily more time reading emails, especially on mobile devices. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #6: You only have to follow the spam laws of the country you’re based in.

TRUTH: No matter where your business is based, you must follow any international laws that apply to your subscribers. More on why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #7: The subject line’s one and only goal is to get subscribers to open the email.

TRUTH: The goal of a subject line isn’t to generate opens. It’s to generate openers who are likely to convert. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #8: You can only use standard system fonts in your emails.

TRUTH: Web fonts aren’t supported in every email client, but can be used as a progressive enhancement with a fallback. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #9: Unsubscribes are the worst thing that can happen to your sender reputation.

TRUTH: Opt-outs via the unsubscribe links in your emails have no known effect on your sender reputation or deliverability. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #10: To compel subscribers to open, subject lines need to grab their attention with provocative and intriguing language.

TRUTH: Many of the most effective subject lines are straightforward, well-branded, and kind of boring. Why this myth is so very busted

Share the truth >> Click to tweet: “The biggest email marketing myth? @litmusapp’s Myth #10. https://ctt.ec/ZlA6w+ What do you think?”

MYTH #11: Consumers don’t check their spam folder.

TRUTH: 67% of consumers check their spam folder at least sometimes, and 60% move emails out of their spam folder at least sometimes. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #12: Double or confirmed opt-in is legally required in European countries.

TRUTH: While Europe’s anti-spam laws are tough, only Germany requires double opt-in, and that’s through case law, not legislation. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #13: The worst thing that can happen to an email is that it isn’t opened.

TRUTH: The worst case is an email is opened and disappoints, causing an opt-out or spam complaint. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #14: Emails must look identical across all email clients.

TRUTH: Email is not print. Small variations are inevitable. Plus, insisting on sameness means ignoring progressive enhancement opportunities. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #15: How marketers and subscribers define spam is the same.

TRUTH: While most brands think solely about permission, consumers also consider any irrelevant and unwanted email as spam. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #16: If an email isn’t opened, then it’s like you never sent it.

TRUTH: Unopened emails can have significant influence, especially if the subject line is well-written. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #17: New or more IP addresses can solve all your delivery issues.

TRUTH: Inbox providers can easily spot senders who change IPs or “showshoe” to try to hide from a bad sender reputation. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #18: You should never use all caps, exclamation marks, or the words “free” or “buy now,” because these words trigger spam filters.

TRUTH: Copy can trigger a spam filter, but only if you have previous poor sending practices. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #19: Deliverability problems are caused by inbox providers.

TRUTH: In most cases, deliverability problems are the result of your permission practices and campaigns. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #20: Deliverability problems are caused by email service providers.

TRUTH: Some ESPs perpetuate this myth by guaranteeing high deliverability rates. But ultimately, deliverability depends on your practices. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #21: Emails must be 600 pixels wide.

TRUTH: While that’s a good default, wider or skinnier emails are fine. Use responsive, fluid, or hybrid design to optimize for multiple screen widths. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #22: Emails should only use the Transitional DOCTYPE.

TRUTH: The HTML5 DOCTYPE allows for the use of newer HTML5 elements, for example <video>, which can be used in email. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #23: All styles in emails must be inlined.

TRUTH: Now that Gmail supports style in the , you only need to inline your styles if your subscribers use fringe email clients or international ones like Yandex, Libero, and Terra. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #24: Don’t use background images in emails.

TRUTH: Background images work in email, but they aren’t supported everywhere, so they should be used as a progressive enhancement. Why this myth is so very busted.

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MYTH #25: CSS statements need to be written as an attribute selector.

TRUTH: In early 2015, Yahoo! Mail rolled out an update that made writing CSS statements this way unnecessary. Why this myth is so very busted.

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