September 2, 2015 | John Goethert

4 Email Tips and Tricks That Don’t Actually Work

The average person checks e­mail 15 times a day, and—let’s face it—many of us are well above average in that respect. And while not everyone is an expert in email marketing, we know which emails make us loyal customers and which lead us straight to the unsubscribe button (if we can find it).

Electronic mail, the grandaddy of digital communication, is as lucrative as ever: email is free, easy, and has the best return on investment of any digital marketing channel. Marketers are always looking for ways to effectively use email to enhance their inbound marketing strategies, but many of the email tips and tricks found online can be misleading...and some of them are flat-out wrong.

Here are a few of the most frequently-repeated pieces of bad email marketing advice you'll find sprinkled around the internet, along with what you can do to improve on them.

1. "Buy Email Lists"

The fundamental truth about successful email marketing is that there’s no silver bullet. ­ You have to put in the time necessary to build a following, and shortcuts like buying an email list won't be as effective as you might think.

When you buy an email list, you won’t truly know where the email addresses came from, to whom they belong, or whether your mysterious recipients would even use your product or service.

In the end, your shortcut can lead you in the wrong direction. Since these recipients don't know who you are, many will mark your emails as spam and most will simply delete them. Reputable companies only market to people who actually signed up to receive their emails, and many even send an email requesting a confirmation just to be sure the subscription was intentional!

Here’s an email tip that actually works: instead of buying email lists, save your money and build them for free the honest way. Hands­-on approaches to growing your email list include premium content offers, subscription-only content, utilizing your Facebook page’s Call­ to ­Action button, creating online contests, initiating a “Refer­ a ­Friend” campaign, and even by collecting email addresses at offline events (you know, with a pen and paper). The most important thing to remember is that people choose to receive your emails.

2. "Pack Your Email Campaigns with Multimedia"

While some email marketers love to include flashy, attention-grabbing graphics in their emails, there's actually a good argument for using them sparingly. As with buying contact lists, using lots of images and videos in your emails can have lots of secondary effects.

For example, the sizes of the images you include can affect loading time for your customers. Also, some email clients don't load images automatically, leaving your emails looking incomplete and broken. Be sure to add descriptive Alt Text (the words that show in place of an image that won't load)to each image so that if they do fail to load, the recipient will still be able to understand the email and what actions to take.

Even if your images and videos load easily, too many graphics can make your emails look cluttered and confusing, especially on different mobile screen sizes. If you need to rely on imagery in your emails, one thing you can do to help them be successful is to add a “view as a page” link to a web-hosted version. Anyone who cannot display the image would be able to click and view your email in a browser, exactly as it was designed.

Other graphic design tips and tricks for creating impactful emails include using high-quality images, a cohesive color scheme, and the right font palette. Don’t neglect the style and placement of your email's content, and aim to create a balance between text and images.

3. "Grab Their Attention!"

There’s a thin line between being persuasive and appearing desperate or pushy. We’ve all seen the ALL CAPS subject lines and sales clichés that make us look for the unsubscribe button. In order to avoid sounding like a late-night infomercial, make sure the subject lines and body of your emails don’t contain words that would send your emails straight to the spam folders of your clients.

Most importantly, make sure that the subject line reflects the content of the email. If you convince people to click and then make them angry by not delivering what you promised, you'll just drive them away.

4. "You Don't Need Marketing Automation"

If this ­advice sounds nonsensical to you, consider that o nly 10% of companies use marketing automation. Sure, you can send out marketing emails on your own, but why miss out on powerful tools that can follow up with people at exactly the right moment, reach out to them later with a new offer, and even customize the email content for each recipient? If you want to stop what you're doing every time a new lead comes in or only send out generic mass emails, you certainly can, but that doesn't make it the best choice.

There’s a lot of available information on how specific software tools can boost your e­mail marketing. In fact, automated marketing software can help you with all of the actual email tips and tricks mentioned in this article, such as creating and organizing segmented lists, optimizing each element of your email, and avoiding being labeled as spam. But marketing software goes above and beyond what you can do with a normal email client, including such advanced features as A/B testing, personalization, and much more.

It’s hard to keep up with so many dos and don'ts of email marketing.

This is why we created the VIEO email checklist. It’s informative, to ­the ­point, and free.

Download our Email Marketing Checklist!

John Goethert

John Goethert

John Goethert served as VIEO’s senior inbound marketing project manager for many years and enjoyed using his varied expertise on behalf of our clients.

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