As my regular readers know, I'm always cautioning against taking the advice of pundits in our space too literally. All the statistics, all the trends, all the reports add up to a lot of general findings, none of which may be totally applicable to your particular e-mail program. To flesh out this thought further, I invited Teresa Caro, senior manager of strategy at Avenue A | Razorfish, to add her viewpoint to my column this week. To Teresa, a lot of the e-mail counsel she hears is nothing more than... an urban legend. -- David Baker
How often has this happened to you? A friend or relative sends you an urgent e-mail expressing concern over the dangers of plug-in air fresheners, or urging you to sign a petition. The e-mail sounds valid; you are tempted to react. Before you do, take a trip to Snopes.com. This urban legends site is one of my favorite reference tools. Here you will find out whether or not air fresheners are safe and how old that petition is.
The same can be said for e-mail statistics. Many years ago, I was plugging right along with my HTML marketing e-mails when one of the company execs came running in with a study that said text e-mails are the way to go. "Text is X% more effective than HTML e-mails and we need to switch today," he exclaimed. I quickly explained this was simply not true. We had done the tests and HTML continued to pull better results than the text e-mails. It took a while, because the experts had said otherwise, but he was finally convinced.
Today, the pundits say "beware of graphic-blocking ESPs." Never create an all-graphic e-mail because no one will see it or it will get flagged as spam. Instead, your e-mails should be in HTML text or even better-text--so none of your graphics are blocked. Just say "no" to graphics. It makes sense, right? Wrong. It depends on the situation, your audience, and what you are trying to achieve. Earlier this year the AiMA held an e-mail event where one of the participants talked about an all-graphic versus HTML test they performed for the Olympics. Which e-mail was hands down the more successful campaign? You guessed it, the all-graphic version.
Here are some other favorite myths:
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The moral of this urban legend is, use best practices, studies, and guidance from the experts as a starting point, but don't consider their advice to be absolute. You need to adjust your e-mail for your target audience and for what you want to achieve. Most importantly, test, test, and test some more.
You can visit with Teresa and me at the Media Post E-mail Insider Summit in a few weeks.And The EEC invites you to participate in its latest survey.