angry-email

Kill It With Fire! 5 Best Practices That Need to Go Away

  |  August 27, 2014   |  Comments

These five tactics have long been considered "best practices" in the email marketing world, but technology has changed and it's time for them to die out.

Despite the view from some corners that email is a stagnant channel, things continue to evolve and progress. The result is that some things that were once considered best practices really should be consigned to the trash can of history. Here are five examples of "best practices" that really need to go away.

1. "View on a Mobile Device" Links

There is just no excuse for still having one of these. It made sense back when BlackBerrys ruled and had horrendous rendering of HTML email, but now it's just a relic.

Today your emails should render well on mobile devices. Whether that means using responsive design or simply mobile-first, you need to ensure that your messages look good and work well on smartphones and tablets and not expect your recipients to follow a link.

Once you've done that there is just no place for that "view on a mobile device" link anymore, so ditch it.

2. Forward to a Friend

Sharing is good. Sharing through email is good. But forward-to-a-friend links suck.

For starters, they no longer work the way you'd like. The point of these links was to deliver the message to the friend as though it came from the original recipient. Today, though, this doesn't work. The rise of email authentication and more recently DMARC means that if you spoof someone's email address, it's highly likely the message will not be delivered. To make matters worse, the amount of actual sharing through forward-to-a-friend links was always miniscule.

Do yourself a favor and nix the forward-to-a-friend link. No one uses it, and even if they do, it doesn't work properly.

3. Keep Your Subject Lines Less Than 40 Characters

This best practice has, I hope, been thoroughly debunked. While it's true that longer subject lines may be truncated on some clients, that does not mean they are ineffective. Many case studies have been published showing cases where longer, even very long, subject lines were most effective. Use split testing to evaluate which subject lines are most effective for your audience. It may be a short one, but it may not. Either way, if your standards mandate less than 40 characters, fix your standards.

4. One-Click Unsubscribe

This arose mostly from a specific interpretation of CAN-SPAM, but it never was necessary. Don't make your subscribers jump through hoops and enter usernames and passwords to unsubscribe - that would be a CAN-SPAM violation and just plain annoying - but don't do one-click. Your unsubscribe link should take people to a landing page that lets them know that they're about to unsubscribe, which address will be unsubscribed, and what any consequences of doing so are. Then, have them confirm that this was their intention.

Why do this? Because users often don't pay attention and may accidentally unsubscribe. They may also just be trying to find your profile management page. Also, there are bots and other systems that may follow all the links in an email, thereby unsubscribing people.

5. Don't Use CSS

Yes, CSS in email can be tricky. Outlook's HTML processing is exceptionally poor and webmail systems are extremely capricious about which CSS features they support and which they ignore.

But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. CSS is important and you can create cross-platform email messages that use CSS to great effect. Responsive design requires the use of CSS!

Move past the "noCSS" standard and onto judicious and effective use of CSS.

Best practices are important. They help raise standards and provide a framework through which to simplify complex situations. But things change and evolve and so must best practices. That means knowing when they're past their best-by date and throwing them out.

Until next time,
Derek

ClickZ Live Chicago Learn Digital Marketing Insights From Leading Brands!
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda, or register and attend one of the best ClickZ events yet!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Derek Harding

Derek Harding is the CEO and founder of Innovyx Inc., a member of the Omnicom Group and the first e-mail service provider to be wholly owned by a full-service marketing agency. A British expatriate living in Seattle, WA, Derek is a technologist by background who has been working in online marketing on both sides of the Atlantic for the last 10 years.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

WEBINARS

Jobs