3 Outdated Email Marketing Practices (And What to Do Instead)

Email marketing is almost as old as the internet but has evolved significantly over the years. However, some marketers and small businesses insist on applying strategies that used to be effective back in the 1990s when email as a marketing tool gained traction, but now are not only ineffective but harmful. Update your email marketing game by ditching these old, outdated practices.

3 Old Email Practices to Ditch in 2023

Outdated Practice #1 – Batch and Blast Emails

In the past, marketers sent the same email to their entire subscriber list, often called “batch-and-blast.” However, this tactic has lost relevance because users started to prefer receiving commercial emails that align with their interests and needs. This lack of personalization can hurt your business in many ways:

  • Lower open rates and engagement: People tend to reject commercial non-personalized emails the moment they read the subject line; 
  • Higher unsubscribe rates;
  • Potential loss of revenue: according to ActiveTrail, 52% of customers receiving non-personalized emails will want to buy from another business. On the other hand, personalized email marketing can deliver 6x higher transactional rates and an average of 122% ROI;
  • Deliverability damage: sending the same email to a large number of people at the same time can trigger the spam filters of email service providers like Gmail, sending your next emails straight to the spam folder;
  • Waste of time and resources: unfortunately, the effort you put into crafting these emails will most likely go to waste due to their poor performance.

Updated Practice – Segmented and Personalized Emails

Today, segmenting your audience and sending targeted, personalized emails based on their preferences and behaviour yields better results. We mentioned above that personalized email marketing yields higher ROI, but the numbers showcase many more benefits:

  • 50% higher CTR than non-targeted emails;
  • 82% more opens. (Just by adding the user’s name in the subject line, it can go up to 35%)
  • 80% of consumers are more prone to buy from businesses that offer them a personalized experience.

Personalization may seem daunting at first sight, but small businesses can start by setting up a welcome email for their new subscribers. Welcome emails have an average open rate of 98.39%, encourage engagement, boost revenue by 30% if you include offers in the email and support brand awareness and loyalty.

Your welcome email’s content will depend on your business niche, but here’s an overview of what you should include:

  • Set expectations: tell your new subscribers your email frequency and what they will receive (blog posts, downloadable resources, exclusive offers.) 
  • Highlight the benefits of subscribing: if you know your audience, you have a good idea of what they’re looking for from a business like yours. Mention in your welcome emails some of the pain points you’ll address in your emails’ content.
  • Offer value right away: start delivering what you promise and share your first set of relevant content to help your new subscribers know more about you and your company.

Outdated Practice #2 – Buying Email Lists

Like batch and blasts, sending commercial emails to purchased lists does more harm than good. If you’ve been tempted to buy an email list, here’s why it should be a waste of money:

  • Email marketing platforms don’t like them: Reputable platforms have strict policies against sending emails to purchased lists. If you attempt to use a purchased list with your email marketing platform, you risk being banned or suspended from using their services.
  • Damaged brand reputation: Sending unsolicited emails can damage your brand’s reputation and credibility. Recipients might view your business as unprofessional, unethical and just annoying.
  • Your business will be marked as spammy: When you send unsolicited emails to people who have not given permission to contact them, they’ll most likely tag your emails as spam. A high spam complaint rate can harm your email deliverability, making reaching even your legitimate subscribers’ inboxes more difficult.
  • Low conversion rates: Even if you manage to deliver your emails to the recipient’s inboxes, they don’t know you. The lack of interest and relevance will lead to meager conversion rates. Purchased lists don’t provide the targeting needed to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.
  • It’s illegal: you wouldn’t go to jail (probably) but depending on the jurisdiction, sending unsolicited commercial emails may violate privacy and anti-spam laws such as Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), the CAN-SPAM Act in the US or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Breaking these laws can lead to fines or other legal consequences.

Remember that high-quality emails are not for sale; even if they are, they won’t be cheap. Most of the time, the emails on those lists have already been tested and proven unresponsive. 

Updated Practice – Opt-In Lists

A list of people who willingly gave you your email address is the best way to do email marketing. Although building your email list this way can be slow, the long-term benefits for your business are worth it. Here are some ways to build your email marketing list the opt-in way:

  • Gate content: if you have a blog, you can select some of the posts to put behind an “email wall” that will grant access to the user once they provide their email address.
  • Lead magnets: similar to gate content, creating downloadable assets your target audience will find helpful is an excellent way to give people a taste of what you can offer as a company in exchange for their emails.
  • Promote: use your marketing channels to promote your gated assets and the benefits of joining your list: PPC, social media, and your website via popups or embedded forms are ideal for spreading the word.

Outdated Practice #3 – Plain Emails

We’re not saying you should get rid of text emails entirely because, in many cases, your content won’t allow or need interactive elements. Still, you should avoid plain, text-only emails when possible. 

Text-only emails still have their place in marketing, as they evoke a similar feeling to the emails we receive from friends and family, and you can use them when you want to communicate with your audience more personally. Here’s how you can give these emails a twist:

  • Focus on readability: structure your email content in shorter paragraphs, using headings and subheadings, a good font size, and putting the phrases you want to emphasize in bold and italics.
  • Use emojis: people love emojis because they’re fun and expressive and help keep your audience engaged in reading your email. You can add emojis in the subject line to make your emails stand out and throughout the content to give it a human touch.

Overall, marketing emails should stimulate user engagement and keep their attention throughout your content. This can be done by including some elements we’ll mention next.

Updated Practice – Interactive Emails

The amount of interactive content you could include in your emails will depend heavily on your goals. Try to use any of these elements whenever it makes sense:

  • Video: adding relevant videos to marketing emails can increase interaction by 300%.
  • Gifs: with a similar effect as emojis, gifs can keep your audience interested in your content.
  • Image Carousels: if you are an e-Commerce business and want to showcase your newest arrivals, add a set of images in a carousel.

Source: reallygoodemails.com

  • Polls: ask your audience what they want to see from you, sending them a poll in your next email. Polls are a great way to learn more about your subscribers and increase your engagement rate.

Leverage Your Updated Email Marketing 

How we do email marketing has changed since its inception, but one thing remains the same: it works.

By keeping your email marketing strategy up-to-date, you’ll ensure that your efforts translate into a meaningful connection with your prospects and customers, leading to the revenue you look for.