27Sep2012

Best Practices, we can do better

In the email marketing industry you will hear a lot about best practices. Best practices are all over the place, ranging from design, copy, frequency, segmentation, strategy, etc,etc. All elements of email marketing are subject to some kind of best practice. But is it really the best we can do?

A strange name

The term “Best practice” is a bit of a strange name through, it implies that someone would know (beforehand) what is good or even best for your e-mailcampaigns. And that might be true in some cases. Best practices are usually conventional wisdoms that are valued as effective or the right thing to do.

There is a rule for that

After someone though that a best practice was the right thing to do, they are turned into “rules”. Rules are more strict and easier to remember. That is where a big part of the problem lies. Regarding best practice there are only a few rules which email marketers should conform themselves to. And even those rules are better broken if it means a higher response rate for your campaign.

Best practices are good suggestions

While some tactics from ‘best practice book of email’ may work for some campaigns, they will not work for others. Why? Because your list with subscribers, context, email campaign, brand and timing are often completely different. Even if you had the exact same conditions, what worked half a year ago can be less effective now.

Oldies aren’t always goldies

Some of these best practices have been around for a long time now, and while totally not effective anymore, still get listed in the “best practice top ten”. Remember, most of the people writing or presenting these best practice tips, didn’t do any tests themselves. It is much more likely that the took an email marketing book and looked it up or went to google.com and typed in “email + best practice”.

Conclusion: from best practice to best performance

Best practices came from somewhere and somewhere, someone found that they where the best thing to do to boost campaign performance. But there is no guarantee they will work, so don’t take them as strict rules, but take those best practices and use them as suggestions. If you are testing, try them on for size. Run multiple tests and see if they work for you. If they don’t work for you, don’t use them. You can go from best practice to best performance.

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