Email Marketing – Separating Myth From Fact

Know your audience, write and deliver meaningful, useful content specifically for them, and be willing to experiment with your messaging.

HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and other reputable sources suggest that there is a set list of best practices to be used in email marketing in order to drive engagement of your audience. The key to successful email marketing is first, knowing your audience, and second, tailoring best practices to work specifically for you.

Below are three “common knowledge” best practices that many people use when marketing to developers using email. We tell you if our research has found them to be fact, or myth when delivering daily, weekly, and monthly emails to a large audience of developers (

Email Marketing - Myth or Fact?

Users prefer emails that are mainly image based: MYTH.

Not only are image-based emails less likely to resonate well with developers, Constant Contact reported in February of this year that these messages are likely to get caught in spam filters. In the winter of 2017, Litmus states that many email clients have trouble correctly displaying many formats of images, making them blurry and hard to read for your users (lowering the quality of your user’s experience).

At DZone we find that our best performing emails (that drive the most conversions) have very little imagery and a heavy focus on content. Email has the potential to be a very effective delivery vehicle for useful, relevant content to your userbase. The best way to ensure relevancy is through targeted messages to specific segments, leading us to…

Segmentation results in higher open rates and click-through rates: CONFIRMED.

MailChimp says “segmentation of your email-marketing lists helps you get better open and click rates.” While this seems like something most people should know, it’s not something we all do because it requires greater effort than just mass-emailing your entire list with your newest offering. Follow the above link for a great look at results in their survey focused on segmentation, the high-level results are that you’ll get over 14% better open rates, 100% more clicks (over non-segmented lists), and nearly 10% less unsubscribe requests.

When we launch guides or Refcardz, we segment our email list based on past user behavior such as zones they frequently visit, past downloads, and other relevant activity. We then tailor our messaging (subject line and copy) to target these specific audiences.

We A/B test and see an average of about 55% higher open rate simply by using segmentation and about a 35% higher than average click-through rate. Pair segmentation with targeted messaging, and you’ll see a rise in your email performance too.

The shorter the subject line, the more effective your email will be: MYTH.

Nobody wants a novel in their subject line, but short and sweet doesn’t do the trick when it doesn’t show your user the value of opening the email. We went back in our database and analyzed over 75 weeks’ worth of weekly emails and found that character count is one of the least important factors in open rate. The most important factor was keywords and delivery of subject matter that is highly relevant to your users.

No matter the length of your subject line, you need to make sure that you’re using the vernacular that your audience understands and resonates with them. The best way to know what works is to look back and see what worked in the past for you, then start experimenting.

Be scientific about it and only change one variable at a time and set a hypothesis before you execute your experiment. For example, “if we add one more action word to our subject line, then we will receive a 5% rise in opens.” Once you set your experiment up, execute, analyze, and make changes based on the results.

The key takeaways here are: Know your audience, write and deliver meaningful and useful content specifically for them, and be willing to experiment with your messaging. What email best practices resonate with your developer audience?