Things People Say that Show They Don’t Understand Email Marketing

March 29, 2021 | 4 minute read
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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Email marketing is a complex channel that’s routinely underappreciated by outsiders—and particularly by executives. That became all the more clear when I recently fired off this tweet:

Things people say that make me think they don’t really understand #emailmarketing:

“Sending an email is easy.”

“Email marketing is cheap.”

“There are no rules.”

“Email hasn’t changed in 20 years.”

#EmailGeeks, what are your verbal red flags?

That tweet uncorked a torrent of pent-up frustrations—and some themes became clear rather quickly. Here are the big ones, along with just some of the tweets from the #EmailGeeks community on Twitter.

Misunderstanding #1: It’s Simple to Send an Email

“Anyone can do email marketing.” (@bscribble)

“Can we just send a quick email to everyone?” (@Phil_Monk)

“Great. Let’s just add that to the bottom of the next email that goes out.” (@KCcommander)

“Here’s the list of 10k emails. Can you send it today?” (@emailsvitlana)

Misunderstanding #2: Executives Think Their Company’s Subscribers Are Just like Them

“I don’t click in my emails, so we should make sure all the content is in the actual email.” (@CaitlinAOByrne)

“I never open these newsletters, so I don’t think email marketing is worth the investment.” (@beschtn)

Misunderstanding #3: How to Code Emails

“It looks better as one big image.” (@VeryBentley)

“How does it matter if the links are in bitly format?” (@TPitkar)

“Emails can’t meet accessibility standards.” (@M_J_Robbins)

“Everything should be a link.” (@M_J_Robbins)

“pLaInTeXt Is BeTtEr ThAn HtML.” (@cossssmin)

Misunderstanding #4: Email Rendering

“What’s wrong with your technology? My emails render weird on this Outlook version from 1903 my CEO uses.” (@PuertoriCanadia)

“It only works in Apple clients, so let’s not do it.” (@theorypunk)

Misunderstanding #5: Email Permissions

“Can’t we just buy a list?” (@michellejourdan)

“If we’re not allowed to buy lists, we can at least borrow them, right?” (@marianasantiago)

“Could we send this mail to our opt-out?” (@CollignonMariel)

“Hello, I’m emailing you an Excel sheet of email addresses I collected at X event 10 months ago. Can you add them to our database?” (@michellejourdan)

“Bob has a list from his last business. They opted in then, so they’re fine to send to. Can you send to all of them, too?” (@_beth_laird_)

“We don’t need an unsubscribe link.” (@JonDoesEmails)

Misunderstanding #6: How Email Deliverability Works

“But I’m CAN-SPAM compliant????” (@KentMcGovern)

“Just send the email to everyone. The bigger the list the better.” (@AMartiniHughes)

“My course doesn’t have enough registrations. Send 10 more emails.” (@AMartiniHughes)

“Mailbox providers should allow my emails to go inbox as we are a Fortune 500 company.” (@TPitkar)

“Can we call Microsoft to ask them why we are in spam?” (@CollignonMariel)

“Call [Insert MailBox Provider here] and tell them we aren’t spammers.” (@frncsbkr)

“Our email is all wanted.” (@DeliveryCounts)

“I know they want my emails because they haven’t unsubscribed.” (@LaurenEmailGeek)

Misunderstanding #7: The Rules of the Email Marketing Channel

“We wanna do some black hat stuff!” (@David__Carpio)

“How do I get my mail out of the Promo tab?” (@LaurenEmailGeek)

Misunderstanding #8: The Success of Email Marketing

“Email marketing is dead.” (@lizwillits)

“Email marketing doesn’t work.” (@kittehluvs)

“Nobody uses email anymore.” (@VeryBentley)

“It doesn’t work for small businesses.” (@sianlenegan)

“I don’t want to send automations. They’ll be creepy for my audience.” (@PuertoriCanadia)

That’s just a small selection of the best replies that came in. I hope you found these cathartic. Many of them made me laugh, while some made me cry a little on the inside. But beyond a good laugh or cry, here are some tips we can glean:

Recognize that You Aren’t Alone

All of the Twitter handles above represent kindred spirits. If you’re on Twitter, follow them and join in the conversation. If you’re not on Twitter, join the #EmailGeek community on LinkedIn and other social networks.

Embrace Your Role as an Email Channel Ambassador

Many people have outdated, warped, or just plain wrong ideas about how email marketing works. Sometimes those people are our coworkers in marketing or in other departments. Too often, they’re executives. At every appropriate opportunity, set the right expectations for how the email channel works, what it takes to do it well, and how it’s changing. Share blog posts, webinars, reports, and case studies that reinforce the kind of email marketing program you want to be a part of.

Advocate for Yourself and Your Work

Take the time to share your successes, focusing on the business metrics your company cares about, like revenue and retention. Then let your bosses know what you need to be even more successful.

Press for the Continued De-Siloing of Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great channel on its own, but it’s even better when integrated and coordinated with social, direct mail, advertising, and other channels. The bonus here is that adopting an omnichannel approach means that more people in your company will be exposed to email marketing and learn how it’s different from other channels. Long-term, that means fewer people at your company saying ridiculous nonsense about email marketing. That’s good for you and the rest of us, too.


Need help with your digital marketing campaigns? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers, partners, and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at

Want to better understand your email marketing risks and opportunities, take advantage of our free Email Marketing Assessment. Our experts will check your deliverability, review your email creative, audit your signup process, do a partial competitive analysis, and more. If interested in this free assessment, reach out to us at

Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.

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