In my former job, my title included "Director of Best-Practices." It was a description that made sense at the time, since my role was to offer clients best-practice advice on all things email marketing.
However, as time went on, many of my discussions with other industry folks got me thinking. What are best-practices?
A colleague, Loren McDonald, likes to refer to best-practices as "generally accepted best-practices." According to Wikipedia, a best-practice "is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive, or reward that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. when applied to a particular condition or circumstance."
OK, I buy that definition. Another way of saying the same thing is that a best-practice is the generally preferred practice, one that will make your company more money, thus making your boss happy, which in turn will make you happy.
If it were only that easy.
In the past five years, I've been giving email-marketing best-practice advice to prospects, clients, partners, coworkers, and, frankly, anyone who would listen.
One of the most common questions I'm asked starts with, "What is the best-practice for...?" For example, "What is the best-practice for subject-line length?" or "What is the best-practice for day or time to send?" or "What is the best-practice for copy/creative length?" The answer inevitably goes something like this:
"Well, the ideal subject-line length is between [insert range] characters but that really depends on what delivers the highest number of opens/clicks/conversions... for you."