Email marketing has a dirty little secret: workarounds evolving into best practices.

Best practices are not made into hard and fast rules (or laws for that matter) because they’re really just the most that can be offered because of the technical limitations at a given time.

At some ESPs, segmenting is considered a best practice. While segmenting in email marketing has its place, the more sophisticated solution is to deliver dynamic content that is relevant to each individual based on his or her actions and preferences in real time.

Just like the spare tire that’ll take you forty miles to the nearest gas station, best practices help you ramble over the shortcomings of technology. However, they’re only required as long as those shortcomings exist, or until you can get your full-sized Goodyear.

Considering what I see going on daily on the roads it’s fair to long for cars which drive themselves. Of course, since Detroit so often goes about things in funny ways, we have cars that park themselves. How’s that for priorities? Until cars can make all the right decisions themselves and we are sure the human error factor has been removed, we need rules and best practices to keep us alive out there.

As with email marketing, those laws and best practices separate the good, responsible people from the irresponsible people on the roads. The information super highway is no different than your local turnpike in this regard.

I’m not saying that you should buck your ESP’s best practices: you shouldn’t. But be aware that sometimes, best practices are not for the best, just for the better. They’re put in place as a check for technology that isn’t yet capable of making the kinds of quality decisions people can. At Marigold Engage by Sailthru, we think you’d prefer to let advanced technology do the heavy lifting and aim your effort at building quality long-term relationships.

*Michael Hershfield is VP of Strategic Partnerships and Legal Affairs at Sailthru.