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How to run email blast campaigns that actually work

Email blast
Why should you send email blasts?
The difference between email blasts and spam
What makes a good email blast campaign?
How to use personalization to generate more effective email blasts
How to create an email blast campaign that gets results
1Know who you‘re emailing
2Determine your strategy
3Write your email message
4Test and optimize
Final thoughts

Email blast campaigns enable marketers to reach hundreds or even thousands of people in one go.

Unfortunately, some associate the term with irrelevant and unwelcome emails. For many, “blasting“ emails to your list is an outdated and unethical practice, no different to the spray-and-pray method found in spam folders everywhere.

That‘s why sending the exact same email to an entire list, with zero personalization, has little to no place in email marketing today.

With the right approach and an effective email blast service, it‘s entirely possible to send an email blast campaign that‘s relevant, welcome and engaging.

Why should you send email blasts?

Emailing every single one of your customers and subscribers individually is impractical for scaling businesses. As soon as you have more than a handful of people on your email list, regular one-to-one communication becomes impossible.

That said, even though your customers understand that email blasts are sent to large lists, they still appreciate a human touch. In fact, surveys show that 75% of customers are more likely to buy from retailers that: recognize them, offer relevant recommendations and remember their purchase history.

Strategic blast emails that acknowledge the unique customer journey and incorporate the above personalization best practices are a perfect way to reach a large group of customers without sounding robotic.

No matter the scenario, whether it be running a drip email marketing campaign to a targeted list, or sending out a bulk holiday discount and reduced pricing update to your entire email list, email blast marketing campaigns allow you to quickly and easily reach your entire audience.

The difference between email blasts and spam

Unfortunately, there are cybercriminals that hide malware in blast spam emails in an effort to steal valuable information from vulnerable readers. To combat this, email blacklists are in place as a regulation tool in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted or irregular emails from getting delivered.

Most of the time, these email blacklists work as intended. In fact, when Canada introduced their anti-spam legislation (CASL), delivery rates rose over the following three years from 79% to 90%, while open rates increased from 26% to 32%.

This initiative was successful because increased security results in a diminished threat, making space for a competitive digital marketplace to thrive.

That said, the standards for email deliverability are high, so if you aren‘t careful, you could unintentionally end up on an email blacklist yourself. Luckily, this can be easily avoided by following best practices for how to send an email blast (or email broadcast) such as using clear opt-ins, automating your processes, avoiding spam traps and cleansing your email list regularly.

Before you start planning your campaign, familiarize yourself with any applicable legislation for mass emails. For most US businesses, that means the CAN-SPAM Act, which is the legislation that covers bulk email and commercial messages sent to US consumers. In summary, you‘re required to:

  • Not use false/misleading header information
  • Not use deceptive subject lines
  • Identify the message as an ad
  • Tell recipients where you‘re located
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of further emails
  • Honor opt-out requests
  • Monitor what others do on your behalf

If you‘re sending commercial electronic messages to Canadian residents, then CASL will apply. As well as including your business information and opt-out information, you‘ll also need consent (either implied or explicit) from the recipient before sending any messages.

As long as your email blast campaign complies with the relevant legislation, then it shouldn‘t be classified as spam. If you‘re emailing people who have asked to hear from you, your email contains accurate information, you include your details and there‘s a clear method of unsubscribing, you‘ve complied with the vast majority of regulations regarding how to do an email blast effectively.

What makes a good email blast campaign?

If you want to send a truly effective email blast campaign, you need a better standard than just avoiding spam filters. Rather, you should be sending emails that your recipients can‘t wait to open.

They have a purpose

Every single blast email you send should have a clear purpose. Ask yourself: what are you trying to achieve? Maybe you simply want to engage with your list by providing something of value with the aim of eliciting a response. Or, you might have vital information you need to send to your customers, such as a new product update or alert. Perhaps you want to make a few more sales by promoting your upcoming product launch.

Whatever your objective, it should be closely tied to your recipient‘s unique wants and needs. By acknowledging their specific pain points and/or desires, your email blasting efforts will resonate with more of your audience because they‘ll feel like you‘re speaking directly to them.

They fit into your wide-scale email marketing strategy

Your email blast campaigns should be part of a carefully considered long-term strategy and complement the rest of your marketing efforts. For example, you have to think about how a subscriber-wide email blast would appear to your customers that are in the middle of a targeted drip campaign. Would this large-scale blast make sense in the context of the other messages they‘ve received, or would it confuse them? Do your CTAs align, or are you diluting your message?

Make sure you have these answers before you hit send.

They‘re consistent

As part of a well-thought-out campaign, emails should be consistent – both in terms of timing and tone of voice. Random emails without a strategic purpose will only hurt your results. For example, if you decide to send a weekly newsletter, it should go out at the same time every week like clockwork.

Sticking to a routine helps to build anticipation for the next update which will work to increase readership, engagement and loyalty.

They meet the moment

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the entire global community came to a standstill. Companies began to send bulk emails with notes of communal support and updated guidance on how their business would operate in these newfound conditions.

These consistent emails met the moment and elicited a “we‘re all in this together“ vibe. Once the world settled into our new normal, these email blasts shifted in tone from uplifting to practical, such as updating customers on new rules regarding business operations (i.e. outside dining only), updated hours, special offers to help struggling customers and more.

Boots Opticians email blast campaign

In this example from Boots Opticians, the managing director spells out exactly how the lockdown affects customers. The most important information is highlighted, and guidance is given on what customers need to do next (i.e. social distance in the store and pay via contactless payment methods).

How to use personalization to generate more effective email blasts

Despite the term, your emails should never feel like a “blast“ to your recipients. Instead, a personalized message is more likely to be well-received. While email blasts used to be a case of sending the exact same message to every single person on your list, today‘s email marketing software makes it straightforward to tailor your emails so they embody that one-to-one feel.

The easiest way to personalize your emails is to use your customer’s unique details in the message. For example, rather than starting your message with “Dear customer“, use the recipient‘s name. Many email providers make this easy to do via merge tags that allow you to insert dynamic content into your email campaigns.

You can also drop in other recipient details throughout the email where it makes sense. Depending on your business and the type of email you‘re sending, personalized details might include their company name, their industry, their purchase history, their most viewed items (if applicable) and so on. Simply add the appropriate merge tags to your message, then your marketing automation will take care of the rest.

Pro tip: When you‘re using this kind of personalization, it‘s important to double-check your emails before sending them to your list. Referring to your customer by name is great, but sending a message that fails to incorporate the merge tag and accidentally addresses them as “#[FNAME#“ can destroy any connection you had.

If you want to create truly personalized emails, the kind that reach beyond the occasional merge tag, you‘ll need to use a segmentation method. By breaking your list down into meaningful segments, you can target your email blasts more accurately and only send messages to relevant recipients.

Segment your lists by demographics, interests, actions, or whatever aligns most with your business needs.

For example, a B2B SaaS company might segment their lists by industry, company size and job title. For a B2C clothing brand, it would make more sense to segment by gender, past purchases and engagement.

One way to create more targeted lists is to ask new subscribers and customers for more details about themselves in your welcome email. For example, you might ask them to click on a link that best describes themselves or their situation, or invite them to fill in an online survey.

You can also use an email marketing automation tool to segment your list with comprehensive subscriber-based or activity-based filters, such as when your customers signed up or how much they‘ve engaged with your previous emails.

Whichever email blast service method you use to segment your list, aim for quality over quantity. It‘s better to have a handful of clearly designated segments than hundreds of random and inconsequential mini-lists.

It only takes a few carefully chosen segments to enable emails that are directly applicable to your customers. On the other hand, too many segments increase the work you have to do and can lead to confusing, needlessly specific campaigns or accidental overlap.

How to create an email blast campaign that gets results

If you‘re going to send email blasts as part of your email marketing strategy, you‘ll need to set it up correctly to see the benefits. As you start to plan your campaign, don‘t forget the following key steps.

1. Know who you‘re emailing

Your email list should be made up of people who‘ve opted in and knowingly consented to receive marketing emails from you. Remember, this will also help you to avoid ending up on an email blacklist.

While you can buy email lists, it‘s best practice to build your own list from people who‘ve directly engaged with you and signed up, either as a customer or email subscriber. This ensures your list is legally compliant and improves the chances of your email being delivered, rather than being flagged as spam.

Remember, if you‘re emailing European citizens, you have to comply with GDPR. As part of the regulations, you need to be able to explain to anyone who asks where you got their data from. Saying you bought it or harvested it from social media isn‘t good enough.

2. Determine your strategy

Identify the purpose of the email blast, whether that‘s increasing orders, click-throughs, downloads, or engagement. Is an email blast the best way of meeting this purpose, or could you get better results with a different approach? Will this fit in with your existing campaigns, or are you better off excluding recipients who are already in a drip campaign?

Don‘t forget to consider how your email relates to your recipients‘ desired outcomes. Is your email all about you, or will it add value to the reader and help them meet their objectives? By having a clear goal in mind for your campaign, it‘ll be easier to write your message and measure its effectiveness (more on that later).

Pro tip: The best times to send email blasts depend on your industry, campaign goals, your target audience and more. That said, there are some marketing rules of thumb that you can follow to increase your chances of success.

3. Write your email message

As with any email, your email blast message should be well-written and based on best practices. There are six key elements that you‘ll need to consider.

Sender name. Typically, this will be your company name. Alternatively, you can use your personal name (especially if you have a personality-led brand), or your personal name and your company name together. Whichever option you go with should be instantly recognizable by your recipients. You should also avoid using a “noreply“ address as these can make you appear cold and unapproachable.

Subject line. Even though it may only be a few words, you shouldn‘t underestimate the impact of your email subject line. An effective email subject line invokes curiosity without being misleading, offering clear and obvious value to your recipient.

Preheader. Another small detail that‘s commonly overlooked, your email preview text can determine whether or not someone opens your message. Rather than just showing the first line of your email, you can use your preheader as an enticing preview of your message or a compelling call to action.

Message body. The email itself should be clear and to the point. If your subject line or preheader has promised a benefit, it‘s essential that your email fulfills that promise and delivers that value. Keep your email blast focused on the reader, rather than on your company. Thanks to your segmentation work, it becomes a lot easier to picture who you‘re writing to, enabling you to write a relevant message that addresses their current situation.

Call to action (CTA). Your CTA is where you ask the reader to take some kind of action that aligns with the goal of your campaign. If your objective is to increase engagement, your CTA might be for the recipient to reply. If you‘re trying to improve conversions, the CTA might be for them to visit your store. Whatever CTA you go with, make sure it‘s clear, obvious and in line with the rest of your message.

Unsubscribe information. In most cases, it‘s a legal requirement to include a straightforward method for recipients to opt-out of future commercial messages. Just like your CTA, your unsubscribe link should be clear and obvious. While it may be tempting to try and hide the link, giving uninterested recipients an easy way of opting out means they‘re less likely to mark you as spam, improving deliverability.

4. Test and optimize

Once you‘ve sent your email, you should analyze your campaign results to track your metrics and identify any potential areas of improvement. How are recipients reacting to your email blast? Are they opening and responding to it, or are they ignoring your email or even unsubscribing? If so, you may be “blasting“ them in the wrong way and need to try another approach.

For example, if your open rates are low, you could A/B test different subject lines and preheaders in your next email. You could experiment with different CTAs to increase your click-through rate (CTR).

Use your email blast software to test different email designs. Maybe HTML messages with lots of images will be more effective for your e-commerce audience than a text-only message. Test it and see for yourself, then optimize based on the results, rest, and repeat.

Final thoughts

For many people, email blast campaigns are just another term for spam. However, there‘s no reason that your email blasts have to be spammy. In fact, by using personalization and segmentation, they can be highly relevant and effective, making them a useful part of any email marketing strategy.

By following best practices, aligning the emails with your purpose and keeping your readers‘ needs in mind, you can send high-quality email blasts that your recipients can‘t wait to open.

Driving business growth