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It's Time to Move Away From Email Blasts

Avoiding the email blast mentality

Email is one of the most consistently effective tools in any brand’s digital marketing arsenal - if it’s used correctly.

As studies have shown, email is popular among businesses and their audiences alike. As Hubspot has noted, for instance, 73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. 99 percent of email users check their inboxes every day, and more than 50 percent of people say that they check their personal email account more than 10 times per day.

At the same time, email is a powerful solution for brands, with a majority of marketers in one study (more than 59 percent) saying that email accounts for most of their digital content ROI, while also positively enforcing customer retention.   

So, that’s some of the good news about email marketing, including digital newsletters. Now here comes the slightly tougher pill to swallow: In many cases, if you’re not seeing the results you’d like from email marketing, the source of the problem could be your approach to reaching your audience’s inboxes.

In particular? If the terms “email blast” or “eblast” are a big part of your digital marketing vocabulary in 2019, well... it’s time to change that.

Let’s dive in and explore why it’s time to move past the email “blast” mentality, and start thinking in terms of thorough and targeted email campaigns - so that your audience, and your brand, can really get the most out of your email marketing efforts.

What is an email blast?

An email blast might come in many forms. You might have many different versions of unwanted email blasts languishing in your inbox right now. Often, you might think of email blasts coming from a business that sends you an email every few hours, to the point where you’d never be able to keep up with the deluge. Or, it could be an email that comes out of the blue from a company every three or five months, which jumps to the top of your inbox but doesn’t actually give you, the reader, any relevant updates or value.

To keep it simple, you can think of an email blast as any sort of general email message, quickly sent out in bulk to an entire list of potential recipients at once. If it helps, it may be easier to think about email blasts in terms of what they are not - they are not targeted, not personalized, not consistent, not wanted, and, above all else, not really valuable.

You may use a few different terms to refer to email blasts, including “eblasts,” “mass emails,” or “bulk emails.” But to your audience - and your prospective customers - an email blast is really mostly synonymous with one term: Spam.  

Why don’t email blasts really work?

Email blasting is a mentality, just as much as it is a practice - and, in either case, it’s an unproductive way to go about trying to reach your audience.

Really, it all starts with the term “blast.” It sounds pushy, aggressive, and unwanted. It conjures up thoughts of messaging and materials that are quick, cheap, and disposable. In short, it reeks of spam. Why would you want your brand - and your reputation - to become associated with any of those ideas in the minds of your consumer pool?

More to the point, the email blast mentality isn’t productive because it ignores the sophistication of modern email marketing tools - and the savvy of modern consumers. When you focus your efforts on “blasting” clients every time you have an update (or, even more commonly, every time you remember that you haven’t sent an email in a while), you’re ignoring the potential for more effective ways of communicating.

With a typical email blast, there is:

  • No segmentation or audience targeting. In the past, email marketing had to rely on more of a “spray-and-pray” approach to reaching audiences. Today, you can segment up your audience and reach them in sophisticated ways, including using different delivery times, or targeting audiences based on interests, demographic information, location, or one of countless other factors.
  • No personalization. Your email list may be made of a past client who is interested in staying up to date on your company; an old partner who continues to refer business to you; and a fresh lead who knows almost nothing about your organization beyond what you do. These three people do not need the same email hitting them at the same time! Personalization can take the form of targeting specific mail content to specific audiences, or even going a step further, such as using a specific name in a greeting, or alternating subject lines based on user preferences.
  • No incentive to open. The more your audience feels like they’re being pestered with unwanted emails, pushy sales pitches, or messages that offer little to no value, the more they’ll become annoyed and frustrated every time they see your business in their inbox - if they even continue to see these blasts (more on that in a moment). In many cases, eblasts violate the core “golden rule” of all email marketing - don’t send a message you wouldn’t want to receive in your own inbox!
  • Negative impact on deliverability. As with many different digital marketing mechanisms, there is something of a cycle to email marketing. And if your techniques get you caught on the negative side of that cycle, it’s just going to keep dragging you down. For instance? The more your email blasts start to look like spam, the more they’ll be treated like spam, by audiences and email providers. If users flag your messages as spam - or even ignore or refuse to engage with your content in significant rates - then many email carriers will stop delivering your messages altogether, or stop prioritizing them in clients’ inboxes. The “cycle,” by and large, goes like this: Emails fail to create value ---> lower engagements ---> lower performance for future emails ---> higher association with spam ---> even lower engagement rates.

What email marketing tactics work instead?

Now, with all that in mind, we’re not saying there’s never going to be cause to email all of your followers at once - but when you do, it’s still important to remember that there are certain techniques and methods that will help increase your open rate, improve clickthrough, and generally, ensure that your email marketing helps you accomplish something meaningful.

Broadly speaking, a great way to start is to reframe your thinking. Instead of thinking of email in terms of “blasts,” think bigger picture - think campaigns.

Email isn’t just about hammering away at your audience, but about thinking strategically. In today’s digital landscape, truly effective email marketing factors in who your audience is, what content they want to consume, when they’re most easily reachable, where they spend their (virtual) time, and how you want them to engage with your brand.

Looking for a few ideas to consider as you weigh putting those big ideas into practice? For a more effective approach to marketing emails, ask yourself these questions:

“Am I creating high quality content?”

One of the most important building blocks for all digital marketing is high quality content. If your emails aren’t accessible, engaging, informative, visually appealing, and easy to consume, then audiences won’t be interested in what you’re sending their way. While different emails will require different types of content, a successful email message is visually distinctive, unique to your brand, full of compelling information, and easy to read on desktop and mobile devices. Even more simply, ask: Does this content create value? Would you want to receive it?

“Am I messaging my audience with intention?”

The biggest starting point with email marketing must be the why. You can’t just send brand emails because you think it’s something you should be doing. Instead, it’s important to have clear goals and intentions in mind - because why you’re sending an email dictates how the email looks, when you send it, and who you send it to.

Along with this point, ask yourself what the right types of emails - and, more broadly, email strategies - will help you attain your goals. Want to lure a lead from first contact to conversion? This may require a slow “drip” campaign, designed to provide different information at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Want to retain your existing audience over time? You may want to focus on balancing “give” and “take” messages, alternating between offering up your audience information or deals and making your personal “sales” pitch. Want to get more online reviews or testimonials? Set up an automated workflow to reach your audience immediately after doing business.

“Am I targeting the right audience?”

As we mentioned earlier, there are numerous ways to help ensure that you’re getting the right email in front of the right person, at the right time, including segmenting your audience and targeting them with emails, based on timing, demographics, behavior, and so on. At the same time, remember the incredible power of personalization. Even basic levels of personalization that can be automated, such as adding a recipient’s name to a subject line, can make an enormous difference on your engagement metrics.

“Am I being consistent?”

In the world of content marketing, consistency is key. On the one hand, we mean this in terms of keeping the look and feel of your emails consistent. Are they instantly recognizable as yours? Do they have a signature aesthetic or functionality that sets your brand apart? On the other side of things, keep in mind that consistency in terms of timing can make a big impact - particularly if you are sending out a “mass” mailer, such as your bi-weekly digital newsletter. It helps when your audience knows when to expect your message, as opposed to getting sporadic and random updates, which can seem unappealing.

“Am I making it efficient to opt in, and simple to opt out?”

Are you making the most of your sign-ups - and ensuring that readers who don’t want your emails can unsubscribe easily? It helps to have an effective opt-in system, to ensure that viewers really want to be receiving your emails. And when people don’t want your messages, it’s key to make it as easy as possible to unsubscribe. For one thing, this is a legal compliance issue. But just as importantly? Though it may seem a bit counterintuitive, remember that a more engaged audience is ultimately often more useful than a larger but totally uninterested audience. Your deliverability will improve if you’re reaching an audience that actually opens your emails, instead of ignoring them.

Let Geek Chicago help you take your email marketing efforts into the future

Ready to put the power of email marketing to work for your business? With email use on the rise, there’s never been a better time to start creating and sharing content with your existing and future customers. And putting a comprehensive email marketing campaign in place for your business is easier than you may think, especially with the Geek team by your side! Our team of designers, copywriters, and digital marketing analysts is here to make sure you’re able to put your best foot forward.

Want to talk strategy? Drop us a line today!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).