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February 29, 2012

Should You Send Email Newsletters or Email Blasts?

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Well – you can ask 100 marketers and you’ll get a different response.

What do you call it?

A. Email Newsletter implies that you are sending, well, a newsletter – something that is informational vs. promotional.

B. Email Broadcast is an acceptable term since it implies that you are sending the same message to multiple recipients simultaneously.

C. Email Campaign is used to describe a set, or series, of emails and it’s a nice catch-all for various types of email messages (e.g., promotional, transactional, informational).

D. Email Blast (aka eblast) has a negative connotation and implies that it is a one-off and not part of a series of emails intended to engage recipients.

Some marketers will answer A or D, depending what the email is about. Others will say it depends on the content and frequency of the email. There are those who will say it doesn’t matter, so long as you’re sending relevant useful information. There are numerous marketing professionals that will say the term “blast” displays ignorance on the part of the sender.

At Net Atlantic, we use the term “Email Campaign,” and in this article, I’ll discuss why terminology matters.

Why Terminology Matters

With email marketing, batch and blast is a thing of the past. A “blast” mentality shrieks of:

* No segmentation
* No relevancy
* No testing
* No optimization
* No sensitivity to the recipients

Calling it a “newsletter” can be misleading if it’s not in a newsletter format. Whatever you call it, it’s a marketing tool that should be used correctly. No single email will be relevant to everyone on your list. You want to make your “blast” emails seem like you sat down and typed out a personal note to each of your subscribers. Carefully crafted relevant messages will not only help you build stronger connections with your subscribers, but will increase conversions and drive revenue.

Today’s organizations must gain a better understanding of their target audience. Those who ‘spray and pray’ with untargeted, mass, generic “email blasts” will see diminishing returns and a negative impact on opens, clicks, conversions and unsubscribes. Terms like “blast” make you sound like a spammer (particularly to ISPs). Using the term “email blast” to describe campaigns suggests you have an attitude towards email marketing that isn’t subscriber focused.

If you’re blasting, you’re not targeting. Using a “blast” approach makes you less likely to think about segmenting subscribers and delivering a tightly focused, highly relevant message to them. It devalues the relationship-building value of email marketing.

Segmentation is the process of dividing a market segment into distinct manageable groups of consumers that are likely to behave in a similar manner or share a similar set of needs or characteristics, and selecting one or more groups to target with a distinct marketing message. Audiences are influenced in different ways by different types of content. If you sell numerous products, or are targeting more than one group, then it makes sense to divide your audience into small segments so that you can market specific products to specific groups, or craft your message to suit the characteristics of the different segments. Although segmenting your list takes more time and effort, it doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Even the most basic segmenting will result in significantly higher conversion rates than one-off email blasts alone.

A company that treats all customers and prospects the same speaks to everybody, and thus nobody. Rather than using a “one size fits all” approach, identify the most likely targets for a product or service. Use email to get to know customers better, and then serve them more relevant content. Instead of viewing customers as single-minded groups, all with the same wants and needs, consider how wants and needs might differ among them, and how those differences might influence their purchasing patterns and behaviors.

A targeted campaign implies that you have segmented your lists, personalized your content, and are sending messages to opt-in subscribers who have expressed interest in your product or service. The goal is to extract out of your database the “right people” (i.e., the ones that will likely most appreciate receiving your email, and are most likely to respond to it) and send the “right message.” Then use dynamic content to create personalized “email campaigns” that evolve to match prospects and customers’ needs and increase the relevance and impact of your emails.

Before sending an email to your segment, ask yourself “Are the recipients really going to care about the content of this email?” Customers have expectations that you will treat them uniquely, so adopt a different way of thinking about your campaigns and start delivering highly targeted, hyper-relevant messages that are unique to each of them.


Marianne Cellucci is a Sr. Online Marketing Analyst for Net Atlantic. In addition to bringing a common sense approach to email marketing strategies, she has extensive knowledge of advanced techniques including segmentation and the use of lifecycle emails. She has written or co-written white papers on email marketing best practices and effective strategies for deliverability.

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