Love ‘em or hate ‘em, email blasts are still a thing.
Whether you’re launching a new product, announcing a massive sales campaign, or promoting your new book – you’re most likely going to start with an email blast.
Better yet, you’d start with an email campaign.
Is there a difference? – you may ask. We’ll talk about this in a moment.
You’ll also learn about the best practices you should follow when sending your email blasts and examples for you to get inspired by.
If you’d rather learn the basics first instead, check out our guide to email marketing.
What is an email blast?
When someone says they’re going to send an email blast, they usually mean that they’ll send an email message to a large number of recipients, all at the same time.
Many marketers (myself included), upon hearing the term email blast, still imagine something similar to the following message:
Side note: This is my reaction to these kinds of emails:
That’s because, at least in the past, email blasts:
- Were sent to as many people as possible, no matter if the sender had the right permissions for these types of campaigns,
- Were mostly used on an ad hoc basis. They were not part of a larger strategy aimed to build a long-term relationship with the audience,
- And it didn’t matter who was on the receiving end, what mattered was the number of clicks the campaign would generate.
Email blasts were very much like spam.
But as language evolves, so has the understanding of the term email blast. These days, many marketers use it interchangeably with the term email campaign.
I, however, still see them as two slightly different things.
And since Google tends to show different results in SERPs for both of these terms, in this post we’re going to treat them as two separate things.
Key differences: email blasts vs email campaigns
So what is the difference between an email blast and an email campaign?
Naturally, as an email marketing software provider, we’re going to be referring only to the situation where the sender has the right to communicate with their recipients (permission-based marketing).
In theory, email blasts are:
- Sent to the entire email list,
- Not targeted or personalized,
- Sent at the same time, no matter where the subscribers are located.
Now, again, in theory, email campaigns may be:
- Sent to a single or multiple segments,
- Personalized to reflect the recipients’ preferences or needs,
- Sent according to the recipients’ time zone or in response to their past behavior.
This is, however, only in theory.
As a matter of fact, our recent studies still suggest that 53% of email marketers send the same message to all their recipients.
In other words, most email marketers still send out email blasts.
So is there any better way to run your email communication?
There certainly is.
Below, we’re going to provide you with several tips on how you can do this.
For more email blast best practices, consider reading our email marketing best practices article.
1. How to send an email blast
First off – how do you send an email blast so that it generates high engagement and a positive ROI?
The three key elements to this include choosing the right audience, the right set of tools, and keeping the goal in mind.
Here’s what we mean:
Choosing the right audience
Rather than buying an email list (or even renting it), you should build one instead.
Organically built email lists have many advantages over databases that you can scrape or buy online. They generate higher returns, help you maintain strong deliverability, and, well, are legal 🙂
You can learn more about this from one of our previous articles, where we compare purchased email lists to the organic ones.
Now, how do you build an email list?
The answer comes down to having three things in place:
- Driving traffic onto the page where the form’s presented
- Something to offer in exchange for the email address
- Testing different list building methods
Since these are all rather broad topics, it’s best that you check out these three posts that focus on them individually.
In addition, you may want to read this post where we explain the process of how you can build an email list using lead funnels, from start to finish.
But, building an email list isn’t all there is to making your email blasts effective. You also need to make sure to keep your database clean and your contacts engaged. Otherwise, your messages won’t generate the results you’re hoping for, or even worse – they may be landing in the spam folder.
Let’s consider what it takes to keep your communication engaging.
Based on the data from the Email Marketing Benchmarks report, we can see that emails that beat the average results in terms of open and click-through rates tend to have one of the following characteristics:
- They’re personalized, i.e., the content is tailored to meet their recipients’ needs.
- They contain visual or engaging content, e.g., videos.
- They’re often automated, which means they reach the email recipients at the optimal time.
While employing these tactics doesn’t guarantee instant success, it can definitely help you increase your email campaign engagement rates – and put you ahead of your competitors, too.
One example of a company that maintains high subscriber engagement by running A/B tests and personalizing their email campaigns is a lead generation agency called Submission Technology.
To learn more, read the full case study where they share the tips and tactics they use to achieve click-through rates that are 121-149% higher than the average results in their industry.
These results aren’t something outside of a typical marketer’s reach.
Let’s take personalization, for instance.
In the example of Submission Technology, they’re segmenting their audience and delivering personalized email campaigns based on their users’ gender.
For an ecommerce brand, this should be a relatively easy tactic to apply.
Similarly, you could segment your audience based on their purchase history or engagement level.
You can actually achieve this pretty easily using the engagement score feature in GetResponse.
The system automatically identifies and scores your contacts’ activity based on their interactions with your emails. The score is represented by the number of bars, 1-5 shown under the contact’s name in the Search Contacts section of your account.
This is what it looks like when you’re looking at one of your contacts lists:
To create a segment using the engagement score, all you have to do is select the right set of conditions, e.g., contact details > engagement score > is equal to > highly engaged.
Once you’ve created your segment, you can present them a more personalized offer or use them to create a Lookalike Audience when creating your Facebook ads.
To learn more about this feature, check out our FAQ page.
And this is only one example of how you can divide your audience into separate groups. Here are more ideas on how you can segment your contacts, based on the type of business you’re in.
Circling back to what I’ve mentioned before about making sure your content’s engaging, here’s an email blast example that follows this practice rather well.
You’ll find more inspiring examples in our roundup post on the best email marketing campaigns.
Choosing the right set of tools
Whether you’ve already built an email list or are about to start one, you’ll need a technological partner to back you up.
Your email blast service or email service provider (ESP) plays an important role when it comes to building and maintaining strong deliverability.
The ESP usually takes care of various processes like bounce and complaint handling, managing the unsubscribe requests, delivering your messages, contacting the ISPs, authenticating your communication, and providing you with analytical reports.
If you aren’t currently using any providers or you’re considering switching, GetResponse can help you run your email campaigns effectively.
Keeping the end goal in mind
In email marketing, as is the case with other marketing channels, it pays off to keep your end goal in mind.
What is that you want your email blast or campaign to achieve?
Click-throughs to your site? Resource downloads? Product orders?
The answer to this question should guide you when designing your messages.
It should dictate what you’re going to include in your subject line, the preheader, the copy, and most importantly – in the call to action.
All of the components of your message should point your audience towards the action you want them to perform.
Ideally, you’ll have one primary call to action. This way, it won’t compete for attention with other buttons or text links.
If this isn’t realistic in your case, make sure to keep it the most prominent one.
You’ll want to test this approach, but usually, it’s best to limit the number of options you present to your audience. By offering too many options, you may be thinking you’re providing them value, but in reality, you’re pushing them into the paralysis by analysis state.
Here’s an example of an email message that offers just one primary call to action button.
2. What is the best time to send an email blast?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to running email marketing campaigns.
In my opinion, generalizing that your entire audience will open your email blast at a certain time or day of the week is not the right approach.
Consumers are all different, and they change their behavioral habits depending on the situation they’re in.
So here are the steps I propose, in this specific order:
- Rather than picking the ideal time for everyone, use an algorithm that’s going to adjust the email sending time for each of your contacts individually. In GetResponse, this feature is called Perfect Timing.
- If you’d rather choose that your email blast reaches your audience at a specific time, go ahead and analyze this report to pick the most optimal hour.
Once you’ve selected the appropriate time slot (10 AM and 2 PM seem to be the most promising), send your email blast using the Time Travel feature.
Similarly to Perfect Timing, it’ll adjust the time of the sendout for you, but this time only to make sure that the message reaches your audience at a specific hour according to their time zone.
3. Email blast examples
If you need a little creative nudge, here are five email blast examples we’ve found interesting.
As you’re about to see, there’s no blueprint you need to follow when designing your email messages.
This is what we’ve been experiencing over the years, and what we’ve seen while gathering submissions for this post on best email marketing campaigns.
Keep in mind that your email design should resonate with your audience.
Not your family, friends, or other marketers – but people seeking to get value from the relationship with your brand.
Let’s take a look.
This is an email blast example from CAT.
Right away you can see that this message wasn’t sent to an individual segment but an entire list instead.
This is a good strategy (from time to time), especially if you don’t know your audience too well and you’re unable to tailor the content to their needs.
What you can do from here is analyze which links your audience clicks on within the message (e.g., clothing category vs. individual shoes) and try to use this insight to craft your next email better.
Alternatively, you can send a discount code to those who haven’t made their first purchase yet.
A good incentive will likely be enough to convert them into first-time buyers. And, it will provide you with additional data you’ll be able to use to personalize your email campaigns.
This is another animated one, this time from Live2Lead.
This email blast invited the email subscribers to join the brand’s upcoming event, a leadership training.
Right from the opening (“Friend”) you know it’s meant for everyone who have subscribed to receive updates from John Maxwell Company.
Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily.
Everyone who has subscribed to their newsletter is likely interested in the topic of leadership.
While this message isn’t personalized, there are a few things that are particularly good about it.
It clearly states the benefits of joining the event and who’ll be running the training. Also, its design is eye-catching. Everything in that message is leading you toward a single call to action button at the bottom.
Now, take a look at this email blast example from GAP.
This message announced their back to school offer to those who’ve opted in and chose the appropriate categories of interest.
Theoretically, it means it was targeted, but from the message itself you cannot say for sure that the content’s been tailored to the recipient’s needs.
Since the offer is appropriate for children of all ages, they’ve sent it to everyone in this specific segment.
Assuming that they don’t know too much about the recipient’s preferences, I’d suggest that they pay attention to the categories they click on or types of products they purchase.
Alternatively, they can simply ask their audience about their characteristics or preferences (e.g., how old their child is) via survey and recommend products based on those answers.
Now, onto our fourth email blast example, sent by TRX.
I’ve had to crop it out, because it was too long to put here, but the main part’s visible.
It’s a president’s day offer that’s most probably been sent to everyone in the brand’s database.
Since it’s a one-time offer related to a particular holiday, there’s no harm in sending that message to everyone.
If they were to send an email blast like this one every two days, the content would have quickly become boring to their audience.
Once again, I’d look at how the subscribers react to this campaign and segment based on their behavior, like what types of products they bought (for indoor or outdoor training) or based on their order value.
Take a look at this last example from Casper.
This is a typical sales promo campaign you’d expect to receive from an ecommerce brand.
It was sent to a large number of recipients and it’s not personalized, which as we’ve discussed before, makes it an email blast.
Putting aside whether the offer is good or not – I’m not actively looking for a mattress or a new set of bed sheets – it’s worth noticing the clever tactic they’ve used in their email design.
As you can see, the header includes a GIF which shows you the different kinds of sheets they’ve got on offer.
Underneath of it are small icons that let you pick the bed sheets color you’re most interested in.
If you saw these icons on a website and clicked one of them, you’d expect to be presented a product variant that matches your choice.
Since this is more difficult to achieve with emails, they’ve linked each icon to a different version of the landing page so that clicking them will take you to the appropriate product on their page.
This is a clever tactic. One they can improve even further if they used interactive emails, but as a quick email blast this works out perfectly.
Email blasts, broadcasts, campaigns – it doesn’t matter
As long as your campaigns are purely permission-based and you’re following the email marketing best practices the naming is a secondary thing.
So, go ahead and start preparing your next email campaign.
And if you need help with that, just check out the guide we’ve prepared below.
How to Plan and Send Your First Email Marketing Campaign
Sending your first email marketing campaign might feel like a challenge. This short action plan will help you prepare and make an impact on your target audience and your business. It's easier than you think! Follow these six steps to run a great email marketing campaign that gets results.