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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, email blasts are still a thing.
Whether you’re launching a new product, promoting a brand new book, or announcing a massive sales campaign – 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.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is an email blast?
- Key differences: email blasts vs email campaigns
- How to create an email blast
- How to send an email blast
- What is the best time to send an email blast?
- Email blast examples
What is an email blast?
The term email blast refers to the act of sending a single email message to a large number of recipients (usually the whole email list) at the same time. Email blasts are also sometimes called mass emails, mass broadcasts, bulk emails, or e-blasts.
Many marketers (myself included), upon hearing the term email blast, still imagine something similar to the following message:
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, in one of our studies, we found 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. You’ll find more in our email marketing best practices article. And if you’d like to see some inspiring email marketing examples, you’ll want to look at these 30+ great email marketing campaigns.
Now that you know what they are let’s quickly talk about how you can create an email blast.
1. How to create an email blast
If you’re going to send a simple plain-text email, you might as well type it out in any text editor and paste it into your email marketing tool before hitting the send button.
If, instead, you want to send an email blast that will look more appealing to your audience, you can design it (and sometimes also send it) using one of the following:
- Web development tools (e.g. Dreamweaver)
- Standalone email builders (e.g. Litmus)
- Email builders that are part of your email marketing software (e.g. GetResponse)
Here’s a brief breakdown of each of these types of tools.
|Web development tool||Pros:|
– You can use it for multiple projects & creating assets for various marketing channels
– Tend to be complicated and too beefed up for email creation
|Standalone email builder||Pros:|
– Designed specifically for email creation, so it’ll only offer features that let you design emails that look good across all major mailboxes and apps
– Often offer very advanced features
– Can turn out to be expensive if you need to use another tool to test and send your emails
– The learning curve can be steep if you’re a beginner
|Email builder that’s part of your email blast service||Pros:|
– Designed specifically for email creation, so it’ll only offer features that let you design emails that look good across all major mailboxes and apps
– The cost is already included in your subscription, so you don’t need to worry if you want to scale your campaigns
– The learning curve is relatively small because you’re already familiar with the tool’s dashboard, and it’s perfectly synced with all your campaigns
– Tend to offer fewer features than standalone email builders
– Some platforms offer only a limited number or slightly outdated email blast templates
Speaking of email builders…
Be sure to check out the GetResponse Email Creator. It’s user-friendly, offers multiple advanced features, and comes with tons of stunning prebuilt email templates. And did we mention it’s included in our free-forever plan?
Here’s a quick video preview of what the email creator looks like. Go ahead and sign up for your free account to test it out fully.
If you’d like to learn more about the tool, read this post where we first introduced the new email creator.
2. How to send an email blast (in 5 steps)
First off – how do you send an email blast so that it generates high engagement and a positive ROI?
The five key elements to this include choosing the right audience, the right email blast service, setting the goal for your email blast, creating your message, and tracking your email blast’s performance.
Here’s what we mean:
Step 1. Choose your target 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 🙂
Sending an email blast to people who aren’t familiar with your brand and don’t expect to hear from you can get you in trouble – your messages may end up in the spam folder or even be rejected altogether.
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 or using paid solutions like Facebook Lead Ads
- Having something to offer in exchange for the email address (this is often called a lead magnet)
- 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.
- How to build an email list from scratch
- 25 lead magnet ideas and examples
- 9 best ways to drive traffic to your landing pages (guide)
Alternatively, you can watch this video where Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media explains how you can build an email list using content marketing.
Step. 2 Choose your email blast service
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:
- Designing stunning email templates that look great across all devices
- Helping you test and check your email templates for common errors before hitting send
- Giving you additional features such as email content and subject line A/B testing to make sure your campaigns perform well
- Providing you with real-time data reports to see how your email campaign is performing
- Making sure your emails reach your recipients thanks to stellar deliverability
Behind the curtains, your email blast software also 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 an email blast service or you’re considering switching, GetResponse can help you run your email campaigns effectively.
Alternatively, if you’d like to see what’s out there on the market, we’ve reviewed the most popular email in our email newsletter software guide.
Step 3. Set the goal for your email blast
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?
If you’re unsure as to what’s possible to measure in your email blast campaigns, consider reading this guide to email marketing metrics, featuring the 17 key KPIs email marketing professionals typically use.
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.
Ideally, you’ll have one primary call to action. This way, it won’t compete for attention with other buttons or text links. But 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.
Step 4. Create your email blast
It’s not enough to write up some copy and add images to create a successful email blast. Every element plays a part, and there are multiple tactics you can use to make them work effectively.
Let’s consider what goes into your email:
- Sender name and address
- Subject line
- Preheader or snippet text
- The message content itself
The first three elements affect how likely people will open your message. That is why you’ll want to pay special attention to how you identify in peoples’ inboxes and how convincing your pitch is.
The email subject line itself is one of the key elements you can continually test and optimize. Most marketers test their subject lines adjusting and adding elements such as emojis, personalization, number of characters, and names of products/brands people immediately recognize.
Our latest data suggests that using personalization in email subject lines doesn’t always bring positive results. Nevertheless, I’d still suggest that you test this tactic in your own campaigns. When doing so, consider going beyond using the simple “first name” personalization, as it’s often overused by marketers.
What’s also important is that the subject lines also play a big role when it comes to driving conversions. After all, if a contact sees an interesting offer in the subject line, they’re more likely to read the offer and click through to your website.
Now onto the email template itself. You’ll want to make sure that your email not only looks great across all devices (if you want to research this more, read our email design guide), but you’ll also want to make sure it drives sales.
Here’s what you should focus on to make your email blasts engaging:
- Segmenting your audience (e.g. based on engagement)
- Actively managing your email list
- Increasing your email click-through rates with these tactics
- Delivering your email blasts to the right people at the right time with email automation
One example of a company that maintains high subscriber engagement by running A/B tests and personalizing its 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.
For inspiration, check out this article where we’ve listed the best email marketing campaigns we’ve seen on the market.
Step 5. Track your email blast’s performance
As the old saying goes – you can’t improve what you don’t measure. So now, it’s time to track your email blasts and how they’re performing.
In your email marketing tool of choice, you should get access to an email analytics dashboard that’ll look similar to this:
Inside the dashboard, you should be able to see various KPIs such as open rates, click-through rates, bounces, unsubscribes, complaints, your list growth, and more.
In addition, if you’re adding Google Analytics UTMs to your links, you should also see the direct effect of your email blasts in your GA dashboard. There, you’ll see additional information like how long people have stayed on your pages, whether they’ve purchased any products, or triggered any events you’ve previously configured.
Equipped with this data, you can get into the minds of your subscribers. Evaluate what content makes them click. What offers turn casual contacts into paying customers. Or decide what the ideal email schedule is.
At the same time, seeing the negative metrics like bounces and complaints, you can identify potential problems that stop your emails from reaching the inbox and make your efforts futile.
As you can see, this step is critical if you want to make sure that your campaigns are performing well.
3. 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 Email Marketing software, 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 study 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.
And if you want to step your game, consider implementing a strategy using marketing automation and sending messages triggered by your contacts’ behavior.
4. Email blast examples
If you need a little creative nudge, here are seven 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 email blasts 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 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.
6. Magic Spoon
Here’s another inspiring example of an email blast campaign sent out by an ecommerce brand – Magic Spoon.
Here’s what I really like about it:
- It’s vivid and colorful but not overwhelming. The colors contrast each other nicely & everything that you should be seeing (like the call to action button) stands out.
- They’re using a subtle animation to provide social proof & show their audience’s excitement for their products. It also shows that they’re listening to their customers, hence the new product launch.
- Their copy is descriptive and playful, especially around their call to action buttons.
Last but not least, this is a nice single-column layout that’d look great on any device.
And here’s another way you can do an email blast.
So what’s different about this example from Puma? In my opinion, three things:
- The topic of the campaign is very creative. Rather than directly promoting its products, Puma wants you to learn how to customize your shoes so that they’ll match your personality.
- It looks very authentic. Although the photos and images are very sharp, they don’t look like they’ve been rendered in a studio. They show real people.
- The email has only one clear goal and a CTA. Because of that, it’s very clean and visually appealing.
Overall, although this email is made up of mostly images, it looks fresh and definitely like something I would want to click-through and explore.
Email blasts, broadcasts, campaigns – it doesn’t matter
Sending an email blast in 2022 may not sound like the best tactic, but as you saw, many marketers still succeed with it.
As long as your campaigns are purely permission-based and you’re following the email marketing best practices, like segmentation and personalization, the naming is a secondary thing.
We’ve carefully gone through the theory and practice of sending email blasts. We’ve discussed the best practices such as picking the right audience, KPIs, tools like your email blast service, tactics, and measuring.
Now you’re fully equipped and can start sending emails that not only make it to the inbox but also make the subscribers engaged.
All you need is to take the first step.
And if you’re in need of a tool that offers way more than your typical email blast service, GetResponse is just one click away.
You can try it today completely free, without providing your credit card details.
So what do you say?