This post originally appeared at Email Blasts: Definition, Examples, & Best Practices via ShivarWeb
Ah, the art of email marketing. Chances are you’ve landed here because you’re looking into sending email blasts as a part of your marketing strategy, and you’re wondering how to do it.
Email can be an incredibly effective way to connect with your customers and improve your business… when used correctly.
When used incorrectly, it can be a surefire way to land in spam (AKA where emails go to die).
So how do you use email blasts effectively for your business? What best practices should you follow?
But before we get there, let’s cover a few of the basics.
What is an email blast, anyway?
An email blast is an email that’s send to a list of subscribers.
Think of the promotional email you get from your favorite online boutique, or those newsletters you subscribe to from your favorite experts. Those are all “email blasts” that are sent out to subscribers who have “opted in” (AKA signed up) to receive content from these brands.
Why are email blasts important?
Email is an incredibly effective way to build deeper connections with your audience and build your business. When your audience opts in to receive emails from you, they’re giving you permission to reach out to them consistently. That’s huge.
Email blasts are also a great way to learn about your audience. You can see which topics your subscribers prefer, which products sell best (and when), and even which segments of your audience are most active.
That being said, when email blasts are used incorrectly, they can be pretty damaging to your business. Spamming customers with promotional content every day, not taking users’ content preferences into account, or even sending poorly written emails can get people to hit unsubscribe or even the dreaded “spam” button.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, let’s review a few key email best practices, so you can use email broadcasts effectively to connect with your subscribers and grow your business.
Email Blast Best Practices
Focus on Benefits
When you send an email, you know what you’re offering customers. But your readers don’t have a clue. Even if you write a great subject line, that still doesn’t get to the value of what you have to offer.
Too often, email campaigns revolve around features, without ever communicating the benefit these features have to the customer, which is key in the why. Take a look at the email from Zenfolio:
The 50% off discount is amazing, but what’s the benefit to me aside from saving money? Why should I take advantage of this deal? Is it because I’m a photographer who needs a platform to showcase my photos? Do I have a website already, but Zenfolio gives me more capabilities? Will it help me establish my brand more this year?
Now, take a look at this example from General Assembly:
This General Assembly email starts off by letting me know the benefit right away. A Software Engineering Immersive can help me back sure I’m in demand, always. I can use these skills to differentiate myself in a crowded tech industry — how neat!
Remember that your audience gets a ton of emails. If you want yours to stand out among the hundreds that come in daily, then you’ll need to make sure the content is something your audience actually understands the value of what they’re receiving. And it’s your job to articulate that value.
Think Quality over Quantity
Yes, you should be talking to your subscribers consistently. But that doesn’t mean you need to be sending them daily or even weekly emails.
The key to using email blasts effectively is to think quality over quantity. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to email frequency. What works for a massive retailer like Nordstrom may not work for a local dentist’s office.
It’s up to you to define how frequently you should email your customers. Here’s a few questions to get you started:
How often can you realistically send out quality content? Every week? Every other week? Once a month?
What does previous data tell you? Have your open rates been impacted when you changed frequently? Have you seen an increase in unsubscribes when you email more frequently?
If you’re just starting with sending emails, set a schedule and stick to it. See how your content is performing. Are people opening your emails consistently? Are they clicking through to take the next step? Or are they unsubscribing in droves? Use the data to make a decision about increasing or decreasing frequency.
Write Better Subject Lines
Think of your subject line like the first impression on a date. It’s the conversation opener — the thing that’s going to determine if you move forward or keep on looking.
Subject lines determine whether your audience will open your email or not, so learning how to write effective subject lines is key.
For example, take a look at this subject line from The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival…
Not exactly something that stands out in the sea of emails in my inbox.
On the other hand, look at this example from Neville Medhora:
It’s a simple question, but it gets me curious. Which headline is better? I’m opening that email.
Side note — Neville has a pretty nifty subject line generator. Check it out to learn how to write better subject lines.
Segment Your Audience
Not all of your subscribers are going to want the same thing, which is where segmentation comes in handy. Segmenting your audience simply means dividing them into various lists.
For example, say you’re an online retailer that sells homemade pet products. Not all of your shoppers are looking for the same thing. Some may be interested in your dog collars, others your homemade cat treats, and others your bedazzled leashes.
By segmenting your audience, you can create campaigns that speak specifically to each audience’s wants and needs.
But keep in mind that you don’t just have to segment audience by wants/needs. Check out MailChimp’s post about the effects of different list segmentations to see a variety of options.
Personalize Your Email Blasts
Personalization isn’t just about using a dynamic tag to insert someone’s name. It’s about establishing relevancy to your reader throughout the entire email.
You can do this by reminding your reader why they’re receiving your email. As consumers, we get hundreds of emails a day. Your audience is far more likely to engage with your message if you remind them why they’re receiving it in the first place.
For example, take this email from “Be Yourself,” a collection on Medium. This isn’t the first email in the series, but the second.
Check out the second P.P.S.
You can also personalize your email by being purposeful about point-of-view. By using second person (i.e. we, you), you put the focus on the the reader and show that you have an established relationship.
*Hint: use more you’s than we’s, like this example from American Express.
Additional Email Blast Inspiration
Looking for extra email blast inspiration? Here are a few more that we love:
This email blast makes great use of multiple calls to action (without it being overwhelming). Shoppers can pick their category directly from the email, and it also gives Huckberry great data to use in future segmentation.
This push for their referral program is creative and catchy. Notice their copywriting style — it’s fun without sacrificing clarity.
Industrious does a great job of speaking to the benefits of signing up for their office space instead of just focusing on the features. This snippet was taken from an email blast about saving $500 when you sign with their office space, and added great context into why you’d sign up for Industrious to begin with.
This is a great all around email example from Adobe, announcing their new Creative Cloud update. From the straightforward subject line to their short copy and clear call to action, it’s simple, effective, and gets me on board quickly!
Conclusion & Next Steps
Email blasts can be a great way to increase engagement with your clients, build trust, and get more sales. But only if you keep customer experience in mind.
Remember that your audience has given you permission to be in their inbox, and it’s permission they can take away if you don’t provide value, keep frequency in mind, and create an overall enjoyable experience.
Remember to look at your data to make informed decisions about what to change in your email campaigns. Check out open rates for feedback on subject lines, click through rates for feedback on your content and copy, and unsubscribes as a general indicator of whether you’re emailing too much / giving content people don’t want.
Test, improve, and test again. And always keep YOUR email habits in mind. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want done in your own inbox.