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Email marketing has drastically evolved since brands realized its value in the 1990s. For a long time, bulk emails were your only option. The technology to segment your subscriber list and track behavior didn’t exist yet.

But as technology has progressed to give marketers the capability to send relevant and targeted emails with ease, not all digital marketers evolved with it and many of them still send bulk emails today. Including your competitors.

But as artificial intelligence takes off and you have more data than ever at your fingertips, it’s foolish to send the same email to thousands of people—unless it’s actually relevant to thousands of people. Your email marketing has a great chance to stand out when you stop sending bulk emails and start sending unique, relevant content.

Read on to learn what we mean when we say bulk email and offer more than a few ways you can transition to sending better, more targeted emails.

Bulk email: A definition (and why it’s outdated)

Bulk email, otherwise known as “mass email,” refers to the practice of sending one generic email to your entire subscriber list or a large segment of your subscribers. To be frank, it’s an outdated method that produces little in the way of results.

Even when you want to send similar content to every person on your subscriber list—like offering a hefty 40% off discount—you should still personalize the message so it resonates with specific subscribers. They’re far more likely to use the discount and convert this way.

In most cases, sending bulk emails can actually do more harm than good.

It’s important for marketers to consider their goals when sending any email campaign:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What problem does your audience face that you want to solve?
  • How can this email help your subscribers solve a specific problem?

In most cases, a bulk email won’t knock out all three key factors.

77% of people across all demographics prefer email marketing over other permission-based advertising. This is likely because email campaigns deliver relevant content.

It’s nearly impossible to create relevant content for thousands of people. Instead, you need to narrow that list down.

What’s wrong with bulk email?

If you send bulk emails in 2019, you’re playing a risky game.

Let’s take a look at some of mass email’s major flaws and how you can adjust your tactics to produce the best results for your brands and deliver the best content to your subscribers.

1. Bulk emails increase your risk of getting flagged as spam.

Google has a long list of tips for ensuring your bulk email doesn’t get flagged by their spam filters. You can also take additional steps to send relevant emails and avoid the dreaded spam bin.

There are a few reasons you should do everything in your power to avoid setting off spam filters:

  • You don’t want to damage the reputation of your email service provider.
  • You don’t want to damage the reputation of every sender sharing your IP address.
  • You want subscribers to see your content.

If you’re lucky enough to take every precaution and get your email through spam filters, that still might not be enough.

Subscribers themselves also have the power to flag emails—and senders—as spam. These days, people are likely to mark your email as spam for not removing them from your list quickly enough or for sending too many irrelevant emails.

As more and more companies take advantage of segmentation and personalization, the brands clinging to mass email will look out of place. People expect relevant content from the brands that contact them through bulk email.

Meaning, if your email isn’t 100% relevant, your subscribers might mark it as spam.

What should you do instead?

Make sure you follow every step to make your emails as relevant and interesting as possible. Use customizable templates and high-quality graphics to deliver something beautiful directly to your subscriber’s inbox.

Try to stick with a topic that’s sure to resonate with most people on your list like a simple “40% off until midnight” subject line.

2. Bulk emails aren’t as relevant as segmented emails.

As of 2018, the average email open rate was just over 18%. That’s already much better than Facebook which delivers click-through rates of just 0.5% to 1.5%. Ouch.

While 18% is good, segmenting your subscriber lists can boost that figure even higher. In fact, according to research from Campaign Monitor, segmentation can result in a whopping 760% increase in revenue.

Each one of your subscribers is a unique person. You have plenty of options for segmenting your list based on each subscriber’s location, age, income bracket, interests, gender, behavior, and much more.

While you can’t craft and send a unique email for each person on your subscriber list, utilizing automation and segmentation allows you to be acutely specific while saving you time and energy. Your subscribers will appreciate it.

Bulk email, by definition, does not allow for any type of segmentation.

What should you do instead?

Find an email service provider that allows you to break your subscriber list into different groups or segments. Try to think beyond age, gender, and location to include data that will help you deliver relevant and interesting content to each subscriber. When in doubt, allow your subscribers to self-segment by telling you the kind of content they want to receive through the preference center.

Develop unique email campaigns that are relevant to each segment.

3. Bulk emails leave less room for personalization.

Bulk email may allow you to personalize a subject line—which in itself can boost your open rates—but that’s about as far as you can go.

That means you can’t personalized emails based on your subscriber’s behavior, past purchases, interests, or anything else.

The truth is, people have come to expect personalized emails with products, deals, and information that is hyper-relevant to them.

If your message doesn’t resonate with their needs or peak interests, they aren’t going to open it.

What should you do instead?

Use various data sources to create hyper-relevant email campaigns for either individuals or groups of subscribers. Always personalize your email subject lines and body copy as much as possible. Try to have a one-on-one conversation with your subscribers rather than talking at them.

The email below from Spotify is super personalized based on the subscriber’s listening history.

Spotify email that isn't a bulk email

Source: Really Good Emails

4. Bulk emails don’t allow you to incorporate triggered emails.

If you’ve signed up to any email lists lately (and as an email marketer, we know you have), you’ve probably noticed that you received emails based on triggered events. Welcome emails and thank you messages like these are excellent ways to develop a rapport with your new subscribers.

Welcome emails give you an awesome opportunity to ask your subscribers questions about problems they may have, things they’d like to learn, and what they expect from you (including email frequency).

You can also send specific re-engagement emails to subscribers who haven’t opened your campaigns in a while. This will help you clean up your list and, again, avoid spam filters.

What should you do instead?

Plan automated email campaigns based on triggered events to develop a real relationship with each subscriber. This will allow you to meet your subscribers exactly where they are without forcing you to send individual emails to every single person on your subscriber list.

This email from Journelle was automated to go out for the subscriber’s birthday. Who doesn’t appreciate some birthday love?

Journelle email that isn't a bulk email

Source: Pinterest

5. Bulk emails are more difficult to optimize for different devices and email clients.

People spend the equivalent of an entire day on their smartphones every week. To top it off, they check email during various activities throughout their entire day.

While this is good news for email marketers, it also means you can’t send standard bulk emails to every subscriber because they won’t look right on every device.

Cutting edge email service providers allow you to break up your campaigns based on devices and email clients when you design your message. Most will allow you to test your emails as well, so you can be sure your emails render beautifully.

Next time you get ready to hit send, you can rest easy knowing your email will look just as you intended on every device.

What should you do instead?

Always optimize your email campaigns for mobile devices. Consider that subscribers might open your email twice: once on a mobile device and later on a desktop browser.

This email from Native will look great on any mobile device as well as on mobile. It’ll also be easy for subscribers to click through regardless of where your subscribers open your email:

Native email that isn't a bulk email.

6. Bulk emails won’t teach you how to use your data.

A lot of your competitors sending bulk emails probably aren’t aware of just how much data they have in front of their faces. Google Analytics, brand apps, social media—the list goes on. You’d be foolish not to integrate that data to your advantage.

If you’re just sending bulk email, all that lovely information about your subscribers goes to waste.

Why is data so important? It helps you develop relevant emails that drive revenue and build customer loyalty.

Not only that, but what’s the point in tracking your open rate if you only send bulk emails? You’d have nothing to compare that data to.

By segmenting your list, you can track which groups open which emails, which emails lead to conversions, what kind of content and use this information to continue providing them with useful content.

What should you do instead?

Integrate data from multiple sources to create relevant and useful email campaigns for different segments or individuals.

This email from Chewy incorporates data from multiple sources to deliver super relevant content.

Chew email that isn't a bulk email

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

Bulk email, by definition, refers to sending the same email to a large subscriber list. As a marketer, you want to provide your subscribers with the most relevant and useful content possible. In almost all cases, it’s nearly impossible to send relevant content to thousands of people.

Not only that, but spam filters have evolved to filter out most bulk emails. This means your subscribers may never even see the emails you send (in a best-case scenario).

With so much technology available for segmenting your email list, tracking behavioral patterns, and customizing email campaigns, marketers really have no use for bulk emails.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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