A bulk email is an email that gets sent out to a large group at once. These often take the form of newsletters, announcements, or promotional emails. With these emails, you might use dynamic content to personalize the greetings, but all subscribers on a list will receive the same email.
You can—and should—send out bulk emails to different customer segments, but bulk emails still see far less personalization than other campaign types.
Sometimes, however, they’re appropriate. Consider this beautiful example of a Black Friday announcement.
Source: Really Good Emails
Sending bulk emails: providers versus servers
Marketers have two options for sending out bulk emails: email service providers and bulk SMTP servers. As a primer, if you aren’t familiar with what an SMTP server is, it’s probably not a good idea to head down that path.
An email service provider (ESP), such as Campaign Monitor, gives you tools and a platform to create and send emails. Good ESPs have the infrastructure to support marketers from email creation through conversion and analysis. They’re excellent for marketers of any background and skill level. And with Campaign Monitor, creating an unforgettable email only takes you minutes, with easy-to-use tools and features.
Conversely, a bulk SMTP server offers fewer features, but puts more control into the hands of an engineer (yes, we say engineer because this is an extremely complicated system). This option is essentially an ESP stripped to its core functions. You must design your own emails, configure a system to send campaigns, and these services offer no support—you’re entirely on your own.
There’s lots of flexibility, as you can send any message you want at any time, free of any restrictions an ESP may impose. The flip side is that you must feel very confident in your ability to manage and configure a server, and if you’re operating outside of those email best practices that ESPs live by, you likely won’t see any results from your huge time investment.
On a related note, you should never use a regular SMTP server (like Gmail) to send out bulk marketing emails. They’re not designed for it, you’ll almost certainly trigger spam alerts, and your ISP (e.g. Gmail) may block your service entirely.
How to measure the effects of bulk email
The best way to measure the effects of your bulk email campaign is through two means:
1. Traditional analytics such as open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates.
Bulk email campaigns have their place. But that place should be dictated by performance. Therefore, use email analytics to see how well they’re performing. ESPs like Campaign Monitor will track this for you automatically. With a private bulk SMTP server, you have to do it yourself through another service such as Google Analytics.
2. Bounce rates.
Watch your bounce rates with bulk email campaigns: high bounce rates can result in poor deliverability, but more importantly poor engagement. Why? Bulk email is more frequently abused by spammers, and very high bounce rates may mean that your emails are getting blocked by ISPs.
If your bounce rate is over two percent, take steps to implement some damage control immediately.
Does it really matter?
Personalized trigger campaigns are twice as effective as non-personalized trigger campaigns.
While bulk email campaigns might be an efficient way to send out a single, important announcement, they have one serious shortcoming: the lack of providing a personal connection with your audience.
We generally don’t recommend bulk emails as the core strategy of your marketing campaign, as doing so can distance your audience and lose out on subscribers and revenue. You’ll also risk your reputation as a marketer and your relationship with ISPs.
The best marketing campaigns take advantage of a variety of features such as personalization, segmentation, and analytics to create relevant and high-converting emails. Click here to read about the latest strategies and tools that modern marketing lets you leverage in the era of high-value content and personalization.