Recently I was quoted in an article regarding the health of “batch and blast” email. Subsequently, that article has been referenced by some folks in the industry. It seems that some in the industry take a pretty pessimistic view on the idea of speaking to your entire audience at the same time, with the same message.
I think a bit of clarity regarding my point of view on the subject would allow any reader a more informed decision regarding batch and blast.
I think the first attempt will be a definition of “batch and blast” or as I have heard it called in the past: “Email Bomb,” “Hitting them with the fire hose,” “Email Saturation,” even “Spray and Pray.”
I have heard the phrase “batch and blast” uttered so many times that any past negative connotation has long been diluted for me. When I think of batch and blast, the first thing I think of is a process, a task. After all, the phrase is made up of two verbs. I think of a filter, a segment, a message, and an audience’s response, or a combination of a few of those things. Batch and blast means to me that a message is manual. It is timed based on a marketers decision, it is not automated, it is not based on the behavior or intent of a customer. Batch = “Pick your audience” and Blast = “Hit the send button.” Is all batch and blast filtered or segmented? No. Should it be? No.
Batch and Blast can also be an adjective in my mind, a description of a type of message content. It means to me, “a message that is intended for all audiences” or “a message that resonates with everyone.” Batch and blast can be something you send that is meant to inform, motivate, prompt, or tug on the heart strings of all of your engaged recipients.
With that in mind, with an understanding of my definition of batch and blast, there shouldn't be an eCommerce marketer anywhere in the world that doesn't see the value of this type of campaign. Purely from a business perspective, thinking about revenue, talking to everyone about the same thing makes sense sometimes. Sometimes you want to get the word out and what you want to say makes sense for everyone. “We moved our store.” “We have a new product that everyone will love.” “We wish all of you the happiest of holidays.” “Please don’t forget that our site wide sale ends today.” Those messages are important. They drive revenue. I continue to see “Site wide sale today” email campaigns generate 50X the ROI compared to “We think you will be interested in these specific products.” Do they both add value? Yes. They are both important parts of a complete email strategy.
I just received an email from a retailer that announced their guidebook for 2013. Who, as a subscriber to their list isn't interested in that? Who wouldn't want to take a peek at the new styles for 2013? Was it filtered at all? How much time did it take to build that message? How long did it take to send it? Please keep in mind, I also received an email from the same brand a few weeks ago announcing an exclusive first look at the spring products for valued customers. That email campaign was segmented to “valued customers.” I still consider that a batch and blast campaign. It was probably manually designed, manually filtered, and manually sent.
Sometimes segmentation for segmentation sake is just a procedural overhead that kills your email ROI. Sometimes the difference in response rate and revenue lift provided by trying to execute a complex differentiated Valentine’s day offer just doesn't make up for the time required to build out all of that complexity. Sometimes a site wide 10% off offer is simply that. I have never been told by a marketer that a site wide sale to their subscribed audience doesn't work. When we don’t have 8 new products to talk about within 8 different categories, neatly mapped to our customer’s interests, we sometimes tell everyone about that single new product we just launched. It works. It isn't gone.
Now, if you want to automatically build email content based on preferences, on site behavior, and intent, let’s talk. If you want to automate targeted campaigns in a timely way that include that same relevant content, I have some solutions for you. If you want to automatically inject unique coupon codes that reflect dynamic offers based on RFM, let’s do it. I will show you how. But if you come to me and say these are the only email campaigns you want to send, I will tell you, strategically, you are leaving 60% of your email revenue potential on the table.
There are a few important things to keep in mind now that you have read my attempt to clarify:
1) You can’t be successful in email if you don’t take a best practices approach to list hygiene. I will show you how to automate that.
2) We can’t be effective in the email channel if we can’t hit the inbox. Deliverability reigns supreme.
3) I only assume that you and your ESP monitor your engagement levels.
4) It is my expectation that your subscriber list and your entire audience has shown some sort of organic engagement with your brand.
5) It is my expectation that you are actively making an effort to re-engage inactive subscribers and cull audience members from your rolls as they completely dis-engage.
6) If you want to grow revenue, increase engagement, and improve deliverability, in addition to some of the batch and blast campaigns you send, you NEED to deploy automated, behavioral, targeted, and dynamic campaigns.