In 2014, DMN asked: “Are the days of batch and blast emails behind us?” They concluded that while batch and blast may always be with us, it was officially disgraced among serious direct marketers.
Over four years later, we’ve actually landed somewhere in the middle.
The Pros and Cons of Batch Emails
Anyone who’s spent even a few months in the email marketing world knows batch and blast emails come with a negative stigma. In the age of personalization, static emails that go to everyone (or nearly everyone) in your email list get labeled as subpar — and for good reason. That said, batch emails do play an important role in every email marketing program.
Quite simply, batch emails are a great way for retailers to communicate with customers between purchases. They’re a great tool for marketers to react to time-sensitive conditions, such as an upcoming holiday, sale or local store opening. Batch and blast emails also offer an opportunity to connect with and educate customers beyond the sale. For instance, you might use batch emails to share company news, educate customers on your brand mission, announce a new product line or even thank customers for their business.
One of the most memorable, thoughtful and effective batch emails I ever received from a retailer was shortly after Hurricane Sandy. The message read: “We know you’re in the New York region and we hope you’re safe.” It didn’t push any products, it was simply a thoughtful message.
The lesson in all this? People sign up for your emails because they want to hear from your brand. It’s up to you to ensure that the messages you send between purchases are thoughtful so that those people continue wanting to receive them.
5 Tips to Improve Your Batch Emails
Batch emails might not be the most exciting or innovative element of your email marketing program, but they are necessary — and as DMN predicted back in 2014, they’ll always be around. So what can you do to improve your batch emails? Start with these five tips.
1) Thoughtfully Segment Every Email
Segmentation might go against the core idea of batch emails, but the truth is, most retailers today do at least some segmentation to their batch sends. Typically, this segmentation comes in the form of email engagement (e.g. send only to active subscribers, defined as those who opened or clicked in the last 90 days), membership program status (e.g. one email with a special offer that goes to members and another email with a link to sign up for membership that goes to non members) and demographics like gender.
But what if you could take these types of segments a step further to make your batch emails more relevant? For instance, instead of just segmenting your audience based on previous email engagement, try also filtering for people with a high likelihood to unsubscribe from emails. You might also segment based on discount affinity, so that your full price buyers and discount buyers get different offers, or based on whether or not people have made a purchase.
The bottom line: In 2019 and beyond, there should be no such thing as a non-targeted batch email.
2) Consider Site Activity When Segmenting Audiences
As you apply more segmentation to your batch emails, it’s important not to rely too heavily on purchase data. While purchase data can prove valuable when segmenting past purchasers, data reveals that more than half of email subscribers are non buyers. And among those who have made a purchase, the overwhelming majority of them have likely made only one purchase. This setup limits the value of segmenting based on purchase history.
Instead of purchase history, try segmenting based on site activity. Site activity can go a long way toward informing you what non buyers (and first-time buyers for whom purchase data is minimal) are interested in. Beyond helping you create more personalized communications for non buyers, site activity can also help you determine which of those customers are most likely to buy based on how their behavior compares to that of past purchasers. And once you have that insight, you can up your game when it comes to batch emails and beyond.
3) Determine Who Should — and Shouldn’t — Receive Batch Emails
In some cases, customers might fit all the right segments for an upcoming batch email, but you should still exclude them because they’ve recently received other emails from your brand that are more valuable.
One of the most important steps you can take to improve your batch emails is to consider what else customers are getting from your brand. For example, have they just made a purchase? Or did they just qualify for a cart abandonment campaign? Shoppers who fall into those buckets are very different from shoppers who have not visited your site in a while. As a result, it pays to suppress customers that qualify for triggered emails from upcoming batch campaigns.
In general, you shouldn’t send a batch email to customers simply because you have an email going out. The question of “should this person get a message today?” is equally as important as the question of “what should that message be?”
4) Keep Data Fresh and Easily Accessible
One of the prime use cases for batch emails is responding to real world market conditions, but doing so requires easy access to up-to-date data. If you decide to send an email featuring suede products because you need to boost suede sales for the holidays, then you need to have easy access to data about who was onsite recently and was interested in suede. Or if a celebrity wears your products and you want to capitalize on that fame, you need quick access to data about which customers have an affinity for that product.
At the end of the day, the retailers who have the strongest batch emails are those who keep information on customer behaviors and preferences fresh and make that data easily accessible at all times. By doing so, they make it easy for their marketing team to build just the right audience for any batch email in a short amount of time. That way, they can ensure relevance in terms of both audience and timing.
5) Focus on Timeliness
While pulling together the right audience quickly is critical for batch emails, it’s not the only thing that has to happen quickly. Because batch emails often cover communications for scenarios that pop up unexpectedly, it’s important to have a process that allows you to pull together an entire email — from the audience to the content to the design to the approvals — as quickly as possible.
There’s nothing worse than having an idea of how you can use email to react to something that just happened in the world only to end up sending that email three days later because the email build got bottlenecked. To have a truly strong batch email program, you need to have clear processes in place that allow you to piece together new emails within hours rather than days.
Improve Your Batch Emails Alongside Your Entire Email Marketing Program
As you make these types of improvements to your batch emails, questions about top line revenue will inevitably surface, because if you send batch emails to smaller audiences, your top line revenue will go down. To be clear, these recommendations aren’t about doing more segmentation to send fewer emails, they’re about sending smarter emails while protecting your top line revenue.
The best way to give your email marketing team the flexibility to experiment with improvements to batch emails is to have as much revenue as possible tied to your automated triggered emails. When that’s the case, you have a safe revenue stream that’s always on and that insulates you from having to worry about dips in batch email performance.
Once you get your triggered emails in order and those automated campaigns produce consistent email revenue, you won’t have to rely on ad hoc batch emails to correct declining email metrics. Instead, you can experiment with opportunities to improve your batch emails and treat the additional revenue they produce as the icing on the cake.
You’ve Got the Strategies, Now Get the Looks
Are you ready to improve your batch emails and beyond? Check out our Bluecore Marketing Lookbook for a sampling of all kinds of emails, including batch emails, behavioral triggers, merchandising triggers and lifecycle outreach, from leading retailers.