Once upon a time, email marketing was all about email blasts. You’d set up a single message to broadcast to the masses, rinse, and repeat.
Now, this “batch-and-blast” method of bulk-sending promotions willy-nilly to any email address you can get a hold of is obsolete. Not only are there technical capabilities to easily segment and target our messages, we’ve developed a smarter understanding of effective email marketing.
Despite this, the lingo and attitudes of batch-and-blast haunt the way many people still talk and think about email today. Think about it: “blasting” people with email or employing the ol’ “spray and pray” approach uses the language of violence and recklessness. Marketing isn’t a war but a process of persuasion, getting people on your side rather than assaulting them.
2015 prediction: 73 subscribers will be seriously injured in an “email blast” causing marketers everywhere to rethink their strategies.— Colin Nederkoorn (@alphacolin) January 8, 2015
The supposed collateral damage of batch-and-blast actually harms your email marketing performance. It subtracts rather than builds goodwill, it’s counterproductive to your deliverability, and it’s just not a smart way to work.
So what’s the modern, more peaceful, model for how to approach email marketing?
Are you preaching to your email choir?
Let me explain. While the phrase “preaching to the choir” usually suggests a waste of time trying to convince people who are already on your side — when it comes to marketing, most people have the opposite problem. They’re trying to broadcast their message to anyone and everyone — and that’s a waste of time and goodwill.
One of the most counterintuitive laws of persuasion is that the more you try to appeal to everybody, the more you end up connecting with nobody. Aiming for the indiscriminate masses dilutes your message. Writer Chris Guillebeau puts it well:
Too many marketers are like panhandlers. “Hey man, spare some change? Check out this great offer I’ve got … it’s just what you need, you’ll love it, really.”
Segmentation is the not-so-secret key to email marketing success, because it’s all about preaching to your choir. Segmentation is when you group people based on certain shared characteristics in order to customize your message to strike a chord. It’s a way to personalize your communication that’s still scalable.
Using segmentation to communicate with instead of communicate at your audience simply works to improve metrics across the board. Your opens, clicks, and conversions go up while unsubscribe and spam rates go down. Because you’re sending better targeted emails, you also end up sending less email. That means happier subscribers, better deliverability, and increased revenue.
Sending an email to your entire list is one of the scariest things that you can do as a marketer.
The moment you hit send, bad things may happen. Your email gets marked as spam. A valued customer unsubscribes. Or worst of all, total silence — no one opens, clicks, replies, or does anything.
That makes you want to send email even less frequently — maybe once a month — because that feels safe. It’s counterintuitive, but sending email only once a month is actually your problem. “Sending one monthly marketing blast increases the likelihood that your emails aren’t relevant to your users.”
Increasing your sending frequency (while avoiding annoying email blasts) also increases the chances for your emails to hit home with your subscribers.
SumoMe founder and famous email marketer Noah Kagan takes this philosophy to an extreme. He uses an email marketing technique called double opens, which can increase email opens by 30%+ with 1 minute of work. With this technique, he sends at least 70% more email than most email marketers, and that drives massive business results.
Here’s how he does it, and how you can increase any outcome — opens, clicks, signups, sales — by using Noah’s technique with your emails.
The email that doesn’t make it to the inbox is like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it – what’s the point?
One of the eternal quests of email marketers is to stay out of the spam folder. Still, deliverability, while at the heart of all email communication, is often one of those priorities that gets buried by our focus on measurements like list growth and open rates.
Times have also changed for how email clients and internet service providers decide what does and doesn’t get into the inbox. You may remember the First Age of Deliverability, the Wild West, no-rules era of email — or the Second Age, which centered around the “report as spam” button.
As email marketing expert Chad White describes, we are currently in the more nuanced, complex “Third Age of Email Deliverability,” where filtering decisions take into account both individual and collective engagement. That means the same message from a company following all the deliverability best practices can get stuck in the spam folder in one person’s email and waltz into the main inbox for another.
So how do you optimize deliverability and what do you do when you find your labored-over emails plunge into spam purgatory? I chatted with our email and support expert Diana Potter to find out.
Along the way, you’ll learn how Asana:
- gets the most out of the persuasion principle of social proof
- writes utility subject lines
- manages friction in the signup process, removing friction to make it easy to submit an email address and fill out account information but adding friction with an account verification step to improve clarity and quality in the next stage of the funnel
- provides clear direction on what to do next in the first few emails
- follows the “one email, one goal” rule
- takes a product with many features and removes some new user inertia by employing the IKEA effect
- incorporates newsletters into its funnel, adding context, showing value, and keeping fresh in people’s minds — but giving people the control to unsubscribe from specific kinds of emails
- uses email as UX
- iterates and improves its emails
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