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R.I.P. batch and blast

Thomas Senne
Senior Director of Global Deliverability

After reading this article on why batch and blast email marketing is not dead, I remain perplexed at how the concept of an email “blast” is somehow still hanging on for dear life.  Yes, the “batch and blast” is still around and for people who have to crank these campaigns out, it is how they measure success.

Today I want to talk about the downfalls of this approach to email marketing and how it may very well spell doom for your program and reputation.

First, let’s review a brief history of the blast and how it came to be and the exact moment when it should have been buried in the backyard with a rusty shovel.  In the old days - and we’re talking 8 or 9 years ago - the blast was really the only technique most of us had in which to operate.  The access to data and the ability to segment users and content were not readily available.  The metrics that we used to measure success and failure were just about all volume related and the number of email addresses in our lists.  Sending massive amounts of volume would create sales, site visits, and clicks.

The unfortunate side effect of this was a mentality created up the management food chain that email marketing was easy.  Executives saw this as an affordable channel that seemed to have unlimited scalability.  If you sent out 100 email messages today and generated $10 in revenue, it stood to reason that if you sent 200 messages out tomorrow you would generate $20. The “batch and blast” was off and running.

The moment that batch and blast died was directly related to deliverability.  The innovation that killed the blast was the invention of sender reputation.  ISPs became overwhelmed by this massive volume and their customers became frustrated with the amount of “spam” in their inboxes.  Something had to be done to limit the amount of email that people were receiving.  This is where the concepts that are so familiar to us today like engagement, reputation scores, and bulking had their origins.

In today’s world it is not enough to simply hit the inbox to run a successful email program.  Your recipients actually have to interact with your messages.  The batch and blast world is not conducive to people wanting to open and click messages, much less to do it more than once.  Today’s reality demands that you put the customer back at the center of your marketing by sending relevant messaging that is tailored to individuals.

This sometimes (most of the time actually) means sending less email which is more important to specific segments of your list, but will give you much more access to the inbox and therefore your audience.  If you aren’t paying attention to segmentation, dynamic content, engagement, and activity you will find that a majority of your messages end up in the purgatory of a bulk or spam folder.

We now flash back to those same executives and marketers who grew up on batch and blast but have not evolved to meet the changing world.  If you blast campaigns today expecting an increase in those metrics so important to the success of your program, you are going to be disappointed by the results.

Batching and blasting does not work.

Batching and blasting is the quickest way in today’s world to end up in the bulk folder, hitting spam traps, and receiving increased complaints.

It’s time to get out that rusty shovel and give this outdated strategy the sendoff that it deserved long ago.  If you can’t target an email message, don’t send it.  It’s really that simple.  Your deliverability and program success depends on your ability to evolve.  It’s never too late to change, and we’ll be proud of you for doing it.

Better late than never!

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