Anastasiia Khlystova
Jun 17, 2019 | 9 min read

There are only two types of email marketing campaigns in the world — broadcasts (aka manual emails, aka bulk email, aka newsletters) and autoresponders (aka automated emails, aka trigger-based emails, aka drip campaigns). Every single email that you as a business owner or a marketer send to your subscribers falls into either of the two — there’s no in-between.

However, it’s also true that a good email marketing funnel will include a mixture of both broadcast emails and autoresponders. That is why it’s impossible to talk about broadcast emailing without mentioning autoresponders — and vice versa.

So, what exactly are these two types? And what are the golden rules of broadcast emails in particular?

What is an email broadcast? (And how is it different from an autoresponder?)

Email broadcast is a one-time email campaign that you send to a certain group of your customers or subscribers. Email broadcasts include things like newsletters, promo-campaigns, special offers, featured blog posts.

Basically, you send an email broadcast manually once and that’s it. Now, compare that to email autoresponders.

Email autoresponder is an automated email that is triggered by a certain action or specific behavior. Once you set up an autoresponder campaign based on certain trigger, emails are being sent continuously without your participation. For instance, this can happen every time someone signs up for a trial or abandons their shopping cart.

Email broadcast

Manual

One-time

Sent to a group of subscribers

Based on personal data

Examples:

  • newsletters
  • promo-campaigns
  • special offers
  • blog posts selection

Email autoresponder

Automated

Recurrent

Sent once per user

Based on behavior triggers

Examples:

  • welcome email
  • help with onboarding
  • cart abandonment
  • trial end warning

Now that we’ve established the difference, let’s talk about broadcast emailing in detail.

Email broadcast tools

There are many email marketing tools that allow broadcast emailing — from popular giants like MailChimp and GetResponse to all-in-one customer communication tools like HelpCrunch and Intercom.

The first group of software offers a great range of emailing features for segmentation, personalization, and precise targeting. Well, there’s no wonder as that is the only job they do. They better be good at it.

Strictly speaking, tools like HelpCrunch and Intercom aren’t used exclusively for email marketing. They are rather customer service platforms offering email broadcasts and autoresponders among other communication channels.

This approach has its pros and cons. On the one hand, they can lack something in terms of emailing functionality, but they make up for it thanks to their versatility and flexibility.

For instance, HelpCrunch offers live chat and pop-up features in their toolset which are the most popular ways for collecting email addresses for email campaigns. On top of that, having your list of contacts and all the tools for email marketing within one dashboard makes it easier to set everything up.

Email broadcast examples

To tell you the truth, there are not so many kinds of email broadcasts out there. You don’t want to annoy your subscribers too much, so you just send an occasional newsletter to keep everyone updated and that’s it.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own email broadcast, take a look at these six examples:

1. Company news

Remember the time when everybody was sending their updated privacy policies and terms of use to their entire user base? That was when the EU adopted this law called the GDPR. Our inboxes were flooded with emails telling us all about the importance of privacy and how businesses deeply care about it.

That’s one example of a company news broadcast.

When something important is happening about your business — like partnership with other companies or some U-turn of your official policies — that is something your customers would probably like to know about. So, it’s recommended to tell them about the most important events.

There’s a nice example of such an email broadcast from The Hustle, a daily newsletter about world’s most interesting and unusual events. They managed to build up a lot of anticipation about their announcement by dividing it into two parts. In the first one, they made a promise and in the second one — they delivered on it:

2. Product updates

Running a SaaS business is actually very different from any other sector (I can say this for sure because I work in this niche). Your product is constantly changing and evolving, so keeping everybody on the same page is harder than it seems.

Nevertheless, your users are the first people that want to know about everything that happens with your product. That is why it’s extremely important to send some regular email broadcasts about all the updates you’ve had recently. But not too often — once a month is more than enough.

We at HelpCrunch send such emails with all the best stuff evert three months. Recently, we’ve released this big update — our brand new Knowledge Base.

But before any official announcement, we decided to send a quick heads-up to those who’ve been asking about it for the last year or so. We wanted to do that as a friendly gesture for our loyal customers. The result? This email broadcast gave us 57,3% open rate and 5% reply rate. All because it was personalized, exclusive, and well-targeted.

3. Best stuff from your blog

If you’re running a company blog (or just a blog for that matter), you can make an email broadcast out of your most interesting articles. Send your best stuff to subscribers to attract additional audience to it.

One of the nicest examples of such regular blog posts emails is the one by Vogue. To be completely honest, I always read it myself and I enjoy it immensely for three reasons:

  • Beautiful vivid visuals
  • Short and to-the-point content
  • Minimalist design.

4. Holiday special offers

So, let’s talk about Black Friday as an example.

My personal impression is that every single Black Friday email broadcast pretty much looks like the rest of them. They are all flashy with discounts written in big letters. Nothing stands out.

So, just take a look at this awesome Black Friday email by Everlane. They use this day not for sales or profit, but to raise awareness and money for workers in China. How’s that for making a difference?

5. Upcoming event announcement

If your company is organizing or sponsoring some conference, webinar, or podcast, that’s a great subject for an email broadcast. These are the types of emails that should be very short and sent to your whole user base. You need to put them in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Here’s an example from ChimpEssentials’ webinar reminder — short and sweet, with this amazing custom image:

6. Emergency situation email

Running an online business is not all roses, though. Sometimes, you need to send some unpleasant email broadcasts — like if you faced some security breach or data loss. As difficult as such situations are, life happens and it’s better to notify your customers early on to show that your business is open and transparent. People appreciate this.

The general rule for such messages is to be as sympathetic as possible. You need to put yourself in your users’ shoes and tell them exactly what happened and how you dealt with it. There’s no room for jokes here.

Here’s how Microsoft informed customers about the security breach they had with Outlook. What I liked about their email is that there’s no talking in circles or trying to hide the truth. They tell you exactly what happened, what data was leaked and what measures they took to protect their users.

Email broadcast golden rules

Now that you’ve seen some awesome examples of email broadcasts (and feel inspired as hell, I hope), let’s talk about some broadcasts’ good manners that you should know about:

1. Personalize each email broadcast campaign

Don’t let the word ‘bulk’ fool you. Yes, email broadcasts are usually sent out to thousands of subscribers at once. And yes, we are all perfectly aware that every marketing or sales email we get is 100% automated. Still, there’s some room for personalization. And we still expect those emails to be a little bit humanized.

First of all, you must use the recipient’s first name at least in the greeting. This is all easily done with the help of so-called ‘custom attributes’. Let’s say you have a database of your subscribers with their first names and email addresses in it. In this case, all you need to do is to add the following custom attribute to your email: {first_name}.

This way, your email broadcast software will automatically pull out each recipient’s first name from the database and insert it into the email. You can add those custom attributes not only to the body of your email, but also to its subject to attract person’s attention right away.

And it works like this not only with names, but with lots of attributes.

2. Segment the audience

Bulk mail personalization can go way beyond those attributes, though.

The golden rule of broadcast emailing is to segment your recipients by whatever criteria you find relevant for your goals — from countries and languages to subscription types to registration date.

So, why would you need to segment your recipients?

Well, it sure takes more work to craft different emails for different types of subscribers. But at the end of the day, it allows you to take your targeting game to the next level. Instead of impersonal generic emails, your broadcast will bring some very specific value to every segment of recipients.

For example, if you’re sending an email broadcast about product updates, it will certainly make sense to segment your audience by types of subscription. Some updates may concern only certain ones of them, so why bother everybody?

Or, let’s say you have a Christmas special offer. Now, you definitely need to take different celebration dates for Catholics and Orthodox Christians into consideration, otherwise it will make no sense.

So yeah, segmenting your audience lets you make your email broadcasts way more personalized and better targeted, which will immediately impact open and reply rates.

3. Keep your emails short

Every single marketer has fallen into the trap of long email broadcasts at least once in their lifetime. It’s just that we have so much to share and we’re convinced that everybody wants to hear about it. Well, usually, people don’t really care about long letters — nobody has got time for that.

Try to keep your email broadcasts as short as possible. Your goal is to present all the value as soon as possible, no need for wordy introductions. Throw in a joke, tell everything there’s to tell in a few words and call it a day.

I mean, when was the last time you really read that long marketing email from top to bottom? That’s what I’m talking about.

4. Send email broadcasts at the right time

If you’ve read a thing or two about email marketing, you probably know that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days for broadcast emailing — specifically between 8 and 10 am. This rule has been out there for as long as email marketing exists.

However, many marketers report that any working hours of any working day show more or less the same results. It’s weekends and evenings that tend to perform poorly.

Source: Hubspot

It’s also recommended to send email broadcasts based on recipients’ local time. If you send emails to people from different countries, it’s way more effective to schedule them depending on different time zones — many tools have this feature built-in and will do all the work for you.

5. Add a clear CTA

Every email broadcast has its end goal. Whether it’s a newsletter or a promo-campaign, you want people to perform some action after they’ve received your message — to read that article or to buy that product.

Well, you have to establish that end goal — add a clear call-to-action at the end of the message. Don’t overdo it, though. Two or more CTA’s may be confusing for readers. Do you want me to click that ‘Read more’ button or should I just go ahead and register for the trial? Just tell me what to do!

6. Stay consistent

Email broadcasts can’t be just an occasional ‘will-do-them-if-I-feel-so’ thing. If you start doing them, you better do them consistently —according to the schedule you set for yourself.

It’s also important to develop your own voice and style. Like, if you’re sending regular email broadcasts about company updates, they’ll be more noticable if you give them a name, make them similar to each other and send them according to some schedule.

You also need to decide on the tone you want to render. Do you want to start with an occasional joke? Or is it more business-like kind of thing?

Bottom line

But the most important thing of all is to never stop testing every single detail about your email broadcasts — schedule, subject lines, CTA’s and their placement. You need to work out your own unique formula of success, because general rules are usually way to general to be applicable to each situation. So, why don’t you write your very first email broadcast right away?

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