Friendly Advice
Feb 22, 2020

Is the Email Blast Dead?

Katie Sabel

Wait, what? Surely the email blast isn’t dead- if you’re like us, you got a dozen emails in your inbox today alone! In fact, according to a 2019 study, the average American worker receives as many as 126 total emails per day. 

Well, maybe the email blast isn’t dead per say, but is it a lost cause? After all, with all the emails we receive in a day, we tend to delete or ignore the least important ones. 

Maybe people will open an email if it appeals to them or they’re a big fan of your brand, but nothing is certain. Even though email blasts reach a large audience, success is about more than just the quantity of people you reached out to. So, here’s why the email blast is actually less effective than you might think. 

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An Email Sent Is Not Always an Email Received

Email blasts result in unread messages, represented here by an email app icon with 279 unread messages.
Whether your email is left unread, deleted, or moved to spam, there are many reasons why an email sent doesn’t mean an email received. Remember, the effectiveness of an email depends entirely upon your recipient opening your message, so make it something they’d like to open! Courtesy of

When it comes to huge mailing lists, it’s important to know that an email sent does not automatically mean an email received. Even with non-marketing-related emails, people might be too busy to check email. Or, maybe your email got lost in their inbox on a particularly busy day for them, or maybe even accidentally moved to spam.

Quick sidebar: while you can’t control whether or not an email recipient manually reports your email as spam, you can control whether or not an email service marks your emails as spam inherently. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips on how to set yourself up for success. Or, if you’d like some professional help, there are even services dedicated to helping you test whether your email will set off the auto-spam marker

General Blasts Undercut the Power of Targeting an Audience

A picture of a busy street in New York City with many different people, for whom one generic email blast would not be effective
Think of a mailing list like a city. Not everyone is from the same area, and not everyone enjoys the same things. Just like a city is divided into boroughs, divide your mailing list into subsections. People will be much more likely to open their email if the content is shaped towards their needs!

Even if your audience does receive your emails, do they open them? Chances are, maybe they don’t. Think about it- this morning when you checked your email, did you delete any messages from your inbox without even opening them? Why was that?

Oftentimes, we delete emails outright because we believe that they’re irrelevant to us. Maybe the subject line tells you there’s a coupon inside, but you’re not looking to buy anything new at the moment. Or, maybe you’re looking to buy something, but you keep getting ads for a sale on the wrong items. 

The point is, we’re more likely to open emails if we think they’re interesting, or that they might have something in them that applies to us. The subject line and the email preview are crucial for this- they help you get to the point and pique the readers’ interest. 

However, the misuse of the email blast can eliminate general interest from your emails. Think of your mailing list as a city. There might be thousands of people in your mailing list, but it’s very possible that no two people are exactly alike. People may be of completely different age demographics, backgrounds, you name it! So, it’s only natural that different people would have different tastes in emails as well.

By sending an email to everyone in that metaphorical city, you’re doing a disservice to the members of the city who the emails don’t apply to. In fact, if you send too many emails that don’t apply, they may even be less likely to open your relevant emails in the future. 

So… are the Days of Email Blasts Behind Us?

A businessperson looks at their tablet in the foreground, while the email blasts on their laptop in the background go unnoticed
While the email blast is flawed when used incorrectly, don’t throw out your mailing list yet. If you remember these key techniques, you can continue to use your email list and see results from your marketing strategy.

If you’re reading this and you fell into the trap of executing a send-it-and-forget-it email marketing strategy, don’t panic! There’s still time to salvage your email system, and use your mailing list to your advantage.

The Magic of Targeted Content

A dart within the bullseye range of a dartboard, which is a visualization of the effectiveness of segmentation for an email blast
Instead of over-generalizing content, you can hit a bullseye every time with targeted content! By using segmentation, you can ensure that your content is relevant with every email that you send.

Earlier when we discussed the failings of the email blast, it’s mostly due to the fact that an email blast reaches too many people to be effective. While you may think that a lot of readers set you up for success, you first have to ask yourself: “how can I make sure that a lot of people actually read this email?”

Like other marketing strategies you may have heard of, the key to success lies in targeting subgroups. If your mailing list is a city, think of your subgroups as its boroughs. Maybe one district is filled with people who love art, and the other district is filled with people who love sports.

Following this logic, your email blasts will be most successful if you use segmentation. By segmenting your list into relevant subgroups, you can then start to send emails that are specific to those groups (and send them only to those groups). That way, your fans become bigger fans, and the irrelevant parties don’t start to see your emails as a nuisance. 

If you’ve never segmented before, here’s how to organize your list. One method you might try is to ask your subscribers for information directly with an online form. Or, if you’d prefer some external assistance, there are professional services that can offer you the segmentation help and analytics that you need.

Up Your Appeal Factor

An email blast can be improved with quality design, pictured here by a man looking at a wall with different images and design concepts
Our eyes are drawn to things that are neat, or otherwise fit a nice aesthetic. By making your emails appealing to the eye, you can up your chances of positive user engagement.

Beyond just making the email content interesting to specific subgroups, another key facet to successful emails is their look. A great email blast will look professional as well as true-to-brand. Plus, the design will be consistent- that way your brand is recognizable across all emails that subscribers receive. 

When considering your design, it’s also important to optimize for mobile rather than desktop. Studies have shown that up to 60% of emails are opened on mobile devices, so make those emails count!

The Power of Personalization

One yellow umbrella sticks out among many black umbrellas, which is a visualization for how personalization can make your email blast stick out
With analytics, it can be easy to get caught up in the numbers and see your subscribers as a crowd rather than a group of individuals. However, by getting to know your users as people and personalizing their content, you can make your creator-consumer relationship a positive one.

One of the most important advantages of email is that the power to stay in touch is in your hands. With social media or your brand’s website, it’s up to the user whether or not to explore your page or search for your url. 

With email, though, you have a direct line of communication to your audience. You’ve got the power to engage them, and to remind them that your brand is out there. So, use that relationship to your advantage!

One of the most effective ways to improve a user’s perception of your brand is to show that you care about them. Little efforts at personalized messages such as happy birthday and thanking them for subscribing go a long way. Whereas social media can make users feel like one of a thousand, emails are a key avenue to make your user feel special. Trust us- customers love it when you recognize them as individuals rather than just a part of a whole.

You’ve Got What it Takes to Revive the Email Blast

Money and plants grow in stacks from left to right, just like your results will grow if you improve the quality of your email blast
Ready to save your email blast? By putting a little time and effort into reorganizing your email strategy, you’ll see results in no time!

Don’t worry- the email blast isn’t dead. It might be misused at times, but it’s not too late to shift your marketing strategy and find email success once again. 

When in doubt, go back to basics! You can keep your subscribers engaged with countdowns to exciting events or deals, seasonal content, and relevant messages. 

For example, if they purchased something recently, you can use that information to create content that will appeal to them in the future. For something they bought, you might send them a deal on similar items. Or, you might introduce them to popular companion items of their purchase. 

Another key basic tool of the email blast is redirection. Don’t let a subscriber read your copy and close the email- give them a call to action! You could include a link to a sale, or even link to your website or social media. 

By combining email basics and essentials with your new segmentation strategy, you’ll be able to save your emails from being thrown into the junk pile. Happy emailing!