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Give Up Batch and Blast: Implement Email Personalization Instead

Email Marketing things to give up

Last Wednesday, we introduced you to our Lent-themed blog series and shared things one could give up in the short term in exchange for the long term benefit on both a personal and professional level.  One week in, based on the latest numbers from Twitter’s Lent Tracker, it’s looks like the top 3 things (or habits) that people would give up for Lent this year were school (at 1st place), chocolate (at 2nd place), and ironically, Twitter (at 3rd place).   

Interestingly, technology was also ranked as the 3rd most popular category of items that people would like to give up this year. This essentially matches our latest Email Marketing Compass findings that consumers are becoming increasingly selective to what they engage with and are actively tuning out the frenetic digital marketing noise that’s irrelevant to them. Which is why I’d like us to take a closer look at a common email marketing ‘sin’ that my colleague touched on in her blog post last week – the practice of batch and blast email marketing. Instead of trying to reach more subscribers, this practice usually backfires by leading to high unsubscribes and reduced inboxing rates.

Here are 3 things we marketers should give up as we reflect on the life-long email marketing lesson that one size does not fit all when communicating with subscribers:

  • Sending the same content to an entire audience - In 2014, email volumes rose over 9% (YOY).  With more emails, subscribers are likely to open fewer of them. While blindly sending mainstream content to your entire audience may have a short-term wider reach, low content relevance will eventually lead to lower clicks and high inactivity. Marketers should instead segment their audience base to divide them into different buckets based on similar characteristics or interests. This helps them better understand their customers, specifically what their needs are, what they value, and what motivates them to make that purchase.  With this framework in hand, marketers can design more relevant communications to match the right audience segment.
  • Letting existing data sit idly – If you have an email marketing program, you’ll most likely also have access to a wealth of subscriber information from various sources. Whether it’s demographic (age, gender, etc.) and psychographic (interests, attitudes, etc.) data from preference pages or behavioral data from email engagement and purchase history records, the key is making them all connect to form a complete picture of your subscriber make-up. Take advantage of all your marketing channels (web, email, social media, etc.) to source data, then structure the data to align with your marketing strategies, and finally use the relevant data to personalize content for specifically targeted groups.
  • Application before preparation – I’m sure we’ve all seen (or even been a part of) a personalized email campaign gone wrong. Examples include an obviously misspelled first name, a formatting error, or even worse, an email greeting that starts with “Hello [first name]”. Once you have the means to collect data consistently, you have to make sure the data coming in is clean and accurate. It is always worthwhile to take that extra time to ensure your data is ready before feeding it into a personalized campaign. Even with squeaky clean data and a well thought out personalization plan, it can be a challenge to anticipate all problems before they happen. Therefore  marketers should consider several best practices before applying personalization, such as:
    • validating subscriber information in subscription forms
    • setting defaults for data gaps (“hello there” for missing first names)
    • checking your data prior to a send for attributes that are not often used (company name, interest expressed, etc.)

Stay tuned for the next post in our Lent series, which will focus on why brands should ditch non-responsive email. In the meantime, let us know what other practices you think marketers should give up by tweeting us at @Yesmail or using the hashtag #marketinglent.

Author Bio

Gurjit Sandhu

Gurjit Sandhu has been in digital and direct marketing for over 6 years, delivering marketing and event management solutions in both fast-paced corporate and entrepreneurial environments. Energized by strategic thinking and the power of marketing technology, she collaborates closely with cross functional teams at Yes Marketing to spearhead multi-channel communications that highlight product innovations.