Why I Love Batch and Blast
Batch and Blast – the process of sending out email with little to no segmentation – has become the Tom Cruise of the email industry. Once white-hot popular, yet now almost comically reviled. You can’t pick up an entertainment magazine without a little Cruise-hate. You can’t pick up a marketing publication that doesn’t attempt to eviscerate BB and basically tell you that you’re a moron if you use it.
Guess what. I like BB. In fact, I don’t just like it. I LOVE it.
I love BB so much that I’m convinced that if you’re not using it, you’re taking money…out of your own pocket.
Why do I love BB? Here’s a few reasons…
1. It works
My job is about making money. When I integrate BB into my overall strategy, I make more money than if I don’t.
In one of my most recent BB sends, I specifically looked at people who had not interacted with my email (either via open or click) in the last 12 months. Yes, 12 months with absolutely no activity in email. Precisely the kind of people most targeting, segmentation and ROI specialists would have you dump faster than Kim Kardashian dumped her first husband.
When I looked at the results, I was pleasantly surprised that the 12+ month group generated 25% more revenue than my “target” group of 60 day or less engagement. Granted the list was four times larger…but since the revenue significantly outweighed the cost to send…I’d say it was an enormous success.
2. It respects your customers
My customers have gone to the trouble of signing up for my email. Usually, it’s because they expect something from me. I, in turn, send them content that they (hopefully) find interesting and/or buyable. Sometimes they love my content and interact with it like crazy. Sometimes they go a long time between interactions – usually until they see something they like (go subject lines!)
In all cases, my email has a prominent unsubscribe button right at the top. Here’s the thing…everyone who has used email for more than a day generally knows how to use the unsubscribe button. If they don’t, they all know how to use the “This is Spam” button. Either way, if they use either of these buttons, they’re history. If not…I don’t think it’s my job to presuppose when my customer is ready to say goodbye. I have a little more respect for them than that…
3. It keeps your list clean
One of the dangers with using “old” lists is that you let them get old. By sending your entire file on a regular basis, you clean out all the old junk. The hard bounces clear out. The people who are tired of hearing from me respectfully bow out of the game.
4. I don’t have that much stuff to talk about
In our business, we develop roughly 10 new offers per day. So rather than go through a whole segmentation dance I just let the audience decide by sending all 10. That way, I don’t have to guess a whole lot about what the audience likes and does not like. Does it mean I miss? Sure. Does it mean I send irrelevant content to people? Yup. But it also means that I get to give people items that – all other things considered – I would have absolutely zero idea that they would like. No predictive model is smarter than my actual customers.
5. 5% of 1 Million is way more than 30% of 100,000
BnB will get lower open rates…on a significantly larger universe. So while the latter email campaign is a great result for the segmentation specialists, the first campaign will give you 20,000 more at-bats to be successful with your customers. Segmentation is GREAT when you know a LOT about your customers. BnB is BETTER when you don’t and, let’s face it, you don’t know that much about a LOT of your customers. BnB gives your customers an opportunity to tell you what they like via their clicks. Because even if you think you know a lot about your customers, there’s always opportunities for them to surprise you.
Did it work? In the month before we fully committed to BnB, we had approximately 588,000 redemptions from our site (www.getitfree.us) Last month? 1,293,576 redemptions - a number we put in our latest BnB email! This month we’ll rocket past 1.3 Million redemptions on our site. I’m going to go ahead and call this one – it’s a resounding success for BnB.
So let’s assume that you’re intrigued. The question is…how do I get started? There’s a few simple rules to follow.
- Eat your own dog food – this means NO outside lists. Co-reg is fine, as long as you have walked people through some sort of welcome strategy. If you bought it…burn it.
- Make sure you’ve subscribed to EVERY feedback loop – When people hit “this is spam”…make sure you respect the fact they don’t want to hear from you.
- Make sure your unsub process is bullet-proof – No excuses on this one. If people want off, turn them off.
- Use Wide-Appeal Content – A good place to start might be “products of the month” – your most popular 10-20 products from the last month. It might be “10 cool things we thought you should know.” Really, the key is to have a lot of diverse items and a lot of places to click. Line them all up, most popular to 20th, make a nice clickable picture and send them out. If you don’t have 10-20 products, it can be 5-20 of almost anything relevant to your brand promise. Yes, some of these people will have already bought these products…but so what – your goal here is to find what else they might like.
- Start slow – If you haven’t sent your full file in awhile, you might want to try a full file send once in a month. If the file is big, break it up into pieces and send it over several hours or even several days. Work with your ESP on this one. Be prepared to hit a few speedbumps/spam warnings/blocks. It’ll actually give you great insight to your list collection practices.
- Every person, every week – After you have a month or two under your belt, you might go to twice per month. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, a great target is to hit every person on your file every week. You’ll be amazed how well it works – and how many people get added back to your “active” file that you though were dead.
- Try not to feel bad about yourself – You should gain back several times more subscribers than you lose. They WANT to hear from you – it’s why they signed up! Don’t let your own personal biases about “this is too much” get in the way of doing this. Don’t be daunted by a low open rate. Just focus on your results and realize “hey, it’s OK to make money!”
Batch & Blast is an effective, efficient tool for discovering what else your customers want from you, re-engaging “dormant” subscribers and maximizing the value of your email database. It’s not the ONLY strategy you want to deploy. But it’s one that – if you do it right – will bring you both additional revenue and additional “reengaged” customers.
But be careful…because after a few months you might be saying “I love batch and blast TOO!”