How to Personalize Batch-and-Blast Emails


In the early days of Groupon, one of the attributes that separated its daily deal emails from competitors’ was the text of the offers themselves. Groupon’s copywriters penned paragraphs with a sort of ridiculous authority that made the prose both entertaining and half-believable. It was a recipe for readability that had consumers clicking to buy a half-price bowling coupon while simultaneously musing that perhaps hummingbirds do hatch from cocoons.

Those early Groupons were memorable — and despite being disseminated at random into the noise of email marketing, they managed to hit a chord. It’s a sort of memorability that is somewhat lost on email marketing today. According to a study by Litmus, only 21 percent of consumers reported that they’ve received a memorable promotional email in the past two months.

Some would argue that this is the fault of batch-and-blast email marketing strategies. Too much content, that isn’t relevant for the user, has led to too many unmemorable emails. But I am writing about how to evolve batch-and-blast emails into something more personal. Batch-and-blast emails can be designed to be more memorable, and the tools with which to fashion them in this regard are likely at your fingertips. By maximizing the use of your marketing automation platform using subscriber data, segmentation tools, and recommendation engines, you can actually personalize batch-and-blast emails — just as Groupon once did.

Let’s consider a batch-and-blast email announcing the opening of the first brick-and-mortar store for a formerly pure-play e-commerce retailer of outdoor furniture in Orlando, Fla. This is big news — a validation of staying power and success — and something everyone on your list should know about. But perhaps, as the store opens its doors in mid-March — where temperatures are likely tolerable in Florida — potential customers in New England states are still shivering through a seemingly endless winter, and left somewhat miffed at the idea that someone would even suggest buying patio furniture at a time like this.

For those customers in yet-to-warm-up climates, applying segmentation to a batch-and-blast email would be a good idea. By using segmentation and pulling location information, you can add slightly personal tweaks to email subject lines to readers in those locations, to the tune of, “sending thoughts of wicker to warm your wicked winter.”

As you collect segmentation data, such as website browsing and purchase information, you can use it to determine which products to display to the individual user. That same New England customer may, for instance, be interested in a waterproof outdoor blanket. Using product recommendations based on subscriber data as secondary content in batch-and-blast emails increases the relevance of your message, and it can all be done without developing multiple variations of the original content.

Now that you’ve saved all this time by sneakily personalizing batch-and-blast emails, you can spend more time on your lifecycle messaging strategy, which is critical for any online retailer. These messages include welcome series, post-purchase series, browse recovery, and shopping cart abandonment emails, to name a few. These messages are all based on user-specific data, making them high revenue drivers that can be automated with relative ease.

You’ve now created a more memorable, relevant and conversion-worthy batch-and-blast marketing email. In such a way, the value of personalization is within the reach of the thousands of retailers out there who might have thought otherwise. Who knows maybe they were just waiting for a Groupon.


Greg Zakowicz is senior commerce marketing analyst for Oracle Bronto.

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