June 10, 2008

Petition to Ban The Phrase "Email Blast"

by DJ Waldow,

blast off"Email Blast" - the one phrase in email marketing that raises the hair on my arms. I equate it to the internet version of a space shuttle launch. I guess email is sent into space (kinda), but the terminology still does not fit.

I spend the majority of my day working with clients discussing email marketing best practices, innovation, and strategy. During this time I hear and see the term "email blast" more than I care to admit. Below are snippets of actual client emails I've received:

  • "We've been doing email blasts for 10 years and..."
  • "...compare individual blasts to other blasts..."
  • "...sending direct mail and email blasts to customers..."

And client phone conversations I've had:

  • "I just sent out today's email blast..."
  • "Hey DJ, can we review the blast results?

Many clients even name their internal messages as "060908BLAST" or "Tuesday_Blast".

Type in "Email Blast" in Google and you get some interesting paid and organic results:

It pains me every time I hear, read, or even think about the word "blast" following email. Who cares, it's just a phrase, right? Wrong. "Email Blast" sends the wrong message about email marketing. It is impersonal and cold. I envision a robot sitting at a laptop counting down - 3...2...1...(Email) Blast! It implies a message that is sent to the entire house file - no segmentation, no targeting, with no thought if subscribers actually want to read your message.

It's time that we - marketers, ESPs, ISPs, and others in the email marketing ecosystem - begin to change our vocabulary. It's time we eliminated the phrase "email blast" from our vernacular. Start today by sending me an email, a tweet @djwaldow or commenting on this post. Join the revolution.

*This post is one that has been stewing for some time. Just as I began formulating my ideas for it, Mathew Patterson and @justinpremick and beat me to the punch. Blasted! They both make some excellent points. Make sure to check out the comments also as their posts have spawned some great discussion.

DJ Waldow
Account Manager at Bronto

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Comments

Thank you for the informative email blast! Ok but in all sincerity, while I don't use the phrase, plenty in the office here do. What it reminds me of is the phrase "fax blast" (a very annoying phrase indeed).

DJ:

This is a phrase that kills me as well. I hear it multiple times a day from clients as well as prospects at small to enterprise companies. It is one of the things that makes me cringe.

One: It is not a blast. If it is, you should not be in email marketing
Two: Email Campaigns should be targeted, lists vetted, offers personalized or at least relevant to the selection of opt in customers or prospects you are engaging.
Three: If you even think about using the word blast in your head before hitting the send button, don't hit it. Recheck your campaign objectives and start from the beginning.

Blasts are things that destroy not build.

DJ,

I couldn't agree more! If you're blasting, you're not targeting. If you're not targeting, you should find another line of work.

It comes down to education and as email marketers, we should politely remind our clients that we do not blast email, but rather send targeted, personalized one to one email campaigns.

I'm glad you brought this to the forefront DJ, I've heard blast too many times to count over the last few days here at IRCE2008. It definitely exhibits an attitude towards email marketing that isn't subscriber focused.

To combat that I think a few suggestions might help, here are a few terms I commonly use: Email Send, Delivery, or Campaign.

Keep fighting the good fight DJ!

Submitted by Stefan (not verified) on

100% agree, I hate when I hear this term used. If Jeannie can get us to all abandon one little hyphen, then a five letter swear word should be no problem. David D used it the only way I liked in the quote below:

"Don't be a Blastard"

Holy Shnikes, Batman! Great comments. The power of Twitter, realized - http://twitter.com/djwaldow/statuses/832180211.

I think the big takeaway from all comments is that the negative connotation of the word "blast" completely devalues the awesome power of effective (targeted, relevant, subscriber-focused, timely) email marketing *campaigns*.

I'm working on an Email Experience Council type petition: http://www.emailexperience.org/iniatives_and_standards/eec-petitions/

Stay tuned.

dj at bronto

DJ, I agree, it's got to go, but why do you think the word persists? My theory is that it's just too fun to say! People love to say blast. Can you propose an equally fun alternative? Then you'd be a genius...

Submitted by Stephen (not verified) on

We had this exact conversation in a strategy session meeting at the agency I worked for 2 years ago. We ended up relabeling individual messages as email transmissions/communications to customers, all residing under a parent email marketing campaign that had a similar theme throughout.

@Emily - An equally fun alternative? I'm working on that "project" now. If I can pull it off, it promises to be fun, interactive, community-based, and viral (among other things).

@Stephen - Thanks for sharing. I hope that the current company you are with does not use "Email Blast!"

dj at bronto

Long live the blast.......not!!!

100% behind on this DJ.

@emily - eZooka, eNuke..those are fun terms.

When someone uses the term blast at my company, I cringe as well but I then try to educate. I simply say..hi my name is Andrew..what is yours? They tell me..then I say..hey, can I have your email? I want to blast you. I then ask them how that makes them feel. I get my point across most of the time.

BL@$T?? So it can go straight to the $P@M 80X where it belongs? :)

To play devil's advocate, there's often a tremendous amount of internal pressure to send blasts when you have a profit objective that you are expected to hit without a ton of creative resources. Even having a lot of independence in my marketing activities, I still have to share very limited creative production team.

I usually will use ROI and Gross Profit numbers to justify my strategies, which works 95% of the time--but I have a hard time quantifying the cost of an unsub or a dis-engaged user. Those metrics are usually shrugged off as "the result of an aging database" and not "the result of messages with little relevance or high redundancy"

For those out there who are more quantitative, have you successfully quantified those aspects of your programs?

I agree the way Blast messaging has been done in the past is hugely inefficent, non-permission based spam.

HOWEVER!! there is a better way!! IntelliBlast.com lets you target your communications to your targeted audiences in a very targeted, specific manner. Is conducted via phone, email and/or text and is all 2-way - for immediate responses.

IntelliBlast is changing the face of blast communications and being used very effectively by companies such as YourNurseIsOn.com

Not all Blast is Bad!!! Check out IntelliBlast.com

Thank You,

Matthew Browning- CEO
Targeted Instant Communications, Inc.

Sure there's a better way....to not BLAST email. There is such a negative connotation in this space with that word. Blast - by definition is non-targeted, non-relevant messaging. Blast is bad - sorry Matthew.

@MatthewBrowning:

I have to agree with Kara T on this one. Blast *does* have a negative connotation with regards to email. Also, I have to say that I normally don't approve comments that seem to be self-promoting. In this case, your comments were certainly related to the blast concept, albeit IntelliBlast.

I'm curious what your thoughts are around the term "blast" when it comes to your industry. Is blast a good thing?

Kara also blogged about this: http://emailskunkhunt.blogspot.com/2009/01/dont-say-b-word.html

DJ Waldow
Director of Best Practices & Deliverability at Bronto

Kara and DJ,

I concur wholeheartedly that prior iterations and usages of "blast" email have been clumsy and offsetting. Those negative connotations are usually associated with "blast" because it has been impersonal, intrusive, and often unwanted. All of us have been subject to mass inundation with wrongly targeted mass communications and felt powerless to stop their onslaught.

While searching for efficient, targeted mass communications tools, I found no adequate solutions. As a result, the IntelliBlast Communication system was created. There is a huge and ever growing need for efficient communications with larger and larger amounts of people. Many people will NEVER need to communicate with large numbers of people but this system is for those who must.

IntelliBlast is 2-way communication for the benefit of both parties involved in many routine transactions and relationships. How does a hospital with 2,000 nurses communicate to all of them the availability of a single open shift? in minutes? A good scheduler can call 30 people per hour. It would take one person over 65 hours to do this manually- or 65 people could do it in 1 hour. YourNurseIsOn.com uses the IntelliBlast communications platform to do this in approx 5 minutes- saving 8 FTE's for that SINGLE notification. Powerful stuff indeed.

Kara- I agree with your definition of "blast" however, Intelliblast communications are permission based, targeted, relevant, actionable, timely and not limited to email any longer. IntelliBlast communications can: notify you that your favorite store has a deal for today only for its most valued customers and allow you to reserve your favorite item instantly; can notify you of an imminent danger to yourself or your family AND automatically activate emergency assistance if needed; can look through thousands of possible vendors for you, select a few that are local and appropriate, notify them for you and complete any number of transactions. The possibilities for interactive, targeted, real-time transactions and communications are fantastic and are nearly infinite.

DJ- I apologize for the promotion of this IntelliBlast System on your blog, but as you noted it is relevant to the topic and I thank you for this forum to discuss this. Blast has been done very poorly in the past, we have added "Intelligence" to "Blast" and made it able to be used on many communications channels. We are currently helping many industries with real-time, 2-way, multi-channel communications in ways that benefit the users, their clients, their employees, their vendors and their customers. We will remain vigilant in keeping our technologies from those who have no regard for the recipients of their messages.

Thank You,
@matthewbrowning

@Matthew - Great follow up comments by you. I appreciate you taking the time to clarify. While I'm still not entirely sold on the word "BLAST," I certainly can appreciate your take. Maybe I'm just hung up on the word...and...what it has historically represented.

Thanks again for adding some more flavor to the conversation.

DJ Waldow
Director of Best Practices & Deliverability at Bronto

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