March 10th, 2022

How to Use Broadcast Emails

Written by Anna Alger

Anna grew up in the bluegrass state, where she learned to love written and visual storytelling. She holds a BFA in painting from Indiana University and an MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. She currently resides in Louisville, KY with a cat named Louise.

In the year 490 B.C., a brave messenger ran the nearly 40 kilometers to the city of Athens, Greece. His goal: to share the message of a momentous victory in the Battle of Marathon. His last words: "We have won!”

Flash forward to 1844. In a few short minutes, a series of dots and dashes sent the first-ever long-distance message via electricity, in the form of a telegraph: “What hath God wrought?” 

Compared to the couriers of our past, our emails may never feel quite so momentous or life-changing. But thanks to the technological innovations of the past century, or even the past few decades, you have the ability to communicate with your audience instantly.

We can only guess, but we imagine that would absolutely inspire legends among the messengers of old.

So, how do you use broadcast emails to send your brand’s message far and wide—no smoke signals or semaphores required? 

You craft it with creative copy so compelling, it inspires epic retellings across the globe. For everything else, you use this guide.

The Stuff of Legends: What Broadcast Marketing Can Do For Your Brand

If you’re reading this email in the 21st century (no shade to any time travelers), email probably feels old hat. But it only takes a few numbers to show that there remain many mythical possibilities in the age of email marketing. 

Consider these stats:

  • In 2020, the number of people on earth using email amounted to 4 billion. That’s half the world’s entire population.

  • By the year 2025, the number of emails sent per day is expected to reach 376 billion.

  • On average, email marketing in 2022 brings in a 4200% ROI.

These numbers show us that, despite how many of us seem to avoid our inboxes at all costs, emails remain an effective form of communication. They’re immediate, flexible, and adaptable—and they meet people where they are. 

What a relief to know you don’t need the wings of Hermes himself to reach your audience.

So, how do you use broadcast emails to communicate effectively? Just as it wouldn’t do to send smoke signals in heavy fog, you first need to understand how the form of your broadcast email affects your message.

Broadcast Email In a Nutshell: Manual Messages for the Masses

While messages may be old as language itself, the idea of “broadcasting” something instantly to a wide range of people has only been possible for a little more than a century. 

Traditionally, broadcast referred to signals, messages, or programs sent out via radio or television. With email, however, we have the ability to “broadcast” written and visual content instantly, to as many people we have on our email lists.

In essence, that’s what broadcast email is—a message that goes out to a large audience who receive it simultaneously. 

Broadcast Emails Are Manual, not Automated

One important thing to understand about broadcast emails is that they’re manual, not automated. 

But I never learned to drive stick! you say. 

Relax—lucky for you, this won’t require you to learn how to shift the gears in your grandpa’s clunky sedan. By manual and automated, we’re referring to emails and how they’re sent.

Let’s break it down: 

  • Automated emails are those triggered by an individual customer’s action, such as subscribing to your list or making a purchase. A message then goes out to that customer without you having to lift a finger, providing timely and seamless communication about the things most relevant to them—such as a confirmation email for their order, or a reminder to restock on their recently purchased products.

  • Manual emails, on the other hand, are those you send out on special occasions. The ones that tell your audience, big stuff is happening. They often go out to larger groups of people, perhaps even your main list of subscribers, to inform, update, or announce something. 

It’s the difference between sending a carrier pigeon to a single recipient and lighting a mountaintop torch to catch the whole country’s attention. 

Carrier Pigeon or Pony Express? How to Use the Many Genres of Broadcast Email

The idea of reaching all your loyal customers at once might have you ready to pour your heart out and press send. Before we get to that point, however, it’s important to note that not all broadcast emails take the same shape—and choosing the right one can make your message all the more effective. 

Let’s walk through some examples.

#1 Send Important Announcements

Want to let customers know about your shiny new website or send an update about the services you offer? Could you imagine yourself unfurling a scroll and starting your message with hear ye, hear ye? Your broadcast email type is an announcement.

The actual email format may vary depending on what you need to communicate, but some common situations for announcement emails include:

  • Product updates
  • Changes in pricing
  • Updates to terms and conditions
  • Brand news, changes, and successes

Announcements often take the form of a letter and may take on the voice of the brand or company itself, but they may also be written in the voice of a brand’s leader or CEO, depending on the context. 

Even if your announcement involves intricate details about the ten-year plan you’ve just unveiled, however, it’s important not to wax on for too long. Announcements that are short and concise are more likely to stick with the reader.

#2 Engage Your Audience With Newsletters

Want to connect with your customers in a consistent, but less formal way? Newsletters are the town hall of your email options—a place where you can engage your community and inform about topics relevant to your brand. Examples of newsletter content may include:

  • Product tips and how-tos
  • Customer testimonials and success stories
  • Insights about a relevant topic
  • Updates on upcoming events, releases, or promotions

Compared to announcements, your newsletter audience may include a slightly smaller list of people—namely, those who have actually signed up to read and receive them. Newsletters also vary in that they usually happen at scheduled intervals, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

#3 Send Quick Tips and Summaries with Digest Emails

Remember those memos that would come through fax machines and print on neon paper? Yeah, us neither. Still, the form stands—digest emails are much like a memo, in that they summarize important information in a quick, skimmable format. This may include:

  • Summaries of recent blog posts
  • Daily product updates and availability
  • Links to longer-form content on your website
  • Industry updates

Note that some forms of email digest work better as automated emails, especially when they’re personalized to a customer’s activities. How can you tell the difference? Consider whom the email is relevant to. 

Here’s an example: If a cat-training service sends its users a weekly digest of the number of cat high fives given this week, it’s a broadcast email, as it’s relevant to all customers interested in cat high-five statistics. But if the cat company sends you an email listing your cat Oliver’s personal high-five statistics, that’s an automated email sent to you as an individual. 

#4 Launch Your Latest Product

Ready to launch a new product? Your excitement might have you ready to shout it from the rooftops, but that’s not the only way (nor, in all likelihood, the most effective. Your neighbors will thank you). Your email list is a superb way to let your customers know all the details of a new launch. 

Certain product updates might be more relevant only to a subset of customers, namely those who have purchased those products in the past. However, the release of a new product often applies to a broader group—hence the use of “broadcast.” 

This is where you share all the shiny bells and whistles, mouthwatering visuals, and compelling copy that details your new offerings.

#5 Boost Revenue With Sales and Promotions

Launching a storewide sale or promotion to boost your earnings? Sing it from the treetops. Broadcast email is your way to let everyone know about your discount, so they can start taking advantage of that coupon code right away.

Of course, keep in mind that some types of sales and promotions will be more relevant to some customers than others. This is one of several instances where segmentation can come in handy—more on that below.

Read All About It: How to Write Broadcast Emails that Captivate

You’ve chosen the format of your broadcast email, jotted down a rough draft, and you’re ready to get that thing signed, sealed, and delivered.

Hold up—we haven’t even reached the most important part: how to write good broadcast emails. Here are our top three tips on how to keep your readers hanging on every word, rather than hitting the junk button as soon as it lands in their inbox.

  • Make them relevant – Some emails may truly be relevant to everyone on your list. However, when you’re trying to engage your entire customer base via a broadcast email, it can end up feeling generalized. That creates distance with your audience. On the other hand, you can make emails feel more personal and relevant by using segmentation—in other words, dividing your audience into slightly smaller demographics. Once you know what broadcast emails will be most relevant to your different segments, you can personalize your approach and empathize with your audience more effectively.

  • Keep them short – A wall of text is the fastest way to get a reader to X right out of your email as quickly as possible. Just because you can wax poetic about the theory of time travel doesn’t mean your customers want it in their inbox. Instead, distill the key points in a structure that’s concise, snappy, and skimmable. If you have more to say, it’s probably better off as a blog post—something you can easily link within your email, for those who truly want it.

  • Master the timing – Since broadcast emails aren’t triggered by a customer’s action, you can technically send them whenever you please. Does that mean you should click “send” right at 3 a.m. when you’ve finally finished crafting the most spellbinding message humankind has ever seen? Not so fast. First, make sure you evaluate your data and know when your specific customers are most likely to open them.

Copycat: The Gold Standard of Email Scribes

The words of that messenger in ancient Greece? Of the first telegraph message ever sent? You can bet they were chosen carefully. After all, that’s part of what made them such legends.

So, how do you craft email copy that goes down in your brand’s own history, or that inspires just as much excitement and anticipation for the future?

Aside from being concise, timely, and relevant, you also want your emails to be creative. That means including eye-catching designs and clever copy, speaking to your community’s needs, and writing to your audience with language that sings.

You could do all this yourself. Or, you could hire your own team of in-house email wordsmiths to do it for you. That’s where we come in.

Welcome to Copycat Copywriters. 


Sources: 
History. Why Is a Marathon 26.2 Miles? https://www.history.com/news/why-is-a-marathon-26-2-miles 

History. Morse Code & the Telegraph. https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/telegraph 

Statista. Number of e-mail users worldwide. https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/ 

Hubspot. The Ultimate List of Email Marketing Stats for 2022. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-stats

Britannica Dictionary. Broadcast Definition & Meaning. https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/broadcast 

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