Email Broadcasts vs Follow-on Sequences

and… How to Combine Them for Truly Masterful Marketing

Last week we touched on using an automatic follow-up message beyond the initial Welcome message. Let’s go a little deeper between a “broadcast” and a “follow-up” or “drip sequence” email series — both can be very valuable and, when used correctly, extremely powerful.

My main email list is a weekly newsletter list. It’s my bread-and-butter business as an email publisher. People like the content, subscribe, and I create a new newsletter every week and queue it up to “broadcast” it to every subscriber each Friday evening. Once it’s sent out to everyone, it’s never sent again.

Contrast that with a follow-on sequence: that’s one or more messages that are stored at your Email Service Provider (ESP) and that are automatically sent to subscribers according to the sequence and timing you set up. The obvious first example of that is a Welcome message, which is typically sent immediately upon the subscriber clicking on the confirmation link after they subscribe. Last week, I discussed my engagement message that helps set up two-way interaction with my new readers: the second in a “sequence” that’s sent when I specify — 24 hours after the Welcome message.

But here’s where it can get really powerful: you can combine the two ideas. There is no limit to how many messages you can have in a sequence.

Sequences: An Example

I have a friend who has had a broadcast newsletter for years, explaining technical topics. Like me, each week he sends out a new newsletter. But he also has a side newsletter that’s not a broadcast. It covers some of the most common questions and topics in his field — a “best of” sequence of timeless information and, importantly, marketing asides (usually plugs for his books and courses). Last I heard, he had more than a hundred of these helpful articles, and they are set up to go out once a week. And he keeps adding articles to the end of the sequence, and as long as he adds new ones before someone hits the end, subscribers will keep getting them each week, without any gaps, “forever.”

So if, say, he goes through his article pile once a month and adds 4-6 new articles to the end, he can keep ahead and keep his audience involved and interested endlessly — and, by the way, they’re getting marketing for his books and courses every week endlessly too.

But here’s the extremely powerful part: because these articles are both timeless and completely automated, when someone discovers his site and signs up for this list, he doesn’t have to do anything at all to address this audience: it’s completely automated because the sequence is already set up.

In other words, if he has 150 articles set up in that series, someone can be on the list for about three years before they hit the end. Or, to look at that another way, he has three years to add something else to the end (say, another 50 or so articles) to keep those subscribers informed and marketed to for another year! See the power in that?! It’s huge!

Some subscribers might be on message #114, while others are on #82, and new subscribers are just starting on #1. It doesn’t matter: the ESP keeps track of it all and will dole out the messages one by one, week after week, sending the next message in the sequence as you’ve set it up. All you need to do is make sure you have some end game in mind when they get to the end of the sequence. (And maybe revisit the articles to ensure they’re kept up-to-date, and that the marketing info is what you prefer.)

So depending on your business and how you want to market, your “newsletter” might not be something you write fresh every week: if your information is truly timeless, you can build them as one long (and ever-lengthening) sequence rather than using broadcasts. Or, indeed, doing both: sending out the timeless information as a follow-on series, and broadcasts for important “happening right now” events, such as a sale. I certainly could have set up Emailified that way, and the best part is, I can decide to do that later, if I want, because I’m building up a lot of valuable content.

(Pro Tidbit: what if someone quits your list and rejoins it, like say to “change my address”? Yes, they’ll start over in the sequence. If desired, you can manually change where someone is in the sequence, such as skipping them forward to a specific message in the sequence.)

Making Marketing Updates Easy

If this idea wasn’t powerful enough already, there’s more: you can have variable insert information too. Let’s say you want to market one of several books in your series of articles. If you wrote that marketing info into the actual message, and later wanted to promote a different book, or wanted to note your book had been updated, you’d have to edit every single message in the sequence with that new information. Ick. Better: use inserts.

In AWeber (the ESP I use), they call them “Global Text Snippets”. You put the marketing information into a Snippet and use a coded link in the sequenced message to call up that Snippet. Then, if you want to promote a different book, or note that the book has been revised, you only have to edit the Snippet, and every message that calls that Snippet is automatically updated. Very efficient, and very powerful.

Books are just an example. A Snippet can be as simple as “Call Mike Smith in Inbound Sales at 800-555-1212 for a quote.” If Mike Smith leaves the company or moves to a different function, you can change the name or number as needed, and not have to worry about editing 50, 100, or even more messages in the sequence (again, Ick!)

A lot of businesses already have a bunch of short articles written that explain different aspects of their offerings. It’s just a matter of formatting them up into an email sequence and offering prospective customers the free resource. And as long as those messages are really adding value, you can certainly include marketing in the messages too, and a great way to do that is with variable inserts such as “Snippets”.

The best part: it can all be totally automated. Now are you seeing the incredible power of email lists?!

2 Responses to Email Broadcasts vs Follow-on Sequences

  1. Leo June 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

    I’m up to 246 in that best-of sequence. That’s nearly 5 years worth of weekly content for people that subscribe today. (And I’m using snippets to place the ad inside.) for those so inclined. 🙂

    • Randy Cassingham June 1, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Heh! Yes, you’ve been progressing well since we last talked about it. 🙂

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