Sending your first email blast–what to say

An email blast is a message you send to a number of people simultaneously. Someone emailed me once that “email blast” sounded violent and undesirable. She was right. It’s probably not the best terminology to use, but we’re stuck with it. It’s appropriate because an email blast is a big burst that happens all at once, rather than a trickle of messages or mailing pieces.

Lee McVey, Young Cottonwoods, Autumn. Pastel, 16 x 12 inches. ©The Artist

Lee McVey, 3 Young Cottonwoods, Autumn. Pastel, 12 x 16 inches. ©The Artist

Email blasts are often promotional. They can be newsletters, announcements, invitations, or the like. Because they are promotional, you may fear offending people on the other end. If you do it right and follow the CAN SPAM laws, you can rest easy.

The first email blast can be problematic. You’re emailing people with whom you have a prior relationship, but who haven’t received such a message from you in the past. How do you tell them what you’re up to and keep them on your list?

You could say something like this:

Hi ——,
Welcome to my first email newsletter! I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile and have finally taken the plunge. I plan to send this newsletter every other month, so please let me know if you would like your name removed from the list.

But you won’t. Because that would be boring and wrong.

Why not try adding humor. Tasteful humor is always a welcome sight in any inbox.

Hi ————,

I’m invading your inbox because, well, because I miss you. And because I heard you need more email! Seriously, I just want to tell you about what’s been going on and what is going to be going on. This is new for me, but I promise you’ll only hear from me when I have something utterly fabulous to share. If you want to protect yourself from future inbox invasions, it’s easy! Just click on the opt-out link at the bottom of the page [not recommended].

Remember to use a good system to manage your email blasts and don’t be sad or offended when people opt out. There’s a list of email distribution platforms and an outline of the CAN SPAM law in the Resources section of I’d Rather Be in the Studio!

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11 comments to Sending your first email blast–what to say

  • Alyson,
    Call me crazy but I preferred the first email sample, the one you said was wrong. I get so many emails every day that I want to be able to take a quick look and move on. Adding the fun wrapper to the message just makes it harder for the reader. Just my $.02

  • Ed: I’m not going to call you crazy, but if you’re going to put anything in there in the opening (like explaining while you’re emailing), you might as well give it some personality. I look forward to seeing what others have to say.

  • Action(me): The first one, press delete…The 2nd, not only do I want it, I want to buy something, follow their blog & send them Xmas presents…Humour always gets me…Dear Ed-I wouldn’t call you crazy, quite the opposite, the problem is is you need to get crazy to jump into people’s hearts & minds…(or are you just secretly rebelling because Alyson said something was wrong?)

  • Yesterday my featured interview appeared in a gallery blog–*Meet Marie Kazalia–painter…* w/pics and the text written by a PR/Art marketing expert in London…who encouraged me to get the link out there–retweeting , posting to FB , LinkedIN, MySpace and more–not very much response –I want people to RETWEET the article via the button at the top of the article-
    It’s frustrating—an *email blast* is way more difficult than it sounds–
    my article if you want to take a look(was at the top of the blog yesterday)
    http://www.b-uncut.com/blog

  • I really like the second formulation. I too have the experience that when showing some self distance and giving people a smile on their lips – you can get away with most things – and they will even look forward to reading your promotional e-mails …

  • I’m back, since I didn’t answer the question in my first comment–(it is stressful doing promo stuff)..
    IMO, there are different brands of humor (like everything else) and with the corny kind, a little goes a long way. In the examples above I think the 2nd one gets too silly and off topic…over the top…when one funny comment is enough and then get to the point. So I’d find a way to combine the best of both examples into one…

  • I side with Ed & Maria. While the first one could be punched up a bit, I’d be more apt to check out that person than the second one. That one left me rolling my eyes – I’d definitely delete it.

  • I just sent out my email blast to (only) 50 people who I know in the flesh. So this issue is on my mind, I did not use humor except to respond to a reply received w/humor (from someone I’ve known for 20+ years).

    I know the question is *use humor or not use humor*, but this topic has brought up more questions for me….for instance, when writing an email blast that will be sent to artists in Paris, Rome and London would this sort of humor (as in example #2) –would it connect/resonate/be appropriate? (I think not). Isn’t it a good idea to make the email blast more universally acceptable so as to send it out more broadly? (I have some NYC artists on my list to email–I don’t think this sort of humor is quite right for them either). So who would appreciate this sort of humor, I am wondering? (target market)

    Is it wise to mention *opting out* in both #1 & 2 examples, before there is anything about the content/purpose of the email?

    Also, I’m wondering about the inconsistency of using this sort of humor (unsophisticated, let’s call it) and then having no prices on your website, except in tiny lighter type?(as I think Alyson recommends) implied as prices are too commercial and unsophisticated. I feel a disconnect here. I think the humor issue is just Alyson’s personal preference since she sends out weekly email newsletters–perhaps a more casual application. I would *not* care to have humor in my *infrequent* email blasts about my art.
    IMO, consistency is important for brand/image. If it is inadvisable to call your own events *exciting* it should be equally taboo to call your email news *utterly fabulous* (see example #2). Perhaps this sounds nitpicky but I think all of the above has more to with perceptions of others and creating a serious image–is anyone going to take me seriously if I write silly stuff….? Is it advisable to state your own email message as an *inbox invasion*? (again example #2).

    What I learned in a graduate level ethics course, is that *there is no arguing taste* –everyone has their tastes, aka *they like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like*, So perhaps that is the issue here, to discover what X number of readers like the straight talk and what X number like the humor of example #2…

  • Marie (and Sheila): Perhaps people don’t have as much of a sense of humor as I give them credit for, but I don’t believe that. I really don’t. You have to do what’s comfortable for you, but I contend that we all like to smile and laugh. And we welcome something refreshing in our inboxes.

    It sounds like you’re uncomfortable with humor for promoting your art. I’d say do what works for you and move on. (BTW, I couldn’t read that article you linked to. White on black blogs are impossible on my eyes. Talk about preferences!)

  • Marie: I do think that in your first email to a bulk list that it’s wise to put the option to unsubscribe at the top. You don’t want to do that with every email, but probably with the first one–so they know it’s their choice and they’re in control.

  • […] This isn’t a magic pill for giving constructive criticism. I struggle with diplomacy every time I work on an artist’s statement, review marketing material at a workshop, or help a client reword an email newsletter. […]