Paul Shuteyev
October 10, 2018
It's Time To Retire Bulk Email in favor of Outreach Campaigns

Email marketing is pronounced dead every year. But the truth is, it’s the main direct marketing channel for most businesses, digital or offline And according to reports and experts, it is still the leading channel for ROI. It hasn’t lost its efficiency. But the game has changed, as did email marketing methods.

This means that now there are thousands of specialists who haven’t adapted to the fast-paced digital trends, and are still attached to the bulk campaign method.

You may think “the bigger, the better”, and therefore, logically bulk campaigns must generate greater results. And while this can be true, it’s only true for in-house mailings sent to your existing, warm audience. However, even then, the bulk campaign approach should be replaced with drip campaigns, or at least smarter segmenting.

When it comes to cold campaigns, a massive email blast is probably the worst thing an email marketer can do. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. All you need to do is switch to a smarter outreach approach. If you’re still not convinced, we will prove to you why outreach campaigns work, and bulk campaigns must be left in the past.

Bulk Campaigns

Email marketing gained popularity because of what seemed to be effective email blasts. So bulk campaigns have been used since.

These days, it’s mostly used for in-house mailings to existing and warm users. Despite everything, many marketers and sales reps still use bulk campaigns to reach cold audiences. But that has become a strategy that’s devastating to both stats and budget.



Indeed, a bulk campaign is an extremely fast way to reach out to a wide audience. The time to prepare a single message that will be sent to your entire database is minimal. Even if you choose to use personalization by Name, putting a tag into your message is a matter of seconds. Speed, however, is its only advantage.


Random Email Lists

Bulk email campaigns are usually sent to 3 email list types:

  • A list of your old customers (or a list you got from a previous company/project)
  • Purchased bulk email lists
  • Lists you mass scraped from the web

None of these are good for effective email sending. These lists will contain invalid, non-working emails, or spam traps. And with changing laws (starting with GDPR), some aren’t strictly legal.

Sending campaigns to these lists will result in a huge bounce rate and spam complaints, ruining your sender’s score. Even if you verify and validate these lists, you’ll see a lower bounce rate, but will still receive a lot of spam complaints.

Lack of Personalization

Usually the maximum personalization available for bulk email campaign lists is the Name and/or Company Name of the email recipient. Of course, such personalization is still better than nothing. Personalized subject lines can improve your open rates a lot

But if you can’t provide the same level of personalization with more details in the email body, you won’t see any increase in conversions.

Lack of Segmentation

When the only thing you know about your campaign recipient is the person’s name or their company’s name, you don’t have a chance to segment your list by gender, geographic location, interests, company size, and so on. Therefore, when you send your message to the whole list and (possibly) get some results, you won’t be able to tell which specific audience responded well to your campaign. So you won’t be able to recreate and improve these results. (In effect, you trap yourself into a flawed process!)

Too Many Goals

This problem is not characteristic of all the bulk email campaigns.

But in most cases, marketers or sales reps tend to put as much information/CTAs in one message as possible. You will find a question, an offer, some kind of invitation, and links to social media channels all within the same message. Such abundance distracts the recipients and reduces your output.

One Chance

Unlike smaller/drip campaigns, once you hit the Send button for a bulk campaign, you will have no chance to adjust your campaign in any way. You must be 100% sure you’ve made your campaign as good as it can get, as there are no second chances in bulk campaigns. Even if we were to call second mailing to the same recipients a second chance, you will only get worse results with every next mailing.

Not Scalable

Let’s imagine your mailing worked well and you got into a pretty good conversion. Unfortunately, you have almost no chance to replicate and scale this scenario.

Here’s why.

First off, if you keep sending campaigns to the same recipients, you will oversaturate the audience.

Secondly, if you wanted to get another database similar to this one, where would you get it without knowing any parameters of your email lists?

And third, if you want to build your own email list based on this experience, doing so without any personalization or segmentation will be almost impossible. You simply won’t know why this database worked and which persona converted.

Outreach Campaigns


Outreach campaigns aren’t something new or magical. They’ve been actively used for the last 4-5 years. This methodology breathed new life into the outreach processes, providing a way to solve the need for big, yet effective, campaigns.


Fresh Email Lists

Email lists used for outreach campaigns are better because they are sourced or generated specifically for and right before the campaign. Email lists for outreach campaigns are sourced or generated manually or semi-automatically. They use lead generation tools and services that allow you to find leads on websites, social networks, and more. A good practice is to also verify and validate all sourced and generated contacts.

Better Personalization

When you source contacts manually, you have a chance to collect additional information besides the person’s name and find any other parameters necessary for successful personalization.

If you are using a semi-automatic approach, you can benefit from tools and services that allow users to enrich sourced contacts on the go. Some of them even provide you with the person’s photo, social media links, and job experience. For example, many such tools allow you to source contacts not only from company websites but also from LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks.

Easy Segmentation

Outreach campaign lists are easily segmented. You can source contacts by targeting, thus creating your segments from the very beginning. However, if you are using tools and enrichment, you will automatically get enough parameters to run a precise segmentation process after you’ve generated your list. This will show you what works and what doesn’t, as well as allow you to adjust your messages for every segment.

Clear Goals

Email messages for outreach campaigns are shorter and clearer than those in bulk campaigns. Usually, there is only one CTA in the message. It’s either a question to start a conversation or a single link leading to an event/webinar/demo registrations. You don’t need to cover all fields. Your goal is clear because you know exactly what this lead can be converted with just from collecting it from specific sources.

Can be Adjusted On The Fly

Outreach messages are sent in smaller amounts. This is typically around 100-400 emails per campaign, or around 50-100 emails per day. This allows you to adjust your message or the whole campaign on the go. Even if you make a huge mistake and ruin a hundred contacts – you know where you can source a hundred more.

High Scalability

You generate contacts in that can be segmented into small groups – perhaps as low as a dozen contacts. So you can easily scale the whole outreach process once the perfect combination of audience and message is found. Generate more contacts from the same source, or switch to another one. Now that you know what works, you can replicate the perfect scenario with larger numbers.


Slower Process

Outreach campaigns are smaller than bulk ones. But the whole process is slower because you need to source or generate contacts first and then send your personalized emails in portions.

There are two clear ways to make this process faster:

Using a more advanced lead generation tool

Hiring more people for your outreach marketing team

Price-wise, purchasing a tool is a better option, especially for smaller businesses.

Key Technical Difference

The key technical difference between bulk and outreach campaigns is in the platforms and mail servers used.

Bulk campaigns are usually sent through email marketing platforms such as MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, etc. By sending campaigns through such services, users rely on the platform’s mail servers, not their own. There is a high risk of hitting spam traps and receiving spam complaints. Both of these factors can ruin your sender’s score. To avoid that, you will have to at least periodically switch platforms.

Outreach campaigns are sent through outreach and drip tools, such as, Reply, These use private or corporate email address, hosted on Gmail, Outlook, other public email providers or company mail server.

Pretty much any email account can be connected to a drip tool. This way the tool is just an assistant that automates the process, while the real sender’s address is your own. This improves your sender’s reputation, yet you can always easily switch accounts if necessary.


Outreach campaigns are laser-targeted, adjustable and technically flexible in comparison to bulk email campaigns. Of course, bulk campaigns are fast and easy to launch. But higher risks and worse results are what ruins any chances of efficiency. If you are an old-school bulk mailer, please make sure to at least use personalization and segmentation when possible.

Use bulk campaigns for your warm and existing users and subscribers only – for when you need to send a holiday offer, mass notification or an update. For cold contacts, it’s time to switch to smart outreach campaigns. You’ll get better results, save your reputation and actually reach out to the people you need.

Your Thoughts?

What is your take on email marketing? Has GDPR had any effect on your approach? Do you have any advice you’d like to add to the above? Please share them with your fellow readers, below. Thanks!


Paul Shuteyev is a digital marketer and growth hacker with 10 years of experience. Currently as a CMO of PromoRepublic, and a founder of, Paul also consults digital businesses on various digital marketing aspects, such as lead generation, PPC, inbound strategies, conversion optimization and more. You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn here, or tweet him @startupradius
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