WILK: Words I’d Like to Kill — E-blast

WILK: Words I’d Like to Kill is an occasional feature on SellingOut.com, where I identify a word, phrase, acronym, or piece of jargon that I think needs to go on permanent vacation. It’s usually because the word itself is either harmful to the success and interests of the live entertainment business or just downright annoying. Maybe both.

Our WILK today is “e-blast.”

Have you ever been e-blasted?

Did you enjoy that experience?

Frequently, I hear marketers of live entertainment talk about “e-blasts,” by which they mean, well, email. To be more specific, what they’re really talking about is big, fat group emails promoting their product to some list of people. The hope is that it turns into big dollar sales for their event

So if “e-blast” is synonymous with “email,” why does it bother me so much?

Because it reveals your true mindset about how to use email: put it on blast. It doesn’t suggest that you’re sending somebody something relevant, interesting, or anticipated by them. You’re hitting as many people as you legally can because you’ve realized that an email that doesn’t work costs you very little, so why not send more?

Blast away.

The temptation not to use email properly is so strong that having a word like “e-blast” floating around in your organization or in your mind is a very dangerous and damaging thing. Email open rates used to average 20, 30, or 40 percent, and good email managers (ahem) used to see numbers way higher than that. But after 15 years or so of commercial “e-blasting,” customers are fatigued with being shot at and so the industry average has dropped to 10 percent or less.

“Email” or “promotional email” says everything “e-blast” says without making you sound like a psychopath who also happens to be living in 1998. (The ‘e’ part where it’s not needed does that.)

But if you absolutely must shoot something at your customers, “targeted email” works fine too.

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  • Patrick Varon says:


    While the phrase “e-blast” connotates a whole lot of understandable negativity for your, the alternative you suggested is, quite frankly, just as bad. Last time I checked, nobody loves the experience of being somebody elses target. Even if it’s for something as innocent as an email, nobody loves knowing there’s a bullseye painted on their head. Do you?

    For me and for many other people, knowing I am a “target” connotates unwanted attention and possibly criminal activity. We live in a day and age of gun violence, sexual violence, and fraud, and many other unsavory activities where we are potential “targets”. I can only imagine the pain of a parent’s loss when a shooters goes into a school and targets other students and opens fire. Awful.

    In the interest of not being disrespectful and insulting, please add the word “target” to the rest of the language that needs to go on a permanent vacation.

    Patrick Varon

  • Jim McCarthy Jim McCarthy says:

    Yeah, I pretty much agree with you, Patrick.

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