Modern email marketing tools like ConvertKit and Drip provide two main ways to send emails, sequences and broadcasts. It’s not always obvious when you should use a sequence, and when you should use a broadcast. In this article, I’m going to outline how I’m using these two options and hopefully shed some light on it for you.

What is a broadcast email?

A broadcast is a one-off email that you send to all or part of your list. You can either send it in real time (hit send and your subscribers get it right away) or schedule it for a future time.

Once a broadcast has seen sent, that’s it, it’s gone. Any new subscribers will not see that broadcast unless you resend it as a new broadcast.

You might see broadcasts called something else in different email service providers. Here are some examples of the various names used:

  • Broadcast: used by ConvertKit, Drip
  • List Email: used by Pardot
  • Campaign: used by Campaign Monitor

What is a sequence?

A sequence is a series of emails that are sent to any subscribers that are added to that sequence. If a new subscriber is added to a sequence, they will get all of the emails in the sequence in the correct order.

Emails within a sequence are generally set to send at certain intervals after a subscriber has been added to it. For example, you might have a sequence that sends the first email immediately, and the second email in 2 days time (after the subscriber has been added).

Like broadcasts, you might see sequences called something else in different email service providers. Here are some examples of the various names used:

  • Sequences: used by ConvertKit
  • Campaign: used by Drip
  • Automation Journey: Campaign Monitor

In the context of this article, they all do the same sort of thing (send timed emails to any subscriber added to it).

When to use sequences

Whenever you want your subscribers to get a set of pre-determined emails, you can use a sequence. Here are a few examples of common sequences:

  • Welcome: Typically one or two emails that introduces yourself to new subscribers and let’s them know what to expect
  • Email course: A series of emails that takes a subscriber from point A to point B
  • Abandoned cart: automated emails sent to subscribers that visit your sales page or add a product to your shopping cart and don’t end up buying

When to use broadcasts

Broadcasts are used when you have a one-off email that you want to send to all or part of your list. Here are a few examples of common broadcasts:

  • New content: You’ve written a new article and want to share it with your subscribers
  • New product: You are about to release a new product and want to let your subscribers know
  • Segmenting: You want to send an email that will segment your subscribers (more on this in a future article)

How I’m using broadcasts and sequences

When I used Drip, I had a lot of sequences (or campaigns, as Drip called them) and also workflows that sent emails (like a sequence but with more control). When I moved across to ConvertKit, I simplified everything and removed all of the workflows. As a consequence, I’ve been sending mostly broadcast emails ever since with a small handful of sequences.

But in the coming year I’m going to be investing a lot more time in sequences on my other website, BeFused. Why? Because the purpose of BeFused is to educate people and help them get to the next stage in their educational journey. In other words, I want to take people from point A to point B. But point A can vary for my subscribers. This is where the power of segmenting comes in. I know from my research that the people that I help fall into a few broad camps. And each camp has very different needs. So when a new subscriber arrives at my site and into my email list, I’m able to funnel them into the right camp for them and put them into the right sequence. This ensures that the educational experience they receive is optimised for them.

Typically people land on the site because they have Googled for an answer to a problem that they have. The type of article that they land on will determine which sequence is best for them. In some cases, I’ll offer them a free guide or cheatsheet to make it easier for them to learn. After they receive that, I’ll send them to a relevant sequence.

I still send broadcasts. Most of the broadcasts I send are for new educational content that I know will help my audience learn. This is in the form of a juicy tip or new tutorial that I’ve published on my blog.

I also use these broadcasts to segment people in my list. This means that I’m grouping people based on what topics interest them and where they are at in their journey. This will enable me to offer them further emails that will be tailored to what interests them. And those further emails will be in various sequences.

General rule

As a general rule, if you want to send a series of emails to subscribers now and in the future, regardless of when they sign up, set up a sequence. If you want to send a one-off email now, send a broadcast.

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