There’s a reason, of course. Right now, Social Media is the most effective way to put your name in front of your fans’ eyes every day. But, hey, it’s not perfect. Not everybody’s going to see it unless you’re AWESOME at social media.
And what if Facebook dies a terrible, slow, torturous death tomorrow? All the fans you attracted, informed, and entertained with so much effort? They’re GONE like a MySpace-flavored, Friendster-shaped bullet.
So we collect emails.
And we send stuff out to those emails. Problem is, most of us suck at it.
The thing is that the “newsletter” just ain’t what it used to be. The term itself is as antique as the Model T. But not nearly as sexy.
I’m just going to go ahead and word-geek out on you right now. It’s a thing I do pretty often, just warning ya’ now.
The word “Newsletter” first appeared in the year 1670 (Yeah, about the time the printing press was really picking up speed). Then it fell out of use until WHEN? Yep, the 20th century brought this little gem back into our lives. We managed to replace the word “ice box” with “refrigerator,” but the poor ol’ newsletter never got THAT linguistic favor.
Flash forward to 2014.
Our present-time Technological Freaking Mecca. I’ve got 6 email accounts, 2 Smart Phones, 2 tablets, 2 laptops, a desktop, and 3000 messages in my Spam Folders. You think I want a NEWSLETTER?
Look it, NOBODY wants a newsletter. Okay? Let’s just go ahead and STOP calling it that right meow, shall we? In fact, Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project has made this one of her primary missions. You know whose email I read EVERY time it lands in my inbox? Yep. Hers.
To US, those of us running businesses that want to keep some form of quasi-forever, if-social-media-dies-tomorrow communication with our customer besties, it’s an “Email List.”
It’s common sense for us to keep and update a line of direct communication with our base. Aye, but there’s the rub. Too many of us don’t treat our lists that way. What we send out to our email lists isn’t just boring.
Here’s why. These days, we all guard our email inboxes with razor sharp teeth. NO WAY is anything getting in that I don’t want to be there. I don’t want your newsletter. I want something else … something useful … something relevant.
It’s not enough to tell me that you won’t Spam me (um … thanks?), I want to know why I should CARE about your emails. And you know what? YOU should know why I want to care, too.
Think about the emails from businesses that you actually open and read. Why do you open them? Why do you read them?
There are a lot of ways to go about this, right? I subscribe to one corporate email list because one out of ever 3 of their emails gives me a coupon code for 10% off products that my business uses a lot. That is ALL I expect from them and that's all I ever get.
Hopefully, you've got higher aspirations for your customer email lists. Since you are in the business of building, encouraging, and growing your relationship with your clients, the same rules apply here that would apply if you were on a phone call with them.
Essentially, be interesting and USEFUL.
Let's say you run an online shop that sells coffee accessories.
Do I want to read about the coffee convention you're attending in Brazil this Christmas? Your local how-to-cold-brew class that's 1200 miles away from me? The whipped cream recipe you came up with while watching True Blood last night?
Nope. Nuh-uh. And well, yes, probably.
But do I want to know about something important that's happening in the coffee world? An idea for a hosting a coffee-and-cookie pairing party? Your once-a-year-sale? Cool and unusual ways I can send your products to my coffee-loving friends?
YES, I want to know about that. But I also need to know what I'm signing up for.
SO TELL ME.
Be all crazy honest about it.
Or, even better:
LOCAL Businesses be especially respectful of the inbox. If you've got a weekly class or event, don't send that out weekly. Send out the schedule at the top of the month and reminders via Social Media. (Be sure to put it in your monthly email that FB or other is where you'll be putting updates).
The "Love Letter"
This is a relatively new thing. I applaud its attempt to rehabilitate the antiquated "newsletter." But it's become so popular so quickly, it's already played.
Which brings us back to calling things what they are. There's still room for wit, pith, and creativity, mind you. But c'mon now. What you send out from your business is NOT a "Love Letter." It's just not. I don't want to get picky (OK, I do, a little bit). But calling your business emails "love letters" insults the poor, failing art of Love Letters.
And my intelligence. Again. It's like kicking a man when he's already down, bleeding on the floor, wishing he'd never questioned your billiard skills. So it's not a Newsletter. It's not a Love Letter.
It IS a direct medium of communication to those that love what you do.
RESPECT IT. Send good, useful, meaningful stuff.
FINALLY, EMBRACE THE UNSUBSCRIBERS
When you REGULARLY start sending out meaningful emails that are in line with what you do, respect, believe, and care about, people will Unsubscribe.
That's a GOOD thing. You WANT your Email list to be Your Gung-Ho People. That is NOT going to be everyone.
Get a good email service. Use its Anayltics. Observe. Learn. Grow.
And STOP sending sucky emails TODAY.
May your emails always leave your customers wanting another sip.
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