A few years ago, maybe a couple actually I wrote a post about Effective Newsletter Writing on a very popular Marketing forum. That post got thousands of views and a lot of comments and gained a lot of attention. The thing is though that newsletter writing is one of those core Internet Marketing Staples that actually does not change or alter very often. SEO and other channels can change daily, but your Email and Newsletter lists are things that as long as you keep giving them what they want in a format they like, you should always be able to tap into it when you need a sales boost.
Basically your Newsletter will always be something dependable as long as you keep one thing in mind. Your Audience.
Sure, your topics may change and sure the way you deliver it may change, RSS, HTML, Text, Video, Podcasts, etc… but one the one thing that will never change is your Audience (unless you expand your Business, product lines and Marketing channels) and providing them with the thing that caused them to sign up to get Newsmails from you in the first place.
For example, suppose you are all about Podcasts and sending through RSS to people’s iGoogle accounts or other RSS readers and aggregates. This may be high tech and seriously cool, but if 25% of your readership isn’t techliterate (not sure if that is a real word but I like it anyways) then guess what, you have just abandoned and alienated 25% off your readership and lost out on their eyes, ears and their pocketbooks for your advertisers. One thing I have seen tons of people do is alienate their audience because they have an overinflated ego or because they want to appear high tech, modern, up to speed, etc…
The reality is that it is ok to do that if you have money to burn, but when that reality comes to a reality check and you are hurting or when your company flat-lines, sales start dropping and your Consultants and people that actually drove real sales to you are fed up with your Ego and lack of respect for your actual audience; you are pretty much a goner.
Sure you can get a second chance, sometimes a third if you are very lucky, but the reality is that you always have to remember one thing, it is your audience that matters most because they are the ones who are spending their money with you. Without them you are nothing, after the “being the big guy” “appearing bigger than you are” “being the most high tech, advanced, most fabulous thing in existence” wears off, if you haven’t driven them away trying to pretend to be something that really wasn’t the core of your business, then they are still the staple that keeps you afloat. So here is the thing to remember in general and then we’ll go back to the Newsletter and how this all relates back to not alienating your audience with your newsletters.
Your core audience is your money maker. Keep them happy and keep it so they can get your Marketing messages and in turn keep coming back to you. There is nothing wrong with trying new things, but if people are showing you that you are not making money, or it will hurt your money maker channels like Email, Affiliate, TV, etc… then pull the plug. Who cares if the person kisses your butt or you look like the big guy, it isn’t good for you business and will hurt your other channels and those people that were willing to work with you will start to leave you. How does this relate to your newsletters? Simple.
Suppose your audience is in my age range. We shop online, we can work with the internet and we have an mid to advanced knowledge of tech products. The problem is we don’t normally use RSS feeders and readers because they are a hassle and we just don’t get them. We have a lot of spending power, but we are also completely opposed to pop ups, spam mail, etc… What we really want is our message. We won’t get it through a podcast (email wise) because we don’t have the attention span and we like to fast forward through commercials. We don’t use RSS and we like a lot of color. So with that said, old fashioned HTML with a text option may be the perfect way to go. Unfortunately because we also have a limited attention span, you need to cut out all the fluff and just tell me in a couple short lines what it is you are pitching.
Tell me your message in writing, show me a pretty picture outlining it and guess what, I’ll respond. If your message is mixed, if the wording is bent, curved, if what you are trying to say isn’t clear, chances are that I will ignore it and walk away. You have about three seconds to get your point across or you will lose me. So what can you do?
Simple. Evaluate your subject line.
- Is is short?
- Does it get the point across?
- Will it hit spam filters?
Look at your copy.
- Am I able to get the point within seconds?
- Is it short and easy to see?
- Are the images or is the text going off in too many directions?
- Does the theme hold and match everything else?
Then if you feel confident in your message, send it to a sample of your audience and see how they react. If you are an image based newsletter, use overlay maps, you’ll be amazed where people look and click, especially if your messaging isn’t clear. It is also important to not have too many messages in one email or newsletter. Keep to your theme and make your landing page match so your message carries through it.
Now about alienating your audience, well, if you don’t do those things, people in my generation may not react well to it. If you want my parent’s generation, guess what, you need to really focus on the content and text and you’d better keep out all the fancy stuff like pretty pictures as the focus.
A good portion of my parent’s generation are not tech savvy at all; however many of them do love to read. Heck they are retired, they don’t have much else to do but read everything that comes across their desktop. Deliver a simple email with a catchy subject line to hook them and a fine tuned headline to keep them focused, then give them something that they will want to read more or “learn more” about to reel them in and you have now done your job as far as delivering a message to that audience without alienating or excluding them from getting the actual message and actually reading it.
If you go after my little sister’s generation, they are much more tech savy. They love their RSS readers, their Podcasts, etc… You can easily incorporate them into your Email and Newsletter campaigns without much education on how to set it up and you won’t alienate as much of them as you would with my generation or my parents.
It is important however to remember a few things when sending your newsletters to help lessen the chance of alienating your audience.
- Remember what they came for and give it to them. (Skip the fluff and show them the actual benefits short and to the point).
- Make sure your messaging is right for that particular group. (Test and test your messages again and then send to the whole group. The whoel group doesn’t mean the whole list. It could be age group for part of it, by city, by zipcode whole group, etc… ).
- Make sure you don’t try to show off to build your own ego. (Deliver the message the best and easiest way for your audience to receive it, who cares what everyone else thinks, they aren’t your customers).
- You don’t have to be the biggest guy to be successful. (You just have to deliver the best message and give the best service. They’ll keep coming back and you will grow).
- Show the newsletter for 2 seconds to some people in your office who are not in marketing then ask them to tell you what the campaign is about. (If they cannot tell you your message after only seeing it for two or three seconds, rethink the campaign. (This is more of a general tip, but an important one!)).
- Write your messaging for your audience and make the pictures match. (If you are going after Senior Citizens for vacations, show Seniors having fun in your images and write about activities they like. Chances are not many are getting up on surf boards. If it is Gay People, show gay couples in the images and make the landing page about how your vacations cater to Gay Peoples’ needs.)
It is really common sense to create and deliver Newsletters and Email Campaigns to your audience without alienating them. Just sometimes, every quarter probably, you should step back and look at what you have changed then ask yourself. Can my audience get the message, is it geared towards them, have I segmented it out for delivery via the channel most suited to the people reading it, what can I do better, have I looked at past campaigns and similar campaigns, what has improved what hasn’t, etc…. and you should be on your way to having a Newsletter and Email list that not only opens your emails more but may also react better to it since it is more geared towards them and gives them the information they want, are looking for and need.
In short – Give them your Newsletter in a format they can receive and with a Message they will relate too. It’s just that simple.
There is a lot more that goes into this like datamining, deliverability, age of your list, etc…. but this post is about not leaving people out by trying to be advanced or appear cutting edge or something you are not. Again, these are just my opinions and things I can talk about from my past experience. They may or may not work for you and if you want my opinion on your particular campaigns or my help, please feel free to write me at adamr (at) adamriemer (dot) me and we can set up a consultation for your Newsletter and Email Marketing campaigns.