Clues for Successful Email Newsletters

  |  April 27, 2001   |  Comments

If you run an email newsletter, you may have noticed there's a lot of new competition. Luckily, Dana clues us in on how to avoid two disturbing trends and stay on top.

If you run an email newsletter, you may have noticed there's a lot of new competition.

Editor & Publisher (E&P) reports that 41 percent of standard print publications now have email adjuncts. The strongest growth is among business-to-business (B2B) titles.

The economics we've discussed here for years is behind the trend. Click-throughs are higher on email than on Web banners. Costs are relatively low, and profits can be very high.

According to the E&P story, many print publishers are now depending on email to fuel their growth.

My guess is, however, that a lot of them are going to be disappointed.

I've noticed two disturbing trends in these letters. First, they're not always pure opt-in.

For instance, I recently got a card from a popular trade publication that will remain nameless, asking if I'd like a free subscription. I completed the required form but was then informed that I would be on a waiting list and would get its email newsletter in the meantime.

Now do you think this phony opt-in bait-and-switch tactic is going to make me a loyal reader of either the email newsletter or the print publication? (I don't think so.)

Another, bigger problem is that most of these so-called "newsletters" are dry, dry, dry. They basically consist of links back to the publisher's Web site, perhaps with a summary paragraph on each story. Oh, and lots of ads.

This is awesomely Clueless. Email is a far more personal medium than print. It demands a different writing style.

Also, email and print are very different media. If you want your email to be read, you're going to have to have it written -- preferably by a writer, and preferably by a writer with something to say.

The best email newsletters don't just offer news, but opinion and wit. They leave you thinking. And they don't just leave you clicking back to the author's home page. They open your day by opening your mind. They may be funny, they may be controversial, but they are never boring.

Unfortunately, this is not the way print publishing works. Too many of these newsletters are being run by committees or foisted off on young drudges. The result is garbage, product that is little better than the spam it claims to replace.

Don't expect things to change soon. Because they're tied to existing trade lists (and people who don't want to lose the print product), these letters can build circulation quickly. Also because they're tied to print publications (and print ads), they may have pretty high click-throughs, at least at first, as readers connect electronically to the companies whose ads they've seen for years.

But these are short-run phenomena. As readers become savvier, they become choosier. They may not unsubscribe (and risk losing their print fix), but, over time, they won't read boring newsletters closely. They may not even open them.

Let me summarize. If you want your newsletter to be read, make sure you have something to say. If you want to build a list of fans, encourage them to pass your newsletter along and keep them excited.

Now go and sin in my inbox no more.

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dana Blankenhorn

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter for more than 20 years. He has written parts of five books and currently contributes to Advertising Age, Business Marketing, NetMarketing, the Chicago Tribune, Boardwatch, CLEC Magazine, and other publications. His own newsletter, A-Clue.Com, is published weekly.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Lead Generation Specialist
      Lead Generation Specialist (The Oxford Club) - BaltimoreThe Oxford Club is seeking a talented writer/marketer to join our growing email lead-generation...
    • Health Marketing Editor
      Health Marketing Editor (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreCome flex your intellectual muscle as part of Agora, Inc’s (http://agora-inc.com/) legal team...
    • Technical Business Analyst
      Technical Business Analyst (OmniVista Health) - BaltimoreOmniVista Health is looking to add a Technical Business Analyst to our expanding team...