To me, “feng shui” translates to “decluttering.” Part of the idea is that by decluttering, you can free up some positive energy that may be blocked.
Though I’ve done a pretty good job over the years of decluttering my office, my e-mail inbox is another story.
As a writer, I’m an avid reader and researcher. Hence, I’m up to the gills in e-newsletters on every topic related to my myriad clients, as well as personal and business interests. I didn’t realize how over the top things had gotten until my assistant looked at my inbox and commented, “Boy, you get a lot of e-newsletters. Do you need them all?”
The question should have been, “Do you read them all?” Of course, the answer is, “No way,” though I always intended to.
So I cast a critical eye on my e-mail inbox and asked, “When did I read this last?” and “Does this help or hurt my productivity?”
Gone were all the eDiet, WeightWatchers, and WebMD e-mail messages. I unsubscribed with abandon from all the online stores with offers I never took advantage of. (I kept Staples for office supplies). I got rid of all the e-newsletters related to past clients’ projects.
Some of the hardest to let go of were e-newsletters published by colleagues and friends I could just never get around to reading.
I made the mistake of summarily unsubscribing to one friend’s blog. She sent back a hurt “sorry to see you go,” which made me realize you can’t just push the “unsubscribe” button on a friend. I wrote an apology, explaining I was on e-mail overload, and hoped she would understand.
From then on, I wrote notes to colleagues immediately after unsubscribing to soften the blow. I also feel a pang when I see the unsubscribe list for my own e-newsletter.
What do I see about the e-newsletters I decided to keep? Some interesting patterns:
- Frequency doesn’t matter if the content is relevant and truly needed. I didn’t unsubscribe to small business e-newsletters like Fabienne Frederickson’s Client Attraction System, published every Friday. Or Ilise Benun’s Marketing Mentor, which comes on a semi-regular basis. Both these e-newsletters always have very relevant content for me as a small-business owner.
- One-pagers are more digestible. I can never get to an e-newsletter’s bottom articles, and I hate printing each article individually to read on the train when I try to catch up on reading. (Based on that insight, my own e-newsletter is up for a redesign!)
- E-newsletter readers can’t resist new e-newsletters. As soon as I unsubscribed to a bunch, I started subscriptions to another, based on more current business interests and projects.
A while back, e-mail expert Eileen Shulock mentioned in a presentation 16 e-newsletters is the limit for most people. I’m sure I’m still higher than that, but I’m starting to recognize my own limits and continuing to cut back.
When e-newsletters first emerged, they were a novelty. Everyone signed up. Now, everyone’s inundated and the amount of content available to us is overwhelming.
What does this mean to an e-newsletter publisher? Pay attention to unsubscribes. Find out why they’re leaving by putting a quick survey in the unsubscribe form. Try a one-pager and test publishing it more frequently. If you’re starting from scratch, make sure your e-newsletter is Office 2007 compliant with no background colors, too many photos, or built-in surveys.
Let Karen know your preferences in B2B e-newsletters; who’s publishing the best ones; and what formats, writing styles, content, and the like that you prefer.
Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.