They’re boring, ineffective and overwhelming an inbox near you. Freelance business writer Babu Basu warns against the rise and rise of the unwanted newsletter.
Opening your emails has just got a lot more dangerous.
We’ve all heard about vicious viruses and techie bugs that go crunch in the night. Now however, something new and appallingly mundane resides in your computer.
Ladies and gentlemen, it pains me to bring you ‘the unwarranted newsletter’.
In the noughties, the electronic newsletter fast became the darling of marketeers. Every company, group or individual thought they had something important to share. And come hell and high water, they were gonna share it.
In theory, email based marketing, is the ideal.
Low cost, punchy, instantaneous and environmentally friendly. Electronic newsletters should be the holy grail of marketing, shining in a sea of promotional gold. Alas, as we know, all that glitters is not so precious.
The dull reality
Dull, ineffective and clogging up your inbox – 9 times out of 10, newsletters are baaaad news. As a commercial writer it pains me to say this.
Members of my profession (well the better ones) fight continuously against dullness. Our job is to write sparkling copy for our clients. However, not everyone keeps a good copywriter to hand.
If appals me that some sellers bore the people they wish market to. We might think that it is our right to exploit technology, but it is not a right. It is both a privilege and responsibility. I’d like people to think of marketing as I do about quality broadcasting.
You do not have an automatic right to be on the airwaves, or beaming into peoples’ living rooms. If you’re lucky enough to have the access, use it with respect and don’t waste the opportunity.
If you’re going to invade someone’s inbox, the same rules apply.
Sending any form of marketing by email means you have a duty of care to the recipient. Mail out news that is worthy of the audience. This means that it needs to be well written, interesting and (here’s the biggie) relevant to the person.
Send boring, badly written, irrelevant tosh and people will simply delete it. Persist with this strategy and people start to get angry. And when that happens, you will never sell to them again.
The information tsunami
Each day we are enveloped by an information tsunami – flooding us with facts and drowning us with data. There was a time when people were just impressed to receive anything in their electronic post. Nowadays this no longer applies.
As we face the daily barrage of information, we have become more selective. For our own mental health, we’ve learnt to be switch off.
It is our only way of avoiding information overload.
BBC Learning English defines information overload as “a situation when you get so much information you are not able to think about it all clearly and it makes you tired and confused.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/newsextra/2010/02/100218_nw_information_society.shtml
According to secretsofexamsuccess.com, we retain 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we hear and see, 70% of what we say, 90% of what we do.
If you want your newsletter (or any other piece of writing) to be effective consider reader motivation.
If you understand what motivates someone to read, you are more likely to write for the reader, not for yourself. The reader is the most important person on the page / screen. So, ask yourself the following:
1) Does the reader need to read your writing to survive?
2) Does your reader need to read your writing because of work?
If the answer is no to the first two questions, then ask yourself the two more questions. And you need to be honest:
3) Would the reader really enjoy what I have written?
4) If the writing was sent to you and you were not connected with the subject, would you want to read it?
If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to atleast one of the last two questions, scrap the newsletter. Go shopping, have lunch, insult passers by if you must. Just don’t send the email.
In my piece ‘Manners – worthless or so very worth it?’ I considered the importance of manners in business. Manners in marketing, is equally important.
Only send newsletters to those who have willingly subscribed to them.
Serial networkers take note – collecting a business card at a meeting does not give you the automatic right to overpower inboxes with the mundane and meaningless.
Treat the inbox with respect.
Remember the point of marketing is to inform, interest and eventually sell. If you bore people you miss the opportunity to sell. You also help to undermine your own reputation.
And don’t equate length with efficacy.
Unlike gold, effective marketing is not measured in terms of weight. Instead, think about how diamonds are valued.
Your marketing needs to sparkle and have brilliance. It’s all about clarity and quality. Quantity comes in a very poor third.
Size, as they say, is not everything.