It’s been a long time coming.
For the past few years, our inboxes have been filling up faster than my wine glass on a Friday night. As spam filters have got better, the numbers of “proper” spam emails have been dropping. Using services such as GMail means that I rarely see an offer to claim my inland revenue refund or to track the delivery of my parcel. These all go straight to the spam folder and get cleaned out regularly. Horrah!
However, inboxes are still getting fuller and fuller, quicker and quicker; Amazon’s personalised recommendations, Johnny Boden’s pick of the week, Twitter and Facebook kindly taking the trouble to update you of who’s tagged/mentioned/suggested you.
And as for all those email newsletters you’ve signed up over the past few months and years!
Who achieves an empty inbox?
So why is it that so many businesses still offer a free email newsletter on their websites today?
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Have you ever stopped to ask yourself whether anyone really wants another email in their inbox? Especially if only to alert them of the latest news and update from you.
Yes Please. I really want to find out that you’ve recruited a new member of staff this week. How fabulous for you!
Wow. Gimme now. I just can’t wait to get your next list of special offers and promotions.
OK. I’m probably being a little facetious. But you get my point, don’t you?
When was the last time you decided you liked a website so much that you signed up for their newsletter?
And signing up to your competitors’ doesn’t count!!
Of course, you know you should be building a database of potentially interested people, who may one day spend money with you. (You do, don’t you?) Why wouldn’t you offer a way of allowing someone to add themselves to that database.
But it’s been a long, long time since offering an email newsletter was a compelling offer to grab.
Back in 2004 when I first started working for myself, I decided to offer an email newsletter. It worked well back then as so few people who offering this and the thought of getting an interesting email in their inboxes was a wonderful concept.
How times change ;o)
“Hang on”, I hear you mutter. “But don’t you send me an email newsletter?”
Sure. It’s probably how you came to read this article. The email newsletter that I send out every 2 weeks or so is a critical part of my marketing strategy. Why wouldn’t I want to reach out to you every couple of weeks or so?
I wouldn’t want to leave you contacting me to chance. Plus I also want to give value by writing articles such as these so that they could help you in your own marketing. Without value, my emails would be just promo after promo. And no one wants that, do they?!
The email newsletter is far from dead. In fact it is still very much alive and works. But not in the way that it used to.
What’s dead is offering it as a way for people to add themselves to your database. Because that’s exactly what most people don’t want. They don’t want to be part of a database … they want a free tip, strategy, answer to their big problem, quick fix.
And it’s this that you need to offer on your websites.
Opt-in offers, lead magnets, lead gen products, ethical bribes.
There are numerous names for them. But it’s these that will make a MASSIVE difference to how successful you are in building a database.
Stop offering an email newsletter. And give your potential customer something to help them; both to start solving their problem whilst also demonstrating why you could be the right solution for them to buy.
There’s a lot of options available to you; from videos and e-courses through to live training sessions and even CDs or DVDs in the post which gives you postal addresses (a very useful piece of information to help make your marketing more successful!).
The simplest option by far – which is the one I recommend most business owners get started on – is the ebook. A word document, made to look pretty with a good template and converted to a PDF. Tah da! An instant leap into the world of publishing ;o)
Of course, there is much more to be done to make it as successful as you want it. But you have start somewhere. And right now, your starting point is to remove that email newsletter sign up from your website and replace it something that your potential customers actually want.
What do you think of email newsletters? Do you offer one on your website? I would love to know your thoughts and ideas. Please leave a comment below.
Totally agree Karen – and I’m embarrassed to say (but will anyway for the sake of honesty) that I do have an ’email newsletter’ sign up on my website, even though the content of that ‘newsletter’ is actually helpful tips and advice like yours. Time to update it I think! Thank you 🙂
Thank you for being honest and owning up Jane. Why not ask your current list what problem they want solving right now … and then create a freebie offer that provides an answer or two to help solve it.
I’ll tell you what I think of email newsletters Karen – if you sign up for my email newsletter! 😉 Just kidding! I have one; my opt-in offer is a 10 day personal development course, called ‘If you want it, have it.’ It means I am building a lovely little list of people interested in my content.
But as for being the receiver of free newsletters – it’s like an addiction signing up to all these ‘shiny shiny’ offers. I am forever unsubscribing to things because the greedy part of my brain couldn’t resist the opt-in offer. In fact a great niche might be a free ecourse in how to stop signing up for newsletters! I’d sign up to that ecourse! 🙂
Ah yes … I would subscribe to that ecourse too 🙂
Creating my ebook has been on my to do list far too long. Very valid points, Karen.
Well get to it Cheryl ;o)
My email newsletter is one of the most effective ways of promoting my business! I recently took on a new client who had been reading the marketing tips and advice I send out every month, for 5 years. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people and share your expertise over time. But you’re right Karen – news about the business isn’t what a ‘newsletter’ should be about. Useful information and advice is what makes a great newsletter. Perhaps we shouldn’t call them ‘newsletters’ anymore?!
Right in the middle of struggling to fill my client’s newsletter with useful content and up pops your blog. A chance, I feel, to put it on the back boiler and worry about again on Monday! Thank you Karen