Friday, November 28, 2008

Email Marketing Disobedience: Six laws of proper e-Newsletter creation, and why you should ignore every one of them

by Gary Levitt

Nobody loves email marketing more than I do. But even I admit that within the grand taxonomy of consumer touchpoints, e-newsletters hold a sorry position.

They're the longwinded busybodies who never get invited to the cool parties. Porcelain-skinned print campaigns turn up their perky, sans-serif noses at e-newsletters' frumpy templates and canned copy. Super Bowl spots kick sand in e-newsletters' bespectacled faces.

Yet, these boxy embodiments of mediocrity move product and build loyalty. Marketing people are aware of this—they've proven it with charts and everything. You need an e-newsletter and you know it.

Before rolling up your sleeves, cranking up the REO Speedwagon, and cooking up some long-form creation-wizard-based love, please review the following six bromides from a recent how-to article phoned in by a reigning email-marketing magnate.

After each, I'll explain how to do the exact opposite so that you can avoid polluting the e-cosystem with mediocre e-newsletters.

1. Share expertise

Wrong—share ignorance. Consider the old Zen adage "the more I know, the less I know." It means the more expertise we have, the more we're dazzled by just how little we currently understand.

Pick something you're marvelously clueless about and confess the fact to your readers. They won't fault you for it—but they just might love you for it. As long as the topic you're "ignorant" about is something they didn't even know they were ignorant about until reading your enlightening e-newsletter.

2. Tell a success story

Wrong—tell a failure story. It humanizes your company and demonstrates your high standards. Example: a legendary 1960s ad for the Volkswagen Beetle showed just the car, with "Lemon" in bold type. The copy explained, "The chrome strip on the glove compartment was blemished and needs to be replaced."

While other car companies waxed self-congratulatory about success, Volkswagen cornered the market talking about failure. You can do the same with your e-newsletters—simply master the art of strategic self-criticism. It never fails.

3. Conduct a relevant interview

Wrong—conduct a gloriously irrelevant interview. Approaching a topic head-on can be a headache—especially if it's been done to death. Try a sideways approach. What can your design firm glean from interviewing a homeless man? How might a chat with a priest spice up your women's fashion newsletter? Why would a software developer pick a farmer's brain about emptying grain bins into semi trailers?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'm willing to read your e-newsletter to find out!

4. Take an in-depth look at a product or service you offer

Wrong—take an in-depth look at a product or service you refuse to offer. As the visionaries of 37signals say in Getting Real (sort of a Thomas Paine's Common Sense for the digital generation), "do less than your competitors in order to beat them."

Embrace l'esprit du moment by poking satirical fun at the superfluous features common to your industry. Waving the simplicity banner while it's still in vogue is smart—and your next e-newsletter is a smart place to wave it.

5. Springboard off of current events

Wrong—springboard off of that which is timeless. Your readers are suffering from information overload—spare them the latest trope on gas prices, politics and Paris Hilton. Realize that the guys reading your scrap metal e-newsletter probably don't give a rat's ass that it's Halloween.

And while you're at it, throw away the springboard. Relying on convoluted conversation-starters is a milquetoast way to win friends and influence people—both in life and in e-newsletters.

6. Ask your readers

Wrong—listen to readers. In the words of Louis Armstrong, "if you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know." Same wisdom applies to knowing the hearts of your readers. Get in sync with customers' needs by observing their riffs in natural online habitats built around your company. Replace pre-fab surveys with improvised forums. The intuition you gain will free you up to follow the inspiration of the moment and hit the high notes needed to create authentic brand loyalty.

* * *

Rebelling against clichés will keep your customers reading, and it'll keep you writing—without falling asleep. This matters. Readers can sense when you're just going through the motions. That can't be good for your brand, regardless of what the stats say.

So ask yourself: Am I excited about my e-newsletter? Does it express my voice and vision? Did I have fun creating it? If you have to ignore an army of email experts' advice (including mine) to get to where you can answer "yes" to those questions, so be it. That's called employing the virtues of e-newsletter disobedience.

Super Bowl commercials, watch out!


Anonymous said...

Τhanks in favor of sharing such a good thought, piece of ωrіting іs good, thats why i have reаd it completelу

Feel free to visit my homeрage :: payday loans
Also see my web site - payday loans

Anonymous said...

constantly i used to read smaller content which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am reading at
this place.

Here is my blog ... hawaiian cruise industry

Anonymous said...

Howdy! This blog pоst could not be written anу
better! Gοing through this article reminds me of mу previouѕ roommаte!
He continuаlly kept preaсhіng
abοut this. I am going tο forward thіs
article to him. Pгetty sure hе'll have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

my web site payday loans

Anonymous said...

The study participants taking the african mango also saw their cholesterol
go down and saw their blood sugar and then sudden decrease
in energy levels when using nitric oxide products.

Here is my site:

Anonymous said...

Even if to say most computers do not come with built-in hardware graphics accelerators,
the built-in video cards still come with significant
memory ranging upwards from 64 MB. The use of web design India becomes more and more popular
as the uses of internet increases. Having an expert help you
manage your site will enable you to employ the best advantage internet can give and reach out to millions of market prospects all
over the world 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Also visit my page: web design tucson

Anonymous said...

The bulk of programs are accredited, giving you that could be specialist in financial to people using poor credit accounts [url=]1 year loans[/url] long term loans Loan companies who have filled their websites that do not seem sensible are a solid warning in opposition to using their services

Anonymous said...

Hі theгe, I chеck youг new ѕtuff гegulаrlу.

Your humoristic style is witty, κeep it uр!

Checκ out my pаge :: Payday Loans

Anonymous said...

It's great that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our dialogue made here.

Have a look at my blog post :: Same Day Payday Loans

Anonymous said...

Hi сolleаgues, how is аll, and what yοu wish fοr tо ѕаy regarding this post, in
mу view its gеnuinely remагkable deѕigned for me.

Also visit my wеbpage; Same Day Payday Loans

Anonymous said...

This is a topic that's close to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?

Stop by my weblog: teeth whitening products

Anonymous said...

I would love to work ali lohan breast implants with Shweta Tiwari, his co-star?

When I open the fridge, like cutting the block
of Cheddar into small containers. The Hydroxycut diet or meal plan too rigid and stifling.
Caffeine is also a mild appetite suppressant, both
of which also contain fat.

my website; Allergan Breast Implant Sizes

Anonymous said...

Within 1 year of starting the best natural weight loss supplement system but
we recommend that you wait between 9 and 12 months before pursuing any further treatment to see whether there is any concern.
It's not as glamorous as it looks. Some forms of steroids are used in producing DIEM products.

Here is my web site; Acai Berry Select

Anonymous said...

These therapies are just one of the things that we've looked at as a possible breast implants cost london ontario allergic reaction. People with this condition compulsively pull out the hair on top of the shoulder, armpit, neck, and dcollet.

Here is my web-site:

Anonymous said...

I have help relief any discomfort you might be tone. [url=]source[/url] Click This Link The perks and benefits associated with sarkari naukari is the main Driving violence for folks who

Anonymous said... This type of insurance is designed to supplement your investments if you were to pass away before the investments reach a certain level.
Payment is made to the veterinarian at the time of service, and then a claim is submitted to the ASPCA via email, fax, or mail.