I used to spend a total of 30-minutes every day sorting through and deleting emails. Way too much. I’d signed up for and subscribed to everything, but I didn’t read everything. I didn’t care about 90% of what landed in my inbox. But the people on the other end of those emails and newsletters – the marketers and copywriters like me? They cared. They did their level best to lure, attract and convert.
For the most part, it didn’t work. This is why.
They didn’t really offer what I cared about…
I unsubscribed to everything one fine January morning. Unsubscribe, and if they still kept coming afterwards, “Mark as SPAM.”
(You really, really don’t want your stuff marked as Spam by Google – your carefully written material may never see the inside of an inbox again).
I was brutal. I got rid of everything. Even from companies I liked. Even from companies I loved (ahem, Modcloth).
And I was so much happier and more productive for it.
This isn’t supposed to happen.
In the minds of marketers and copywriters who spend years analyzing, refining and polishing sales funnels and email campaigns, if you produce good stuff, that stuff should lead to higher open rates and conversions! They didn’t. My inbox was cluttered with “good stuff.” Valuable information, useful tips, tempting sales.
But I kept 3 subscriptions.
Why? What was so magical about these three newsletters that I couldn’t let them go even in the heat of “GET RID OF IT ALL!”?
Let’s look closely at each one.
What do these three newsletters have in common?
- Anna Kunnecke’s weekly missive: Anna Kunnecke is a life coach, previous client, and one of my favorite human beings on the planet. Once a week she writes a post for her subscribers that hits their inbox reliably on Fridays (now Saturdays). Her posts are about what is going on in her busy life and how she’s handling it. She uses her personal story as a springboard to talk about how to be, in her words, an Epic F*ing Badass. I read her posts every week for two reasons: I love Anna as a person, and those tips are really helpful (I’ve forwarded her emails to friends more than once).
- A&P Collectibles every-once-in-a-while newsletter: This is a tiny antique shop in Old Towne Orange that I frequented when I lived in Orange County. The mother (90 and going strong!) and daughter who own the shop are generous, genuinely good people who know an awful lot about antique china and silverware. Lisa, the daughter, writes a lengthy, charming newsletter every month or two about her life (she just got married and is renovating her condo) and tells a story about a select few of their antique pieces. These newsletters are personal and, to an avid antique hunter like me (and the rest of their audience), very interesting. The best part about antiquing is learning the stories of old things, and that’s what Lisa delivers.
- Kaleigh Moore’s a Cup of Copy: Once again, I know Kaleigh personally (if only online), and her newsletters are slices of her professional life combined with extremely useful advice on the business and practice of copywriting. Her trick to engaging posts is to use a personal story as the “hook.” It works.
What do these three newsletters have in common?
They’re from people I love.
They’re about people I love.
They are personal first and foremost, AND interesting AND useful.
This is what large, faceless companies will never be able to do. This is what you, dear reader, as a personality-driven business can do better than anyone else.
Because your clients love you. As a person. They want to know how you’re doing, what you’re up to, and what funny thing your cat did yesterday. And they want the wisdom you have to offer. But mostly, they want to feel connected to you, and each time you send them an email or newsletter, they’ll open it because it’s like getting a letter from a friend.
That is how to take those industry-average open rates and blow them sky-high.
A few guidelines for writing these kinds of newsletters and emails successfully:
- Don’t abuse your power by sending too many messages. Send out a weekly missive, or a monthly newsletter, or an every-so-often newsletter, but do not bombard the inbox regularly. I’ve nixed several top copywriters for sending too much stuff.
- Break the first rule occasionally, like when you have a specific event or course you are promoting. This works because you…
- Always deliver valuable insights and interesting ideas. By giving away so much wisdom, you train your audience to open what you send – and you win their trust and loyalty.
- Get personal. Use a personal story as your hook, because people are there to spend time with YOU! If they just wanted information, there’s a tightly packed self-help section at the bookstore. No, they want to feel connected to you.
Now, maybe you’re new to this and are wondering why you should write a newsletter at all.
Confession: I have a newsletter sign-up sheet on my home page because someone told me I should have one there for sales-funnely reasons. I’ve never sent one (sorry). This is dumb of me. Here’s why:
For anyone who wants happy, lovely clients to keep coming back for more (don’t we all?) and referring their friends, newsletters help us stay on their radar. In marketing jargon, this is called “staying top of mind.” You want to stay on the tops of their minds so they’ll think about you when they’re talking to friends who have problems you can help with (“Oh, hey, you should talk to Lauren because she’s a whiz at helping with…”). And so they’ll think of you when they’re experiencing problems you’re uniquely able to solve.
Oh, and this top-of-mind thing works even if your subscribers don’t open or read your emails, because they still see them to delete them, which is why there’s so much junk mail in the world. Crafty marketers know this.
But you will have people reading what you write because you will make it personal, interesting and valuable. However, increasing those open rates takes time because you are winning peoples’ trusts and proving your worth, and that doesn’t happen overnight.