I have a confession. I have about 15 different how-to marketing ebooks on my desktop right now. And I haven’t read a single one. One of those 15 may be yours. I didn’t read it. So sorry about that.
I also receive several truly valuable email newsletters that I really do want to read. I star them in Gmail. I create reminders. “Read so-and-so’s newsletter.”
And why don’t I? There’s no time! Ugh, that’s trite.
Those ebooks and email newsletters have all of the content marketing ingredients:
- They’re aligned with my objectives
- They give me information I need
- They have CTAs and images and infographics up to wazoo
So why have their creators failed to get me to read them? Even though they exhort me with “Now, don’t just download this and not put this into action…” or have false urgency to make me read them “this offer, like a letter to Inspector Gadget, will self-destruct in 5 seconds!”
But….there are 2 email newsletters I will read, however, without fail
It doesn’t matter how busy I am, how sleep-deprived, how distracted I am by work and the world and even my family and my incredibly needy cats: I will make time to read these 2 email newsletters. The senders probably don’t know it, because I’m a jerk who uses a pixel blocker, but I have a 100% open rate for their email newsletters.
I actually pay for one of these email newsletters. So I asked myself just now, “what makes me open these emails every time?”
Why would someone want to open your newsletter every single time?
Be honest with yourself. Are you sending people emails they’re dying to read? Is your newsletter that good?
Is your ebook? Your blog posts? Your videos? ANY of your content?
C’mon Jenn, just tell us what the email newsletters are
I read The Skimm every day, and The Middle Finger Project whenever it shows up.
- The Skimm: important news, made skimmable and with an edge. It’s free.
- The Middle Finger Project: business and marketing intelligence delivered with attitude. (This is free, but there’s also a paid version. I get both).
Don’t you stampede off to sign up just yet! There’s a lesson in here that’s about your business. Don’t give yourself short shrift. I’m even going to work in a literary reference that would make my poetry don proud.
Why I read the Skimm newsletter every time
It’s really easy for me to fall behind on current events – because I love my clients and family so much I give them the bulk of my time.
The Skimm tells me what’s going on. Period.
I could just subscribe to the New York Times or what have you. But the Skimm is better.
- It’s written so that I get everything I need in one place: that email.
- It’s truly skimmable: section headings, short paragraphs.
- It doesn’t assume you remember what they said last week: each time they remind you, in less than 2 sentences, what the news item is about and/or why it’s important.
But what’s really most important? The style. There’s a dry wittiness to the writing that usually makes me smirk. At the end of reading each newsletter, I feel like: now I know what’s happening in the world.
Why I read The Middle Finger Project every time
Ash Ambirge is the force of nature behind The Middle Finger Project (TMFP). When I get one of her emails, I actually feel excited, which is saying a lot for someone with a heart of nickle and scissors (me).
I get any number of marketing, business, and/or entrepreneurial emails. Any number of hustlers stuffing me into their funnel. So why is TMFP different?
It’s more than just the style. It’s the overwhelming power of Ash’s voice – and her voice happens to be one that speaks strongly to me. It is uniquely her viewpoint. I can’t get that anywhere else.
And she tells a great story. As an Irish girl, I appreciate the hell out of that. Ash is someone who at one point had $26 to her name and was living out of her car. She wrote one email that got her a couple thousand dollars, which she used to fly to Costa Rica….and now she makes a million dollars a year and she gets to cuss while she’s doing it.
Tell me you don’t want to know how she did that.
At the end of each newsletter, I feel like: yeah, I love this new idea! How can I use it? Where do I start? Clear my schedule, there’s work to be done!
How to make your customer drop everything and read your email newsletter
I was thinking to myself, “What can I write about that someone will actually want to read? How can I make the Moondog customer drop everything and read this blog post?”
So I thought about why I drop everything. And it’s because the newsletter (or blog or what have you):
- Makes it very easy for me to accomplish a very specific task: stay up to date with the world. I know exactly what I’m getting with The Skimm and I don’t have to worry that opening up the email means opening a complicated Pandora’s box of trying to understand what someone is talking about, or waiting for all of the bells and whistles of their newsletter to download before I can read it. Get in, get out.
- Has a unique voice that I enjoy the hell out of reading. And to me, that’s the most important. Plenty of email newsletters try and fail to do #1. Even if they succeed at #1 they’re still just giving me information I could get in a million other places. They don’t have this unique voice that I’m dying to read.
Point #2 is almost pablum at this point: the marketplace is crowded with people shouting, be yourself! Own your voice! Be the authentic you. Live your “best” life.
All of that makes me roll my eyes because funnily enough, the result of most people being their authentic selves is a lot of sameness. Hmm. Somehow that advice is not computing!
So let’s keep it simple for now. Just try this. Spend like 15 minutes thinking through this.
- First think about why YOU drop everything you’re doing to read a newsletter (or what have you). Get curious about it. Write down those basic ideas. Any newsletter is fine. I used to get some of those flash sale emails and I’m not too proud to admit I’d open them every day and look through. Why? Because I wanted great deals on those particular items.
- Next, think about why your target audience / brand persona would drop everything to read something. What do they need from YOU and only you? One great story to make them change their thinking? Discounts? Nirvana? What?
- I can’t tell you the third step really because I think you’ll know once you answer those 2 questions. But word to the wise: watch your frequency. Some of these marketer entrepreneur business people can just exhaust you with the amount of email they’ll send you. Don’t be that guy, okay?
Look at your current newsletter. Does it do any of what you just wrote about?
What changes can you make to get it there?
The tl;dr version of this blog post comes to you courtesy of Robert Frost
Robert Frost’s The Figure a Poem Makes is a lovely little essay about what makes a poem good. It’s completely applicable. I’m going to butcher it a bit by sharing these points:
- No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. The thing you’re writing should be something you want to read, too.
- The sound is the gold in the ore. The sound or voice of your writing is what makes it valuable.
- It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. Yes, that is the story arc here! The hero’s journey is well and good but you’re not writing a novel, you’re writing a newsletter. Make your reader feel something, and then walk away a little smarter for having read it.
I love good writing. If your newsletter is chock full of good writing, drop me a note to tell me about it. (No robo-signups…that would just be so gauche).