Judith: Last week, you’ll remember that I said we would return to marketing over and over, and we would call it Marketing 101 because we’re going to strip it back to basics for the newbies. The same rules apply, Nicola, which is, forget 3/4 of what you know and speak at half the speed.
Nicola: My daughter found that highly hilarious when she heard me.
Judith: Did she, did she?
Judith: This is a two point question. Email newsletters. Why? How is content and purpose different from blogs?
Nicola: We actually tend to disagree a little bit on this one, don’t we?
Judith: I know it’s going to be fun, isn’t it?
Nicola: Mmm… (Affirmative). I’m actually looking at your latest e-zine that’s just come in.
Judith: Of course I’m looking at it too because you’re making me look at your screen.
Nicola: It’s lovely, by the way; it looks absolutely beautiful.
Judith: Thank you. Let me repeat. Let’s start with the first half of the question.
Judith: The first half of the question is: I’m newish online – so I’m talking in my client’s voice – and Judith keeps telling me I’ve got to have an opt-in and a newsletter. Why?
Nicola: Because your potential prospects and tribe are very distracted by lots of things every day. We take in ridiculous amounts of information. Apparently we take in more in a day than a peasant of yore would have taken in in a hundred years. There is lots and lots of… What are you laughing at?
Judith: Who is this peasant of yore? I love the idea of him.
Nicola: Well he lived in the 14th century and he just got up, and back –
Judith: He only lived until he was 27, Nicola, he probably would be a –
Nicola: He’d have even less information, wouldn’t he, because he’d have such a short life. In his walk between his hovel and his field, where he had to till the land – I’m about to burst into some sort of hymn any minute – he was not bombarded with advertising messages to the extent that we are now.
It’s about attention. You have to keep your potential tribe member engaged with you. They have visited your website, they’ve found you somehow, they put their name and email in because they want to hear from you. That’s a very important point: They want to hear from you. It’s your duty, really, to remind them that you exist, to remind them of your value, and that you can help them. An e-zine’s a pretty good way of doing that.
Judith: Ok now before we go onto the second point. How do I, newbie online person, make them want to hear from me?
Nicola: Well initially; or after they’re at your website?
Judith: Once they’re at my website and they’re hovering on opting in, how do I demonstrate that I’m want-able to hear from? I don’t know I’ve lost myself now, but you know what I’m saying. When you said you know, they want to hear from you, why? That’s the question. Why are they going to want to hear from me when there’s so much noise in the ether?
Nicola: Because something you’ve said on your website has struck a chord. You’ve either talked about something in your own life and business that has made them think, “Oh this person might understand me,” or you’ve outlined a problem or a solution that they’ve been looking for. A problem they’ve got or a solution they want.
Judith: Ok, very good. The newsletter thing. You always taught me it was permission. When they give me their email address it’s my permission to market to them for life.
Judith: Which I like. Permission marketing.
Nicola: The actual marketers expression, which I’ll share, is “until they buy or die”. That’s a little bit not so nice.
Judith: I don’t mind it actually because I can get humor out of that.
Judith: How is the content different, and how is the purpose different, from a blog?
Nicola: I don’t think it is, really. You do a really good job of writing a separate e-zine to your blog content, but you do occasionally link to your blog content if you want people to read more on the topic. I do the same, but I’m not so… I used to put all my content into my e-zine and then archive it afterwards on the blog. It was a very good discipline for me to make me create new content every week. Now I feel much more drawn to creating content straight onto the blog. So, my e-zine, which goes out this morning in fact, tends to be a very quick round up of everything that’s been happening in the world and on my blog – with lots of links.
Nicola: Which I was taking a risk with, because apparently – in fact you’re doing lots of they tell you not to do to get email through, but your email seems to be coming through fine to me now.
Judith: It didn’t for awhile for you. Do you remember? You didn’t see it for a week or two?
Nicola: It was longer than that. I didn’t see it for about six months.
Judith: Oh I think I’d cut you off the list at that point, but I think once you were back on the list there were a couple of weeks just before Christmas where it went missing.
Nicola: Yeah I had to go hunting for it, and as soon as I found it and started engaging with it – that’s a real lesson for us – as soon as I found it and started reading it and clicking it, and moved it into my primary folder in Gmail –
Judith: I see. It became more visible.
Judith: I did experiment before Christmas with cutting out the things that they say. Make it not appear easily in people’s in-boxes. So I took out the title, I took out the graphics. Didn’t make any difference to the number of people that opened it, so I stuck it back in again because I think they look prettier.
Nicola: They do look prettier and it’s nice to read. To be honest that kind of thing would extend the time it would take me to send an e-zine to the point where it probably wouldn’t go.
Judith: What? What wouldn’t go?
Nicola: You use template, don’t you?
Judith: Doesn’t Aweber and MailChimp all use a template?
Nicola: Well no, you –
Judith: I don’t have to create a template; it’s been created for me. I’ve got one; I just use the same one every week. I just click on it and fill it in.
Nicola: I’ve got a template as well so I can theoretically do that, but I found I spend an awful lot of time making it look pretty.
Judith: You know why? Sorry about this, and you’re not going to like this, but that’s why I’ve come away from Aweber twice, because the templates cause all the glitches in Aweber. In MailChimp they don’t. I know why we would use one against the other but in MailChimp there’s no hassle what-so-ever with the template. None. Zero.
Nicola: Yes, but you’re sacrificing a huge part of your marketing to be on MailChimp.
Judith: Yes, but I’m doing it for different reasons, remember? I mean the reason why I love sending out this newsletter every week is because, primarily, I’m a writer. I want to communicate through the written word.
All of that (Aweber) functionality has come to MailChimp. Ok you have to pay for it, but not very much.
Nicola: Ok. All right, good. That was always my main reason for not using MailChimp, was the lack of follow up.
Judith: You see I think internet marketers think that Aweber is better in some way, but actually quite a lot of my clients are struggling with the fact that – the double opt-in issues. Actually I don’t want to discuss that today!
So, what you’re saying is, the content is not different from a blog. Is the purpose of a newsletter different from a blog?
Nicola: Yes, it’s to bring people back to your blog. You can sell from a newsletter, I have done on many occasions, when I launched The Money Gym it all went out in the email. There was nothing on the website about it at all. Really you ideally want to bring people back to your blog on a regular basis and get them used to moving around your blog. When I say blog here, I’m talking about a website because that’s what blogs are nowadays, websites. People generally speaking will buy your products and services better, easier, from a website than they would from an e-zine but that’s not…
Judith: You taught me something completely different, and I teach everybody exactly the opposite, which is you can’t sell from your blog. You can sell from your website. You can’t sell from your blog, but you can sell through your newsletter. In fact I only sell from my newsletter, and Facebook, by linking them back to the sales page on the website.
Nicola: Yes that’s exactly it. People aren’t going to read. I have a belief that people aren’t going to read an awful lot of stuff in an e-zine unless it’s entertaining. They’re not going to read an awful long sales letter of the kind you sometimes need to sell something on a website, but if you have an entertaining-stroke-value driven email that leads them back to… Also you really want to keep your reasons very entertaining. Something like your blog posts that I look forward to every week; so I don’t necessarily want to be sold in that, but I don’t mind you mentioning things and linking through to somewhere where I can find out more about the sales details of something on the website.
Judith: I only sell from my newsletter because that’s what you taught me to do. You’ve changed your mind, which is fine, absolutely fine.
Nicola: We’re living examples – both of us – that both ways work; and you have to experiment. The other thing, of course, that your e-zine does, is it reminds people that you exist because they might never visit your website again if they don’t hear from you regularly; they’ll forget about you.
Judith: I think there’s another aspect to this as well, which is that the blog content is in the public domain. Anybody can read it without giving you their most precious, precious, jewel – their email address.
Judith: Once somebody has entrusted me with their precious jewel, I treat them even more tenderly than I do on the front-end, as it were. The blog, my blogs’ content on the front-end, is in the public domain. Anybody can read it. If they like it enough to want to hear more from me, using your expression, and opt-in to my list they’re just in a slightly cozier nest where I care about them just a little bit more, and I try to treat them to something worth reading.
Nicola: That is a challenge for me because when you say you’re creating content that goes into your e-zine, that then never sees the light of day, it somehow feels wasted to me.
Judith: Yeah but you’re looking at my newsletter now and it links to our podcasts, so it does the marketing there.
Judith: It links to the only things that I do so it does the marketing there.
Nicola: It also talks about how our podcast last week was long because I can talk, ahem.
Judith: I did say, “Ahem,” meaning I’m calling the kettle black. The pot calling the kettle black. I thought that was funny. I’m glad you got it, Nicola.
Nicola: I’m pointing my little arrow at it as we’ve been talking.
Judith: I can see. I can see. I’m glad you thought that was funny.
Nicola: I think the outcome of this discussion is that it’s crucial to appear in people’s in-boxes regularly to remind them that you exist. Include something of value in it. That’s true of sales emails, too. When you’re doing a little mini-launch, you should always give value in the email. It’s called results in advance. Let people experience results in advance from all of your content, and bring them to a place where they can consume the rest of the information in a joyful fashion.
Judith: There’s one more thing on this, which is what my clients say to me, who write very well often, but struggle to write, so… I don’t know why, I find it so easy to write. I can bang out a blog post in about half an hour if I need to. Often I take longer. Certainly the Norovirus took me most of yesterday. They often say to me, “You know I’ve written one blog post a week and it’s a long one, and I’m exhausted. Now you’re asking me to write a newsletter as well.”
I might be inclined to say, why keep exhausting yourself over writing long blog posts? By all means write a long one now and again, but write little and often on your blog and, tempt people into your newsletter.
Nicola: Also if you’ve written a long blog post, your e-zine could be a couple of paragraphs enticing people to click through to the long blog post to read it. As long as you appear in people’s in-boxes, it doesn’t really matter which form you’re appearing in. As I say, you create these beautiful things of beauty, whereas if I had to do that, I simply wouldn’t send an e-zine.
Judith: Nicola I’m so less techy than you. I’m amazed that you’re saying that, honestly. One more point on that, I want to make one more point on that. Personally as a reader I don’t want anyone’s newsletter to be a list of links to their blog posts, because I follow everybody’s blog posts on Feedly; I’ve read them already. I don’t want a weekly round up, but people often say, who are clients already, that it would be terribly convenient to have a weekly list of roundup to your blogs. Frankly they’re already clients so why would I do that? I’m trying in my newsletter to tickle people over from being an interested bystander to being a committed client.
Nicola: There you go. You’ve just summed it up in a nutshell. You have an absolute clear purpose for your newsletter and you know exactly who it’s aimed at. I am aiming at the people like those people that say that to you. I actually love getting a weekly round-up from my favorite people because I’m too damn busy to go and look at their blog.
Nicola: I don’t subscribe to anything on a reader, and I want someone to send me an email and alert me if they’ve put this a stonking great blog post up.
Nicola: I think both ways are good. Just… graphic design for me is the most boring thing on the planet, but I like things to look nice. The easiest way for me to get an e-zine out every week is to make it a simple text sort of conversation with a few… peppered with links to things they might miss.
Judith: I don’t really want to receive one of those. I think they’re quite dull. However, I don’t mind the idea of a text newsletter at all. I think what we’re agreeing on is it’s keeping in touch and reminding people you are there. I will, Marion taught me this, if you write a stonking blog post don’t think everybody’s seen it. Stick it in a newsletter either as a link or as a solo newsletter and vice versus. If you’ve written a stonking newsletter, which I thought last weeks was, stick it on the blog as well.
Nicola: Oh definitely yes. Leverage your content. The other thing is don’t forget to – James demonstrates this very well with his super fast business podcast – don’t neglect the idea of having a topic to talk about. This might be one for the people who get a bit stuck. Have a topic to talk about. Mind map the main points you want to make. Talk through the mind map. You’ve just created a podcast episode, and you can just send it off to someone to transcribe to put it on your blog for you. If you’re not a writer, that is a brilliant way of creating blog content.
Judith: Anything else you want to say on email newsletters “why”?
Nicola: No, just do them, they’re really essential.
Judith: Perfect. Just do them. Just do as you’re told. Lovely, lovely.
Nicola: Yes exactly.