Wednesday 18 November 2009

The Newsletter Is Dead ..... Let It Go Already

Okay, maybe not dead, but it definitely has lost its shine. You wouldn't say so though. I can hardly go to a website these days without being invited to join their mailing list. Now building a database is a business imperative; don't get me wrong. But what is so compelling about wanting to read your verbose newsletter?

In the early days, say 1995, not many people were into newsletters. So it offered a differential advantage to the early adopters, and was a way of delivering company news, with some really neat graphics.

Problem is, the newsletter became ubiquitous. Every schmo has one; and that's okay, as long as it isn't your only or primary method of keeping in touch with your clients.

I spend a fair amount of time going to networking events, and they are all very similar. You usually meet the same ever so accomplished, ever so successful, ever so on top of everything kinda person. Cool.

Now, as soon as I explain how technology can enhance your efforts at relationship marketing, you can see the thought process, "Ah, email and newsletters".

What is even more enlightening, is what happens after these events. Invariably you get plugged into a standard email newsletter system, and you get bombarded with meaningless junk, not even remotely connected to your interests, until you unsubscribe. It's like, hello, there is a disconnect here.

Okay, I appreciate that people just don't know that there is a better way. The pathway isn't clear, and it seems so complex compared to a simple newsletter.

So what went wrong?

They Are Boring

Newsletters aren't about the customer; they are about the company. They are generally self-promoting screeds, with mostly useless information. Aside from telling your clients that Susie or Johnny was promoted, or blabbing on about some amazing promotion, there is very rarely anything in it for the customer.

They Treat All Customers As Equal

This is a noble cause in politics, but not in business. Today you can personalise a newsletter, by being clever and inserting a customers name and a few other personal details; but this isn't really identifying the customer as an individual. Essentially everbody gets the some monthly blast.

They Don't Build Relationships

Think about your relationships; there is a lot of give and take, or interpersonal exchanges. They aren't all one way traffic. How can a relationship be forged if you aren't getting to know your clients or prospects any better, where the only information dispensed is yours, and where you determine when to communicate?

They Are A Waste of Resources

Have you ever tried to consistently publish a newsletter? Many have, and I get requests for them all the time. They are time consuming; customised newsletter templates are expensive to design; they are notoriously difficult to get delivered; and continually finding compelling content is a nightmare. My experience is that generally most newsletter efforts become dormant, only to be revived when a quick promotion needs to be conducted.

You could be fooled into believing otherwise, though. There are lots of email service providers, all offering free generic templates and easy terms. The issue isn't them; it is you. You have been lulled into thinking that this is the silver bullet. It isn't. You need to have a clear communication strategy, and this needs to move away from message blasting, and towards timely, personalised and targeted communications, using many of the mediums available to you.

They Never Get Read

We all have a problem with inbox clutter. As we sort through our daily emails, we scan for key identifiers, like names or subject lines. When we get a newsletter, it is sometimes a nice to have, but we usually save it, hoping to return later and read in leisure. But that rarely happens, because the next tsunami of emails has arrived. So your email package may be telling you that read rates are high, but hey, nobody is really reading.

So what now?

My next article will cover some really neat, easy and effective new ways of communicating, that can handsomely compliment a newsletter, or better yet, replace it all together.

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