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Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love-hate relationship with email...and paper, but that's a whole other article...maybe next week.

I wear a lot of hats both personally and professionally and that means that I get a lot of emails to several different accounts on a daily basis. I am quite vocal about the fact that I spend time and money and sheer processing effort against my foe, the email beast. So you are not misguided in asking anything along the lines of, “You are starting an email newsletter?”.

Obviously. You’re literally reading it right now.

My snarky reply

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the better answer. The food for thought that led to this publication and the reason that I hope you will come to consider email as step one of your marketing toolchain rather than the afterthought that I know many of us employ it as.

Finding Beauty In the Beast.

  1. The reasons why I hate newsletters don’t really apply here.
    My traditional inbox conundrum stems from it not being easy to weed out the ads and just get to what I want to read. I’ve got that down and so do most other people. My job is to stay on the side of the angels by writing something people might want to read. Another thing that I spend a good deal of my time doing is consulting with clients, friends, and family on software, mobile apps, and ideas to accomplish whatever it is they’re trying to do. I think that’s the kind of information people won’t mind taking a minute on so I started with the premise that things that annoy me might also annoy other people.  I made a list of things that are not news to avoid:
    • Neverending sales papers that I don’t have time to go through.
      Why would I inflict this on other people? If this is my bag i’d rather do something useful like curate it for people and make that my mailer.
    • Giant catchy ads
      Catchy is a misnomer. They’re never that great and half the time I don’t read them in time to make the sale so…useless.
    • Those Top 5 Things rambling emails that neither say, nor solve shit. 
      Yeah let me expound on this one a bit: All those sarcastically awesome “Top 5 Ways to Boost Your Whatever” articles are selling you a fancy corporate suit made out of invisible thread. They’ll have you trying to compete against established brands and behemoths to make the next thing a big viral hit and that might actually be contrary to your marketing goals, or at least maybe it should be contrary to your marketing goals.

      ⚠️ Say you do put out a blog post that goes viral, can your server handle the load, or will it hurt your brand when your website goes down and people can’t see that thing? 
      ⚠️ Let’s now assume that you have an ad that gets _all _the love. Do you have the ability to answer all of those calls, or respond to a gazillion emails? You see where I’m going here.  Let’s get off of that and get back to the reasons why email newsletters might just be okay.
  2. Email is an excellent medium for simple broadcast communication. The people that are already drinking your cool-aid are just an email away, so use that.  Email them. You know who they are and what they’ve purchased.  

    ✅ Take a moment to ask them if they liked it – why, or why not.  
    ✅ Educate them on what else you know of that they might like and no I am not talking about a weekly sales ad full of pictures and bold text ala Target 🤬. I’m talking about spending a few hours a week, or bi-weekly, or even monthly, during which you focus on what they need and want and let your fingers fly over that keyboard to provide it.
  3. Email beats both social media and blogging for reaching your audience and conveying information.
    Even the most technologically-challenged person on the planet has an AOL account somewhere that they probably check at least occasionally and while they might have no clue how to pin the tweet to the wall in a chat snap, they might read your email and smile.
    • Social media is a great tool for reaching a broad and largely unspecified audience. For you and I both that means people who have chosen to like, or follow, or be tapped into custom or at least curated content. Short of purchasing an ad you have no control over whether or not they see what you’ve put out there and not nearly as much hope of making sure that they click anything.
    • Blogging is another broadcasting tool that puts your thoughts and ideas into the ether. You can’t even lead a horse to this water, let alone make them drink. Blogging makes you compete with the entire internet for mindshare and that is a daunting proposition on the best of days. It’s MADNESS I tell you!

Let’s wrap it up here.

Think about not just how you are engaging your customer base, but “Why?”.

What are your true goals and what tools will best achieve them? Will you spend hours trying to adopt a strategy developed by a global corporation, or will you craft intimate conversations borne of your unique knowledge of what your customers need to know?

Think about your audience.

What are their habits? Do they spend about 20 hours a week just reading and responding to email, like most working folks? Are they too busy to be digging through their Facebook feeds to find that post you spent hours lovingly crafting; scrolling to look for that tweet that it took you 20 minutes to get down to 280 characters; and searching up those hashtags in IG and seriously how much time DID you spend coming up with twelve damn hashtags for that Instagram pic?

I wholeheartedly believe that email is never going to be an appropriate tool for team communications or project management. However, it is the perfect tool to gather data that sparks new conversational threads based on customer feedback and to do the bath and forth that informs the projects that will need some management [not via email]. I do spend a lot of time using email during my days, but I also have several that I save and share and use to engage, I hope someday that someone is saving mine.

I’ve made my choice. Welcome to the evolution of me.

Like this blog article? I actually send these out every Monday to my as-yet-untitled, mailing list. Please subscribe and share.

Thanks!
RJ

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RJ Lewis Digital

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About RJ

I am a digital consultant. I help small to medium business owners improve their digital presence, processes and workflows.

My laptop is not actually my conjoined twin, even if my kids think so. When I am not working, I am kept busy by my tribe.

 

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