Wherever I turn, I see newsletters and requests to subscribe to mailing lists of all sorts (there’s even one at the top of my page, isn’t it weird?).
There are a lot (A LOT) of influential voices who strongly sustain the importance, rather the absolute need, of setting a mailing list to connect with your audience/tribe and in principle I agree with them. It’s a great way to ask and (hopefully) obtain permission to communicate and “sell” something to people, being it your ideas, your tips, your books or something else. However I often find myself doubting the real usefulness of newsletters… at least of a certain kind of newsletters.
Since my attempts at running one are quite a failure (mainly for my lack of commitment to it), I can better analyse the problem from the reader’s point of view.
I follow several blogs and discover new ones every day. Therefore I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists, but I have to admit I actually read a little percentage of the newsletters I receive.
Mostly because of time. I have little time for writing, even less for reading. I would spend days if I read them all, so I have to make choices.
There are three main kinds of newsletters in my inbox that I actually open and read:
1. the ones that interest me professionally, even if I read them out of duty and not out of enjoyment.
2. the ones I receive from writer friends, because I already know that I’m going to enjoy the reading.
3. the ones that really hook my attention.
As many friends a blogger can have, you can’t rely on them only in order to increase the traffic on your blog, so the third kind of newsletter is the one I want to focus on.
I tried to analyse and compare the characteristics of those newsletter I often decide to read and compile e list of common features. Here is the result.
First: they are all somehow related to my passion. Writing. Some are bout blogging, some are about marketing, others are about social media presence. But they all concern writing.
Second: they are not overly long. This is clearly an advantage in term of time. When I open an email, I tend to briefly scroll down before start reading. If I see pages and pages, I’m immediately discouraged even if the topic interests me. I usually say to myself “it sounds cool, I’ll go back to it later when I have more time”. Actually I never do that.
Third: they don’t only reproduce a blog post. If I follow a blog, I usually prefer to read posts directly through the blog itself. The newsletter may work as a reminder, but I prefer to read the post on the original page, because it gives me the impression of interacting with a community (maybe it’s just me, I don’ know). The emails that grab my attention contain highlights of one or several posts, like blurbs I can scan through, or original content I can’t find on the related blog. They give me a quick and immediate idea without taking much of my time.
So what can we conclude from this list?
A compelling, useful, interesting and successful newsletter should be short in order to adapt to the reader’s need, it should contain a brief summary of a more complex and long content and it should relate to a passion of some kind. But this may just work for me, because it’s based on the sort of newsletters I like.
In the end the one tip I can give about newsletter is this: write and send the one you would be happy to receive.
One of the entries in my to-do list is “figure out what to do with my newsletter”. Should I quit it, or should I try to make it grow somehow? If the latter is the answer, then how? I’m going to search for the answer to all of these questions, in the mean time I want to know about you!
Do you usually subscribe to newsletters? What do you like or dislike in them? What do you think I should do with mine?
Share your thoughts in the comments!