Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"No One Wants Your Email Newsletter"

"No one wants your email newsletter. No one. Get a blog instead."

First off, apologies to my anon friend in advance for riffing off of his skewed thinking. He's not wrong necessarily, because he was probably addressing a specific client-case, but then again, he did not make that obvious in his tweet, so I feel the need to correct it. 

Open Season

The key is to deliver clear value in an acceptable format. It is possible to create a 'newsletter' in a solid format with content that no-one cares about. But, its also very likely that lots of people would signup for "One solid piece of actionable advice that can change the trajectory of your business, delivered once a week." It is also true that people respond to incentives. Even otherwise lame newsletters can reach an audience if they trade something of value for the privilege to spam your inbox.

Its easy to start feeling this way about email newsletters because we see lots of clients doing it wrong and offering things that people don't generally care about, and then not lifting a finger to promote it. But, even in these snowballs-chance-that-someone-cares situations (oftentimes our perception), keep in mind that there is an audience for just about everything, and early success is tied more to tactics employed to capture some of that existing audience than it is about creating the most whiz-bang content ever. You have to start somewhere, and the content can improve over time as you learn what people react tp.

I, for one, am glad that the expressed perspective exists. Because it means that less and less people are likely to take email seriously as a platform. This means there's more time for you and I to actually capture an audience.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Email & The Drums In The Deep

The Drums in the Deep

Believe it or not, 'email' is a white-hot buzzword in the bootstraposphere right now. It has spread at the speed of sound from camp to camp, and the whole small software business community is beating the drums deafeningly loud. And its a good thing too, because email is a very effective way to engage with and convert customers. But, it doesn't seem much like news does it? This is why a lot of people are plugging their ears because they think its just noise. That's too bad for them, because its pretty foolish to pass it off as useless just yet.

Today, as the drum beat rolled on, another incredible boom might have shattered your quiet morning coffee when, if you were among a few dozen denziens or so, you got an email from the Micropreneur Academy. It asked you non-chalantly if you'd like to have a email address to use for your correspondence. It was just a chance event. Of all things, why would this be the one that changed your world? The email address being proffered is good as long as your account is active. If you were sipping your coffee that moment, you may have spat a bit on your keyboard. This, of course, has the makings of one of the best customer traps in play on the web today, because if you accepted this offer, dear reader, you were allowing someone new to gingerly place themselves between you and the people who want to give you  money. 

{Forth rumbles the echo of the drums in the deep}

"Thanks Rob, but no thanks", you might have said quietly to yourself, not really understanding what just happened, and a little annoyed "I don't want to be locked in as a Micropreneur forever. I love your brand, but I know that I won't always be able to justify the cost of the Academy." But, it is perhaps at this moment, the sound still echoing in your office, you look up as the camera zooms tight on your face with its wide-eyed expression of disbelief. "Its beautiful", you mutter, as you begin to grasp the depth of the change that has come over you. 

For, you see, email, to your small business customers, is the most valuable thing in the world. Its the lifeblood of their business today. It has such value that people will open up their wallets and spend wads of cash to hang on to that email address that they've put on every business card and given to every contact from church, to the gym, to the guy they met at that business meeting last week. That email address contains the SUM TOTAL of ALL THEIR AMBITIONS. They watch that email, waiting for the contact-lottery to strike, ever clinging to hope, ever scheming to leverage its power to gain more business. That email address is their goldmine from which they delve and extract value.

{The ground shakes beneath you}

The forshadowing should be clear. The next wave of permission marketing is to place yourself in the exchange between your customers and their customers by leveraging email. We're talking carefully crafted ownership of a channel. This is dangerous and brilliant and fun and foolhardy.

Its not for every situation of course. As a SaaS provider you can't convince every signup that waltzes into your door to accept the offer of a nice email address containing your brand. Its impractical, even if you have a strong brand and a cult-like following. You can, however, create an email address for them and promote the heck out of it on their behalf. Every correspondence to/from them through your app could default to sending from their @yourbrandname email address, of course, you should give them the option to change that. But, lets say you go the extra mile and send your customer some really nice business cards that contain that email address? How nice of you! Maybe they use them, maybe they don't, but you may have just created a fan and squeezed yourself carefully between them and the people that want to pay them

So, what it this worked? If it worked, your CLTV's will shoot to astronomical heights and it will fundamentally change your business. If it didn't work, well, you could have always gone back to audience-building and information-packaging (you needed to anyway). You've heard that's really popular now. Heck, you're doing it now, you sly dog. But, what have you got to lose if this really is the next level? 

Listen to the drums in the deep.

{echos in your head for months to come}

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