3 Ways to Lose Me With Your Email Newsletter

Posted by on Feb 23, 2011 in Email Marketing Copy | 2 comments

You know that subscribers and email marketing can be important to your business. Email marketing can be a great way to increase sales. But if your email newsletters push the wrong buttons in your readers, not only will you miss the sale but you risk being labeled a spammer.

So today I want to share some thoughts on email marketing not from the perspective of a business writer, but from the perspective of a subscriber who receives several poorly constructed email marketing messages every day.

Here are three surefire ways to piss me off in my inbox and guarantee I won’t give you a dime.

  1. Your email copy is just a bunch of one-liners. Getting to the point is fine. But this is a common spam setup (each sentence as its own paragraph in a poor attempt to make things “pop”), so visually I associate you with spammers and delete the email without reading.
  2. You use hyped up headlines making big promises. No one signs up to your email newsletter for the sales pitch. They want real information. Give them that first to hook them, and then pitch your product or service as a solution. It needs to be more subtle than slamming me in the face with promises you very likely won’t ever live up to (you’re not the “best,” “greatest,” or “#1″ anything, except in your own mind — don’t tell me; convince me).
  3. Your tone is too personal. When at first you act like you know me, and then I realize you don’t, you tick me off and I leave. It’s one thing to try to connect. But don’t try to act like you’re a pal unless you know me personally. You might get away with it once by making me wonder “how do I know him?” But after that, you become a broken record oozing your best bud tone. I recognize it quickly, and you will be blocked. This might be completely fine if you’re targeting your Average Joe. But if you target a business audience, getting too personal won’t cut it. You aren’t setting yourself apart from the other marketers. You sound just like the rest of them.

As always, know your target market and focus on benefits to them. We don’t care about your company. We don’t care about your product. We might care about something entertaining or educational you have to say. And we’ll definitely care if what you’re offering helps us solve a problem. Remember. It’s not about you. It’s about “me.”

Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger and freelance business writer. As the owner of 3 Beat Media she is also an author and active Web publisher behind websites including BizAmmo, All Indie Writers, and The Busy Author's Guide.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer. That last one really gets to me. If someone’s trying to sell me something, I want to know about it straight away. I’m not saying that I want jargon, salesy lines or to be treated like a consumer, not a person, but I think marketing emails (and, let’s be honest, that’s what most ‘newsletters’ are) should be clear about their intentions from the start.

    I think newsletter emails, more than nearly any other type, need to find the right balance between treating readers like statistics and treating them like close personal friends.

  2. I agree that most email you sign up for will have a marketing component. If it didn’t, businesses wouldn’t put in the resources. Content-only newsletters are more common from blogs, industry associations, and other organizations where the marketing goal is to educate or entertain rather than sell. But make no mistake. There’s still a marketing goal.

    I’m not personally a fan of hard selling, so I don’t generally take on those projects as a writer. While I don’t do my own email marketing at the moment (although I’m planning to get back into it next year with a company rebranding effort), this was my old policy — content had to be the primary focus, and any sales messages were reserved for the end, a sidebar, etc. The content is what people subscribe for. Special offers, early announcements of new product launches, and such were sidebar material but designed in a way to get reader attention and still increase sales. So a balance is definitely possible. And I see nothing wrong with an occasional sales message (such as to pitch a new product launch) as long as this isn’t the primary kind of email going out.

    One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in email marketing is that businesses and site owners put a lot of emphasis on building their lists. But they slack off when it comes to list retention. Sure, many people won’t bother to unsubscribe. But they also aren’t giving you their attention when your emails go out, and that means you’re getting faulty info when you review your stats. It’s not good for anyone involved. It’s a far better strategy, in my opinion at least, to focus on keeping readers informed or entertained so they want your next newsletter and are more likely to buy a product when you do decide to promote something. It’s very similar to blogging. If you give readers what they want and you build trust, you ultimately will make more sales when you promote something. It’s win-win.

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