I’ve recently written a bunch about the importance of having a Newsletter system. I wrote about the how and the why and gave you 4 Dead Simple Rules. Over three years ago I wrote about bad newsletters in “More Newsletter DON’Ts: Thanks KW!”
Someone asked me (privately) in regards to my last post (on getting a ROI of 4,300%)
“Ok, what makes a bad newsletter?“
The first thought that came to mind was NOT having a Newsletter to begin with. But I know that’s not what they were asking about. Next, I thought the easiest answer would be to point them to my Newsletters I Never Signed Up For website. While it’s main function is to publicly shame those who sign me up for their newsletter without asking, it’s also a massive collection of bad newsletters.
But that’s too simple.
Let me revisit a couple of quotes from back in 2008, in which Seth Godin says regarding newsletters…
Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
So Rule # 1 should be to NOT add people to your list without their permission.
Just because I am a ‘contact’ in your inbox – it doesn’t give you permission.
Just because you saw me speak at a convention – it doesn’t give you permission.
Just because you saw my email address on my website – it doesn’t give you permission.
Just because I handed you my business card – it doesn’t give you permission.
In order to get permission, you make a promise. You say, “I will do x, y and z, I hope you will give me permission by listening.” And then, this is the hard part, that’s all you do. You don’t assume you can do more. You don’t sell the list or rent the list or demand more attention.
Rule # 2 should be to NOT assume you can do more. If I signed up for your newsletter because I like your content I’m not going to be happy when you start spamming me with your open house listings, especially if they are thousands of miles away!
Rule # 3 should be to make it short and sweet. Don’t try to toss every single thing into the newsletter. One or two different topics are fine. Want to see a novel idea for Newsletters that work? Check out Happy Grasshopper.
Rule # 4 should be to NOT FAIL at personalization. If your newsletter template has mail merge fields the best way you can screw up any hope of me reading it is to leave them. Dear [first_name], makes you look like an A$$Hat.
Rule # 5 would be to ask me to subscribe at the appropriate time. If I come to your website, don’t plaster a “Signup For My Newsletter” Popup when I first get there. How do I even know I like what you have to say if you won’t let me read it before your screen blocking popup? It reminds me of what Chris Brogan said,
“I’m reaching out to shake your hand and you’re trying to put your tongue in my mouth.”
It’s just plain wrong. The only reason I’m using a popup here is because it’s a ‘smart popup’ – it looks for when you are done reading before it pops. If you’ve scrolled all the way down here – now go move your mouse to close the window. It should sense that and popup (once a day).
That’s a start. What do you think makes a bad Newsletter?
He's an avid hockey fan, rides a mountain bike, sometimes rides a road bike, has a few motorcycles (he had a really fast one, bought a cool orange one, rode a really slow one, and wants a really small one). If that isn't enough, he makes cheese and sourdough bread, loves strong beer and good red wine, and poorly plays the Mandolin.