Does your inbox look like mine? It’s a daily flood of sales pitch after sales pitch.
“You can’t live without our product!” (this subject line is usually trying to sell some sort of clothing, which I most definitely can live without. I’m a jeans and a t-shirt kind of a girl, marketers. Your dress is NOT life or death for me.)
On average, I unsubscribe from four emails per week. Still, I don’t hesitate to sign up for other email lists *just in case* I’m interested in what they have to say. It never hurts to test the waters, right? And that unsubscribe button is so easy to hit. Boring-be-gone!
I use this pattern of behavior as an experiment. What emails do I stick around to read? What emails make me cringe? What’s the market doing that’s working and failing? What are the email marketing best practices I should use for my business?
You’re probably not the self-inflicting pain type like I am. You want what you need in your email inbox and nothing more. You’re normal. I’m not (and I’m not afraid to admit it either).
If you have an email list of your own (and as a business owner, you should) it doesn’t hurt to test these email marketing waters yourself. Chances are you’re subscribing to two different types of emails:
- Those relating to your industry;
- Those you’re interested in on a personal level.
Both are enlightening. Both offer value. Both can steer you in the direction you’d like to go with your email marketing approach.
At least that was the case for me.
After all the scanning of subject lines and email content, I looked at the emails that managed to make the cut. What was it about these emails I was so fond of? Why am I sticking to this list instead of so many others?
After digging in, I noticed two types of emails I loved to receive. One were digest style newsletters and the others were more personal notes from a blogger to me (plus thousands of other recipients but the message felt like it was meant for me).
As a big time, outspoken proponent for showing your human side in business, I have always steered clear from the newsletter style emails. Instead, I’ve tried keeping things more personal so my email recipients felt the same. Still, I wondered what would happen if I broke the mold of familiarity and moved into something a little different. What if I combined personal contact with digest style emails?
With that, “Read. Write. Riff.” was born.
I was excited about this email. I was going to put the digest style information up top, then offer a few personal tidbits about writing and my opinion on specific marketing pieces below. There were a few reasons I chose this approach.
- It allowed me to continue to drive traffic to my website – something every email should attempt.
- It still let me build an emotional connection with my reader through the writing tip and riffing sections.
- I could offer email subscriber exclusive content (which is a fantastic incentive to get folks to sign up).
- It was a unique style of newsletter, so I wouldn’t fade into the background of another “me too” approach.
After deciding on this route, I rolled out the email. I promised myself I’d give it a few months to see what happened. If you’re not trying, you’re not succeeding, right? I wanted to know what my readers wanted. I slaved over the weekly emails every Thursday morning and then watched the analytics throughout the afternoon. The response surprised me.
Over the course of eight weeks, here’s what I saw:
- An increase in subscribers. Yay! People were intrigued by this new email marketing style.
- An increase in unsubscribes. Boo! Something wasn’t resonating with my readers.
- An increase in click rates. Yay! People were clicking the links to read my posts and the others I shared. There was interest.
- A decrease in replies. Boo! Fewer people were hitting reply and talking to me.
The higher subscriber rate and click-through rate should’ve been enough to make me happy. Unsubscribes don’t bother me as much. If I can’t serve someone, they’re not doing me any good being on my list. There’s no sense in me bothering them with an email in the same way I don’t want to be bothered by other emails.
The decrease in replies was the hardest pill to swallow. I love hearing back from people when I send an email. I missed that one-on-one interaction.
I had an epiphany. I wasn’t even in love with these emails. Sure they were fun to write but I didn’t look forward to it in the same way I did the personal letters I used to write. Those were more enjoyable. It felt like me, a human, talking to another person. It was conversational. It was real. It was the brand I wanted to build.
With that, “Read. Write. Riff.” was retired.
Every brand is different. I still look forward to reading the digest style emails from some companies, regardless of the lack of personal interaction.
My favorite emails though? They come from the people who treat me like a person. They’re sent from an individual to me, another individual. It’s a conversation. It’s an invitation. And it feels better than any type of ugly, snoozefest of a newsletter. I never hit unsubscribe on those. The others? I’m unsubscribing regularly without apology.
What type of email do you send out in your business? What type of email do you prefer to receive? Let me know in the comments below!