Tag Archives: newsletter

E-mail header – where it all begins

We have been talking about headlines and hashtags on the blog recently and I have been thinking about how that works when we are creating and sending out newsletters/e-shots.

Good strong headlines compel people to read content – but if they don’t ever open the e-shot then it will all have been for nothing.

The e-mail header suddenly becomes even more important than the newsletter itself and the same goes for any kind of pitch, including press releases and blogger outreach. When you are calling on the phone you can charm the gatekeepers into putting you through or give them a compelling reason to do so, but with an e-mail e-shot you have only a handful of words to get the job done.

So it stands to reason that we really need to think about those words. I started by thinking long form – what is it that I wanted to say? Then bashing it down into as few words as possible. It is a great creative exercise!

But this wasn’t going to be enough to get the click. So then I thought about key words, as if I was working out the key triggers for optimising a piece of text. What gets me to open? Well I favour words like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn coupled with words like explained or common mistakes. Top twitter mistakes or new changes explained would probably get me every time!  So now I need to work out the triggers for my e-shot audience.

With the trigger words in mind I now move on to the final killer stage. I am going to list my e-shot content as a string of very short teasers. If I give them three then at least one will hit the spot! I won’t reveal all, but the words sales and secrets and top job may feature.

So how do you get people to open up? It would be great to share in your ideas.

An e-shot across the bows – saying yes to the newsletter.

I am very excited about a new project, which is always a good place to be, but as with so much that is worthwhile it is taking me into areas where I simply don’t have all the answers. So I wondered whether you do? Or at least some of them?

I’m putting together a ‘communication’ for a friend which we are far too au courant to call a newsletter – let’s call it an e-shot shall we?

We are hoping to use it to encourage a group of people he knows professionally, to stay in touch in case they might need him in the future.

The totally scary thing is persuading them that they want to receive this communication. They have to be given the opportunity to opt out and therefore it is really important that we get it right with the very first mailing. No time to bed down and develop – they either like it, or they don’t.

For that reason we are going to be focussing very much on them and their needs. We can’t afford to turn them off by babbling on about the company’s virtues. The content, the style and the images also have to appeal straight away.

The recipients will all be career minded professionals and we want to offer them interesting and useful content that will help them to get to the next level in their careers. I plan to offer a mix of material that is both original – commissioned from scratch by us – and curated articles from around the web. Like all digests you can find it out there for yourself but it is useful when someone has done it for you.

So please do let me know about your experiences of persuading people to say yes to your content – the more experiences we can gather, the less scary it will be when we press send.

PR v Marketing: Which Works Best For You?

I read a lot about PR and marketing departments slugging it out for influence within their company or even agency but if you run a small business you have to do it all yourself.

Newsletter ? That’s you. Press Release? That’s you again. Leaflet drop? You guessed it.

So if you have sole responsibility for getting your message out there, which activities are going to bring it home? Should you concentrate on marketing or PR? 

Getting the media to take notice can be a wonderful feeling, it is validation of what you do, but it is hard. You are unlikely to get press coverage without a really good story or a celebrity on board. Technology is hot, so companies using clever apps are getting noticed right now along with genuinely new products and services.

The quirky will always be in with a shout. I recently got @BeerBeauty onto Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show because she was doing something which turned the normal order of things on its head.  Instead of men meeting up in a pub to talk business she promotes a women’s networking group where the members learn about Real Ale. It’s fun and it’s different which is why she got the coverage.

If you don’t have the right story you can try to create one but perhaps it would be better to push the marketing side of your brand? A well written newsletter might be more effective. A really great offer could give you the boost you need. What if you were to think now about Christmas? Spend the summer working on your list, make sure all the people you meet are on it and then go for it in September.

Flashy media coverage is one thing, but building up your profile through word of mouth could give you the solid base you need. If you ask people to share your newsletter with their friends, you’ll extend your reach even further. 

Oh and don’t forget the online world. If people like your THING then ask them to recommend you online, via social media and online reviews. Millions of us blog and lots of people produce online magazines so don’t be shy about asking for this kind of coverage. 

If you are a small business I would really love to hear what has worked for you. Do please comment! I feel sure each person has their own story to tell.