As Nathalie Lussier taught us at her BlogWorld New York 2011 session, the downside to new tech like Twitter and Foursquare and whatnot is that you lose sight of what works. Just because a technology is 50+ years old doesn’t mean you should abandon it if your readers respond well to it.
So what is this ancient technology that you can use to tap into your readers’ wallets? Email! Yes, email really is over 50 years old, and with the right emails, you can brand yourself and make money at the same time.
Nathalie covered a lot of points in her presentation, but what I wanted to focus on today were her tips for writing a great email. It’s all about the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid). I’m going to go over them one by one and give you my own thoughts on these topics.
- Make emails digestible.
Everyone out there likely gets several emails every day (or maybe even every hour if you’re like me). If you write long, text-heavy emails, they simply won’t get read by most of your subscribers, and some might even unsubscribe. Format your emails and keep them short and simple, reflecting what your readers want of course (some groups like longer emails than others). I personally like to write blog posts that I can link in my emails if I have a lot to say on a topic but don’t want to overwhelm readers.
- Write for one person.
Obviously, you’re not actually going to write for one person (unless you’re brand new and the only person on your list is your mom). However, you have to make the email as personable as possible, reaching out to your dream reader with your email. This may mean that some readers don’t connect with your emails, but the ones that do will really connect. This actually seems to be a point that many readers drove home this year – be yourself and get 20% of your readers raving about you rather than being generic and having 100% of the people being “meh, he/she is okay” about you.
- Stick to about 80% content and 20% pitch.
If you pitch too much, your readers will unsubscribe. Unless your readers specifically sign up for a pitch-based email (and really, very few people to that), Nathalie recommends you have 80% of your emails be valuable, free content. This could mean sending eight content-based emails for every two pitch emails or it could mean writing about 20% pitch within every email. I would actually go a step farther and say that you need to do what works for your readers. Some readers don’t like pitches that often. Do what works for you.
- Make it doable for yourself.
This last tip is a big one, and I completely agree with Nathalie. You have to make your email commitment doable for your own schedule. If you don’t, you’ll struggle to send out the volume of email that you promise, and your readers won’t be as connected with you – they may even unsubscribe, since you aren’t delivering as promised. Make sure you don’t over-commit.