TJ Kelly

Considering Email Newsletters

I don’t send out any email newsletters to clients or prospects. I know, that breaks nearly every rule in the digital marketing book, but I just never saw the need for it for my purposes. And I know I’ve been critical of HTML email in the past. But lately I’ve been considering starting to send out some sort of semi-regular messages to past, current, and potential clients.

In my travels and experience at this game, I’ve worked with the industry standards like MailChimp and Constant Contact and also with some major (read: expensive) platforms like eDialog. I’ve always wanted to try Campaign Monitor but never had the chance or need.

I recently discovered Mad Mimi Email Newsletters (they’re new to me so I figure they may be new to you too, check ’em out [full disclosure: they paid me to link to them]). Again, no real experience with the platform, but it looks nice. I don’t know why but the email newsletter platform industry seems to be in love with the cartoonish avatar branding strategy. I dig it.

Why send email newsletters?

So why should a one-man shop like me bother with email newsletters? For a few reasons. So far none of them has really convinced me, but I might be coming around on the idea.

1. Stay fresh in clients’ minds

It never hurts to remind clients that you’re working for them, especially if you’re on a retainer and you don’t interact all that much. You never know when a client has a problem that needs solving. A friendly reminder that you’re there to help might be just what they need to solve their problem and bring you some additional business.

2. Introduce or sell new services

This one is tricky for me. I’m fiercely protective of my own email inbox and I assume that most others are too. Therefore the notion of advertising via someone else’s inbox doesn’t sit well with me. That said, however, it can be done tastefully and effectively. Apple is very good at their email marketing. I’m sure it helps that I’m a card-carrying Apple apologist, but I never mind seeing one of their email newsletters come through my inbox.

3. Branding, branding, branding

Another tricky one. As a consumer, I don’t consider my inbox—the center of my entire life’s organization—to be your playground for “strengthening your brand.” But, as a publisher and content creator, I recognize the value in it. I suppose that if a user demonstrates their willingness to receive emails from me, branding is a legitimate outcome from sending those emails. But you’ll notice I listed it last here. In my book, it’s the last and least important benefit to sending an email newsletter or promotion.

What do others think?

I have a few questions for the email newsletter senders out there, especially those who are small independent operations like me.

As a blogger, do you manage your own email list?

I know there are services out there to help with this, but I haven’t found a perfect solution yet. Some are too costly. Some are too bulky. Some are lacking important functionality. I’m still in the market for the perfect contact/marketing list management tool.

This borders on the CRM tool discussion. Some CRM services like Salesforce offer email newsletter/marketing list management too. My experience in that arena is too limited to really compare things like Salesforce or Hubspot to MailChimp or Mad Mimi.

Do you use an RSS-to-Email service like Google Feedburner?

I hate Feedburner. I’ve never had a good experience with it. I used to pay for a service called Feed My Inbox, but they closed their doors a while back. Too bad too, that service was worth every dime. And they event sent me a hand-written thank you note when I signed up. Major customer satisfaction bonus points.

I know things like MailChimp and Mad Mimi offer this service too (or something like it), but I’ve never tried. Anyone found a good option?

How do you think you could do it better?

For one thing, I’d like to see these services simply their interfaces. Not just aesthetically, but in instruction and tasks. Spell it out for me: “these people signed up but have not yet received an email,” “these people have been emailed twice and clicked through the email CTA both times,” etc. That level of detail may be overkill for some, but it would be very helpful for me.

Do you have any good articles or resources you have read that have helped? I’ve done the requisite googling, but I wonder if there are any required-reading pieces out there that I’ve missed. Got any to recommend?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *