Deeper Blue – FOMO and the Art of the Enewsletter

I’ve recently begun a purge of sorts. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about enewsletters, chiefly because my inbox overflows with them. I signed up for all these emails because I wanted to see how various companies handled this powerful engagement tool. Lately though, I’ve gone the other way, and I’m unsubscribing to many of them, but not all. I’ve noticed some companies have really upped their game while others, well they do the same … old … thing. And while I’d like to wait around to watch this latter group evolve, I simply don’t have the time even to delete them every day. Here’s a rundown about why some are welcome in my inbox, and why I can’t hit unsubscribe fast enough on the rest.

1. Good enewsletters understand the urgency of email. The senders of these compelling reads just get it—they know they’re headed for the trash, without fail, but if they can just strike a chord…. you will read it, and keep doing it. So they treat their enews like the final destination. It’s all right here, in the body of the email. Morning Brew is a business enews that’s my favorite for this, chiefly because the editorial team writes the content with an edge that cuts off “why am I reading this…?” at “why,” by giving me a good handle on what’s going on in business and finance without needing to click. It’s fresh, it’s lighthearted, and it leaves me with the satisfied feeling of a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (when I used to eat those).

2. Enewsletters of traditional media companies are not all created equal. Most of them want you to visit their magazine or newspaper sites, so they all require clicks. Some function just like their print analogs and strive to keep us abreast of the latest trends in their segments. Noble enough, but these I find easy to discard, since I can peruse their websites and see all the same content, usually right up top on the homepage—there’s no urgency, and even less freshness, and the content is contorted to fit into the enews format. The more successful among them try a different tack. Because they understand their audience and value their history, they delve a little to engage different reader subsets, serving up delicious little portions that we would never find on our own. It may be an early article by an author who went on to write something great, or a photo-rich tour of some place that was exclusively of its time. I stay on the list for these enewsletters since I don’t want to miss something—an because I’m engaged by these morsels and look at the new content too, looking for future classics.

3. Content marketing is still content, and even it’s a pure retail play, smart purveyors understand the sales pitch shouldn’t get in the way of a good story. Engage me with that story, and the halo effect will outlast any 20-percent-off coupon. Better yet, I’ll probably share the details with my friends and colleagues. And now the subscriber list is growing organically.

Are you considering sending an enewsletter to your clients? Engagement with that audience can be invaluable: It keeps them thinking about you, makes you more approachable, and deepens the relationship. It’s a lot to ask but the content that goes in your enews should be special, and it must ring true to your brand—the best kind is custom content created specifically for the format and the audience you are targeting, something they won’t want to miss. Anything else and many of them will view it as spam. And, in today’s overcrowded inbox, they’d be right.