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Email Marketing Needs To be Personal

John W. Furst

I just wrote a short forum reply for a friend on who had asked,
“How can I increase the open rate of my newsletter?”

Here it is, I am sharing it with you.

A good point in time to deliver another email marketing tip after having stopped that series of articles for some time. Maybe I should revive the carnival? I have to think about it and check how many spam submissions I have received in the meantime. Well, I am preparing a guide, a tutorial for email marketing anyway.

The business in question is a European based specialist for colors trends and consults with designers in fashion, home design, …

Dear Carolina,

I find the content and design of your newsletter rather intriguing. However it's a constant challenge to keep readers engaged and interested over a longer period of time. Let me give you a couple of bullets to think about.

Just to start off the discussion here.

  • Make it more personal!

    Have an editor, a spokesperson write the newsletter in a colloquial tone. Introduce that character as a person with a back-story, and also address the reader on the personal level. An email is communication from one person to another. A newsletter should not be an exception.

    What about the idea of following the Editor - James or Jane on his or her personal journey through the universe of color and time.

  • Increase the frequency. Once a month is too infrequent to maintain and strengthen the relationship with your readers.

    You don't want to be perceived as the 57th agency which sends yet another trend report. You want to be perceived as “friend” who helps the reader through the jungle, who offers effective solutions for whatever the biggest problem in this industry is.

    Go beyond of just being a reporter.

  • Interact with your readers.

    Engage them to give you feedback. Give them something they can and want to talk about.

  • Find out what they want and need.

    Don't assume! Ask.

  • Offer timely sensitive info!

    Train your newsletter members that they better read each and every edition of your newsletter or they could miss out opportunities otherwise.

  • Email has not been invented for mailing “web pages”.

Just a couple of things to start with. It means more work, but you said you want to increase the impact of your email marketing.

In case your goal includes selling more of your services with the help of the newsletter, you have to make it a topic,too. Meaning you talk about your offers from time to time and ask for the sale! Or even better come up with “newsletter subscriber only deals”.

Last but not least, it has been said already that headlines are very important. But in the long run your members will continue to open the newsletter issue not because of the headline, but because they hardly can wait for the next one. They want to hear from that person - the personal voice of your brand. If not, you have lost them somewhere on the road so to speak.

One of the biggest mistakes in business to business marketing (B2B) is to assume “businesses are different” and you have to be super serious. (Same is true in the academic world by the way, but that's a different tribe.)

There is not such a thing as a BUSINESS … It's always a PERSON, who is reading your ezine.

In your particular case, I bet designers will really appreciate and value a real (not fake), personal touch in your communication.

It's about building relationships through value!

John W.

P.S.: Don't be afraid of unsubscribes. It's natural, it happens.

P.P.S.: Subscribe to all your competitors list, spy on them, and be
different. Be remarkable.

I am sure this is useful for you as well.

Keep things personal. Okay?

We are humans, not information processing machines.

Again, Yours
John W.


E-Biz Booster Blog on : Email Marketing Tips - Edition 18

Show preview
Welcome to the eighteenth edition of email marketing tips on June 19, 2009.This is—as you know a revival—after I had kept the pause button pressed for a couple of month. I am curious to see how it goes. Here is my brand new “Intro-Vi


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Nishadha on :


Some great tips about e-mail marketing. I especially liked the one about frequency. i agree with that once a month is not enough to build a relationship , but if you mail someone too frequently you can be seeing as a spammer. Its tricky to find the balance I guess :-)

John W. Furst on :


I appreciate your comment. Coming across as "spammer" is more correlated to a mismatch between type of content and readers. Not so much about frequency itself.

There are niches in which people get upset if they don't get 3, 4, 5 emails a day.

The "content" has to be good of course and valueable to them. When you are building a win-win type of relationship with your list there is almost nothing you can do to screw it up. (As long as it doesn't happen too often.)

Even though it's called "permission marketing," you have to be a leader, you have to "train your list," have to influence them (in a good way). You are the authority, the expert, the person they want to hear from.

You should not need to beg, "Can I send you an email, 'I know it's only Wednesday and not already Friday, but this could be important for you...'" If your message is valuable for your list in a timely fashion, send it.

It's natural having people unsubscribe, as people move around from group to group at parties. Your members change interest, focus, the original match can get lost over time.

If you don't get some members to unsubscribe, you probably don't get them to buy as much of our services and products as you eventually could. ... Leaving money on the table. (It's not an original quote, but in a sense it goes back to John Carlton.)


John W. Furst

PS. Beach Time ! Fabulous day, today. I just shot a video for a dear friend and mentor.

I'll put it up a bit later.

Watch out for my tweets as I don't announce any "little hick-up" on my blog. But you don't want to miss some of them.

S @ Product packaging on :


It is a good suggestion to subscribe to your competitor's list, you can definitely see what they are doing and maybe even take some suggestions from them. Also, try and use names in your emails so the recipients feel like they arer being engaged directly. Regards!

Jake Holman on :


@Nishadha while you're right that you should be very careful with frequency, don't be scared of it either. It's all about setting the expectation before your Subscribers sign up, if they know they'll be getting an email more than once a month, then they'll be expecting it more than once a month.

So long as your email content is relevant & engaging you'll never be seen as a spammer.

That said, there is a line, that once crossed will cost you a lot to get subscribers back again. If you send out once a month because that's the only content you have, then great - it means your emails are probably relevant and engaging rather than being pointless and reiterations of what you've already said in previous emails.

I'm not sure I agree with John's comments about being the "leader", ultimately your subscribers have more control over you than you ever will with them - they can blacklist you, they can damage your reputation online. Let them do the leading, let them tell you what they want to hear and how often they want to hear it - this will infuse trust.

Overall though John, nice post and thanks for sharing it with the community.

I've blogged rather a lot about Frequency and getting emails Opened, but not sure if John wants that content here!

John W. Furst on :


For sure I want your reply, Jake.


It's about leading them toward their desired outcome -- the reason why they have signed up for your email list. No more, no less. Guiding them through the "dark," helping them to "see the light," avoid trouble, ...

This kind of leading. Assuming that you provide "real value," a good solution, ... you are the leader. You tell them what's good for them in order to achieve their goal.


John W.

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