Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “What is the benefit of subscribing to your blog/email list?” The answer to this question loomed over me and really got me thinking. “Is there a benefit?” What is it that I’m offering that makes subscribing to my email list or blog such a big deal? What is it about it that will make readers feel, well, special?
I was happy to discover this article: 7 Emails You Should Send Your Subscribers (But Probably Don’t). While advice is always “take it or leave it”, Will makes some great points. For instance, in this post he explains the kind of content you should include in your email newsletter. One set of questions I zoomed in on that really convicted me and got me to thinking was this one:
What sets apart all those bloggers who can rapidly build an insanely engaged audience from those who have to beg and plead just to get a handful of shares?”
This question convicted me because I’ve been thinking a lot about the content of this blog. I noticed that often bloggers receive the same support over and over again. The same five or ten people who like and comment on every post. While this is most excellent, I became concerned about the direction of this blog and whether or not I was reaching you. While I don’t intend on reaching everyone, it became a deep concern that the people who were once interested in my blog no longer were. So I thought, could it be content? But my content has not changed. Will went further with his questioning:
What sets apart all those bloggers who can rapidly build an insanely engaged audience from those who have to beg and plead just to get a handful of shares? Is the answer really just “great content?” Content is important, but plenty of bloggers put just as much time, energy and care into their content as those in the top tier, only to experience 10% of the results.
Exactly! Someone finally said it. For the record, I’m not in the business of begging, but Will’s questions did trigger something and I’m excited it did. I have long wondered if content alone was the key to a successful blog (I use successful loosely sense it is so dependent on your own definition of success). Now, as a blogger content is something we hear a lot. But, is blogging just about content? Or is there something else that is needed to keep an audience? Well, I kept reading:
So what do the big guys have that the little ones don’t? They have a relationship with their audience.
Ahhh. There it is. The relationship. Blogging is not just about content, it is also about the relationship! This is why I have also created an email Newsletter because its more personal. Like Will, even though I know the author is speaking to a large group, getting a personal email still makes me feel special as a subscriber. Even though my blog posts are sent directly to the emails of those who follow me (via email) an email list is still more personal and, contrary to popular belief, not old fashioned. A study by McKinsey revealed that, “E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media — nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.” But now I had more questions. This time about Newsletters:“Is there a huge benefit to subscribing to my email newsletter?” One thing that got my confidence up is a point Will made in this article. He said to be more personal in your email list. Instead of sending links of your recently blogged post, talk to us as if we are sitting at the computer/tablet/phone reading you. This got my confidence up because it is something I’ve always done. I never just list my accomplishments and upcoming events in my email newsletter. This can be boring. Readers can follow my updates just by being on my Social Media so again,“What makes subscribing to my newsletter so special?” If someone follows my blog and social networks, why should they also follow my email list? Some people include links to their recent blog posts in their email newsletters. I do not. It doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t really get how that can be productive when I already have followers of my blog who get the latest post in their email. You mean I should also send them additional emails with links to my recent blog posts? Is that an email newsletter or just another blog? I didn’t know, but I kept reading because I’m not blog perfect and there is still so much I need to learn. As I read on, I discovered that Will makes another great point. An alternative to providing the link in your newsletter to your recent blog post:
…. too few bloggers consider the pros and cons of each approach before making a decision. They just send a link to their posts because that’s what everyone else seems to do.
This stood out to me. It stood out to me because according to my own personal experience as well as research on clicks in a post, people do not use them much. They may click on a link once but that’s pretty much it with only a few (and I do mean a few, like probably just three of your best friends) exceptions. This means that the chances of someone clicking on multiple links in your newsletter or blog post to go to additional sites are slim. This is one of the reasons I don’t like posting links in my blog post of other sites without some explanation of what the link is about. I don’t want you to miss out on the info just because you didn’t feel like clicking the link. Like now, at least you have some insight into Will’s article even if you didn’t click on it! (It is however, important to know that while people may not be interested in clicking links, that doesn’t have anything to do with the success or failure of the post. That’s right, we don’t care. What readers care most about is ease of navigation. Though we may not want to click on, it won’t affect us coming around unless your blog is extremely difficult to navigate. In fact, readers are probably not even thinking about clicks until you said something. The 3-Click rule is outdated. Kind of. Yes people don’t want to click on lots of links, but the number doesn’t have anything to do with it. Today its about ease of convenience. You can have one or five links and most people won’t bother to click them period, which I discovered by measuring how many opens my emails get verses clicks on any links in the actual email. There are always more opens of the email than clicks on links in the email. Common sense thus told me its better to say everything in the body of the email instead of having people follow a link). Another point to remember about just including project updates and advertisements / announcements in your email newsletter is this:
Just think about how rare and uncommon it is to receive an email that asks nothing of you. Its sole purpose is to educate, inspire, and help you.
Isn’t that the type of mailing list you’ll tell others about? Isn’t it the kind of list that survives the occasional inbox purging when you get tired of all the emails you’re receiving? Isn’t it the kind of list whose owner you’ll tend to trust?
This is why I try to keep my advertisement to a minimum. As I’ve stated before, I do think too much promotion is something that exist because it lacks the balance of the other components that can make it work. I thought also about the email lists of others I am subscribed to and how much I really enjoy the ones that offer me guidance, such as author tips and article links, without always asking me to purchase or donate something. These are the kinds of email list and blogs I want to follow, the ones that inspire and inform in addition to whatever else is being offered. But still, there is so much Will spoke about that I would like to improve on in relation to my blog and email list and it all begins with the question: “What’s so special about you?”